I have made an actual waffle in my waffle maker exactly once, but I have waffled many other foods, some of which were quite greasy, sticky, or otherwise aggressively messy. An electric waffle maker cannot be washed in the sink, and it’s not something you can just wipe down, thanks to its many grooves, valleys, and plateaus. But even the greasiest, crustiest waffle maker can be cleaned. You just need some paper towels, cotton swabs, and (perhaps) a pastry brush.
First, drain the grease
If your waffled delicacy contains meat, cheese, or a combination of both, a good amount of fat is going to render out into the grates, where it will solidify if left to cool. You can remove lines of cold, congealed grease from the grates with a cotton swab, but it’s much easier to tip a hot waffle maker on its side, and let the grease drain down onto some folded paper towels. Once the the bulk of it has dripped away, you can wipe any residual oil with a fresh paper towel, then fold it and run it in any especially greasy crevices.
Remove crusty bits with a cotton swab
Burnt cheese and batter can stick quite stubbornly, but a cotton swab can usually dislodge those little bits. If something is really stuck on there, a wooden chopstick can provide a bit more leverage without scratching the nonstick finish.
Dust with a pastry brush
After you’ve degreased, wiped down, and dislodged any stuck-on nonsense, you still may find your waffle maker is littered with obnoxious little crumbs that evade both paper towel and cotton swab alike. But they are no match for the pastry brush. Just turn your waffle maker on its side, and sweep the detritus off and away from your precious appliance.
If all else fails, steam clean
If things are truly dire, sticky, and stuck, you can use the waffle maker’s heat and a wet paper towel to create a nice little steam bath. Heat your waffle maker to medium, then run a paper towel under water and ring it out (you want it wet, but not dripping). Bunch it up, and carefully rub it over the grates of your waffle maker, taking care not to burn yourself with steam — hold the paper towel with tongs if you’re skittish. Use cotton swabs to clean up any corners and grooves (if needed), let the waffle maker cool, then give it a final, cleansing dusting.