How can I clean a dirty pasta maker?
December 10, 2005 7:42 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to go about cleaning a very dirty pasta maker?

I bought an Atlas Marcato at a very reduced price because it had been sitting on the display shelf of a supermarket's deli section (along with the other props they use to make it look like a cosy little Italian grocer). It is in great structural shape, and there is no rust or corrosion to be seen, but it is covered in grease. What would be the best way to clean this thing up?

It says here strictly not to wash with water. I'm trying to understand why. If it's to prevent rusting, would thoroughly drying it be enough to combat rust? Or is there something inherently damaging about the machine contacting water?

What cleaning methods would be fine to try, and what should I definitely not do?
posted by teem to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
What kind of grease?

Though it contains some water, to clean factory-type anti-rusting grease, rubbing alcohol will remove it easily and not cause much rust. As long as you put it in a place where it can dry quickly, you shouldn't have a problem.
posted by fake at 7:55 PM on December 10, 2005

Gah, should be more careful. "not cause much rust" should read "not cause ANY rust".
posted by fake at 7:56 PM on December 10, 2005

I'd guess that the internal mechanism is
  • Not watertight
  • Prone to rusting
  • Capable of holding a puddle of stale, rancid, bacteria-laden water and kneading it into your dough at some future point after you think it's sufficiently dry.
If you can dismantle it, wash it, dry it and grease it (With a food-safe grease, like petrolium oil, or the ones used in commercial food prep equipment) - then water should be fine.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:35 PM on December 10, 2005

I forgot the important part.

If you're just dealing with surface-deposited grease, using paper towels dampened with vinegar. You can also fold them several-layers thick and run them through the dough rollers.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:39 PM on December 10, 2005

vingegar is great, but soak with hot water first. you're dealing with starch, so i'd personally boil some water and let the affected parts soak in a pot of hot water to soften it up. then use a scrubby sponge (no steel wool as it will scratch badly) with a 4:1 bleech:water solution (bleech will kill bateria residing in the starch layer). elbow grease.

rinse well and see where you are at that point. then i'd hit it with a scrubby hand dishwashing soap with "oxy clean" (really works wonders) and more elbow grease.

unfortunately unless you're willing to hit heavy chemicals (i can't fathom which though), this is the only method i know.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:12 AM on December 11, 2005

oh, sorry. didn't read properly the 'no water bit' - um, whoops.

ug, i have no wisdom to share. i guess vinegar is your only method.

no water for a pasta maker... hm.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:13 AM on December 11, 2005

The new machine we bought also came with the rollers greased. The instruction booklet said to take a lump of dough from your first batch and run it through a bunch of times to pick up the grease. Seemed to work.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:26 AM on December 11, 2005

Uh, vinegar is a mixture of acetic acid, in water. Bleach is solution of chlorine gas dissolved in water. (Or whatever the technical term is, it might be different if it's a gas.)
And let's not forget bad things keep happening to people who mix the two of them.
IANAC. I would think a paper towel in rubbing alcohol would be harmless, because it would evaporate so quickly. I am not familiar with pasta makers, but I'm thinking whatever disassembly you can manage would help. I'm sure that guess about cruddy water getting trapped is likely to be a problem.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 1:50 PM on December 11, 2005

(I have a Himark Pasta Queen, for all intents the same machine, with the same instructions.)

I guess you saw on the same page you linked to that it says, "When using the machine for the first time, clean it with a dry cloth to remove any excess oil. To clean the rollers, pass a small quantity of dough through them and then throw the dough away." But I guess you probably have some dried-on oil or grease, possibly from sitting in a deli for so long. Don't run paper towels or a cloth through it (as it also says on that page), use dough - and don't eat it. I think the admonition about never washing it with water is not because of the outer housing or the rollers, or so much for water getting trapped inside, but more likely because it would rust the screws holding the thing together, and because that would tend to de-lubricate the moving parts. You should be fine to scrub the outer surfaces with a damp rag - you might even use a mild, foodsafe degreaser, but try to keep it on the outside, and still re-lube the rollers after - they probably need it anyway.
posted by attercoppe at 3:39 PM on December 11, 2005

I suggest trying to clean it with any kind of cooking oil or mineral oil. Often, you can soften grease with grease.
posted by wryly at 3:57 PM on December 11, 2005

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