Anybody who has stoneware knows that the only cleaning you can do with your stoneware is scraping and scrubbing with hot water and NO SOAP! You can occasionally use baking soda to aid in getting off the gross stuff but in my opinion it never made a difference.
I have been using stoneware for about eight years and I would use a stone until I couldn't stand to look at it anymore (because it was black) and would toss it and buy a new one. As you know, this gets expensive because this stuff is not cheap!
So one day I was searching for a better way to clean my stones and I came across a woman saying she cleans hers in her ovens self cleaning feature. (I wish I could remember the blog I read this on so I could link it but I don't remember) This sounded interesting but I wasn't quite sure it would work. I mean really, how could it??
Well the only way I could find out was to give it a try. I took my stone, scrapped off all the cooked on food with my plastic scrubber and hot water (It was cheese actually, not my favorite thing to have on my stones but stuff happens!) and placed my stone in my oven. I set the oven cleaning cycle to clean for three hours and went along with the rest of my cleaning routine.
After three hours I impatiently waited for my oven to cool off enough for the door to unlock. As soon as I noticed it was unlocked I opened the oven in a hurry to find a perfect stone! It looked like I just took it out of the box for the first time!!
The only thing left to do was give it a wash with some warm water because it had some soot on it. I mean really, can you believe it?? I'm still having a hard time believing its true! This is going to save me so much money!!
Yes, you will have to re-season your stones each time you do this but I never found it hard to season them to begin with, so that doesn't bother me. Also, this is not something I will be doing every month, I will reserve this for around every six months to a year.
*****UPDATE***** February 11, 2012
I have received a few messages from consultants telling me Pampered Chef does not recommend you use your stones in temperatures higher than 450 degrees because they can crack. Mine have held up perfectly so far, however if you chose to try this be prepared for a chance that your stones can crack. I have heard many success stories so far, and have only had one comment (read below) telling me their stone has cracked.
Also I will make sure to point out that your stoneware is supposed to change colors during seasoning and create a natural nonstick surface. Although I know this is true, when my stone starts to look nasty I don't like to feed my family from it. Call me crazy but it freaks me out. I have no problem taking the chance of having to buy a new one to ensure our food safety!