How to clean a pizza oven – a foolproof guide from cleaning experts

Experts have shared their foolproof method for achieving a deep clean on your pizza oven no matter what type it is

picture of a brick pizza oven in a garden
(Image credit: Future)

The last thing you want to see on a summer's night with gooey cheese and rich tomato sauce on your mind is a pizza oven full of soot or food scrap. To stop that disappointment, follow this simple yet effective guide to a sparkling-clean pizza oven

Whilst you may already know how to clean a BBQ, tackling your pizza oven no matter what type it is will offer up a few different obstacles. For your oven to work at optimal efficiency it's important to deep clean it at least once a month depending on usage. 

So whether you've already got a pizza oven in your garden or are looking for outdoor kitchen ideas and want to be ready for your new appliance, here's our expert guide for keeping a pizza oven functioning at its best. 

How to clean a brick-built wood-fired pizza oven

Unfortunately, knowing how to clean your oven in your kitchen isn't going to be too helpful here, however cleaning expert from Smol, Catherine Green has a simple four-step method that you can't go wrong with. 

Firstly Catherine explains that whatever type of pizza oven you have you need to make sure it's completely cooled before you even attempt to start cleaning. "And never throw water onto a hot pizza oven to cool it down as this could damage it," she says. 

Here's what you'll need...

  • Bristle brush/Pizza oven brush 
  • Clean micro-fibre cloth
  • Multi-purpose spray 
  • Bowl of water 

1. Sweep

Before you can start with any expert cleaning hacks, you will need to sweep your brick pizza oven. The chances are that there is probably some leftover food or ash in the oven that was left when the oven was cooling down the last time you used it. 

Catherine says, "Brick pizza ovens can reach temperatures of 400°C - a lot hotter than our ovens indoors. So most food spills inside should burn down to ash."

She recommends using a dustpan and brush to sweep out the ash from the oven and into a container. This is a great opportunity to use the ash in your garden as a fertiliser for your plants, you'd be surprised how beneficial it is when sprinkled onto soil.

Can you use malt vinegar for cleaning -  black and white photo of Catherine Green
Catherine Green

Having worked for the cleaning brand Smol since its creation, Catherine has tested each and every product before its release. She is also involved with the production team's process and provides feedback for the development of the company's products. 

2. Remove soot stains

picture of a brick pizza oven with soot stains on it

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is where a little bit more elbow grease will be needed, if you know how to clean oven racks you'll be well prepared for this step. 

"Sometimes soot stains build up on your pizza oven bricks. Soot is made up of things like carbon and tar, which are stickier and oilier than ash. It can be tricky to remove," explains Catherine. 

Whilst you can leave it, Catherine recommends using a hard bristle brush such as a specialised pizza oven brush to rub the soot off the pizza stone. She does however warn against using any sort of cleaning products due to the porous nature of the brick, chances are you can leave more marks than you started with. 

3. Inspect the flue

You may have never thought 'inspect the flue' would be on your spring cleaning checklist, but if you're a pizza oven owner you must inspect and clean the flue or chimney once a year. 

Catherine says, "When burning solid fuel like wood in your pizza oven it’s important to inspect and clean the chimney/flue once a year. Open the damper at the top and brush downwards so any particles fall into the oven itself to be removed."

4. Clean the door

Once you've cleaned the interior of the brick pizza oven it's time to tackle the door, should your oven have one of course.

"Most brick-built pizza ovens have a cast-iron door. Wipe this down inside and out with a damp cloth and multi-purpose spray before drying it off," suggests Catherine. Should you deem it necessary you can also paint a little bit of vegetable oil onto the cast iron to protect it from the unpredictable weather every now and then. 

If your door has a glass window, Catherine recommends using multi-purpose spray or some warm water with a little bit of washing-up liquid and then you can dry it thoroughly with a clean microfibre cloth or towel. 

How to clean portable or mixed fuel pizza ovens

How to clean portable or mixed fuel pizza ovens

Having a portable pizza oven is a great way of bringing the quiet luxury garden trend to your space, it's much more affordable than a brick one and will certainly impress your guests. 

1. Cleaning a pizza oven stone

picture of a domestic pizza oven

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Only when your oven is completely cool, it's best to start with cleaning your pizza stone. 

Speaking to Francesca Fay, senior brand manager at Ooni Pizza Ovens, she says, "Scrape off stubborn bits of food or debris using a pizza brush. Then, flip your stone over and reinsert it for the next cook. The heat from the oven should be enough to burn off any remaining residue while you’re making pizzas."

We wouldn't recommend using cleaning liquid or water to wash down your pizza stone, it's also one of the things you shouldn't clean with vinegar due to the porous material. 

2. Clean fuel tray and surfaces

After you've cleaned the pizza stone, it's time to tackle the fuel tray. Whilst you may already know how to clean stainless steel, cleaning your fuel tray can be done in a rather simple way. 

Catherine says, "Empty the fuel tray and brush it clean. If there are stains that won’t come off you can try wiping with a damp cloth but remember to dry it immediately afterwards."

For the external parts of the oven, she recommends using a multi-purpose spray and a micro-fibre cloth to wipe down the sides and inner roof before drying the surfaces off afterwards. 

3. Hopper and Chimney

The hopper and chimney will most likely be coated on the inside with soot and an oily black build-up from the burning of fuel. If you notice your chimney is particularly dirty then we'd recommend putting some gloves on for the task. 

"If there is an oily black build-up on the outside of the chimney you can clean off this soot with some warm soapy water," says Catherine. "You can use the same solution to clean the outside of the hopper. Remember to thoroughly dry both areas once you are done." 

Similar to how you clean terracotta pots in your garden, a little bit of soapy water is the perfect cleaning agent to keep chemical use low but cleaning power high. 

stainless steel pizza oven with door

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Clean door

Most portable pizza ovens will have a stainless steel door with a glass window on them, whilst they don't usually get too dirty it's a good idea to give them a clean. You may have to remove the door to clean it properly, so be sure to refer back to the instruction manual for how to do this. 

Firstly, Catherine says you should wipe the glass with a dry cloth to remove any of the soot that may have collected there. She then suggests, "Use your washing-up liquid soapy water to wash down the glass and remove any of the more stubborn soot." 

After cleaning ensure the door is fully dried before you hang it back onto the the oven and use it. 

How to keep your pizza oven clean between uses 

person putting a cover over a portable pizza oven

(Image credit: Ooni)

If you're the type of cleaner who keeps to their daily habits to keep your home clean and tidy you'll probably want to clean your oven in between uses. Should this be the case, there are a few steps you can take to keep your oven maintained from week to week. 

Olivia Young, cleaning expert and product development scientist at Astonish, lists several ways to look after your oven. She says it's important to remove food residue immediately whilst it's warm with either a spatula or pizza oven burn and also make sure you're removing the ash when it begins to build up too much. Whilst a little bit of ash can enhance the flavour of your pizza, too much can obstruct the airflow.

When your pizza oven isn't being used, Francesca suggests buying a waterproof cover for it. She stresses the importance of choosing one that is custom-designed to fit your model of the oven as the snug fit will ensure it's fully protected from the elements. 

Can you use malt vinegar for cleaning - picture of Olivia Young
Olivia Young

Olivia has worked in both formulation science and analytical science for over three years, testing and designing household products from scratch. She now works at cleaning brand Astonish where she is based in the on-site lab testing and creating products to ensure they work effectively. 

Following all these steps will ensure your oven is kept in its very best condition, however, Francesca does recommend you completely clean your oven after every use. She says, "At Ooni, we believe that the less time you spend cleaning your oven, the more time you’ll have to enjoy making and eating great pizza with friends and family." 

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.