Who doesn’t love cold cuts straight from the deli, in a sandwich or on a platter? I know I can’t resist them, and I know I’m not alone in this. And while getting a meat slicer was an awesome investment, it also left me with a lot of questions. The biggest one was (you guessed it) how to clean a meat slicer. I knew workers at the grocery store were masters at this, cleaning their machines every four hours every day, but I didn’t even know where to start.
Fast forward many months later and here I am, ready to help you sanitize and clean a meat slicer in just ten steps. This isn’t a task you can just ignore; I even wrote a comprehensive guide of how often a meat slicer should be cleaned (spoiler alert: after every use). If you don’t do it properly, you could inadvertently cause food poisoning, potentially risking your family’s life in the process.
No one wants that, so let’s dive right into it.
Step 1: Disassemble Your Meat Slicer
The first step is disassembling your meat slicer after you’re done using it. It should also be disconnected from a power source and the power cord should stay away from the cleaning supplies you will use later.
Remember, you’ll have to wear protective gloves that are cut-resistant to be safe from the sharp blades! You have probably seen butchers at grocery stores wearing this type of work gloves—they're not hard to find.
If you have an electric commercial meat slicer, plug it off and using the index knob set the meat slicer blade to zero. This will allow you to easily remove the meat slicer blade. The blade plate, product tray (or food chute), blade guard, and knife sharpener or sharpening stone should also come off.
Some manual meat slicer models come with a knife removal tool. If yours comes with one, use it to remove the slicing blade.
Your particular model may be slightly different, so make sure to follow the instructions booklet that came with your unit.
Step 2: Clean All Large Food Particles First
Then, you’ll need to wipe away all food particles that got stuck on your food slicer. Grab a scrub pad and a small brush (never use steel wool brushes, they're too harsh) and get to work. Check the entirety of the slicing blade, clean the blade guard, gauge plate, food tray, ring guard mount, slice deflector, and slicer handles. Be thorough; food buildup can hide in even the most well-hidden corners! You can even enlist the help of a toothbrush to get to clean a meat slicer more efficiently.
Step 3: Make a Cleaning Solution
The third step is to make a cleaning solution. The goal here is to get rid of the food pieces you couldn’t remove with a brush. We don’t need a very strong and corrosive mixture for this. Rather, a detergent solution made by mixing hot water and dish detergent will work wonders. Prepare the solution in a wash bucket and place it next to the slicing machine.
Step 4: Wash All Parts That Touched Food
Next, grab a sponge and you can start to clean the meat slicer! First, you need to clean the parts that came in direct contact with your food. Wash both sides of the blade, food tray, center plate, and so on with the hot water and detergent mixture. You can also use a degreaser spray instead. Be sure to be extremely thorough, as these are the problem areas where bacteria may grow and put your health at risk.
If you notice that your meat slicer has some parts that are wearing down and not as smooth as they once were, go ahead and lubricate them. This fosters meat slicer blade maintenance, thus prolonging the lifespan of your heavy-duty appliance. Don’t grab cooking oil for this task—use a special food-grade lubricant up to the task.
It's also always good to remind you not to soak the meat slicer parts in a dish sink. Always wash them by hand, one by one.
Step 5: Wipe Down the Rest of the Machine
You will also want to wipe down the other parts of your machine. Even though you think they didn’t get dirty, they might have. Plus, it’s better to be safe than sorry (with food poisoning), right?
Be sure to clean the ring guard, meat slicer handle, slicer blade guard, and so on. You can grab a small brush (or even a toothbrush) dipped in hot water to help you get to every crevice. Use either a clean cloth or a paper towel for this step.
Step 6: Make a Sanitizing Solution
You can either buy a sanitizing spray for meat slicers or make your own at home. For this, you will need one quart of cold water (don't use hot water!) and four teaspoons of 5% unscented household bleach. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and you’re set!
Step 7: Sanitize Your Meat Slicer
Using this sanitizing solution, spray the entirety of your meat slicer machine. This includes both the parts that come in direct contact with your food and all others as well. Be generous when applying this product; you need to make sure any bacteria hiding in your meat slicer are dead.
Step 8: Let Air Dry
Once that’s done, let air dry completely for a few hours. The bleach smell will evaporate and your meat slicer will be perfectly safe to use next time! If you don't have time to wait, you can also pat the parts dry with a paper towel.
Step 9: Reassemble Your Meat Slicer and Put Away
Before you store it for your next meat-cutting session, you’ll obviously need to reassemble your machine. Be very careful when assembling the meat slicer blade and blade cover back together! Wear cut-resistant gloves and don’t rush things. This is the last step.
How to Clean a Meat Slicer Safely: 5 Crucial Tips
You may think those nine steps are overkill, but you can never be too safe from Listeria. Because I want you to be as safe as possible when cleaning and sanitizing meat slicers, I have five more safety tips for you.
1) Wear Cut-Proof Equipment
Just like how you wear oven mitts when handling hot pots and trays, you should wear protective cut-resistant gloves to clean your meat slicer. The meat slicer blade is incredibly sharp and can lead to accidents in the home relatively quickly.
2) Use a Gentle Soap
It’s best to opt for a mild water and detergent cocktail. One that is too harsh could eventually eat away at the meat slicer parts and make them more susceptible to rust.
3) Don’t Go Too Hard With the Brush
Similarly, never use steel wool brushes on your meat slicer. This is too rough on the appliance’s parts and will do more harm than good.
4) Never Store a Wet Meat Slicer
You should never, ever store a wet meat slicer. This safety tip is meant to keep your meat slicer in tip-top shape, rust-free.
5) Always Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions
The guide we’ve just shown you is detailed and should work for both manual and commercial meat slicer machines. But this is no excuse not to leaf through the instructions booklet that came with your appliance if you still have it. The manufacturer can tell you what steps to take and what things to avoid when cleaning your meat slicer appliance.