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How to clean an air fryer

Alvina Wang/BestReviews

From everyday cleaning to deep cleaning, these steps can keep your air fryer mess-free

Air fryers make cooking popular foods like french fries, veggies and even meat quick and easy. But keeping your air fryer clean is essential if you want it to continue making delicious recipes. Leaving grease and food debris in your air fryer can cause it to smoke during cooking and even affect the flavor of your favorite foods. 

Fortunately, learning how to clean an air fryer isn’t difficult. Whether you need to do light cleaning right after cooking, a moderate cleaning after cooking very greasy foods or a deep cleaning when your air fryer has been neglected for a while, you probably have all the tools and supplies you need already in your house. 

In this video, we’re comparing three popular air fryers: the Ninja Max XL, Instant Vortex Plus, and Breville Joule to see which air fryer is best.

Tools and supplies you'll need

  • Warm water: While many air fryers feature dishwasher-safe components that can save time on cleaning, hand-washing the basket and other accessories usually extends the life of your air fryer. Warm water can lift debris, residue and grease from the air-frying basket, crisping tray, drawer and other accessories without damaging their materials. 
  • Dish soap: Dish soap is essential to getting grease and oil off your air fryer’s components. Choose a formula without harsh abrasives to ensure your air fryer’s nonstick coating isn’t scratched or damaged. 
  • Nonabrasive sponge or cloth: In addition to warm water and dish soap, you need a clean sponge or cloth to effectively remove any residue and grease from your air fryer and its components. Again, it’s important to choose a nonabrasive sponge or cloth to prevent damage to the basket, crisping tray, drawer and other air fryer surfaces. 
  • Baking soda: For stubborn, cooked-on residue, you may need a bit more cleaning power than warm water and soap can provide. Baking soda mixed with water forms a mildly abrasive paste that can clean burned-on stains from dirty air fryers. 
  • Vinegar: If baking soda alone doesn’t remove your air fryer’s stubborn residue, mixing it with vinegar, an acid, can cause a fizzing reaction that helps loosen burned-on residue and stains. 

Pre-cleaning safety measures

  • Unplug the air fryer: As with any countertop appliance, you don’t want to clean your air fryer while it’s still plugged into the outlet, or you risk a possible shock. 
  • Allow the air fryer to cool: While removing grease and residue is easier if they haven’t had time to set on the air fryer’s components, wait for the appliance to completely cool before washing, so you don’t accidentally burn yourself.
  • Remove the washable components: Not all of an air fryer’s components are safe for submerging in water at the sink or dishwasher. The main body that houses the heating coil and convection fan should never be dunked in water at the sink, so remove the basket, crisping tray and drawer for cleaning.

Step-by-step cleaning guide

Light cleaning

  1. Remove the basket and tray. Your air fryer’s drawer typically has a basket insert with perforations that holds the food. Some also have a crisping tray that sits at the bottom of the basket. Take both over to the sink, and wash them with warm water and dishwashing liquid. You can use a sponge or cloth to wipe them down with the soapy water. Some air fryers have dishwasher-safe components, but you’re still better off handwashing them to protect their nonstick coating. You should also wash your air fryer right after use, so the grease and residue don’t have time to stick to the basket and tray. 
  2. Clean the drawer. After air-frying, the drawer often winds up with crumbs and greasy residue inside it. Knock the drawer into the sink to shake loose any debris. Next, wipe out the drawer with a paper towel. 
  3. Clean the air fryer’s interior, including the heating coil. Shake any crumbs loose from the inside of the air fryer’s main housing, and use a clean, soft cloth to wipe away any residue. Dampen the cloth with warm water, and wipe down the interior, as well as with the heating coil. Gently dry the coil afterward. 
  4. Wipe down the exterior. Use a clean towel damp with warm water to clean the exterior, gently rubbing it over the knobs, buttons or other controls. Next, dry the air fryer’s exterior with a clean towel. 
  5. Allow the components to air-dry. Thoroughly dry the basket, crisping tray and drawer with a clean towel. Let them sit on the countertop to air-dry overnight to ensure there’s no moisture that could cause rust or bacteria growth. 

Moderate cleaning

  1. Do some light cleaning. Perform all the same cleaning steps you would for light cleaning to ensure that any minor crumbs and residue are removed from your air fryer.
  2. Soak the air-frying basket and crisping pan. If your air fryer’s components have cooked-on residue, fill your sink with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Let the basket and pan soak for up to 30 minutes, and then gently scrub them clean with a nonabrasive sponge. 
  3. Fill the drawer with warm, soapy water. If there is also stubborn residue inside the drawer, let the warm, soapy water sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Next, use a nonabrasive sponge to gently scrub the drawer clean.
  4. Rinse the basket, tray and drawer and dry thoroughly. Use a clean towel to ensure they’re completely dry, and then set them out on the counter to finish air-drying. 

Deep cleaning

  1. Perform the steps for light and moderate cleaning. The goal is to remove as much surface residue on the air fryer’s basket, crisping tray and drawer as possible. 
  2. Make a paste with baking soda and water for truly stubborn stains. Baking soda is slightly abrasive, so it can help loosen tough residue without damaging your air fryer’s components. You can apply it to the basket, tray and drawer if the mess on their surfaces won’t wash away. Let it sit for five to 10 minutes, and then gently scrub it with a sponge. Rinse the components, and dry them thoroughly. 
  3. Use vinegar and baking soda for burned-on messes. If the water and baking soda mixture doesn’t remove your air fryer’s stubborn stains, mix baking soda with vinegar instead. The combination fizzes slightly to help lift residue and stains, so let it sit on the surface for three to five minutes. Next, scrub the spot, and rinse and dry the area thoroughly before putting the air fryer away.
  4. Wipe with baking soda to remove odors. Even if there aren’t any stubborn stains and residue, baking soda can help neutralize the scent of previously cooked foods in your air fryer. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge, and wipe down the basket, tray and/or interior. You can substitute baking soda for dishwashing soap when soaking your air fryer’s components to eliminate odors. 

When to clean your air fryer

If you want to keep air-frying tasty, crisp foods without issue, do a light cleaning of your appliance after each use. You’ll have the easiest time removing grease and cooking residue if you clean the air fryer before they have time to set.

Once a week or once every two weeks, it’s a good idea to do a moderate cleaning job. That ensures you remove any hidden stains or cooked-on debris that might pose an issue. Every four to six weeks, do a deep cleaning to ensure it stays working as it should.

Keep in mind that if you notice any issues with your air fryer, you may need to clean it immediately. If it starts to smoke during cooking or develops strong odors from previously cooked foods, do a thorough cleaning right away.

Maintenance and upkeep

To limit the amount of cleaning you must do, it’s a good idea to use a liner inside your air fryer basket. You can find disposable parchment paper liners or reusable silicone liners to reduce the grease and residue that wind up on your air fryer’s basket, tray and drawer. 

If your air fryer is still cooking well, but you notice that the nonstick lining for the basket or tray is starting to flake, you don’t need to invest in a new air fryer. Most manufacturers sell replacement baskets and trays, so you can buy a new one and have your air fryer working like new. 

Air fryer cleaning: Final thoughts

Cleaning your air fryer isn’t difficult, but it’s crucial to keep your appliance working as it should. If you get into the habit of doing a light cleaning every time you use your air fryer, you won’t have as much work to do when it comes time for moderate or deep cleaning. 

Even if you clean your air fryer regularly, keep an eye out for smoking or burning when making your fries or chicken wings. It’s a sign your air fryer has a hidden mess you need to deal with right away.

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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