A sandwich press is just about the best thing to keep in a lunch room ever invented. Better than a toaster oven or a microwave, the sandwich press can turn any cold sandwich into a warm, toasty treat. Many work break rooms, guest lounges, and home kitchens feature a sandwich press – whether you call it a toastie maker or a panini machine is up to you.
The question, however, is how to keep the darned thing clean. Sandwich presses are notorious for getting covered in oil, crumbs, and burnt-on cheese drips. Whether it’s your personal toastie maker or your turn to clean the office sandwich press, this is a helpful step-by-step guide for a pristine press in just a few minutes.
Unplug and Cool the Sandwich Press
First things first: make sure that sandwich press is unplugged and several minutes cool from the last sandwich. You don’t need to risk cleaning burns for a fresh sandwich.
Remove Plates, Traps, and Crumb Trays Where Possible
Next, remove anything that can be removed. Each press design is a little different, so we can’t give you the exact latches or plates to try. If you can remove the press plates, a quick dunk in soapy water and the ability to maneuver them without the machine can be very useful for cleaning. Also look for crumb trays or grease traps, which are more likely in commercial press models.
The Hot Sponge Scrub
- Sponge with non-stick safe scrub side
- Hot soapy water
- Hand towel
In many cases, a quick scrub with a hot sponge is all you need to clear that non-stick surface. Use a corner of the sponge to drive into any grooves in the press design. Some toastie makers have a fun geometric pres design to make your sandwich look cool, some have simple grill lines or a lifted waffle pattern to improve airflow while toasting.
Drive the sponge into the grooves. Squeeze moisture into the worst crispy spaces and let them soak before scrubbing with firm circular motions. For a regularly cleaned sandwich press, this method is usually sufficient.
The Baking Soda Paste Scrub
- Baking soda powder
- Hot water
- Cloth or sponge
Need a more heavy-duty approach to get crispy bits out of the grooves or fight back against burnt cheese? Use the baking soda paste approach. Form a thin paste of baking soda and coat the surface of both plates – one at a time, if necessary – for a few minutes. Then, with a cloth soaked in hot water, scrub away the paste and drive the grit into the grooves of each toasting plate to help remove the burnt cheese residue.
The Chopstick Cloth Trick
- Wooden chopstick
- Soapy cloth
For a few really stubborn little pieces of grit, try the chopstick trick. Take the wide end of a wooden chopstick and wrap it in a damp cloth. Then drive the chopstick into the groove or corner and let the cloth do the work. This can help to dislodge a burnt piece of food or cheese from the nonstick surface without risking a scratch.
The Steam Cleaning Method (Be Careful!)
- Soaked Cloth
- Soapy washcloth
When all else fails, there is the dangerous but highly effective method of steaming foods off your sandwich press. First, heat your sandwich maker to its lowest setting with an open face. Then soak a cloth and squeeze until it is saturated, but just barely not dripping. Lay the cloth over the surface of the panini maker – it must be quite wet or it will burn – and let the water steam for 2-5 minutes – or as soon as you smell scorching.
Quickly unplug the sandwich press, remove the cloth, and carefully use a sponge or thick damp cloth to push away the last of the food residue. Try to avoid any risk of burning yourself or setting a cloth on fire with this technique.
Polish the Outside of the Sandwich Press
- Surface cleaner
- Washcloth, sponge, or paper towel
Finally, your sandwich press may be pristine on the inside, but it won’t look clean until we finish the outside. Use a kitchen-safe surface cleaner and a cloth or paper towel to wipe down all the light oil spray, crumbs, or fingerprints from the outside of the sandwich press. Pay special attention to the hinge, the frame around each toasting plate, and the handle where crumbs can accumulate.
It’s as simple as that. Now, you should have a sparkling clean sandwich press to use at home or to the delight of your lunch-seeking coworkers. Contact us today for more great cleaning guides or to schedule professional cleaning services in the London area.