Outdoor pizza ovens are a great way to enjoy wood-fired pizza without dealing with the smoke and mess of a traditional indoor oven. But, like any appliance, they must be properly cleaned and maintained to keep them working their best. Cleaning also helps remove any built-up residue that can affect the taste of your pizza.
To clean an outdoor pizza oven, scoop out the ash and scrap off baked-on debris after the oven has cooled completely. Use a vinegar solution to rinse the oven’s interior, then conclude with a water rinse. Repeat this process every few months or as needed.
Read on as we go deeper into the steps for cleaning an outdoor pizza oven. By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to keep your oven clean and ready for pizza night.
1. Allow the Outdoor Pizza Oven To Cool Down
NEVER clean your outdoor pizza oven immediately after enjoying a delicious wood-fired pizza. Due to the high temperatures reached during cooking, the oven will still be hot and can potentially damage your cleaning tools or cause serious burns. Additionally, cleaning while it’s still hot can cause cracks to form in the oven’s interior.
It’s essential to wait until the oven has cooled down completely before beginning the cleaning process. This can take 24-48 hours, depending on the size and type of oven you have. Use an infrared thermometer to check the oven’s temperature before starting to clean.
2. Collect and Scoop out the Ash
Once the outdoor pizza oven has cooled, it’s time to remove all of the ash that accumulated during cooking. Ash can interfere with the pizza baking process and affect the taste of the pizza if it’s not removed. The last thing you want is for your pizza to taste like ash!
Use a fireplace shovel or an ash rake and a dust pan to collect all of the ash from the oven. Ensure you get all the ash out, especially from the back wall where it can be difficult to reach. Put the ash in a covered ashcan and add it to your compost bin. If you don’t have a compost bin, you can dispose of it in the trash or scatter it on your nearby plants.
3. Use a Stiff Brush To Scrape Off Baked-On Debris
When baking pizza, some cheese and sauce will inevitably drip down and become baked onto the oven floor. When left unchecked, this baked-on debris can become difficult to remove and cause problems with baking future pizzas.
Use a stiff brush (such as a wire brush or a BBQ brush) to scrape off any baked-on debris from the oven floor. This step ensures that the pizza slides off the peel easily and doesn’t stick to the floor.
While you may be tempted to add a few drops of detergent to the brush to help with the cleaning process, resist the urge! Soap can leave a residue that will be difficult to remove and affect the taste of your pizza.
4. Prepare and Apply a Vinegar Solution
Vinegar is a versatile natural cleaning solution that removes dirt, grime, and residue on almost all surfaces, including an outdoor pizza oven. It has acidic properties that help to break down and remove tough buildup. Best of all, it’s food-safe and won’t harm the oven or your health. Here is how to make a vinegar solution:
Here’s what you’ll need for preparing the vinegar rinse:
- White vinegar
- Mixing bowl
- Sponge or clean cloth
Here’s how to prepare and apply a vinegar solution to your outdoor pizza oven:
- Mix one part white vinegar and two parts water in a mixing bowl. Stir until the vinegar is fully dissolved in the water.
- Dip a sponge or clean cloth into the solution. Wring it out, so it’s damp and not dripping wet.
- Use the sponge or cloth to wipe down the interior surfaces of the oven, including the floor, walls, and door. Ensure you get all the nooks and crannies, paying special attention to the corners and crevices.
You may need rubber gloves to protect your hands from the vinegar if you have sensitive skin. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which can cause skin irritation when mishandled.
5. Rinse With Water and Allow To Air Dry
Once you’ve finished cleaning with the vinegar solution, rinse the oven with plenty of clean water. You can use a bucket or attach a hose to a nearby faucet. Water helps remove residual vinegar and debris loosened up during the cleaning process.
Allow the oven to air dry completely before using it again. Leave the door open to speed up the drying process. If you live in a humid climate, it’s a good idea to use a fan to help circulate the air to prevent mold or mildew from forming. Alternatively, you use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to speed up the drying process.
6. Repeat This Process Every Few Months or As Needed
Keeping your outdoor pizza oven clean is important for maintaining peak performance and ensuring your pizzas taste great. It’s best to clean the oven after each use, but at a minimum, you should clean it every few months. You may need to clean it more frequently if you bake regularly or less often if you only use it occasionally.
Before you get started, equip yourself with all the necessary cleaning supplies, including a stiff brush, vinegar, and water. Follow all safety precautions to avoid skin irritation or other injuries.
Best Practices for Cleaning an Outdoor Pizza Oven
Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when cleaning your outdoor pizza oven:
- Never use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners. Aggressive cleaners can damage the oven’s interior. In most cases, vinegar solution is all you need to get the job done. It has superior grease and grime-cutting power without being harsh or abrasive.
- After each use, scrape off any food debris from the oven floor with a stiff brush. This will make it easier to clean and prevent baked-on residue from forming.
- When cleaning the oven’s exterior, keep the door shut to avoid getting water inside the oven. Water can cause corrosion and damage to the oven over time. Wipe down the outside of the door, the handle, and any other exposed surfaces.
- If you have a stainless steel pizza oven, avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives, as they can damage the finish. Instead, use a mild soap and water solution followed by a vinegar solution to clean it. Dry it with a soft cloth to prevent water spots from forming.
- In between cleanings, it’s a good idea to perform a monthly maintenance check. This involves inspecting the oven for any cracks or damage and making repairs as necessary. It’s also important to sweep out the oven to remove any loose debris that could cause a fire.
Cleaning an outdoor pizza oven ensures that your pizzas taste great and slide off the peel easily. And while the cleaning process might seem daunting, it’s a relatively simple task you can accomplish in 1-2 days. All you need is some time, patience, and the right cleaning supplies.
With a little elbow grease, your outdoor pizza oven will look as good as new in practically no time! So, the next time you’re ready to fire up the oven, don’t forget to give it a good cleaning first. Bon appétit!