How To Clean A Pizza Oven The Right Way

Your outdoor pizza oven serves you mouth-watering pizzas any time of the year, but if you don't follow good maintenance and cleaning practices, your outdoor pizza oven won't last as long as you want. Food stains and spills can often creep in and they can be challenging to remove. Additionally, different outdoor ovens call for different cleaning methods. 

It may seem pretty obvious but to clean your pizza oven isn't as easy as one would think. This is the only guide on how to clean a pizza oven you will need. Of course, the cleaning tips are not limited to the aftermath of cooking pizzas, but apply to the hygienic preparation of various delicacies, such as slow cooking meat and baking wood fired bread.

Whether you’ve got a wood-fired pizza oven, a stainless steel oven or a brick pizza oven, here’s how you can effectively clean your pizza oven.

Important Things To Remember 

Before we get to the actual oven cleaning steps, you need to remember some essential tips so that your outdoor pizza oven will be at its best for years to come. 

  • If you own a wood-fired pizza oven, you must ensure optimal cleanliness so that the food you cook won't absorb bad smells. This applies to all sorts of ovens. A dirty pizza oven can be a major contributor to bad-tasting food. 
  • It is always harder to remove stains that have set in for a long time. Stains and ashes must be removed regularly to prevent buildup. 
  • Don't use detergents to clean your outdoor ovens. Additionally, don't use excessive water while cleaning. If you have used too much water, make sure the oven is completely dried off before usage. 
  • Never clean your outdoor pizza oven immediately after cooking. This is because ovens can reach extremely high temperatures and if you clean while hot, the pizza stones can experience cracks. The high temperature can also damage your cleaning tool. 
  • Depending on the material of your oven, you’ll also need specific tools. Always use the right tools for your oven. For convenience, you should place all your needed tools in one place near the oven while cleaning. 

Step by Step Process to Clean a Wood Fired Pizza Oven Floor

Cleaning a wood-fired oven isn't the same as cleaning traditional ovens. With wood-fired outdoor ovens, you need to pay special attention to grease stains and fallen food debris at the bottom. Here’s a few tips on how you should clean your wood-fired pizza oven: 

Things You’ll Need: 

Before cleaning, you must ensure that your wood-fired outdoor pizza oven is completely cool. If you’ve already used it, we highly recommend you wait at least 24 hours before cleaning. 

Use the ash rake to collect the wood remnants and ash into a pile. Next, use the shovel and ash rake to remove the ash from the inside of the oven. You can add the collected ash to your compost bin or dispose of it later. 

Wood-burning ovens are self-cleaning. Most food stains and spills will burn off due to the high temperature but at times, you might have to deal with deeply set-in food remains. Use an oven brush to remove grease, burnt food, and other remains from the oven floor. 

It’s highly recommended that you use an oven brush with copper or brass bristles, but if these are not available then you could use a steel bbq grill brush. Refrain from using soap and solvents as well. 

Use the oven brush to brush out the remaining ash and residues from the inside of the oven. If your outdoor oven has a door, put it in place and your wood-fired oven is ready for usage!

If your oven door has a glass viewing panel, now is the time to clean it with the stove glass oven cleaner.

Don't forget to clean the pizza stone or baking stone too.

Removing Creosote from Your Outdoor Wood Burning Oven 

Creosote occurs when wood doesn't burn fully. When this happens, different chemicals are released into the air and when they mix with moisture, chemical complexes are formed and they can stick to the inside of a pizza oven chimney. A large creosote buildup can lead to a fire hazard. Creosote buildup is the primary factor for fires in chimney systems.

They can also accumulate in the door and roof cracks of your oven door. A traditional, conventional oven or a brick oven are more susceptible to creosote buildup than a stainless steel oven. You must regularly check your oven for creosote buildup. 

The best way to remove creosote will be to use a cleaner specifically made for that purpose. However, if you want to adopt a more natural approach, you can dissolve it with vinegar. All you need to do is pour vinegar and wait for the creosote to dissolve. 

Cleaning Grease from Wood Fired Ovens 

When cooking pizzas, it’s impossible not to deal with grease. Cheese can drip and cause grease buildup and stains. On top of that, older grease stains can take more effort to eliminate. We detail steps to deal with new and old grease stains. 

For new stains, all you need is a sponge or soft cloth, plain water and vinegar. Mix water and vinegar into a bowl and then dip the sponge/soft cloth into the solution. After that, rub the mixture onto the stains and they will come right off. 

For an older grease stain, you can use hot water and a soft brush to remove the stains. In most cases, this will remove the stains from the pizza stone. If the stain remains you can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar as a last resort. Although designed for cleaning glass, the stove glass cleaner is very effective at removing older grease stains.

Cleaning The Chimney Of Wood Fired Ovens 

With wood-burning ovens, you’ll also need to keep the chimney clean. When burning wood, soot is produced and this can lead to a build-up which can cause fire hazards. While soot is self-cleaning, you should keep a schedule to brush some off it yourself for proper maintenance.

Wood-fired pizza oven chimneys should be cleaned more often. It’s highly recommended that you clean and remove soot when it reaches ⅛ of an inch. Use a brush to clean your chimney and remove soot.

You can use mild soap but don't use oven cleaners as they can damage the surface. 

Cleaning Stainless Steel Pizza Ovens 

This type of oven needs to be cleaned differently with special preparation and precautions. They can be a gas oven with a pizza stone as well as being wood fired. Many people think that stainless steel ovens don't rust. However, this is a misconception. Proper protection, oiling and cleaning of the oven chamber is necessary to ensure optimum performance and longevity.  Indoor ovens will often have an oven stone or pizza stone, as well as an exhaust hood.

Things You’ll Need

Before you start, you need the right tools for the job. Here’s what you’ll be needed for cleaning your stainless steel outdoor pizza oven properly. 

  • Damp towel 
  • Microfiber cloth 
  • Vinegar 
  • Spray bottle 
  • Lint-free cloth 
  • Oil for polishing

Stainless steel pizza ovens are prone to smudges and fingerprints. You must clean them routinely. Let the pizza oven and the pizza stone cool down completely before cleaning. 

Wipe off the dirt and marks using the cloth. Make sure that the cloth isn't too wet as stainless steel ovens can rust. After you’re done wiping, use the microfiber cloth to buff the oven. 

You can also spray the surface of your stainless steel pizza oven with vinegar and wipe off the marks and stains with a lint-free cloth. For best results, wipe according to the direction of the steel’s grain. 

For tougher stains and marks, you might have to repeat the process a couple of times before they are completely removed. To add shine, you can use oil to polish your oven’s surface.

Pizza oven covers keep your ovens clean and ensure longevity. If your pizza oven didn't come with a cover, you should look for custom-made pizza oven covers. 

Cleaning A Brick Pizza Oven 

You must prevent your brick pizza oven from accumulating water. This can lead to the high temperatures causing cracking. Make sure that your oven is completely dry. To remove moisture and ensure your pizza oven’s longevity, you need to cure it routinely. This is particularly important for outdoor brick ovens. There are two main methods to cure brick ovens. 

The first step is to start a fire in your brick oven. Make sure that the fire is at the center of your dome for even heating and away from the foundation to prevent damage. Keep the oven door slightly open for proper ventilation and to prevent cracks that can occur due to excessive heat. Ensure that the fire doesn't exceed 200°C and that the high temperatures burn for up to 6 hours before starting cooking.

You can also start a fire somewhere else and use the coal from it to cure your outdoor brick pizza oven. However, this method is more suitable for the first day of curing. In this case the organic vapors from the coal have already dispersed.

When dealing with brick ovens, don't turn up the heat to high temperatures immediately as this can cause cracks. Especially if you haven't used the oven for a long time or the weather is rainy or humid, make sure that the fire has burned slowly at a lower temperature for at least an hour before increasing the temperature. 

Just like with stainless steel ovens, it is highly recommended that you buy covers to ensure that your oven is in good condition for years. 

Cleaning The Outside 

Wood Fired Pizza Ovens

The exterior of your wood-fired outdoor pizza oven will eventually get dirty. Grease, food residue and soot can get to the outside of your outdoor pizza oven as well. You must clean the outside of your outdoor pizza oven to maintain its aesthetics and ensure maximum functionality. 

For outdoor wood-fired ovens, you can use water to clean the exterior. Close the door of the pizza oven and cover openings properly if any. However, don't let water get inside the oven. Gently scrub the exterior and clean it according to the manufacturer's guidelines. 

Brick Pizza Ovens 

Compared to other types of pizza ovens, outdoor brick ovens can be challenging to clean. For thorough cleaning, you can use a solution of water and vinegar. Mix the solution and then put it into a spray bottle. After that, spray it onto the bricks and then use a soft cloth to gently scrub the solution off. After cleaning, you must let your outdoor pizza oven dry off for several days before you use it again. 

Stainless Steel Pizza Ovens 

Cleaning the exterior of the oven is comparatively easier and quicker. All you need to do is clean the outside of the oven with a damp cloth. However, make sure that you dry them immediately as steel is susceptible to rust. 

Frequency of Cleaning

Maintain your outdoor pizza oven's cleanliness for maximum longevity and functionality. Never allow food stuck in the oven, dirt, grime, soot, or other unwanted materials to sit for a long time. Otherwise, the marks and stains can build up and set in and it’ll be harder for you to clean them. The quicker you remove the dirt and grime, the easier it is. 

For best results, it’s highly recommended that you clean your oven regularly after every usage. It’s good practice to clean your oven the next day after cooking. Your oven will have completely cooled down by then and you can assess how much cleaning it requires.

When it comes to the chimney, cleaning it once a month should be enough. However, it’s highly recommended that you inspect your chimney before cooking in your oven. You don't need to do a thorough cleaning. Just a quick sweep on the chimney with a brush before cooking will do. 

Once a month, you should do a deep oven clean to ensure that every last bit of ash, food remains, stains, and fingerprints are eliminated. When not in use, protect your oven with covers against harsh elements, dirt, and grime. Keeping your oven clean will ensure that it lasts longer and cook your next pizza better.

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