Well that depends, but in a word, yes! This is especially true if you are burning solid fuel such as wood pellets, kindling, or charcoal.
Over time, soot will gather inside the components such as the hopper and the chimney, reducing the efficiency of your oven. You may find that your oven doesn’t get as hot as it used to, isn’t as consistent, or it takes longer to get up to heat (or all 3!). This is a sure fire sign that your ooni/uuni pizza oven needs a clean.
The other problem is that soot can gather on the ceiling of your pizza oven. When this happens, it can fall onto your pizza during cooking, resulting in a sooty flavour and appearance to your pizza.
When I’ve looked on the ooni website, I haven’t found any information about cleaning out your pizza oven which I’m amazed about! Maybe it’s because they don’t want people taking apart the ovens. But cleaning your ooni is really easy to do (and quite satisfying) and your pizzas and pizza making will be all the better for it.
If you’re using gas in your ooni, you may find that you don’t need to clean it much at all. There shouldn’t be any soot build up so the main thing that you will need to keep clean is the pizza stone.
When I clean my ooni pizza oven, I like to get all the car washing materials out. I dismantle the oven and then scrub everything with a brush or sponge and soapy water, before rinsing down thoroughly.
What you’ll need to clean your pizza oven
All these are just the materials that I had available. Just use whatever you have but bear in that they will get covered in soot!
I find the brush very handy as it easily scrubs off thick soot, as well as allowing you some extra reach. You could just manage with a sponge though if you don’t have one.
The hose is also very useful as you can build up some pressure to give everything a good rinse down after cleaning. But again, you could just dry everything down with a towel instead (although this will be a bit tricky).
The most important part to get clean on the ooni 3 is the shield that surrounds the top of the pizza, guiding the flames across the pizza.
The pizza oven I have is an early version of the ooni 3 (it was called uuni back then!). Fortunately, I can remove this part to give it a good clean (see picture below).
On later models, I think this part is fastened down. If you cannot remove it just ensure that you get your arm inside the oven and scrub it clean with a brush/sponge.
Soot collects on this part, as it is essentially the ceiling of the pizza oven. If this is not kept clean, the soot can fall onto your pizza, producing an overly smoky and sutty flavour.
Also be sure to remove the hopper from the back of the oven. Dismantle this, place all the components inside a bucket of soapy water, including the grate, and clean them thoroughly.
A lot of soot builds up on the inside of the ooni chimney. I always remove the chimney to give it a good clean.
Once removed, you can scrub the inside of it (preferably with a brush) from each end in order to clean the entire length.
To clean your ooni pro, you can follow the cleaning process above. The only real difference is that cleaning the ooni pro will be easier than cleaning the ooni 3 as it is larger. You will find it easier to get your arm inside and also to see what is clean and what isn’t.
Whilst you’re cleaning out your pizza oven, you can clean the stone down with a sponge and soapy water. Don’t forget to clean both sides and be sure to wash as much of the soap away as possible afterwards.
A word of warning though, be careful with your pizza stone, they can break easily. Handle them with care and place them on a flat surface before cleaning.
After rinsing your ooni pizza stone down, be sure to leave it to fully dry before getting it up to temperature in the oven. Pizza stones are slightly porous and if there is moisture left in the stone, it may cause it to crack.
However, the best time to clean the stone is when it is up to temperature. At this point you can tie a damp cloth to the end of your peel (with string or rubber band) and brush it against the stone. The extreme heat, along with the damp cloth will leave your stone beautifully clean.
You don’t have to do this every time, however. Each time you take out your ooni to cook pizza, flip the stone before lighting. You will be amazed at how clean the underside of the stone is.
This is because the extreme heat produced during the previous cooking has freed any burnt flour from the underside of the stone and allowed it to fall off.
Burnt cheese on a pizza stone is pretty much the worst thing for your stone. In fact, it can even crack your pizza stone so try to avoid this for happening as much as possible.
If you ever notice a tear in your pizza, be sure to fix it before loading your pizza into the oven. If you can’t patch the tear, you’ll have to make another pizza unfortunately. You can salvage the toppings but the dough will have to go!
Trust me, it’s not worth the risk. I had a pizza stone break on me in the early days when I left a ripped pizza in the oven. The melted cheese ran onto the stone and cracked it, straight through the middle.
Even if your stone doesn’t break, cheese on a hot stone results in a burnt pizza stone, which is a pain to clean!
A burnt pizza stone can be tricky to clean. But do not worry, all is not lost, it can usually be cleaned. Also, remember you can always turn the stone over and use the other side!
Once the burnt stone has cooled, you can clean it with a sponge and soapy water. You should be able to clean up the pizza stone pretty well just by doing this.
But to get the rest off, the best way is to clean the stone when it is up to temperature. I like to use the sharp edge of my metal peel to scrape off any burnt bits from the hot stone. If you don’t have a metal peel, you could use a metal spatula or something similar. Just be careful not to press down too hard, we don’t want to break the stone!
Then I use a damp cloth tied to my peel to clean the stone as best as possible. If there are still some loose burnt bits on the stone at this stage, you can use the sharp edge of the peel/spatula again and repeat the process.
If there are still some burnt bits left on the stone, it may be wise to turn the stone over and cook on the other side. Over time, the underside will clean itself with the extreme heat of the oven.
To avoid burning your pizza stone in the future, make sure you don’t overload your pizza with cheese.
If you use too much cheese, you risk your pizza ripping and/or melted cheese flowing onto the stone. A true Neapolitan pizza shouldn’t use a lot of cheese anyway.
As soon as the cheese runs off the pizza it will burn onto the stone. Also, do not load a ripped pizza into the oven.
You should not put anything on your stone at all (other than pizza or bread!). A pizza stone is made to be cooked directly on without anything on the surface.
Do not oil your ooni pizza stone! Adding oil to the stone can create smoke and a terrible odor!
Worse still, adding oil to your pizza stone could make it crack when it gets up to temperature. A pizza stone will naturally season itself overtime as you cook pizza so you don’t have to do anything special to it.
All you need to do is keep it clean and cook pizza on it!
I leave my pizza stone in my pizza oven all the time and have never had any problems with this. The pizza oven is also left in the garage where it often gets freezing cold but it hasn’t caused any problems with the stone.
The main key is that the stone is heated up and left to cool gradually, as the oven heats up and cools down. Any quick changes in temperature can cause expansion and contraction which can lead to cracking.
For this reason, it is generally recommended to leave your stone in the oven.
If you are using a pizza stone in a domestic oven, however, you will probably want to remove the stone when you are not using it. When you want to use the pizza stone, make sure to place it in the oven before turning the oven on. Also, be sure to allow the stone to cool before removing it.
The other problem with removing the stone from the oven each time is storage. You should ensure to rest the stone on a flat surface, and not to place any items on top of it.
Keeping your ooni pizza oven clean is really important if you are burning solid fuels. Removing the soot build up will improve the taste of your pizzas as well as improving the efficiency and consistency of your pizza oven.
Also, it is really easy to do with household materials and it only takes about 20 minutes.
So give your pizza oven a good clean and let’s get making pizza!
I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!