The panini press has to be one of the easiest gadgets to use. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest to clean—as long as you know what you’re doing. Did you know that cleaning your panini press incorrectly could damage it permanently?
To avoid that hassle, this article shows you how to clean a panini press in just a few minutes. We have included three different methods for all kinds of panini makers, so you can choose which is the best way to clean your panini grill.
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Method 1: Panini Press with Removable Plates
Some panini grills have removable plates. If yours has this modern feature, you’re in luck; there is minimal cleanup involved here.
Wait for your panini press to cool off. Then, when it’s room temperature, slide out the grill plates and handwash them. Make sure to give them a good wash with warm soapy water and to only scrub with a soft sponge. Never use abrasive cleaning agents or brushes!
Then, let the plates air dry on a dish rack. When they’re dry, insert them into the sandwich maker and that’s it!
Method 2: Simple Wipe Down After Use
If your panini maker has non-removable plates, then this second method is for you. It is also called the steam method and it’s the most practical of all three methods shown here today.
First, unplug your panini press after you are done using it. Let it cool for a little while you eat, for instance. Alternatively, you can let the panini press cool down completely and then turn it on the lowest heat setting for two or three minutes so it warms up a little.
Secondly, get a paper towel and spray it completely with warm water. You can also use a reusable dishcloth soaked in hot water. What’s important about this step is that whatever you are using to clean the plates isn’t dry (or else it could burn).
Third, wipe away any greasy or food bits from the panini plates. When the water comes in contact with the hot panini plates it turns to steam and will help you clean your panini press very easily.
Lastly, let it dry and that’s that.
Method 3: Tackling a Very Dirty Panini Press Grill
But what if you have neglected your panini press and it is so dirty that the steam method doesn’t get rid of all the stubborn stuck-on food bits? In that case, it’s time to get out the big guns and tackle that mess.
Start by making a baking soda solution. You can do this by mixing two tablespoons of baking soda (the stuff you can easily find at the grocery store) with half a cup of warm water. Mix it well and generously pour it on your panini grill plates (just make sure they are cool to the touch!).
Let it sit for up to ten minutes and then grab a wet dishcloth or moistened paper towel to wipe it away. Really get in there with the rag so that every inch of your panini press is sparkling clean. Pro tip: use a chop stick wrapped in a wet rag to get to all the crevices that are harder to reach. But be gentle!
All the grease and burnt food bits should have come unstuck by now. If there is still a layer of grime, mix a few drops of dish soap in hot water, soak your rag or spray paper towel with that, and wipe down the plates once more. That should do the trick.
Remember, the best way to avoid your panini press getting to this stage is to clean it after every use. Method two takes less than five minutes to do and will save you a hassle later on. You can also grease the panini plates with olive oil or cooking spray. All kinds of cooking sprays and olive oil help create a seasoned non-stick coating that will come in handy when it's time to clean.
How NOT to Clean a Panini Press
We have seen that there are three ways you can clean your panini press. Now let’s look at some of the things you should never, ever do if you want to keep using your sandwich maker for many years to come.
1. Don’t Use Abrasive Scrubs
Never use abrasive scrubs on your panini grill—not even when the plates are coated in grease and burnt food. Keep steel wool and other harsh cleaning pads away. Otherwise, you could ruin your panini maker’s non-stick coating in no time.
2. Keep Harsh Cleaning Products Off the Plates
You don’t need harsh cleaning products either. Dish soap and hot water go a long way. And baking soda will remove the caked-on mess that soapy water can’t tackle. Plus, if your panini press has removable plates, you may even put it in the dishwasher; just make sure the manufacturer says that you can and that it won't damage the non-stick coating!
3. Don’t Soak Your Panini Press
Lastly, if your panini press has non-removable plates, don’t let it sit in a soapy water bath. It will surely ruin the electrical parts. Besides, you don’t need to soak your press to get rid of a stubborn mess, the baking soda solution alone does wonders!