How to Clean a Pizza Oven Thoroughly
Food remains, and grease can fall down, not only on the kitchen floor when cooking, resulting in stains and spills. When it comes to cleaning stains like this from a pizza oven, it can be difficult, especially if the stains were left for a long time.
Cleaning gets even harder when dealing with wood-fired pizza ovens. These pizza ovens have the additional task of cleaning ashes that remain after cooking.
Ashes and stains must be removed daily lest they affect the taste of your food. Besides, if they accumulate, they can prevent the pizza oven from working optimally. So if you want your food to taste good and your oven to serve you for longer, then you should know how to clean a pizza oven properly.
But cleaning a pizza oven isn’t as easy as it seems. You have to follow the right steps, or you end up damaging your pizza oven. For instance, there are chemicals you cannot use to clean your pizza oven.
Detergents are a no. Also, it is not advisable to use too much water when cleaning a pizza oven. If you do, you must leave the pizza oven to dry completely before using it. You will also need to know the safety measures to follow to prevent injuries.
So to help you in ensuring you have a clean pizza oven, I will use my expertise to advise you on the top tips of cleaning a pizza oven. I will also discuss the steps to follow when cleaning different types of pizza ovens, including a brick pizza oven and a stainless steel pizza oven.
Top Tips on How to Clean a Pizza Oven
Keeping your wood-fired oven clean is crucial for its overall effectiveness; thus, you can prevent food from absorbing bad smells. If you have tasted pizza that has a strange and nasty taste, then that could not be due to poor baking alone but also due to the dirty oven. A dirty oven will always affect the quality of your food.
It is essential to follow the best cleaning practices before you start cleaning your pizza oven. This will ensure you have the desired results. Some of these practices include:
Choose the Right Tools
Before you embark on cleaning your pizza oven, you must make sure you have the right tools ready. These tools should help protect your skin, reach the inner parts of the pizza oven, and help in disinfecting it. The must-have tools for cleaning an oven include:
• Large brass wire brush
• Piece of cloth
• Half-moon shaped copper wire brush
Never Clean the Oven When Hot
Always avoid cleaning a pizza oven immediately when you finish cooking. Pizza ovens usually reach extremely high temperatures and might burn you or damage the cleaning equipment. Cleaning the oven while hot can also cause cracks in the pizza stone.
No matter how dirty the oven is, it’s advisable to leave your oven until it cools down before cleaning it. Some pizza ovens take a much longer time to cool down completely compared to others. However, leaving the pizza oven overnight or for a day should be enough.
Clean It When You Notice Some Dirt
Always clean the pizza oven whenever you notice dirt. The oven’s flue must also be swept regularly to get rid of soot and any blockages. If left to accumulate, the debris can make your food taste strange and may even catch fire.
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Clean a Wood Fired Pizza Oven
Cleaning the Inside
The interior of a pizza oven often has lots of dirt, including ashes, grease stains, food residue, and creosote. This dirt must be cleaned regularly to avoid affecting the taste of your food. Also, if the dirt, for instance, creosote, is left to accumulate, it can be a fire hazard. Below is how you can clean some of this dirt.
Cleaning the Ashes
Since wood-fired pizza ovens burn at high temperatures, they are regarded as self-cleaning appliances. Each time you put the pizza oven on, the super high heat burns spilled or stuck-on food particles from the oven to form carbon. The carbon is the soot you see in the oven.
If you operate your pizza oven at the right temperature, it is highly unlikely for soot to build up in the oven. This is because the high temperatures burn and evaporate the remaining soot. In case there are remains, they will be burned the next time you cook.
Ashes are another thing that remains after burning. It is advisable to clean the ash out every time you want to use your oven because if it is left to accumulate ash can make baking difficult.
You can remove the ash using a shovel or copper brush. If there are any food remains, a scraper should help you get rid of them. You should, however, avoid using sharp steel brushes like the steel BBQ grill brush as they can scratch and damage the oven floor.
If you use the oven for baking wood-fired bread rather than pizza, you may consider using a damp towel to get rid of the ashes and dirt. A damp towel is used for bread ovens because, in addition to cleaning the floor, it moderates the temperature of the cooking to ensure the bottom of the bread does not scorch.
Cleaning Grease Stains
Typically grease stains and encrustations on the oven floor become easier to remove after raising the temperature. The temperature always dissolves them so that what is left is to rub them with a sponge soaked in a mixture of water and vinegar.
If the spills are hard to remove, especially on the pizza stone, use hot water and scrub with a brush. That should be enough to leave your oven spotless clean. You should never use detergents or any cleaning products to remove stains. This is because the pizza stone can absorb chemicals in these products, which can get into the food, thereby affecting its taste and overall quality.
You should also use as little water as possible. Too much water can also be absorbed into the pizza stone and make it crack when cooking. Proper drying is, therefore, necessary after cleaning.
If spills still remain after using the two methods above, you will have to put the pizza stone in baking soda and allow it to soak for several minutes. This, however, should be your last option because the method uses lots of water, which can easily destroy your pizza oven if not dried properly.
With this method, you are required to mix the same size of soda ash and the same amount of water to form a paste. Apply this paste on the stains and gently scrub with a brush. The stains may not get off after the first scrub, so apply again and scrub until it becomes clear. Make sure you clean thoroughly, right until there are no traces of baking soda on the stone. This is the part when you will have to use a lot of water.
But always keep in mind, after cleaning the oven stone, you must ensure you dry it thoroughly before using it. I recommend leaving the oven for a couple of days, preferably a week, to allow it to dry completely.
In wood-fired ovens, when the wood is burned slowly, organic vapors such as tar are produced. These vapors mix with moisture to create creosote which condenses inside the exhaust hood. Over time, it accumulates, which increases the risk of a fire. It’s best to inspect your oven for creosote by checking the oven door regularly.
Also, check for cracks in the oven dome. Soot can also be deposited on these cracks making them difficult to get rid of. New Pizza oven with steel domes does not have such cracks. This makes it easier to clean than traditional ovens.
Cleaning the Exterior
The exterior of your oven becomes dirty with time due to soot and falling food. The method you use to clean this dirt will depend on the material of the pizza oven. Brick and stone ovens are usually cleaned differently from stainless steel ovens.
However, in each case, ensure you keep the entrance door shut to prevent water from entering the oven chamber. Water can cause damages to your oven and should be kept out at all costs.
How to Clean a Pizza Oven Chimney
According to the National Fire Protection Association Standard 21, vents, chimney systems, and fireplaces should be inspected annually for correct clearances and free from deposits. However, oven chimneys should be cleaned much more often. The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests you clean your chimney when the soot reaches 1/8 of an inch.
You can use brushes to clean the chimneys. Avoid using oven cleaner as they may end up damaging the surface.
How to Clean a Brick Pizza Oven?
If water is left to accumulate in your brick pizza oven, it can reach high temperatures and cause cracks. You may have to cure your oven often to remove any moisture and make it last longer. This is especially true about a brick pizza oven that is kept outdoors. New brick pizza ovens should also be cured before use.
There are two main ways to cure your brick pizza oven. The first method entails building a fire in your oven. This fire should be in the middle of the dome to allow even heating throughout the dome while being far from the foundation to cause damages.
You should also leave the oven door slightly open to ensure proper ventilation and to prevent the heat from being too much to cause cracks. The fire should be allowed to burn for up to six hours but check that the temperature doesn’t go beyond 300°F.
The second method involves building a fire elsewhere and using hot coal from the fire to cure your outdoor oven. This method is preferred for the first day of curing.
If the weather is humid, rainy, or you haven’t used your oven for some time, make sure you heat it at a lower temperature for an hour or so before turning to a high temperature. If you ramp up the heat too fast, your oven will crack. Covering your outdoor brick oven using pizza oven covers is highly recommended keeping it in good condition.
How to Clean Stainless Steel Pizza Ovens?
Stainless steel pizza ovens display marks such as fingerprints and smudges quite easily. It is, therefore, essential to clean it daily. Wait for the oven to cool before you start cleaning. You will require a damp cloth to wipe the marks and dirt off. Ensure the cloth is not too wet since steel pizza ovens are subject to rust. A dry microfiber cloth should help you buff the oven after wiping.
Alternatively, spray the surface of your oven with vinegar and use a lint-free cloth and wipe off the stains. Make sure you wipe in a similar direction to the grain of the steel to get a clean surface and better shine. If the stains don’t come out, repeat the process until it’s spotlessly clean. You can then polish the surface with oil in the same direction as the grain.
How Often Should I Clean My Wood Fired Pizza Oven?
The rule of the thumb is always to keep your oven clean to avoid the build-up of dirt and possibly larger problems later. So for proper cleaning, it’s best to scrape out any debris before use.
The condition of your pizza stone and how often you use the pizza oven will determine how often you will have to clean the pizza stone. Ideally, the pizza stone should be cleaned at least once every week if you use the oven regularly.
However, spills should be cleaned immediately after use because if left to dry, then they will be hard to clean. Also, spills can make your oven discolor, which is not a big problem but can make your oven less aesthetically appealing.
Exhaust stacks, on the other hand, ought to be cleaned once per month for regular users. If you don’t use it often, you may take a little longer before cleaning. The exhaust stacks are cleaned the same way you clean a chimney, so it shouldn’t be a big problem cleaning them. But if you are not sure whether you are able to cope up with the entire cleaning process, consider getting help from a professional oven cleaner.
Summing Up: Does Your Wood Fired Pizza Oven Need Cleaning?
When you see stains on your wood-fired pizza oven, then you should be thinking of cleaning it. Cleaning your pizza oven will not only help it last longer but also prevents your food from tasting nasty.
It’s best to use the right methods when cleaning to get the best results. Before cleaning any part of the pizza oven, make sure the oven has cooled down. You should then clean the inside of the oven, outside, and the chimney.
Since the oven is self-cleaning, using the oven at high temperatures will help evaporate the food residuals as well as soot. This will leave the chimney clean. However, if there’s soot after using the oven, you may have to use a brush to clean the chimney.
The inside of the oven should be cleaned with very minimal water. Too much water can get soaked in the oven stone and make it crack when you light the fire. If there’s water, leave it to dry completely before using the oven. This should take about a week or so, depending on the amount of water you used.
So what steps do you take to clean your wood-fired pizza oven? What ingredients do you use to clean your pizza oven? How often do you clean your pizza oven? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.