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How to Correctly (and Safely) Clean Your Waffle Maker

A waffle maker with a square waffle grid.
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

A well-maintained waffled maker will last for years and create delicious golden-brown creations every time. Here’s how to correctly and safely clean your waffle maker.

There’s no better way to start the morning than with a plate of fluffy waffles, but how are you supposed to clean it when you’re done? Can you run water on it? Can you use soap? How do you get the grease off?

Fortunately, cleaning a waffle maker doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It also shouldn’t take too much time if you’re consistent with your cleanup routine.

A quick note on waffle makers vs. waffle irons: These terms are used interchangeably today. Technically, however, the term “waffle iron” refers to a cast-iron device with a waffle pattern that is meant to be used over a fire or the stove. A waffle maker, on the other hand, is an electrical device that doesn’t need a secondary heat source to cook anything.

The Best Home Waffle Maker

Cuisinart WAF-F20P1 Waffle Iron

This Cuisinart waffle maker model is a classic for a reason. You can expect it to last for decades of use.

Both are used interchangeably today but in this article, we are referring to electric waffle makers with non-removable plates. If you’re in the market for a classic waffle iron (that’s actually iron!) though, this model is about as old-school as it gets.

And if you don’t own a quality waffle maker yet, well then we can’t recommend the Cuisinart WAF-F20P1 enough. It’s the Cadillac of home waffle makers and our top waffle maker pick.

How to Clean Your Waffle Maker

Waffle makers are extremely simple to keep clean so long as you follow some basic guidelines (and avoid using your waffle iron to cook random stuff besides waffles). With proper use and proper routine cleaning, it won’t take much to keep your waffle maker clean.

Wait for It to Cool Completely

Waffle makers get extremely hot during the cooking process. They are usually brushed with oil before being used, and hot oil can easily cause burns. Unplug your device and let it cool completely before you attempt to clean it.

Wipe Away Oil with a Dry Paper Towel

Once your waffle maker has cooled off, use a dry paper towel to soak up visible oil. Grease and oil can puddle up in the grid’s crevices or sit on top of the ridges. It may be helpful to fold or twist the paper towel into a point to get into corners.

Use a Soft Bristled Brush to Clean Crumbs

Sometimes waffle batter will stick to the maker, whether it wasn’t oiled properly or it was cooked for a little too long. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrape away any food particles that have stuck to the device.

You can also use a toothpick or wooden skewer to dig into the grates if your brush can’t reach. Whether you have a nonstick waffle maker or not, only use wooden or plastic tools to clean it. Metal can damage the surface and cause more food to stick later on.

Use a Soapy Damp Rag to Wipe the Inside

If you used a particularly sticky batch of waffle batter, there may still be food residue stuck inside at this point. If that’s the case, wet a terry cloth or microfiber dish towel with hot water and a small amount of dish soap. Wipe down the remaining mess with your towel.

Stubborn food particles can also be softened with oil. Spray some cooking oil on any food that is still stuck and let it soften for a few minutes before wiping away. Wipe any excess oil with a dry paper towel, then follow with a damp dishtowel.

Wipe the Outside with a Damp Rag

Cooking spray often gets on the outside of waffle makers and can build up a sticky residue. Finish the cleaning process by wiping the outside of the appliance with a damp rag.

Don’t use a dripping wet rag and avoid getting water into any openings, buttons, dials, or seams on the waffle iron.

Let Dry Before Putting Away

Leave your waffle maker open and let it dry completely before putting it away. Wiping down the exterior of the waffle iron with a dry towel is an easy way to remove the last of the smudges and fingerprints.

If you have a machine with a stainless steel experience, a drop of vegetable oil and a little buffing will make it look really nice. Repeat this process every time you make waffles to prevent your machine from getting a significant buildup of old cooking oil and such.

How to Keep It Clean

A man removing a fresh waffle from a waffle iron using silicone tongs.
Brett Holmes/Shutterstock.com

The key to keeping your waffle maker clean is consistent routine cleaning after use and doing things over time that will lead to a sticky waffle maker with a failing non-stick coating. Here’s are the waffle maker habits you should adopt to keep your waffle maker clean and producing tasty waffles.

Wipe It After Every Use

Like every household chore, the mess on your waffle maker will stay manageable if you clean it often. Wipe down the appliance with a dry paper towel after every use and brush away food particles if necessary.

Any batter or food that gets left on your waffle maker will just get harder and more difficult to remove over time. It takes just a few minutes after every use to keep your waffle maker clean!

Don’t Use Cooking Spray on Nonstick Appliances

More and more waffle makers are coming with nonstick coatings. Nonstick appliances do not need any oil and often advise against using it. Cooking oil can build up a sticky residue on this material and make it prone to damage when you try to remove the residue.

On the flip side, not oiling your waffle maker can cause food to stick and burn if you’re meant to grease it up. Check your waffle maker’s instruction manual to see if you should or shouldn’t use any oil or cooking spray.

Almost all waffle recipes, by the way, call for a bit of oil (usually a tablespoon or two). While you might be tempted to skip that extra oil for health reasons or such, don’t. Not only does it contribute to the overall texture and flavor of the waffle, but it helps keep the waffles from sticking.

Don’t Use Metal Utensils

Just like you should avoid metal utensils while cleaning, don’t use them when cooking either. Instead of using a butter knife to lift your waffle from the device when it’s ready, grab a silicone spatula instead or, if you’re a dedicated waffle aficionado, a pair of waffle tongs or toaster tongs.

Tovolo Waffle Tongs

These adorable little tongs are designed specifically for grabbing waffles off a hot waffle maker.

Metal tools can scrape and scratch non-stick coatings very easily, which will lead to more sticking and more mess in the future.

Deep Clean When Necessary

Depending on how often you use your waffle maker and how diligent you are about cleaning it after every use, a deep clean may not be required more than every year or two. If you’ve tried all the cleaning tips above and still have caked-on food residue, you’ll need to put a little more elbow grease into it.

To remove caked-on food particles, make a paste out of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Spoon the paste onto food particles of particularly grimy areas and let it sit for a couple of hours. The paste will start to turn brown as it absorbs oil and grime. Wipe off the paste with clean wet rags until all residue is gone.

While you can go nuts scrubbing and buffing until the waffle iron looks brand there’s no real reason to do so. The patina is part of the experience and with a product like the aforementioned Cuisinart WAF-F20P1 a little bit of patina gives it a sort of wafflehouse vibe we dig. If you like a well-used-looking waffle iron too, focus on getting the actual food bits off and removing any tacky oil buildup but stop short of polishing the metal back to show-room-new.

OXO Good Grips Dish Brush

This sturdy brush is great for all kinds of kitchen cleaning tasks, including scrubing the grates of your waffler maker.

For general deep cleaning of the plates, brace your waffle maker on the side of your sink so that the grates hang over the sink and the rest of the appliance is safely away from any water. Using a nylon dish brush, scrub the grates with a few drops of dish soap and water. The goal here is not to soak the whole waffle maker in the water or even let the water run over it. The goal is to be able to scrub the plates with a little water and have that water run down into the sink (instead of all over your countertops).

When you’re finished scrubbing, clean the remaining soap with a gentle stream of water from your sink, taking extra care to ensure that no water touches any other part of the appliance. If you want to play it safe, you can use a damp rag to finish the cleaning process.

Properly cleaning your waffle maker will help it last as long as possible. It will also continue to crank out beautiful golden-brown breakfasts for years to come.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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