How to Deep-Clean Your Waffle Maker Without Damaging It

Follow these simple waffle-maker cleaning steps to guarantee your next breakfast is a syrupy success.

From classic fluffy squares to thick Belgian varieties, waffles can be perfectly customized with all the trimmings from the comfort of your own kitchen. However, the mouthwatering treat loved by many comes with some not-so-fun cleaning. After making and enjoying waffles, you might be left with a baked-on mess. Luckily, with some dish detergent and a little elbow grease, deep-cleaning your waffle machine won't seem like such a chore.

releasing waffle from iron with rubber spatula
Inna Vlasova/Adobe Stock

How to Clean a Waffle Maker

Before you begin, note that you should never use any tools or utensils with sharp edges, scouring pads, or hard-bristled brushes that could scratch and destroy the surface of the waffle machine.

What You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Rubber spatula
  • Sponge or dishcloth
  • Dish detergent

Step 1: Review the manual.

Referring to the owner's manual will help you determine the best way to clean your waffle maker, and eliminate a lot of the guesswork to ensure you don't damage your appliance. If you can't find the owner's manual, don't fret; a quick online search should return product-care instructions needed to get the job done. Or go directly to the manufacturer's website to see if they include copies online.

Once you've located the manual for your machine, take a moment to review it. Determine if there are any removable parts, and whether or not your waffle maker is dishwasher-safe. Many waffle machines are not dishwasher-safe, but some have detachable components that can be cleaned in the sink or dishwasher. The majority of waffle makers on the market today clearly indicate they should not be submerged in water, so wiping it down is most often the best cleaning method.

Step 2: Unplug and cool down.

Make sure that your waffle iron is unplugged from its electrical source. This will help you avoid accidentally activating the power feature. You'll also want to give your waffle machine plenty of time to cool down after use so that you don't burn yourself during the cleaning process.

Step 3: Wipe down with a paper towel.

Many waffle makers on the market today come with nonstick coatings, which make cleaning a lot easier. Use a paper towel or dishcloth to remove any clinging waffle batter or oil residue. Don't forget to wipe up any food bits stuck within crevices or batter-overflow areas.

Step 4: Brush away stuck-on bits.

If there are any food bits still stuck to the machine, grab a soft-bristle brush (the soft bristles protect the integrity of the machine's surface, especially if it's nonstick). Carefully work the dry brush over the machine to dislodge stubborn crumbs. A rubber spatula can also be used to remove any dried residue from the waffle machine without damaging the cooking surface.

Step 5: Clean the cooking surface.

Once you've removed any visible oil and food particles, clean the cooking surface of your machine with a damp sponge or dishcloth and a bit of dish detergent. If your waffle maker has a nonstick coating, skip the dish soap, as it can compromise the delicate cooking surface. Instead, opt for warm water. Be careful not to go overboard with the soap and water so that you don't damage the machine or expose electrical components to water that might increase the risk of electric shock once the machine is plugged in again.

For waffle irons with removable plates, remove the plates and place them in the sink or a container filled with warm water. Wash the plates gently with a soft sponge or brush. (Remember: don't use soap if the surface is nonstick.) Make sure any removable parts are completely dry before placing them back into the waffle machine.

You may need to make a few passes over the machine's griddle to satisfactorily clean the cooking surface, but with most of the food already removed, this shouldn't take long. Once you've cleaned the inside of your machine, turn your attention to the outside and give it a good wipe-down with your damp sponge or dishcloth.

Step 6: Dry the waffle maker.

With a fresh dishcloth, wipe down your clean waffle maker to remove any moisture before storing it away or returning it to its place on the kitchen counter.

How to Clean a Mini Waffle Maker or Belgian Waffle Maker

If you have a mini waffle maker or a Belgian waffle maker, you'll likely be able to employ the same tips and tricks outlined above to clean your appliance. But always check the owner's manual or manufacturer's website to be sure. You may need to get creative with cleaning more intricate griddle surfaces—think toothpicks or chopsticks—to say goodbye to burnt batter and clean a decorative griddle for your next waffle-cooking session.

More Tips for Cleaning Waffle Irons

  • If your waffle machine is made of stainless steel, use a stainless-steel cleaner ($9, Target) to maintain the outer components of the machine. Be sure to apply the cleaner to a cloth (rather than directly to the appliance) and avoid all food surfaces.
  • Apply a few drops of cooking oil to any stuck or burnt batter to soften it enough to remove. You can also try applying a hot towel to the waffle machine's surface to soften stubborn residue. Another popular waffle-maker cleaning hack: creating a paste with baking soda and water. Apply it to the surface of the waffle-machine grid and allow it to sit for a few hours before wiping away with a damp cloth.
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