Cleaning Your Waffle Iron Doesn't Need To Be That Difficult

Waffle irons are essential to everyday living and meal making. According to One Good Thing, many people prefer cooking on these nifty gadgets because the food is equally heated on both sides of the iron. Notably, waffle irons are also incredibly versatile, offering use cases for a wide variety of foods besides just waffles. 

Got a sweet tooth? Mix an additional egg into some brownie mix and quickly bake the batter on your waffle iron. Hungry for pizza? Instead of calling Pizza Hut or Domino's for delivery, make your own pizza by spreading the dough on the waffle iron. After a few minutes of cooking the dough, put sauce, cheese, and toppings on and allow the heat from the iron to create a melty meal. There are tons of other recipes online for unconventional foods that can be made with your waffle iron. 

There are a wide variety of waffle makers on the market. Modern electric offerings can come with non-stick surfaces and removable plates. You might also come across an awesome vintage cast iron find. Either way, cooking food means having to clean up after. But cleaning your waffle iron shouldn't be a challenging task. Before getting started, consider these tips. 

There are strange smells coming from the waffle iron

Everyone loves the aroma of freshly cooked waffles. No one can deny that the buttery maple syrup goodness entices them to eat a full breakfast. But what if your waffle iron starts to emit unpleasant odors? According to Appliance Analysts, new irons can sometimes smell bad on their first use because some brands are made with a food-grade oil that's intended to protect the metal. If the waffles smell and taste poorly the first time they're used, throw them away and make a second batch. Be sure to clean the waffle iron properly after each use. When food remains, it's harder to scrape off, and this causes food to burn.  

You'll also want to make sure to not use too much cooking oil when making waffles. This releases harmful chemicals into the air if the oil is burned. Remember to use only a few drops of oil when using a waffle iron. Don't let the iron become overheated because the appliance's plastic could burn on the outside. For internal burning, check the electronic components. First, unplug the waffle iron to let it cool. Remove the screws to find out where the source of the burning is coming from. You could also use a multimeter to check for conductivity and electricity flow. Replace any broken parts if needed and contact a professional if you still can't diagnose the problem. 

The waffle iron isn't heating properly

If the waffle iron isn't heating properly to cook waffles, it's best to troubleshoot the problem. According to Appliance Analysts, one potential reason your appliance might not be heating up correctly is that the power cord could be damaged. This can happen when the cord is tangled or crushed. To correct this, simply buy a new power cord to prevent short-circuiting. Some waffle irons come with additional cords in the manufacturer's package, or you may have to purchase similar cords at a local kitchenware store. 

If the waffle iron is overheating or there's no heat at all, check the exterior casing of the waffle iron to make sure all nuts and bolts are tightened. If the exterior is fine, there may be something loose inside of the waffle iron that's preventing it from making waffles the right way. First, unscrew the casing to check the heating element and wiring inside the unit.  

Sadly, mechanical malfunctions can also be caused by loose and detached wires located inside the device. Test for conductivity with a multimeter, and replace broken parts. If you're comfortable wielding a soldering iron, you might be able to use it to repair these damaged pieces and bring the waffle iron back to life. Once everything has been fixed, turn the power back on to see if it'll work. 

The waffles are sticking to the iron

Many people understand the frustration of making waffles when they get stuck onto the waffle iron and break apart. According to Food Champs, there are a number of methods to prevent waffles from breaking, one of the easiest of which includes making an abundantly thick batter. Runny batter doesn't cook well, but adding enough egg yolk and oil could combat this issue. Waffles may also break if the waffle iron isn't heated enough. Most units come with light heat detectors that light up when it's fully heated. Wait two to three minutes before pouring in the batter to make waffles. When you're finished using the waffle iron for the day, completely clean it with a damp paper towel to get rid of dried batter and oil residues. Leftover stickiness can make new waffles break apart.

Another reason waffles stick to the iron is that people sometimes use too much cooking spray (via Waffle Makers Hub). This can cause the plates to become stickier due to the unnecessary buildup of oil residue. Non-stick plates don't need oil and are fine on their own when cooking, but waffle irons that don't have non-stick plates do need some oil. Purchase a pastry brush and take canola or vegetable oil to spread a thin layer evenly on these plates. 

How to clean a waffle iron with non-removable plates

Waffle irons that have non-removable plates can be tough to clean. While it may be hard to reach between every nook and groove, SO Home recommends folding a dry paper towel thin enough to slip in between creases and using it to clean between each spot. Make a cleaning solution with hot water and a few drops of dish soap in a regular bowl. Grab a rag to put into the bowl and wipe down the inside of the waffle iron. For those hard-to-reach spots, take an unused toothbrush to dip in the solution to clean. A soft bristled nail brush would also work. 

After cleaning the inside, take a dry rag or dry paper towels to wipe away any wet spots inside. Of course, you could also sanitize the outside of the waffle iron via the same method. Use the same wet rag to wipe down the top with water and dish soap. The same toothbrush or nail brush could also be used to clean any hard spots on top. Lastly, wipe down the top of the waffle iron with the dry rag or let it air dry. 

How to clean a waffle iron with removable plates

Waffle irons with removable plates are easier to clean compared to ones that don't have removable plates. Take a soft-bristled brush to sweep away old food and crumbs from the plates, per Kitchen Acorns. Get between the crevices by rubbing the bristles of the brush back and forth, and in and out on the plates. Lift the plates out of the waffle iron, and soak them in hot soapy water. Make sure the sink is clean of any dishware and old food particles before doing this.

Clean the waffle iron in the area underneath where the plates were originally situated. Don't use a soaking wet cloth to clean the inside of the unit because this can cause damage to any electrical components. Instead, use a slightly damp cloth to clean this space. You can also check to see if the removable plates are dishwasher-friendly per the waffle iron's instructional manual. Don't use rough brushes or harsh chemical solutions to clean the plates because doing so can erode any non-stick top coating. Make sure the plates are completely dry before inserting them back into the waffle iron.

Use baking soda

Another way to clean your waffle iron is with baking soda. We've already shown you the best way to clean pans with baking soda, but the leavening agent is also a great tool for cleaning waffle irons. Baking soda has mildly abrasive properties that are effective yet gentle when cleaning, as said by Kitchen Acorns. Go to your local grocery store to pick up some baking soda and white vinegar. Before cleaning, mix baking soda into a jar or bowl with cold water to make a paste. Don't make the mixture too runny because it'll overflow on the surface. Take a non-stick spatula to spread it all over the iron's plates. If the mixture leaks over onto the sides of the waffle iron, simply grab paper towels or a dishcloth to clean up the excess. 

The solution needs to soak for a while, so leave the paste on the waffle iron for between 8 to 12 hours. After the time has passed, take a spray bottle filled with white vinegar to spray on the baking soda. The vinegar cleans the plates and detaches the stuck-on food particles as it activates the baking soda. Once you're done cleaning with the solution, wipe away any debris. Baking soda with vinegar is tough against grime and can also be helpful when cleaning other household items and kitchen appliances. 

Use nonabrasive cleaning methods

Though cleaning the waffle iron should be a top priority, it's important that you not use any overly abrasive cleaning methods to accomplish the task. Doing so will cause the metal to corrode. According to Cooktop Cove, one especially efficient way of cleaning involves the use of a ringer. Ringers, which are shaped like squares with meshed stainless steel rings, can be purchased at kitchenware or home goods stores. This can be used like a sponge to get heavy-duty stains off of cast iron surfaces. You can also purchase a pack of steel wool cleaning pads. Use these to scrub the surface of your cast iron waffle iron to remove stubborn residue. 

Another route involves using a nonabrasive brush with dish soap to scrub hard-to-clean spots. Sprinkling table salt on top of the inside of a cast iron waffle iron breaks down food particles. Use the back of a sponge to rub the salt all over, then take a wet paper towel to wipe off the remaining salt and oil. As peculiar as it sounds, putting salt on top of a potato wedge is a great way clean cast iron. Since salt breaks down food particles and potatoes are strong enough to endure hard scrubbing, this method could work on cleaning waffle irons. As a quick fix, you can also use a balled-up piece of aluminum foil to scrub away dried batter. 

Practice electrical safety cleaning measures

Since the waffle iron has numerous electric components, it's important to be safe when cleaning so as not to get injured or the equipment gets damaged. The first thing to do before cleaning the unit is to turn it off and unplug it. If it has a dirty cord, use a feather duster to clean it off, as noted by Wire Craft Electric. You could also clean the cord with a moist cleaning cloth. Don't use any electrical appliance if the cord is frayed. Either replace the cord or purchase a new waffle iron entirely.

Though cleaning the waffle iron with soap and water seems to be a plausible option, be careful with electronic parts that could short-circuit if water comes into contact with them. Be sure to read the manufacturer's manual to see which parts need to be cleaned in a specific way. Be watchful with disassembling the waffle iron when cleaning (via Networx). Non-electrical parts need to be completely dried before coming into contact with anything electrical. Once everything is cleaned and completely dried, the waffle iron could be used once again. 

Don't use knives or sharp objects to clean waffle irons

Knives are one of the most dangerous things to have in your kitchen. Hundreds of thousands of people end up in the hospital for kitchen knife-related wounds per year. When cleaning your waffle iron, don't use knives to scrape off old food. Not only is this ineffective, but knives can damage any non-stick coating as well as the inside of the appliance and any fragile components. 

Rather than using sharp objects to clean your waffle iron, look for mini silicone spatulas that have narrow, slanted tips. These can fit easily into hard-to-clean spaces and crevices and are tough enough to scrape away stubborn residue. Plus, they're also easy to wash and don't cost a fortune. Invest in these, and you'll have a handy tool to safely clean your waffle iron as well as other small kitchen appliances.

Get rid of grease, and quit with the cooking sprays

Non-stick cooking sprays could damage non-stick waffle irons, as stated by Kitchen Acorns. Most non-stick cooking sprays contain soy lecithin, which when heated turns into a gummy residue that's tough to clean. When this residue builds up on the plates, it creates a sticky surface, and waffles won't cook correctly, or they'll stick and break apart. To clean the built-up grease created by cooking sprays, make a cleaning solution from ¼ cup of flour, one egg, one tablespoon of baking powder, and three tablespoons of water. Spread the solution over the waffle iron plates, and turn on the heat. The odd batter solution will absorb any hard-to-reach oil spots. 

Alternatively, instead of using cooking sprays to prevent sticking in the waffle iron, use vegetable oil or butter. Vegetable oil and butter won't leave behind greasy spots. For a healthier alternative compared to vegetable oil or butter, use olive oil to coat the inside of the waffle iron. Olive oil contains antioxidants and can be a better choice for people with high cholesterol (via Harvard Health Publishing).

This is how to clean a vintage waffle iron

With vintage home design gradually coming back into style, nothing says trendy like well-used kitchen appliances. Maybe you just bought a vintage waffle iron from a secondhand store, and don't know how to go about cleaning it. Clean the exterior and interior of the waffle iron by using a toothbrush dipped in two cups of freshly boiled water, as directed by Our Pastimes. Use ¼ teaspoons of vegetable oil to pour over any stains in the interior, and wait five minutes before wiping the oil off with a cloth. Take a paper towel to any missed spots in the crevices. Create a paste with borax and water to get rid of any remaining stubborn stains on the front and the back of the iron.

Bring an old non-electric waffle iron back to life by cleaning it with white vinegar and water (via The Boss of the Swamp on YouTube). For heavy-duty cleaning, soak the vintage waffle iron in white vinegar for 24 hours. Use a plastic brush to scrub away rust. After the rust is scrubbed away, paste a thin coat of vegetable oil onto the surface. Place it on the stove to carbonize the oil to create a non-stick surface. Repeat this process a few times. If it's been a while since the vintage waffle iron has been used, the heating process may take longer when cooking waffles. 

Waffle irons need to be cleaned and cared for on a regular basis. Just follow proper manual instructions per brand and keep simple cleaning solutions and supplies on hand. Make sure to use a batter of the right consistency and you'll be ready to whip up a batch of waffles for a flavorful breakfast of toasted goodness.