How to Clean Your Air Fryer, According to Pros
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Avoid the dreaded deep clean by following these simple steps.
Quick, straightforward, and arguably "healthier," air fryers have taken up residency on kitchen counters across the U.S. By utilizing convection technology — or cooking by way of blowing hot air all around the contents inside — air fryers bring that classic deep-fried texture home, without a deep fryer.
However, since they’re relatively new countertop appliances, it’s not necessarily intuitive how to care for them. Likewise, cleaning air fryers isn’t as in-depth as cleaning your oven, but it requires a bit more than a cursory wipe-down.
Why Your Should Clean Your Air Fryer
Most people aren’t cleaning their ovens or countertop appliances like toasters every time they use them, so you might think air fryers require similar upkeep. But air fryers require their own care and maintenance due to the type of foods often cooked — sometimes greasy or crumb-prone items — and, therefore, should be cleaned more frequently.
"While an air fryer is great for frying foods using little to no oil, they do not prevent fats from rendering out of the foods you're cooking," says John Somerall, Food & Wine's Editorial Project Manager of Food Research and Testing who helps manage testing in the lab and at home. "Regardless of your cooking method, this can inevitably cause oils and food particles to collect in or underneath your baskets, often in areas that are difficult to clean."
Generally, it's always a good idea to first consult your manufacturer's cleaning instructions; some air fryers even have dishwasher-safe parts. That said, if you prefer traditional hand-washing methods or need to address tougher messes, there are a few universal ways to ensure your air fryer stays pristine, regardless of frequent use.
Depending on the model, there might be multiple removable parts. Grates, baskets, and the built-in drawer should be removed and cleaned with each use. Think of the basket and drawer of your air fryer like a skillet: You'd only reuse a skillet after cleaning it first because the leftover food and oil could contaminate your next recipe.
The interior of your air fryer can also accumulate grime very quickly, so a weekly cleaning should keep everything running smoothly. We recommend cleaning the coil about once a week to ensure everything works safely and at 100% of its ability. It’s never good to let grease build up on any appliance that gets hot — grease fires can happen in an instant and are difficult to control. While you're at it, a quick wipe-down of the exterior is excellent, too.
Related:The 6 Best Air Fryer Toaster Ovens of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
How To Clean Your Air Fryer
Turn off your air fryer. Unplug it and allow it cool.
Remove any grates or baskets. Handwash each piece with the soft side of a sponge and hot, soapy water. Divya Raj, a product reviewer at Everything Better, a site dedicated to testing kitchen appliances, shared her favorite tip for cleaning stubborn messes in an air fryer drawer. She says, “The easiest method to clean air fryer baskets is by soaking them in soapy water for 30 minutes to an hour and scrubbing with a soft sponge.”
To clean the drawer or basket, start by knocking out loose crumbs and oil. Quickly wipe it with a paper towel to grab any last bits. Then, use the same method as cleaning the inserts. For tougher messes, Beatrice Flores, a cleaning expert at Living Pristine, a blog dedicated to home cleaning tips, suggests, “If there is caked-on residue, fill the basket halfway with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap to it. Let this sit for 10 minutes before gently scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge or cloth until all the build-ups are removed.”
Wipe all components dry with a clean towel and let air dry on the counter. "Moisture is the enemy when it comes to storage, and any lingering moisture can promote bacterial growth, which can create an unexpected and disappointing surprise the next time you decide to enjoy the benefits of your air fryer," says Somerall.
To clean the inside of an air fryer, start by knocking any crumbs out and wiping up any visible oil. Then, gently wipe out the interior, including the coil, using a towel and warm water. Depending on the soil level, repeat this step with warm soapy water to dissolve any cooked-on grease.
Finally, keep the exterior clean by quickly wiping it down after every few uses to avoid an eventual deep clean. To do so, use a kitchen towel or rag with warm water, followed by a dry towel. For grease or tougher messes, use a few drops of dish soap with warm water, and wipe clean.
Can you clean an air fryer by putting water in it and turning it on?
You may have encountered this time-saving “hack” for cleaning your air fryer, but we don’t recommend it. Water and electricity don’t mix well, and your air fryer houses a large electrical coil. At best, this method will fail to clean the inside of your air fryer since the fan can’t blow the water around evenly or in a way that can replace a bit of elbow grease. At worst, it can short out the internal electrical mechanisms in your air fryer, ruining it. Overall, you’re much better off employing a traditional cleaning method.
How do you get baked-on grease out of an air fryer?
If soaking your air fryer basket does not get it clean, use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Apply it to the dirty area, and after a few minutes, thoroughly scrub with a brush, then rinse.
According to Somerall, "Regardless of the method you decide to use, make sure you thoroughly rinse the areas you're cleaning with water to remove any residual soap or chemicals before allowing everything to thoroughly dry before reassembling your air fryer and placing it back into storage."
Nick DeSimone is a freelance writer who has spent nearly ten years as a professional cook. They have personal and professional experience using air fryers and convection. To write this piece, they asked several cleaning experts and air fryer specialists for their insider advice.
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