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 has obviously led me to ask Google things like, “Do you have to clean an air fryer after every use?” and “How do you get grease out of an air fryer basket?”
First off, I’d love to tell you that I’ve learned there’s no need to wash your air fryer or the basket every single time you use it, but I think we all know that’s not the case. Although you can probably get away without scrubbing it between a recipe or two, the residue left behind from each one will quickly add up to not only mix flavors, but also potentially make things unsanitary and 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. So with that in mind, keep reading to learn how 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, so you can let your trusty appliance do all the heavy lifting! Just be sure to check your particular model’s manual before putting the basket or drawer in for a spin with the rest of your dirty 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 to 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, so don’t let it sit around too long after it’s cooled off. Waiting will also give it more time for icky germs, mold, or 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 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 so it doesn’t eat away at the non-stick material. Keep an eye on it for 15 minutes or so and you’ll probably 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 any erosion, but it might take a little longer to work.
Or you can reach for some always helpful baking soda! Just mix it with some 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.
Hopefully all of these tips will 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. You can either use 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 recipe to get your air fryer messy again with next!