How to Clean Gunk and Grime Off Your Pizza Stone

Cranking out beautiful pizzas in your home kitchen is fun when you have a pizza stone, but how do you clean it when the eating is done?

pizza on stone going into the oven
Photo: mtreasure/Getty Images

If you're cooking pizza at home in your conventional oven, there's a good chance you're using a pizza stone to do it. It's a great tool for creating restaurant-quality pizza, but what do you do when you're done with it? More specifically, how do you clean it?

Most pizza stones available for purchase are made from ceramic or cordierite. These are porous materials that absorb heat, which makes them awesome for creating delightful, crispy crust on your pizza. But that porousness also means your stone can absorb things like water, food, grease, or really, anything. And because you place your pizza directly on the stone, burnt-on cheese, topping bits, oil, and pizza sauce stains are inevitable.

The great news is that caring for your pizza stone isn't complicated. In fact, we've done our best to keep it simple, sharing our advice below on what you need, what you don't need, and how to get the job done.

What You Need to Clean Your Pizza Stone

  1. Nothing: That's right, doing nothing is sometimes better than doing something, says Martin Phillip, baker, award-winning author, and Baking Ambassador at the King Arthur Baking Company. He explains that the high heat used to preheat the oven and stone will help burn off those tricky bits and pieces stuck to it. And the remaining stains, while maybe a little unsightly, don't affect its functioning, so don't stress about them. Or, do as he recommends and use an oven-mitt-covered hand and old, clean towel to lightly brush away any remnants.
  2. Water: But just a little. If you're feeling the need to rinse off your stone, go for it. Just keep the session brief. In fact, instead of rinsing under running water, consider using a damp towel or sponge to give it a quick wipe. That way you're in control of the amount of water introduced to the porous stone. Phillip also suggests letting the stone air dry completely before using it again.
  3. A stone brush or toothbrush: Remember, most of those stuck-on bits will come off with the next session's pre-heat, but if they're really bothering you, it's okay to employ a few tools to help. Stone brushes are a great option, but so are toothbrushes. Just avoid anything super abrasive, which will only damage your stone.
Pizza on Pizza Stone
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Other Items You Can Use:

Baking soda and vinegar: Tired of looking at stains on your stone? Remember, those stains won't affect the taste of your pizza or your stone's capability of baking it, so you don't need to remove them. But if you decide to go for it, try a mixture of equal parts baking soda and vinegar and use a clean towel or sponge to apply the mixture over the stains. Wipe off any excess with a clean, damp towel.

Plastic bench scraper or putty knife: A plastic bench scraper is a tool pro bakers swear by. While it's typically used to gather up and transfer dough, it's a great option for cleaning up stuck-on pieces of food. Same with a plastic putty knife, but this should be one designated for kitchen use only!

What You Definitely Don't Need to Clean Your Pizza Stone

  1. Soap: You don't want pizza that tastes like "mountain rain" or "lemon verbena," right? Didn't think so. Avoid any soaps or any other chemical cleaners which are easily absorbed by the stone. Martin recommends just a healthy dose of elbow grease to get the job done.
  2. A bunch of water: Too much water is bad for your stone; absorbing it will affect baking time and reliability. So avoid anything more than just a quick rinse.
  3. An abrasive brush: Abrasive tools will damage your stone, so avoid steel wool and similar cleaning tools. Don't get too caught up on how it looks. "That patina," says Martin, "is a sign that there's a real baker in the house."

How to Clean Your Pizza Stone

pizza stone
Sara Haas

Step 1: Cool It

Let the stone cool completely after using. Attempting to clean a hot stone is just plain dangerous.

pizza stone cleaning
Sara Haas

Step 2: Wipe It

Use a damp cloth to remove any stuck-on food. Never fully submerge your stone — remember, it's porous and it'll soak up all of that water which can lead to a lengthy drying time, while also reducing the effectiveness of your stone's ability to absorb heat.

pizza stone cleaning
Sara Haas

Step 3: Brush it

For stubborn stuff, use a stone brush, plastic bench scraper, or toothbrush for removal.

removing stains from pizza srtone
Sara Haas

Step 4: Remove Stains (Optional)

For stains, make a paste out of equal parts baking soda and vinegar and apply lightly to the stone. Brush off with a damp towel.

removing stains from pizza stone
Sara Haas

Step 5: Dry It

A moist stone won't bake great pizza, so always air-dry the stone completely before using or storing.

Now, Put Your Clean Pizza Stone to Use:

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