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The Easiest Ways to Clean an Air Fryer — And How Often You Should Do It

How often should you clean your air fryer? And what’s the best way to do it? I’ve asked friends, family members, searched online, and even asked a neighbor who used to work for an air fryer manufacturer. I’d yet to find a definitive answer until today. Here it is: How — and how often — you should clean your air fryer.

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I’m usually reluctant to jump on new kitchen gadget trends, but I couldn’t be more obsessed with my air fryer. I cook with it on an almost daily basis, which is why “Do you have to clean an air fryer after every use?” and “How do you get grease out of an air fryer basket?” are two questions that need answering.

To start, I’d love to say there’s no need to wash your air fryer or the basket every single time you use it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Although you probably don’t need to scrub it between every recipe, 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. 

No one wants to set off their smoke alarm (or worse) because the heating element is covered in gunk — or fill their kitchen with lingering odors wafting from the fryer long after it’s been used. With that in mind, follow the below steps to keep your air fryer clean and running smoothly. 

How to Clean an Air Fryer

The good news is that 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. 

That said, if you’re worried about your machine damaging the non-stick material typically used in air fryers, it’s still easy to wash it by hand with a little soap and warm water. Use a soft sponge or cloth to wipe away debris and avoid chipping the material. 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.

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

Once the basket is taken care of, you can set it aside to dry and then follow the same soap and water steps with the drawer. While those are both drying, take a moment to check the heating element for any food that might be stuck to it. You can use a dry washcloth or one that’s slightly damp to get rid of anything you find, but double check it’s cooled down before diving in.

Lastly, 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. 

How to Remove Sticky Residue and Grease

There’s no need to panic when you notice baked or burnt bits of food clinging to your air fryer even after you’ve washed it. A couple kitchen staples you probably already have in your cupboard can help get rid of them without a ton of extra effort.

Up first: Apple cider vinegar. A Reddit user shared this tip after making a batch of air-fried chicken that left a mess behind. In their words, “My air fryer was crusty.” To fix it, they just poured enough ACV to cover the bottom of the basket and let it work its de-gunking magic. 

The Reddit user is sparse on details, like how long it took to work, but you probably don’t want to let it soak for too long. Doing so could eat away at the non-stick material. Keep an eye on it for 15 minutes or so and you’ll notice it lifting the yucky stuff up quick. You can also dilute the vinegar with water for a half-and-half mixture if you’re worried about erosion, but it might take a little longer to work. 

As an alternative, reach for some always helpful baking soda. Mix it with water to create a paste — try to make it a not-too-thick, not-too-runny consistency — and let it sit for a few moments on the residue before wiping away. 

These tips should help you avoid any lingering smells, but if those start to pop up, you can nix them with a one-to-one mixture of water and lemon juice. Use either a spray bottle to spritz a bit all over the air fryer — including the basket, drawer, and outside (but avoiding the heating element) — or use a rag and wipe it all down that way.

Now you just need to decide which delicious recipe to get your air fryer messy again with next!

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