You dirty devil, you.
For a lot of us, the obvious answer to the dilemma that is a dirty waffle iron might be...to make another batch of waffles and disregard the fact that your iron hasn’t been scrubbed in months (but it’s fine because you’re making another batch, and there is no such thing as a problem when you’re making waffles, right?). This is a common tactic when it comes to cleaning a waffle iron; in fact, an OG hack for cleaning a waffle maker was to always prep a preliminary “throw-away” batch of waffles, exclusively to pick up any burnt bits and grime from your last bout of waffling. However, serving this first batch of garbage waffles to your family isn’t the best plan, for obvious reasons. Rather than blissfully ignoring the fact that your favorite weekend breakfast appliance is likely home to more germs than a water fountain in an elementary school cafeteria, here are the easiest ways to clean your dang iron once and for all.
If Your Iron Has Non-Removable Plates
First things first, make sure it’s unplugged and completely cooled. You’d be shocked (pun intended) at how many people don’t think to do this. If there’s any residual oil left on the grates, go ahead and wipe that away with a paper towel. It can be helpful to fold the paper towel into a more narrow, pointed shape in order to get it into those hard-to-reach places.
As far as those caked-on bits of batter, it’s important to go about addressing these in a gentle way. Using anything sharp or heavy could damage the non-stick surface, so opt for a soft-bristled kitchen brush, a rubber spatula (surprisingly a great tool for this kind of situation), or a hot washcloth. If you’re dealing with an iron that is absolutely ridden with dried globs of batter, lay the damp, warm washcloth across the grates, close the iron (still unplugged here), and let it sit for a couple minutes to gently steam and loosen the batter. Once loosened, gently brush the residual bits away.
If Your Iron Has Removable Plates
Just like if your iron has non-removable plates, similar rules apply here—turn the appliance off and let it cool. Next, remove the plates and let them soak in a warm water bath with a little bit of liquid dish soap (you can do this in a shallow dish or in your sink). Gently clean the plates with a sponge or brush until all of the oil and caked-on bits are wiped away. Give the plates a gentle rinse, holding them vertically so that the water can reach the spaces between the grids, loosening any hidden gunk. (Note: It may seem easier, but you'll want to avoid running the plates through your dishwasher, as the combination of hot water and harsh detergents can cause the nonstick surface to deteriorate.) Allow the plates to dry completely, and snap them back in when they’re good to go.
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To clean the outside (regardless of whether you’re plates are removable or not), use a warm washcloth to gently wipe away any grease or residue. Make sure that the cloth is not too wet, as any water that comes into contact with the electrical parts of your appliance could cause the iron to potentially shock you or malfunction the next time you turn it on. This would be a brunch travesty, so let’s do everything that we can to avoid that, mmkay?