What’s not to love about a pizza stone? A pizza stone is like having a portable brick oven because it makes pizza crust crispy and deliciously charred. With minimal effort, you can turn your kitchen into a pizzeria, whether you live in a studio apartment or a cabin in the woods.
But, as these stones deliver special pies, they also require special care. Unlike with a dirty casserole dish, you do not want to soak your pizza stone overnight in a sink of hot soapy water. In fact, you want to expose your pizza stone to as little water as possible. As a general rule, keep soap far away from your pizza stone.
So, without soap and water, how do you clean a pizza stone? Won’t it be germy and smelly without the occasional bath? Well, pizza stones are quite unlike people. They can survive extreme heat, which kills off germs. Bacteria multiply between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. You will cook your pizza on your pizza stone in temperatures at least three times as hot as that.
So although pizza stone stains or caked-on grease may not make you sick, it is probably a good idea to give your pizza stone a quick clean after each use. Here’s how to clean your pizza stone.
What to Use to Clean a Pizza Stone
A pizza stone is flat and usually made of a porous material like ceramic, stone or cast iron. The pizza stone will absorb whatever substance you use to clean it with. This can potentially impact the flavor of the food. Also, too much moisture will affect the pizza crust texture.
The pizza stone absorbs moisture from the dough when heating the pizza, making a crispier crust. If there is water trapped in the stone, it won’t cook the crust to a crisp.
Always make sure the pizza stone has cooled down before attempting to clean it. Heat can be trapped in there, and you don’t want to burn your hands or drop the stone like a hot potato.
The tools you need to clean your pizza stone are likely already in your kitchen. You want to use a tool that is thin and can slide under stuck pieces of food or something abrasive to scrub away leftover grime. Try to have one or more of these handy when it’s time to clean your pizza stone:
- Bench scraper
- Blunt table knife
- Metal spatula
- Plastic spatula
- Stone brush
- Scouring pads
Some of these tools might scratch your stone, so try to use them only when you can’t scrape off stuck or burnt food pieces any other way. Whatever you do, never use soap or cleaning chemicals on your pizza stone unless you enjoy soapy pizza. If you do need to use a liquid, what should it be? The cleaning liquid to use in moderation with your pizza stone is water.
Keeping Your Pizza Stone Safe
Yes, boring old water is the only moisture you want to introduce to your stone. However, there is a baking-soda-vinegar paste you can use for cleaning, which we’ll discuss in more detail later. And here’s what not to use on your pizza stone:
- Cleaning chemicals
Oils from the foods you cook will naturally build in the stone and make it a non-stick surface. If you allow the stone to get too wet, it will not bake the pizza crust right. Instead, you want your pizza stone to be completely dry before using it. If necessary, you can sweep away crumbs with a damp towel, but make sure your stone is dry afterward. We don’t recommend using the oven to dry your pizza stone, because trapped water in the stone could lead to a crack.
The Step-by-Step Process of Cleaning Your Pizza Stone
So, without soap and a sink filled with water, here’s how to clean a pizza stone:
- Wet the surface with a small stream of hot water. Use as little as needed because you will have to dry the stone completely before storing or using.
- Thoroughly scrub the pizza stone with a stone brush.
- Wipe away particles with a damp rag.
- Allow the stone to air-dry or dry it with a clean towel.
You may not need to use water at all if you can scrape away food with the brush first. Water might help loosen food, but it’s not necessary.
Store your pizza stone in the oven to lower the chances of breaking it between uses, and it’ll be seasoned every time you use the oven. It might take the oven longer to heat, though.
How to Clean Pizza Stone Stains
Stains on a pizza stone are symbols of love and attention. Think of the delicious pies you’ve created and baked on your stone. These stamps of good meals and good times are natural and desired parts of the stone. There is no need to remove the stains unless you can’t stand the sight of them. If you want to remove stains, here’s what to do:
- Remove pieces of food first by scraping them away with a spatula or brush.
- Make a paste that consists of equal parts water and baking soda. For example, you might mix 1 tablespoon of water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
- Scrub the paste on the stains. Use a brush and work the paste in circles until the stains are removed.
- Wipe with a damp cloth.
- Allow the stone to completely dry.
For grease stains, cover the spot with the baking soda paste, let it sit for a few minutes, scrub with a brush and wipe down with a damp rag. Baking soda will clean the stains without affecting the flavor of your pizza, unlike soap.
Remember, it’s natural for your pizza stone to have darker stains, and you don’t need to worry about over-cleaning. A darkened pizza stone means more seasoning and better non-stick power. Be proud of your stains!
To naturally season a new pizza stone, without caking it with grease or oil, bake some cookies or buttery bread on your stone to start the seasoning process. Just avoid cooking something smelly on your stone, like fish, because the stone might absorb the odor.
How to Clean a Burned Pizza Stone
If there are pieces of food that refuse to come off with a scraper or brush, you can give your pizza stone a deep clean in the oven. Here’s how:
- Set the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Place the pizza stone in the oven on the top rack.
- Allow it to bake for about an hour.
- Check the stone. There should be grease bubbles forming and popping.
- Start the auto-clean cycle when the bubbling has stopped. If the stone is very dirty, it might produce a lot of smoke.
- Pieces of food should burn off.
- When the cycle has finished, wait for the oven to cool down.
- After it is cool, remove the pizza stone and wipe it down with a clean cloth.
Finally, if the heat doesn’t clean the stone, you can sand down crumbs with a piece of medium-grit sandpaper.
How to Clean a Moldy Pizza Stone
If your pizza stone is moldy, it may be because it was exposed to too much moisture. Mold needs moisture to grow. So, what should you do? Try a baking-soda-vinegar paste to remove the mold. All you need to do is:
- Mix a dash of vinegar with about a teaspoon of baking soda until it forms a paste consistency.
- Scrub the mold with a brush and the paste.
- Clean the stone with a damp cloth.
This paste can be used to remove stains, too. If this method does not get rid of the mold, you may want to toss your beloved pizza stone and get a new one. Although most molds cannot survive temperatures above 140 degrees F, it might not be worth the risk to keep a moldy stone.
Other substances like bleach, detergent, hydrogen peroxide and tea tree oil kill mold, but we don’t recommend using any of these on a pizza stone. Remember, a pizza stone is porous so it would absorb any chemicals placed on it, and some mold-killing chemicals are toxic.
What to Do If You Wash Your Pizza Stone With Soap
You come home from work and see all the dishes are done and sitting in the drying rack — how nice! Except, you notice your pizza stone sitting out on the kitchen counter, sparkling clean. Suddenly, your heart drops. Nightmarish thoughts of soapy-infused margherita pizza rush through your head. Who is responsible for this disaster?
Before you douse your friend or spouse with dish detergent as revenge for destroying your pizza stone, take a deep breath. It might be okay. In fact, if your pizza stone was already heavily seasoned, you might not even notice a soapy taste. But to be on the safe side, here’s a trick you might try:
- Spread pop-can crescent rolls or old pieces of bread on the pizza stone covering the surface.
- Bake the rolls as instructed or until the bread is toasted.
- The dough you used should absorb the soapy flavor.
- Toss the crescent rolls and bread in the garbage or feed them to the person who used soap on your pizza stone. Just kidding — it was nice of them to wash your dishes, after all.
If you still notice a soap flavor, don’t toss your pizza stone just yet. Try cleaning it with one of the above non-soap methods to help get rid of the soapy taste. The seasoning will build up again over time and cover unwanted flavors.
Other Pizza Stone Tips
Here are a few more tips for getting the most out of your pizza stone.
How to Transfer Your Pizza With a Pizza Peel
What’s a pizza peel? It’s a long-handled, paddle-shaped tool used to slide under a pizza for easy transferring. For cooking at home, a square-headed pizza peel should fit just fine in your oven.
A wooden peel is a little more high-maintenance than other materials. It must be dried after washing to prevent warping, and it must occasionally be rubbed down with mineral oil to prevent stains and odors. Wooden peels are also thicker and harder to slide under the pizza compared to other peels. On the plus side, pizza dough is less likely to stick to a wooden peel.
A steel pizza peel is the easiest to clean, but raw dough might stick to it. Steel is the thinnest material for pizza peels and easily slides under a pizza. You can help prevent sticking by dusting the peel with flour or cornmeal before transferring raw pizza to the oven. With your pizza stone and pizza peel, you’ll feel like the owner of your own pizza shop.
How to Keep Your Stone From Cracking
If you open your oven door and see a cracked pizza stone, your heart might break, too. These wonderful stone slabs can fissure if they aren’t used with caution. Common reasons a pizza stone breaks include:
- Temperature change: Putting a cold stone in a hot oven may give it a temperature shock and cause it to break.
- Moisture: Too much moisture or oil can weaken the stone and cause it to crack. Always make sure your stone is dry before putting it into the oven.
- Cold food: Be careful placing cold dough or frozen pizza on a hot stone. Remember, an extreme temperature difference can cause a crack. Use dough that is warm or room-temperature. Avoid putting a frozen pizza on your stone altogether.
- Too much handling: We understand. You love your pizza stone. But before you consider cuddling with your pizza stone, realize that too much handling can weaken it. It’s best to try to leave it in the oven to minimize handling. If you are worried about other food getting on it, protect your stone by wrapping it in foil when not in use.
- Taking it out of the oven too soon: Another way to give it temperature shock is to throw a hot pizza stone on a cold counter or stove top. Instead, give your pizza a little time to cool down in the oven before removal, and then set it onto a towel.
- Too much heat: Put a cold stone into a cold oven and give it plenty of time to preheat before adding the pizza. Transfer your pizza to the preheated stone with a pizza peel.
The best thing you can remember to prevent cracking your pizza stone is to avoid drastic temperature changes, and try not to handle it too much.
How to Preheat a Pizza Stone
To preheat a pizza stone, first put the cold stone into a cold oven. Then, set the oven to at least 500 degrees F. Let the pizza stone heat for an hour or no less than a half hour.
In the meantime, prepare your pizza and top it with all your favorite toppings. Once the hour is up, carefully transfer the pizza to the pizza stone.
Within 10 minutes or less, you should have a lovely crispy brown crust, just like your favorite pizza parlor pizza. The pizza could be ready in a little longer or a little less, depending on how brown you want the crust and cheese. If you don’t own a pizza peel, use a large cutting board or any other large flat surface like a flat cookie sheet to transfer the pizza.
When Not to Use a Pizza Stone
You love your pizza stone, and that’s great. We’re sure you won’t hurt its feelings if you’re not in the mood for spending an evening with your pizza stone. In fact, sometimes there are situations when it is best not to use your pizza stone, such as:
- You’re starving.
- Your friends show up without calling, and they are starving.
- A relative steals your pizza peel.
- You sprain your wrist.
- Your favorite childhood movie is on TV, and you can’t look away no matter how hard you try.
- Your pet gives you sad eyes every time you attempt to get up.
- The thought of cooking makes you want to dive under the couch and cry.
It’s okay. You can still satisfy your pizza craving without your pizza stone. All you need to do is pick up the phone and let us handle it.
Here at Giordano’s, we never get tired of making a delicious custom pizza. It’s what we do. We’ve been doing it for over 40 years, seven days a week. Not to brag, but after all that time and experience, our pizza stones have developed really big muscles.
So if you’re dreaming of a slice of Deep Dish or a Super Veggie Thin Crust, check out one of our locations and give yourself and your pizza stone a much-deserved break. When you’re ready to put your pizza stone to work again, visit our blog for inspiring and scrumptious pizza ideas or other pizza-related topics.