When operating a pizza oven of any kind, it is crucial to regularly maintain and clean the oven to ensure that the oven works efficiently and that your pizza does not take on any unwanted smells, flavors, or textures.
The first and most important rule of cleaning any oven is to make sure that the oven has cooled down before cleaning. A hot oven presents a serious risk of burning. Avoid cleaning a hot oven at all costs!
Additionally, if you do not own a pizza brush/scraper, a pizza peel or a chef’s knife can be used to scrape debris off the oven surface, but take care not to dig into the surfaces as doing so may damage your oven.
Pizza Deck Oven
- Brick ovens take a long time to cool off, so be careful - always ensure that the oven has properly cooled before attempting to clean.
- With brick ovens, any debris should be scraped or brushed off with a pizza brush/scraper, a chef’s knife, or a pizza peel. For particularly troublesome spills, such as grease spills, you can try scraping or brushing it away, but if that doesn’t work - use a water-dampened cloth to loosen the grease/debris. The cloth can be placed on the end of a stick to apply to out-of-reach parts of the oven.
- In general, spills and major debris should be removed as they occur (with a long brush or scraper to prevent burning), so that there is no opportunity for the debris to buildup into a more resistant form.
- Many brick oven owners brush the oven bottom and sides on a regular schedule, even if there are no visible spills or debris, so as to maintain a certain standard of cleanliness.
- When cleaning brick ovens, don’t forget about the exhaust stacks! They should be cleaned on a monthly basis, as they can develop of a layer of soot that affects oven safety (a chimney fire may occur) and will affect the flavor of your pizza.
- Don’t attempt to clean the exhaust stacks on your own! Hire a qualified chimney sweep to clean your exhaust stacks, as it requires specialized knowledge and tools. The risk (a chimney fire, if soot isn’t properly removed) is too serious for an unqualified person to attempt maintenance.
- Avoid using water or cleaning solution near the pizza stone, as it can absorb it and then crack when heated up, which will not only set you back a pizza stone but may result in chipped off pieces getting stuck in the pizza, potentially causing injury to customers.
- Use the scraper side of your pizza oven brush/scraper tool to loosen the ash and food debris on the inside of the oven, from the base to the sides to the top. For any particularly difficult spots, try using the brush side of the tool force the debris away from the oven walls.
- After you’ve finished loosening the debris, use an oven-cleaning broom or hand brush to gather it all up and throw it away. Don’t manually pick up the debris - use a tool designed for the task.
- Conveyor ovens tend to house a lot of nooks and crannies, which can make them more difficult to clean. When cleaning a conveyor oven, take a little more time and spend a little extra effort to clean out the various parts and spaces, ensuring that there are no leftover crumbs and other food debris that might later affect the flavor, texture, and smell of your pizza.
- Remove the conveyor belt and the fingers of the oven.
- Remove the conveyor belt to gain access to the oven’s innards. With the conveyor belt removed and sitting to the side, apply a cleaner to it so that it loosens the stuck debris while you’re clearing out the oven.
- Remove and clean the fingers of the oven, as oil, cheese, and crumbs can easily dislodge and stick to the fingers during regular baking. As with the conveyor belt, spray the fingers down with a cleaner and let it rest to the side for 20-30 minutes so as to loosen the debris.
- Once sufficient time has passed for the conveyor belt and the fingers, brush away the loosened debris, wash the components, dry them, then finally, re-install them into the oven (but only after you’ve properly cleaned the inside of the oven!).
- Using cleaners, a pizza brush/scraper, wire brush, and towels, clean the inside of the conveyor oven and remove the gathered debris after you’ve finished.
- Clean the control box, but make sure not to use any liquid cleaners in doing so (liquid may interfere with the circuitry).