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The Secret That Gets Your Air Fryer To Clean Itself — Really!

Plus, everything you need to know about cleaning every nook and cranny safely

Air fryers are a great way to whip up everything from amazing appetizers and main courses to delicious side dishes and desserts — fast! And since it only requires a minimal amount of oil to cook foods in the appliance, it’s a go-to for speedy and healthy meals. But crumbs and other ingredients can still leave behind a stubborn residue or a burnt-on mess on the basket or crisper plate. So how to clean an air fryer? It’s a question millions of how chefs ask every day.

Luckily, getting the appliance grime and odor-free is a rather simple task. A cleaning pro and an expert on all things small kitchen appliance offer up their best tricks to clean air fryers so you can ensure yours keeps cooking up delicious meals!

How often should you clean your air fryer?

Experts agree that it’s a good idea to wash your air fryer or the basket after each use. The reason? The residue that each day’s cooking leaves behind quickly adds up. This results in mixed flavors and an unsanitary implement that could cause safety issues. 

Can I clean my air fryer basket in the dishwasher?

Most air fryer brands are made with removable dishwasher-safe components, leaving you with less of the heavy lifting that hand-washing requires. Just be sure to check your model’s manual before putting the basket or drawer in the dishwasher with the rest of your dishes. 

The downside to using a dishwasher? The parts of an air fryer are big and bulky and can take up a lot of space in your dishwasher! Fortunately, it’s quick and easy to wash your air fryer by hand.

Should I clean an air fryer while it’s still warm?

It may be tempting to get to work cleaning your fryer right just after it’s finished cooking your food, but Michael Bogoyavlenskiy director of Cleaning Express in the U.K., advises against this.

“People usually try to clean their air fryer while it’s hot or warm,” he says. “This is not ideal as the quick change in temperature can lead to thermal shock, which may lead to cracks or warping.” What’s more, he adds, you can burn yourself on the hot coils.

Still, like any other cookware, the sooner you clean your air fryer the easier it will be, so you don’t want to let your air fryer sit around too long after it’s cooled off. Waiting too long to clean your air fryer also gives it more time for germs, mold and bacteria to settle in and make themselves at home.

How to deep clean an air fryer by hand

Once your fryer is unplugged and has a chance to cool down, shake any crumbs out of the basket into the trash. Then reach for some household staples to get it squeaky clean again. Mild dish soap and white vinegar or apple cider vinegar are affordable ways to lift grime or residue. Just be careful not to submerge the outer appliance in water and not to soak the heating elements.

Bogoyavlenskiy’s simple tips for cleaning your air fryer : First, wash the basket and any accessories with warm water and mild dish soap. Then, use a nonabrasive sponge or cloth to scrub away any grease or burnt residue.

Next, wipe down the air fryer’s interior and exterior with a damp cloth or sponge. “Apply vinegar to the affected areas, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub gently and wipe clean,” he shares. Vinegar’s acetic acid has grease-fighting power to break down grime.

“Pay attention to the heating element,” adds Bogoyavlenskiy. “Use a soft-bristle brush to remove any debris or food particles stuck to it without damaging it.”

Finally, rinse all of the components thoroughly to remove the dish soap, vinegar and leftover food residue and dry with a cloth or let the appliance air dry before reassembling again.

Next, give the outside of the air fryer a good wipe down so that any splatter or gunk that might have made it into those nooks and crannies won’t get a chance to linger. 

Finally, if you need help getting between the holes or grids of your basket, try using a toothpick, skewer, or some chopsticks to gently dislodge stubborn gunk.

How do I keep my air fryer from smelling bad over time?

Over time, cooked-off fat can coat the fryer’s basket and other small parts, leaving a greasy odor behind. The solution, says Clare Ivatt, founder of “Let the machine clean itself!” Simply add 1 to 2 cups of water and a squeeze of dish soap to the basket, then run the air fryer at 375°F for 3 minutes. Ivatt explains, “The soapy water steams off grease, so it wipes off easily with a clean cloth.”

The genius trick that prevents air fryer messes in the first place

Silicone perforated liners act as a nonstick surface for any air-fryer foods. What’s more, their holes allow the heat to surround the food for faster and more even cooking. Another option from our Test Kitchen Director Julie Miltenberger: Line the bottom of your air fryer with aluminum foil before cooking. Once your food is done and the air fryer has cooled, remove the foil and toss. Voila! No mess to clean!

Now that your air fryer is clean, it’s ready for your next use. Next up? Deciding which delicious recipe to get your air fryer messy again with next!

Need a new air fryer? Check out the 16 Best Air Fryers of 2023 to Achieve Crispy Perfection

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