I made a real waffle in my waffle maker exactly once, but I waffled many other foods, some of which were quite greasy, sticky, or otherwise aggressively messy. An electric waffle maker can’t be washed in the sink, and it’s not something that can be simply cleaned, thanks to its many grooves, valleys, and plateaus. But even the crunchiest and greasiest waffle iron can be cleaned. You just need paper towels, cotton swabs, and (maybe) a pastry brush.
Drain the fat first
If your embossed delicacy contains meat, cheese, or a combination of both, a good amount of fat will settle on the racks, where it will solidify if allowed to cool. You can remove cold and frozen lines of fat from the racks with a cotton swab, but it’s much easier to tilt a hot waffle maker aside and let the fat drip onto folded paper towels. Once most of it has dripped, you can wipe off any residual oil with a new paper towel, then fold it over and place it in any especially greasy cracks.
Remove the crisp pieces with a cotton swab
Burnt cheese and dough can stick very stubbornly, but a cotton swab can generally dislodge those bits. If something is really stuck in there, a wooden toothpick can provide a little more leverage without scratching the nonstick finish.
Powder with a pastry brush
After you have degreased, cleaned, and dislodged any jammed silliness, you may still find that your waffle maker is full of nasty little crumbs that evade both the paper towel and cotton swab. But they are no match for the pastry brush. Simply turn the waffle maker sideways and remove debris from your precious appliance.
If all else fails, steam clean
If things are really terrible, sticky and stuck, you can use the heat of the machine to make waffles and a damp paper towel to create a nice little steam room. Heat the waffle maker to medium heat, then run a paper towel under the water and place it (you want it to be damp, but don’t drip). Group it and carefully rub it on the racks of your waffle maker, being careful not to burn it with steam; Hold the paper towel with tweezers if you are scared. Use cotton swabs to clean the corners and grooves (if necessary), let the waffle maker cool, then give it a final cleaning powder.