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Cleaning Waffle Irons

I have a non-stick Cuisinart waffle iron which cooks quite well. I'm very happy with it but can't figure out how to get it really clean for the life of me.

Instructions say to wipe clean with a damp cloth (paper towel, whatever). But, of course getting between the grids is not easy. No matter how hard I try, residue cooking spray stays inside them and eventually it's going to start to degrade and go rancid (already, I can smell that faint odor which I dislike and the iron is only a few months old).

I use it fairly regularly, a few times a month. Is there any tip to getting this clean easily or am I to suffer with a semi-dirty waffle iron forever? I keep wondering if I should have just spent more money and gotten one with removeable grids to I could have soaked them or thrown them in the dishwasher :(

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  1. I think you answered you own question there: Removable plates are quite useful. Otherwise keep a kitchen towel handy!

    1. Give this a try:

      Scrub the grids with a sponge dampened with hot water and a little detergent. That should manage to lift and sweep away grease and oil. If the oil is gunky, you may need to warm the iron a little before cleaning. Rinse similarly with hot water. Turn the waffle iron on briefly to dry it.

      The sponge should be able to get in the nooks and crannies easier than the paper towel, plus no linty residue.

      Hope this helps.

      1. You say it's non-stick. Do the instructions still ask that you use cooking spray?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Philly Ray

          No. I have probably the same thing, and there's zero reason to spray it with anything. The waffles never stick at all.

        2. $ store for paint brushes,warm not hot iron,swirl,swipe and brush with HOT water and maybe soap,then water .The brush is a less tedious than a lot of other methods.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lcool

            I like this idea. Maybe one of those sponge brushes may do the trick now that I think of it, one with a narrow surface area.

            Great thinking!

          2. Just buy a soft vegetable scrubber at the grocery store (cleaning aisle) dampen it and scrub a little, then wipe everything off. Or use an old toothbrush if you have around.
            With my George Foreman, I put a damp paper towel on it while still a little warm and close the lid. Whenever I get back to it, you can just wipe what's there off with the paper towel. Than sponge lightly. Works like a charm.

            1 Reply
            1. re: coll

              Ok, just saw this. Sort of like what I just thought of with the soft paint brush/sponge type above. I think I'm going to look for one of these next time I'm in the supermarket. This may do the trick.

            2. NEVER EVER use cooking sprays on non-stick surfaces. The propellants burn on and form a sticky surface that ruins the surface. You will probably have to invest in a new waffle baker. if you feel compelled to oil a non-stick surface, just brush on cooking oil.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Candy

                The propellants in spray-on oils are some combination of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. These gases should be a non-issue.

                Rather, the regular sprays put down a very thin coat of soybean oil -- if the pan is really hot it will burn on quickly. There are high-temp versions of cooking spray out there that are less likely to create a gunky film on your pans. Those should be just fine on the waffle iron.

                Personally, I have had no problems with an occassional spritz of PAM on my electric waffle maker (it just doesn't get hot enough for it to be a problem). Of course, the cooked on residue is actually an asset on my cast iron waffle irons.

                If the whole propellant thing still gets you down, then pick up one of those pump sprayers and fill it with whatever oil you feel comfortable with.

                1. re: MikeB3542

                  I use the high temp version, and very little of it. Someone else asked if the instructions mentioned using it, and they did. Does seem counterintuitive, however, a lot of non-stick pans do say to use a little amount of spray to avoid sticking. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, even a non-stick surface will tend to grab onto the food.

                  Anyway, I use SO little of it, it isn't like the waffle iron has a lot of gunk in it. Just enough to annoy me :p

                2. re: Candy

                  I spray Pam on mine with every waffle. I just wipe it clean when I'm done with paper towels. No problemo.

                  1. re: Candy

                    I've found it's easier to just use one of those spray cans that you can pump with the lid. It's also great for grill pans. Fill it up with regular canola oil and you're good to go.

                  2. SOLUTION FOUND!!!

                    All you need is margarine. I used Country Crock but not the kind with the partially hydrogenated oils (Never use anything with that oil in it! Stroke/heard attack inducer)

                    My iron was sticking and it ruined every waffle. I cleaned, scrubbed and even tried to run the iron on high for 30 minutes just to burn off the sticky film. Didn't work. I tried coating it with margarine while it was hot and this worked!!

                    Just melt the margarine on each surface. I guess I coated the bottom but not the top so well and so the waffles stuck to the top. Then I coated the top and tried it again and it worked! So this was my proof of solution.

                    I think somebody used Pam on the waffle iron and this may have caused the sticking. So please don't use Pam. All of the user manuals say NOT to use those sprays.

                    Later, I washed it off and tried to make another waffle but this time I didn't add any margarine. It WORKED! No sticking! Solution found! :-D

                    1. Spraying a nonstick surface is like washing dishes before you put them the dishwasher.

                      I have Mom's 1950 Sunbeam CG-1 waffle iron with the aluminum grids. Over the years they have become nonstick due to seasoning. Could also be the waffle batter being used. The old Sunbeam recipe has 2/3 cup of oil , butter, ,or margarine in it.

                      The cooking time/temp may also affect how they release.

                      To clean a brush will get into the crevices.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                        I have a vintage Sunbeam as well! I find it makes much crisper waffles than a nonstick iron. It is well seasoned, and never sticks.

                        1. re: lawhound05

                          Which model do you have? I have 2 CG-1's, and a W-2 from the 40's.

                          1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                            I'm so sorry, I misspoke! I thought, off the top of my head, that it was a Sunbeam, but when I looked at it just now, it is actually a General Electric. It makes a rectangular waffle, and the aluminum grids reverse to a smooth griddle/sandwich press which can fit two sandwiches. I'm guessing it is from the 50's or 60's, but I've not researched it It was a $3 thrift store purchase several years ago, and I love it. My mother had several Sunbeam appliances back in the day - mixer, toaster, round waffler, that I wish I had now!

                      2. Q-Tips for those particularly severe OCD cleaning moments.

                        1. After all the waffles are made, I just cover the surface with damp paper towels and close the lid, allowing the steam to work it's magic. While still warm, but before it cools, use the paper towels to clean all the crevices. It's a method that works really well for me.

                          For those of you with vintage Sunbeam's - I have waffle iron envy!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Molly James

                            Some people don't know what they have. I was talking with a gal who runs an electronics recycling business ( computers mostly), and someone turned in a Sunbeam W-1 to be recycled. The gal said that she pulled it, and will be selling it to someone who will use it. These old waffle irons are as close to commercial grade consumer products as you can get. Made in the 40's, 50's, and still working as designed. I just picked up a Sunbeam T-20 Automatic toaster that is date stamped 1950, and it toasts better than the new toasters. I highly doubt that any of the new Made in China Wally World specials will be working 60-70 years from now.

                            I inherited Mom's CG-1, found another that looked unused for $5 at a garage sale, and then found a W-2 on Craigslist for $25.

                            I am a firm believer in buying quality tools, and appliances, although most people would not want what I have in my kitchen for home use; Hobart A-120 12qt mixer, Hobart auto meat slicer, Hobart 14" buffalo chopper, and a Hobart power unit along with the VS-9 shredder, and meat grinding attachments.

                            But to get back on subject. My old Sunbeams don't get cleaned with soap, and water, just wiped down. I believe part of it is the fact that I don't add any oil to the grids, as they are pretty nonstick as is. What usually happens is that when I lift the lid , the waffles ( it makes 4-4+" square waffles at a time) stick to the lid, and it just takes a nudge with a fork on the closest one to get them all to drop off onto a plate.

                          2. Just scored a near-new condition Sunbeam W-2 waffle iron at a neighborhood estate sale. Grids are still bright aluminum, and it even had the original point-of-sale user card in the iron. I grew up with this model, and remember that Saturday was 'waffle day' during my early years.

                            The user card said the grids are pre-seasoned, but my first batch stuck, so I seasoned the grids in accordance with the instructions on the user card, which were 1) pre-heat the iron, 2) brush a scant layer of cooking oil on the grids, 3) close the iron and allow the grids to "season" for 10 minutes at full temperature. This did the trick, and there were no more sticking issues.

                            FWIW, this is the third W-2 I have bought in the past 20 years; It seems that they pop up at estate and rummage sales fairly often, and probably regularly on Ebay, too. This is the first I have seen without a shiny dark brown layer of "seasoning" on the grids. Think of a well-used cast iron skillet. In my experience, waffles cooked in these waffle irons will stick if they haven't been seasoned recently. I use a table knife and fork to remove the stuck-on waffle bits and pieces.

                            So, to answer your question, I would go the cooking oil route prescribed by Sunbeam, and avoid an aerosol spray to avoid the sticky residue they seem to leave behind. I wouldn't worry about trying to maintain the bright aluminum appearance of new grids, since the seasoning is what will ultimately prevent sticking.

                            1. Any tips on reseasoning? Stupidly, I put my removable grids in the dishwasher for a few years, and now they stick like mad, even with oil brushed on or using spray anti-stick. I ended up buying a new non-removable model, but the old grids have pizzelle options on the reverse side, which I really like--and for some reason, they do not stick.

                              1. I would try the full-on seasoning process used for iron and steel cookware; use a pastry brush to apply a light coating of oil and put the grids in the oven at 425 degrees for an hour or so, allow to cool, re-oil and re-season. Of course, you could use the waffle iron for this, but I think the oven might be easier for the long haul. Plus, it has a timer so you won't forget. Even though our older WI is well seasoned, I usually re-oil before each use, as a safety precaution. (Quote of the day as I was scraping out the stuck waffle after disregarding a reminder, "What were you thinking.")

                                I come from a big family, and back in the day (late 1950's) when the time came to buy a second waffle iron, mom got a smaller one with removable/ reversible grids. It was ok most of the time, but a real pain when the waffle stuck, b/c the grids came out when mom or dad tried to pry the waffle apart. Plus, the waffles were smaller, which made them less popular than the 6" x 6" waffles from the Sunbeam W-2, and it had a tendency to overflow if over-filled.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: gmkjr49

                                  I always grabbed the corner "fingers" that formed when overfilled

                                  1. re: gmkjr49

                                    Sticking an electrical appliance in the oven for an hour seems like a terrible idea.

                                  2. I clean the gunk off the plates of my non-stick waffle-maker with a soft bristled toothbrush and lamp oil (that often coloured FUEL for decorative oil lamps). Try a teaspoon full on a section of your cold waffle-maker. I use an ancient soft Braun electric toothbrush, but not much effort is required using an old ordinary toothbrush with soft bristles, as that sticky gunk just melts and can be absorbed with a towel. After that I used a steamer to blow any residue away. I would imagine detergent and water would be just as effective for removing solvent residue. Don't waste time trying to steam the gunk away. That makes the gunk even more "gunkier".

                                    1. I use a paper towel wet with white vinegar to remove oil/butter from the grid, then paper towel wet with water to rinse off the vinegar. I do this every time I use it. Works well, I'd say. The iron doesn't smell like oil or vinegar. Looks and feels clean.