Pizza stones are essential for anybody who doesn’t have an outdoor oven but wants the taste and texture they give pizzas. These stones (or steels) are oven-friendly and quite easy to cook with. However, they are a bit tricky when it comes to properly cleaning and maintaining them. This is why here we will go through all of the major elements of learning how to clean a pizza stone and keep it in a good condition. Moreover, we will learn how to deal with stains, mold, soapy aftertastes, and more!
If you haven’t already, I suggest picking a baking stone for your kitchen. My guide on some of the best pizza stones for this year has all the latest models as well as a ton of useful information on the different types and the various features they have.
In this article, we will go through the following aspects:
- Necessary items for cleaning and maintenance
- Cleaning your pizza stone
- How to properly maintain your pizza stone
- How to remove pizza stone stains
- How to restore a burned pizza stone
- How to remove mold
- How to prevent cracks
- How to fix soapy aftertaste
Table of Contents
Necessary items for cleaning and maintenance
There are quite a few kitchen items that can be used to clean your pizza stone. Most of those items you already have in your kitchen, so you won’t really have to load on additional cleaning tools. Some of the most important ones, however, are:
- Dough scraper
- Table knife (blunt)
- Spatulas (both metal and plastic)
- Stone or plastic brushes
- Old toothbrush
Depending on the type of pizza stone we will be using different cleaning tools. For instance, pizza steels and other models made out of steel or cast iron are pretty resistant to any type of brush. Unglazed stones, on the other hand, can’t be scraped or brushed with steel wool or a coarse brush as that might add a ton of micro-scratches to their surface. That will make pizzas and other alternative pizza stone recipes you cook stick to them.
Cleaning your pizza stone
The process of cleaning your pizza stone consists of 5 easy and straightforward steps. These are:
- Letting the pizza stone completely cool down
- Scrape and brush the stone
- Cleaning it under running water
- Wiping it
- Letting it dry
Letting the pizza stone completely cool down
Pizza stones are made out of porous materials that can sometimes be fragile if exposed to temperature amplitudes. This means either thermally “shocking” the stone or cooling it down way too fast. To avoid any potential damage to it, let it cool off naturally.
Scrape and brush the stone
This is where the dough scraper (or bench scraper) and blunt kitchen knives will come into play. Use these to scrape off any food remainings from the stone. Some food toppings are particularly sticky to the hot stone and will have to be scraped off once the stone has cooled down.
If your stone is prone to surface damage, you can use a plastic spatula to avoid any scratches.
Cleaning it under running water
Next up is the actual cleaning process. It is of great importance to remember to absolutely never use dishwashing detergents, soap, or any other kind of chemical you typically use to clean the dishes. These are very damaging to pizza stones and can absorb into the surface, leaving a soapy aftertaste and oftentimes discolored patches. Instead, the correct way of cleaning the stone is by washing it with a clean (and slightly damp) cloth. If your baking stone is glazed you can safely put it under running water to wash it off. Use a soft brush to clean off any leftover debris or impurities on the stone.
After you’re done washing the stone, wipe it off with a soft and clean towel or cloth. This will remove any last bits that are remaining and will also be the start of the drying process.
Letting it dry
Having residue moisture inside the stone is one of the main reasons those crack. If you put a wet stone in your oven, the chances of it cracking are going to be off the charts. This is because trapped water in its surface pores will boil up and expand, ultimately cracking the stone. While some cracks will be huge, others will be just surface cracks that won’t rule the stone as useless. Still, try to fully dry the stone before storing or using it. Typically, giving it a few hours at room temperature is enough for it to completely dry out.
If you’re set on using it immediately after you’re done drying it, make sure your oven isn’t hot. Putting a cold stone in a hot oven is another major reason for cracks and stones breaking.
How to properly maintain your pizza stone
There are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to pizza stone maintenance. One of the main ones is to never use soap. While it is safe to use with iron and steel models, it is generally not recommended (nor is it needed). Stick to the already well-established solution of baking soda and vinegar which we already discussed.
Detergents are equally damaging to the baking stone. Apart from giving it a soapy aftertaste, they can also discolor it or damage its surface. Lastly, don’t oil your stone. While some models come with instructions on how to season the baking stone, most won’t require it. Oiling them will cause them to burn the oil once they get hot. That will create a ton of smoke and unpleasant scents in your oven.
Additionally, whenever and however you are cleaning your pizza stones or steels, never do it while they are still hot or even warm. Let them completely cool down before moving in with any type of cleaning. The reason for that is because they are much more prone to absorbing scents when warm. Stones can also break if you cool them down faster than they’re supposed to be cooled down.
How to remove pizza stone stains
In some cases, just cleaning and wiping off the stone won’t cut it. Stains that are harder to clean can remain and will thus require additional treatment. One of the best ways to deal with such stains is to create a mixture or paste of sorts and scrub them off individually. The most common solution that is used on baking stones is baking soda and white vinegar or lukewarm water. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with a glass of water or white (regular) vinegar.
Apply a bit of solution onto the stain and scrub gently with either a rag or a soft brush. Scrub until the stain comes out and then you can wash it off under the sink or wipe it with a clean soft cloth.
If there are any stubborn spots and stains on your cooking stone, you can try a cycle of cooking them off in the oven. Place the stone in the oven while it is still cool and let it heat up to its maximum temperature. Usually, food stains will burn right off.
How to restore a burned pizza stone
If you aren’t careful, you can easily burn your pizza stone if you’re cooking oily foods or other foods that can easily stick and burn on top of a hot stone. To start, let the stone cool off first. Then, scrub it with a bristle brush or a scouring pad until most of the remainings have fallen off. You can also use a dough scraper here but be careful not to scratch the surface by rubbing too hard.
Some pizza stone companies even recommend using medium-grit sandpaper to remove harsher stains or burned areas. Do this only if you’re sure that your baking stone will be able to handle it without getting its surface damaged, though.
Next up, use the mixture we already discussed in the previous chapters (soda and vinegar or water). This will lift up most of the stains and burned residue off the stone. Wipe the stone with a clean cloth or brush afterward and place it in the oven again. Cook the stone for around an hour until you see that all of its stains have fallen or burned off.
How to remove mold
While pizza steels aren’t very prone to mold, stone models are. The main reason for mold growth is storing your pizza stone in a place with excess moisture. This, combined with high room temperatures, creates the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply. Luckily, as with almost everything else that can stain your pizza stone, baking soda and vinegar is again the universal solution to this. Just apply it to the moldy spots, scrub gently and wash it off to deal with it. If you want to prevent further growth, let the stone dry out well before you store it again.
How to prevent cracks
We have already mentioned all of the potential ways you can crack your pizza stones. Still, it is good to sum them up. Here are the main ways you can crack a pizza stone, and essentially a list of things to avoid doing:
- Changing the temperatures too quickly (from hot to cold or vice versa)
- Excess moisture can cause the stone to crack when put in the oven
- Some stones aren’t suited to cook frozen pizzas and can crack when you place the pizza on top of them in the oven
- Taking the pizza stone and putting it on the cold counter can also crack it
- Oiling it too much before cooking can cause long-term damage
If you don’t want to deal with cracks or any other type of damage, then the surest way to never have those is to get pizza steel. These heat up faster, hold temperature better, and are much more durable in the long run. They are, however, very expensive and often quite heavy.
How to fix soapy aftertaste
I get it, sometimes you can just forget about the main rule of washing pizza stones and actually use soap on them. That isn’t the end of the world, however. There are a few very successful ways with which you can remove the soapy aftertaste of your stone. The one that I prefer the most is the following:
- Get a sliced bread (can be old)
- Place pieces of it on the baking stone
- Wait for the bread to get fully toasted
- Take the stone out and let it cool down
The dough from the bread will act as a sponge and will absorb any flavors that are lingering on the stone’s surface.
If you’re also interested in how to clean and maintain your pizza oven, click here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the pizza sticking to the stone?
There are a few reasons because of which a pizza can stick to the stone. One of the main ones is your dough is too wet. Additionally, there might be a small hole in your dough. This will allow the toppings to fall out and stick to the baking stone. One of the best ways to prevent sticking is using cornmeal or flour onto the pizza stone’s surface before you put the pizza on it.
Can you wash a pizza stone?
You can wash it but not with any type of detergents or soap. That will soak into the porous surface of the stone and leave a soapy taste. Baking stones are also not dishwasher safe.
Can you use steel wool on a pizza stone?
While steel wools are okay for some glazed and steel pizza stones, they are generally not recommended. The reason for that is because they can easily scratch certain stones. To prevent that, you can use nylon scrubbing pads.
Can I put olive oil on my pizza stone?
Applying oil to baking stones in order to season them is not a great idea. That oil will absorb into their porous surface and will then burn and smoke once the oven gets hot. If sticking is your concern, don’t worry, as pizzas don’t get stuck to hot pizza stones unless there are issues with the dough.
Learning how to clean a pizza stone is a skill that will come in handy after your very first baked pizza. Cordierite and ceramic stones are delicate and require proper care. In most cases, they can’t be washed with soap and aren’t dishwasher-safe. This means that you will only have to lightly scrub them and rinse them underwater. Do that only once they are cooled down, though, as you otherwise risk cracking them.