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June 2, 2022  |  Kitchen

How to clean your air fryer

Keeping your air fryer clean

Today, air fryers are hotter than ever (pun intended). Like any kitchen tool, the most important step in keeping yours in peak condition is making sure it’s as clean as can be. It is, of course, important to clean after every use. Sometimes, however, grease, carbon, and food particles can build up, which reduces an air fryer’s effectiveness and can increase fire risk in extreme cases. Thanks to the thoughtful design of most air fryers, though, cleanup is a relatively easy job.

How air fryers work

Air fryers consist of a heating element, a fan, a food basket, and a thermostat with controls mounted on the body. Simply place the ready-to-cook food in the basket, insert it securely into the body, set the temperature and timer, and start it up.

Just like other ovens, the thermostat works to maintain the temperature of the air moving through the basket. Unlike some toaster ovens, air fryers are usually well-insulated to minimize heat loss and energy usage.

How to clean an air fryer

Never use abrasive cleaning materials

All you need is a soft kitchen sponge or dishcloth and regular dish detergent. Since most air fryer parts have plastic or nonstick surfaces, under no circumstances should you use a green scrub pad or steel wool.

Beware of putting air fryer pieces in the dishwasher

To be clear, you should never put the base of the air fryer in the dishwasher or submerge it in water. The basket and any grates or other pieces inside it may be safe to put in the dishwasher, though. This differs between manufacturers and models, so make sure to read the instructions for your air fryer carefully.

With that said, while some air fryers do have dishwasher-safe parts, you should still exercise caution. Make sure there aren’t any metal tools near the air fryer on the dishwasher rack, as water jets can jostle things around and lead to scratches on plastic and non-stick materials.

If your air fryer basket is especially bulky or you want to play it safe, it’s always OK to wash your air fryer entirely by hand.

Getting stubborn particles off your air fryer

It’s impossible to completely avoid grease and burnt-on food when using an air fryer. If your soft kitchen sponge won’t scrub everything away neatly, soak the components for at least 10 minutes in a solution of warm water and dish soap.

Clean the heating element

Most air fryers’ elements are easily accessible once you remove the basket. You can turn most models over and wipe the inside down without much difficulty. Use a soft cloth dipped into a mild solution of soapy water to do this. Remember, you’ll have to wipe it completely clean afterward, and you don’t want any leftover soap residue or water seeping inside the unit. So, don’t soak the element completely with water or use too much soap.

When cleaning the inside of the air fryer, pay special attention to any cracks or crevices where moisture and food particles could hide.

Wipe down the exterior of the air fryer

Once again, a soft cloth dipped in mildly soapy water is your best friend when cleaning the outside of your air fryer. Just like cleaning the element, don’t use a saturated dishcloth or sponge, to avoid water seeping into the controls and potentially damaging the electronics.

Makes sure it’s completely dry

After softening stuck food particles, scrubbing down the basket and any grilles, and wiping down the inside and out of the unit’s body, make sure to wipe off any residual soap. While it’s usually fine to let the basket and its components air-dry, it’s best to dry the body by hand to avoid moisture damage and mold accumulation in the long term. Wiping with a soft cloth also minimizes water spots on shiny plastic exteriors.

Clean after every use

If you take a few minutes to clean an air fryer thoroughly after each use, you’ll rarely have to deep clean it. Avoid overcooking food to prevent caked-on particles and hard-to-remove carbon and ash deposits.

Air fryer FAQ

Q. Are air fryers better than convection toaster ovens?

A. Most air fryers feature specialized designs with self-contained baskets and plastic exteriors. Many quality toaster ovens sport the fans and powerful elements needed to maintain consistent temperatures during convection cooking.

There are pros and cons to using either one. For example, you can fit personal-size pizzas in a toaster oven, but not in most air fryers. On the other hand, air fryers are faster, more efficient and usually easier to clean. Many air fryers deliver better results on foods such as french fries because they’re engineered to simulate frying in oil rather than simple convection baking.

Also, note that some manufacturers eliminate the distinction between the two appliances. Cuisinart, for example, makes a range of highly reliable convection toaster ovens and calls them air fryers. For what it’s worth, these Cuisinart models get high marks from experts and owners for efficiency and consistency.

Q. How loud are air fryers?

A. Since they’re designed to maximize airflow to simulate frying in oil, many air fryers are surprisingly loud. Some highly effective models are even as loud as a vacuum cleaner. How loud an air fryer is ultimately depends on the manufacturer and individual product. 

Q. Do air fryers need oil?

A. There’s no way to add oil to the air fryer itself. To ensure the crispiest and tastiest results, it’s a good idea to lightly coat food in oil (and seasoning, of course) before putting it in the air fryer.

Q. Are air fryers healthier than deep fryers?

A. Deep fryers add remarkable amounts of fat and calories to food. The air frying process adds neither. Air fryers are considerably better for your diet than deep fryers. That’s probably the biggest reason to use one.

Q. Do air fryers take up a lot of space?

A. The vast majority have a smaller footprint than a toaster oven but are usually noticeably taller. If you’re especially concerned about saving counter space, there are some particularly compact models to consider.

Q. How much do air fryers cost?

A. You can get a great air fryer for less than $100, which underscores how efficient these handy appliances are. Alternatively, you can find premium models from highly respected manufacturers such as Ninja. While more expensive, high-end air fryers tend to be a little faster and have more advanced settings as well as higher capacities.

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

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