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Fresh out of the box the pizza stone looks so pristine — full of hope for all the pizza in your future. A few pizzas later and the thing has curious dark spots and crusty bits stuck on it. It seems the thing is already old, dirty, ready for the trash? Our first instinct is to clean it like any other pan. We’ll get that oil spot out like that! Before you grab the soap, take a deep breath:

A pizza stone with stains still makes great pizza.

In fact, there’s nothing wrong with a stained stone. There’ll only ever be something wrong with your stone if you expose the porous material to soap or other chemicals. And, fear not — eventually those brown stains will become a beautifully even patina. Just like a nice cast iron pot, the patina you build on your pizza stone makes it work even better: pizza will slide off easily without sticking.

Really, the only thing you can do wrong here is to get overly zealous, dousing your pizza stone in soapy water. There are a few methods for cleaning a stained pizza stone: scrape it, bake it, or sand it with baking soda.

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How to Clean a Pizza Stone

The process for cleaning a Big Green Egg pizza stone is the same as a regular pizza stone. If you have Pampered Chef Stoneware, the process is slightly different. We’ll cover both BGE and Pampered Chef methods of cleaning.

They’re all very simple — and you don’t have to do them all. Start at the top and work your way down. You’ll find, like we did, that cleaning a baking stone is almost as simple as eating pizza. Honestly.

You’ll need:
A scraper, like this one from OXO Good Grips or these scrapers from Lodge
Baking soda (optional)

You won’t need:

Step 1: Scrape the burnt bits off.

Start with a cooled pizza stone — no burns, OK? Then use a bench scraper to literally scrape off any of the crusty bits. You could use a butter knife for this or a metal spatula, but the wide edge of a bench scraper will make quick work of this.

What’s a bench scraper? It’s that wide flat tool you can use to cut fat into flour or scoop chopped onions off the cutting board and into the bowl. Its firm side is perfect for scraping the burnt crisps off your pizza stone. Imagine it’s like a paint scraper or giant flat and much more effective butter knife. We like the OXO Tools bench scraper, which has a comfortable handle and a firm edge.

Step 2: That’s it. No water, no soap.

Don’t use water, don’t use soap, don’t use anything other than your scraper. Why? Pizza stone pans are porous and anything you get on them will stay inside the porous material. If you soak your stone in soapy water, it’ll basically become soapy water logged and your dreams of crispy crusted pizza will become sad soapy nightmares.

What’s so wrong with water? It’s possible that the porous surface will absorb the water and that water, which will steam up and need to escape during the next pizza bake, will cause the stone itself to crack. Too much pressure + no good way out = permanent pizza stone crack

Step 3: Still not satisfied? Bake your stone.

If there’s anything you can’t get off, simply pop your stone into the oven and turn the oven to full blast. On most ovens that’s around 500°F or 550°F. Turn on your air vent and let your stone bake empty for about an hour — around this time anything that’s still sticking to the stone should burn off.

Step 4 (Optional): Spot clean a stained pizza stone.

Those patina-forming spots just too much to deal with? It’s totally possible to make a paste of one part baking soda, one part water and scrub it down with a toothbrush or a scrub sponge. The baking soda paste is a gentle abrasive that’s basically sanding down the top layer of the stone. Some people take this to the next logical step and bust out the sandpaper to really take off the top layer. This method, used sparingly doesn’t do much harm, but we think it is unnecessary.

After you use any of these abrasion methods, wipe your stone with a damp cloth to remove all of the lingering dust — and allow to dry completely — before using it again.

Can I clean my pizza stone using the self-cleaning feature of my oven?

Yep, it definitely works. During the self-cleaning cycle, your oven will increase in temperature. Any bits left on your stone will be incinerated. The bigger, better question is actually is it good for your oven to run the self-cleaning cycle? Some people say that it’s a quick way to wear your oven out. We’ve found that running the oven at around 500°F or 550°F works well enough for us without putting any additional wear and tear on our ovens.

Definitely don’t use a chemical cleaner like Easy-Off with your pizza stone in the oven.

If your pizza stone is actually Pampered Chef Stoneware, don’t put it in the self-cleaning oven cycle. The temperatures will exceed the recommended range.

How to Clean Pampered Chef Stoneware

You’ll need:
A scraper, like this one from OXO Good Grips or these scrapers from Lodge
Baking soda

You won’t need:

Step 1: Let your stoneware cool.

Not only will you burn yourself, but if you soak your hot stoneware in water (which is definitely the next step) you can risk cracking or fracturing it.

Step 2: Soak your stone in hot water.

This will work to loosen up any crusted on bits. Unlike other pizza stones, Pampered Chef Stoneware isn’t porous, so there’s no risk here in getting it water logged.

Step 3: Scrape off loose bits using a bench scraper.

This should be pretty quick work. If things aren’t coming off easily, you probably didn’t soak your stone long enough. Go back a step, listen to a podcast, and try again later in the afternoon.

Step 4: Cover with baking soda paste, let sit, then rinse.

To make the paste combine ½ cup baking soda with 3 tablespoons water. Completely coat your stoneware with paste and let sit for 15 minutes. Once you’ve let it sit, scrape it off and rinse your stone with warm water.

Scrape off the paste and then rinse your stoneware pan in warm water. If you haven’t gotten everything off, repeat the process. Finally, be sure to dry your stoneware completely before stashing it in your cupboard.

Why is the seasoning on my stoneware uneven?

The seasoning process is simply a building up of a uniform layer of oils. This will take time and at first the patina will seem splotchy or spotty. In time your patina will be even and gorgeous. Just like any other pizza stone this is the seasoning building up. It’ll help things to not stick and actually improves the stoneware’s performance over time.

In Sum

Step 1: Let your pizza stone cool.
Step 2: Use a bench scraper to remove any crusted on bits.
Step 3: Pop your pizza stone in the oven set to 550°F for 60 minutes.
Step 4: Allow to cool before storing.
Step 5: Stains are a natural part of the stone’s patina, but you can remove them with a baking soda paste and a quick scrub.