Pizza stones are an essential in the pizza lover's kitchen. They are the key to perfect homemade pizza. Clean pizza stones carefully, and they will produce superior pizza for years to come.
Step 1: Pre-clean the Stone
Wipe off any large spills, such as sauce or cheese, with a dry or slightly damp towel. Gently scrape heavily soiled areas with a plastic dish scraping utensil. Be careful not to scratch the pizza stone's surface, as this will weaken its integrity and create an area where future spills will get trapped.
Do not wash the stone with soap and/or water, or any other chemical cleaner. Pizza stones are porous, and will absorb any chemicals or liquids they come in contact with. Washing the pizza stone will also damage it. Moisture absorbed into the stone will turn into steam during cooking and cause fractures as the steam escapes.
Step 2: Bake off Spills in the Oven
To clean the pizza stone, place it in the oven. Always start with a cold oven, and preheat. Gradually heating the pizza stone will allow any moisture that has naturally absorbed into the stone to escape slowly. Heat the oven to the maximum temperature it allows, and bake for an hour or more.
Step 3: Scrape the Stone
When the pizza stone has cooled, scrape off any remaining carbonized food remnants with a plastic scraper utensil. The pizza stone will appear splotchy, and will naturally darken over time; this is completely normal. There is no way to get the stone to look brand new once it has been used. Think of it this way, a well loved pizza stone will have character to show for it.
Step 4: Store the Stone
Store the pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven. This will keep it clean and dry. It can be baked along with anything in the oven; however, take care not to allow other food to spill onto the stone, as it will absorb those spills, and retain that food residue.
If there is some concern about sanitization of the pizza stone, keep in mind that to clean pizza stones in the traditional soap and water way will ruin them. Baking at high temperatures and allowing the stone to stay in the oven will insure that all pathogens have been destroyed.
Cleaning a pizza stone in this way will insure that it lasts a lifetime.