The Best Way To Clean A Panini Press With Just A Paper Towel

Ah, the panini press. When fired up, this device can not only give your sandwich some nice grill marks, but also sear chicken, cook bacon, and even warm up pizza. However, many people neglect to clean their panini press after every use and allow gunk to slowly build on its surface, which can cause it to heat your food less evenly and shorten its warranty. Thankfully, you don't need more than a paper towel and some water to thoroughly dislodge any residue from your appliance, and it only takes a few minutes at most.

To clean your panini press using this method, start by unplugging the device from the power outlet to prevent you from becoming accidentally electrocuted. As your appliance remains hot, take this time to grab a paper towel and completely soak it under running water. Once you've wrung out the excess moisture, carefully drop it into the open panini press and close it. The warmth from the plates will create steam and help the water dislodge the gunk through steaming, making it easier to remove than just waiting for the residue to cool and settle into the grill grates.

After approximately five minutes, you can carefully remove the moist paper towel, which should have loosened any stuck-on bits from the panini press. You may want to use tongs, just to be sure you don't burn yourself in the process.

For particularly stuck-on residue, use a bit of baking soda

Many panini press models are made with either cast iron or nonstick grates. While the former is excellent at retaining heat, and the latter keeps food from adhering to your appliance, the two can become easily damaged if you scrub them with a harsh kitchen brush or detergent. Still, there are times when the wet paper towel trick won't be enough to dislodge all the gunk from your panini press. In those situations, you'll want to let your gadget cool completely and reach out for some baking soda, arguably one of the best natural kitchen cleaners.

Baking soda consists of sodium bicarbonate, a salt compound with a high pH level. This makes it a powerful alkaline that neutralizes grease and other acidic gunk in your panini press. To clean your appliance with baking soda, just mix it with some water and let the slurry sit on the grates for approximately 10 minutes. This will give the cleaning agent enough time to soften and work into the residue. After that, simply use a paper towel to carefully wipe the plates clean.

More advice on cleaning and maintaining your panini press

If the baking soda trick does not help you fully clean up your panini press, feel free to start using some slightly stronger cleaning agents instead. A little dishwasher soap should be more than enough to do the trick, but keep in mind that anything more potent could mess with the nonstick or cast iron plates. Don't dunk a bunch of water on it when you're ready to rinse it off either, as this could potentially fry your panini press' delicate electronic parts.

As you get ready to clean your panini press, check if it has removable grill grates. Some models have detachable plates that allow you to scrub them by hand. In some cases, you can even place your grates in the dishwasher and bypass the manual labor entirely. Still, wiping with a wet paper towel remains the most convenient method, as you won't have to wait for the next cycle of dirty dishes to clean it.

For more flavorful sandwiches, look at how you can amplify grill grates with seasoned oil and give your press the same treatment. A drizzle of avocado, grapeseed, or olive oil should be more than enough to impart some wonderful flavor into your food and help prevent things from sticking to the plate. Just don't use cooking spray on your panini press, as this is one of many mistakes that can ruin nonstick coating over time.