What’s not to love about a pizza stone? A pizza stone acts like a portable brick oven by producing pizza crusts that are crispy and deliciously charred. With minimum effort and a trusty pizza stone, you can transform your kitchen into a trendy pizzeria, regardless of 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 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 Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. 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 could scratch your pizza stone, so only use them when you can’t get rid of burnt or stuck pieces of food any other way. No matter what you do, never use dish soap or any cleaning chemicals on your pizza stone unless you like the taste of soapy pizza. The only cleaning liquid you should use with your pizza stone is water — and even that should be used in moderation.
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 and 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 let the pizza stone get too wet, the stone will not bake the pizza crust right. Instead, you want your pizza stone to be completely dry before using it. If necessary, you can use a damp towel to sweep any crumbs away, but make sure the pizza stone is dry afterward. We do not recommend putting your pizza stone in the oven to dry it because any trapped water in the stone could cause it to 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 water as you can because you will need to completely dry the pizza stone before using it again or storing it.
- Use a stone brush to scrub the pizza stone thoroughly.
- Wipe away any food particles with a damp rag.
- Allow the pizza stone to air dry or use a clean towel to dry the stone.
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, then scrub the paste off with a brush and wipe the stone down with a damp rag. Unlike soap, baking soda will clean the stains off the stone without affecting the flavor of future pizzas.
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 season a new pizza stone naturally and without caking it with oil or grease, bake a loaf of buttery bread or some cookies on your stone to begin the seasoning process. Just avoid cooking anything with a strong smell on your stone, such as 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 Fahrenheit.
- 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, the stone may have been exposed to too much moisture. Moisture is necessary for mold to grow, so you may be forgetting to let your pizza stone dry completely before storing it.
So, what should you do? Try a baking soda and vinegar paste to remove the mold. All you need to do is:
- Mix a splash of vinegar with around a teaspoon of baking soda until the mixture reaches a paste-like 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 Fahrenheit, 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.
Pizza Stone FAQs
For quick details on how to get a clean pizza stone, check out these common pizza stone questions and their answers:
1. Is It OK to Wash a Pizza Stone?
You can wash your pizza stone as long as you carefully follow the steps above, limit the amount of water you use and don’t use soap, cleaning chemicals or oils.
2. Can You Use Dish Soap on a Pizza Stone?
You should never use dish soap on your pizza stone. The pizza stone’s pores will absorb the dish soap, giving any future pizzas you make with the stone a slightly soapy taste.
3. What Should You Do if Soap Was Used on Your Pizza Stone?
If you or someone else in your household accidentally washes your pizza stone with soap, you can try to get rid of any soapy residue by covering the entire baking surface with unrolled crescent rolls and baking as directed. When the rolls have finished baking, remove them from the stone and throw them out. The rolls should have absorbed most of the soapy flavor so your next pizza doesn’t taste like soap.
4. Should I Oil My Pizza Stone?
You should not oil your pizza stone because the stone’s porous surface does not season as a cast-iron skillet does. In fact, seasoning a pizza stone does not offer any benefits.
5. Can You Wash a Pizza Stone in the Dishwasher?
You should not put your pizza stone in the dishwasher. Pizza stones are not dishwasher safe and may become damaged if washed in this way.
6. Can You Self-Clean a Pizza Stone in the Oven?
Never leave your pizza stone in the oven during the self-cleaning cycle because the stone may break or crack.
7. Can You Use Steel Wool on a Pizza Stone?
Avoid using steel wool on a pizza stone because anything metallic or sharp could scratch the stone. Instead, use a bench scraper, stone brush or sandpaper to scrape stuck-on debris from your pizza stone.
8. How Do You Get Stuck Food off of a Pizza Stone?
If your pizza stone has some stubborn food residue stuck to it, place the stone in the oven at about 500 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. Once the stone is hot, it will be easier to scrape off any remaining debris because it won’t be as crusted onto the stone.
9. How Can You Get Grease Stains Out of Your Pizza Stone?
To get stains out of a pizza stone, mix water and baking soda into a paste in a small bowl. Cover the stain with a bit of the paste, then use a brush to gently scrub the paste in a circular motion. Rinse the paste off, and the stain should be removed.
10. How Often Should You Clean Your Pizza Stone?
Try to wipe down your pizza stone after each use when any stuck-on cheese or other debris will be the easiest to scrape off. This way, you don’t have to deep clean the stone with baking soda and a scraper or brush as frequently — only when food residue really starts to pile up.
11. Can You Get All of the Stains Out of a Pizza Stone?
No matter how much you clean your pizza stone, you won’t be able to get every stain out. But don’t worry — these stains won’t affect the taste of your pizza creations. In fact, some people claim these stains can enhance the taste!
12. Can You Soak a Pizza Stone in Water?
Never submerge your pizza stone in water because any moisture trapped in the stone’s pores could affect the texture of your next pizza crust.
13. Should You Air Dry a Pizza Stone?
You should allow your pizza stone to air dry instead of baking it dry because forcing any absorbed water out in the oven could make the stone crack.
14. How Long Does a Pizza Stone Take to Dry?
A pizza stone takes about an hour or so to air dry completely and be ready to use again.
15. How Long Should a Pizza Stone Last?
A pizza stone is remarkably durable and able to withstand years of wear and tear. Some true pizza fanatics can even use the same stone for more than a decade!
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 brighter side, it is far less likely for pizza dough to stick to a wooden peel.
A steel pizza peel will be your easiest option to clean, but raw pizza dough may stick to it. As the thinnest material used for pizza peels, steel will easily slide under your pizza. You can avoid any sticking by dusting the pizza peel with cornmeal or flour 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 for a pizza stone to break include:
- Temperature change: Placing a cold stone into a hot oven may create a temperature shock and cause the stone to break.
- Moisture: Excessive moisture from water or oil can weaken the pizza stone and eventually crack the stone. Double-check that the pizza stone is dry before placing it into the oven.
- Cold food: Be careful when placing a frozen pizza or cold dough 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 stovetop. 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 Fahrenheit. 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.