How to Clean an Air Fryer
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Not sure how to clean an air fryer? It's a lot easier than you might think!
When air fryers first emerged on the scene, some home cooks wrote them off as just another gimmicky cooking device. A gadget that promised to make fried food healthy was too good to be true, right? Skeptics didn’t want to learn how to cook on the newfangled machine, and they certainly didn’t want to spend time learning how to clean an air fryer.
But once Americans tried air frying, they were hooked. So hooked, in fact, that air fryers are an $894 million business, and experts estimate that the appliances will have a $1.4 billion market share by 2026. So what’s all the fuss about? Air fryers are, in essence, small convection ovens that sit on your countertop and create crispy, just-like-fried foods without the fat or hassle of frying. But just as regular cleanings are crucial for coffee makers, Keurigs, microwaves, humidifiers and pretty much any other appliance, knowing how to clean an air fryer is key to keeping it in working order.
“It’s important to keep your air fryer clean for several reasons,” says Kathy Hester, author of Vegan Cooking in Your Air Fryer and blogger at Healthy Slow Cooking. “If you have a toaster oven–style [air fryer], oil and food can drip onto the heating elements below and bake on. This could even cause a small fire if it’s not kept clean. If you have a basket-style air fryer, little bits of food can get caught under the basket and burn.”
In short, it’s time to add air-fryer cleaning to your regular cleaning schedule. But don’t be intimidated! We’ve put together a quick and easy cleaning guide to everyone’s favorite cooking tool.
How air fryers work
When you deep-fry food, you’re submerging it in ultra-hot oil that gets into every nook and cranny, cooking the outsides at lightning speed and giving your food a crackling-crisp crust.
Air fryers work in a similar way. They surround your food with scorching hot heat, but instead of oil, they use rapidly circulating air that delivers the same crispy crust without the fat.
Why cleaning your air fryer is essential
Your air fryer’s high-powered fan doesn’t just blow air around your food, it also circulates crumbs, grease, moisture and small, lightweight bits of food. Not cleaning the machine between uses is a big air fryer mistake. Bits of food and grease can get into the mechanisms and create a greasy buildup on the fan, which will slow it down. Over time, it will take longer to air fry foods, and if the fan is sluggish, the finished product won’t be as crisp either.
The good news: While a lack of cleaning can damage the appliance, regular cleanings will extend its lifespan and keep it cooking correctly.
How often to clean your air fryer
Gently clean your air fryer after every use by shaking out any excess crumbs and giving any parts that came in direct contact with food a quick wash. If you do this every time you use your air fryer, it will rarely need to be deep-cleaned.
How to tell if you need to clean your air fryer
Even if you have the best air fryer and clean it after every use, the fan and heating coils will, over time, accrue some greasy buildup, just like a regular oven does. (Speaking of, you should be cleaning your oven regularly too.)
You’ll know it’s time to deep-clean your air fryer when its performance begins to slip. If your food is taking longer to cook, doesn’t come out as crispy as usual or isn’t cooking evenly, a thorough cleaning can make your air-fried meals tastier and even extend the appliance’s lifespan.
Supplies will you need
- Dish soap
- Scrub brush or soft toothbrush
- Damp cloth
- Baking soda
How to clean an air fryer
Step 1: Let the air fryer cool
Don’t try to clean a hot air fryer—let it cool down for at least 10 minutes to prevent accidental burns. To speed things up, leave your air fryer basket or door open after you’ve finished cooking. Focus on cleaning the rest of your kitchen while you wait.
Step 2: Remove the crumbs
Hester points to crumbs as an issue for basket-style air fryers—small bits of food can get trapped beneath the basket and burn, so you’ll need to clean them out regularly. Remove the basket chamber and empty it into the garbage. Keep in mind: It’s alright for small crumbs to go down the garbage disposal, but larger pieces of food belong on the trash can.
If you have a toaster-oven-style air fryer, pull out the crumb-catching tray on the bottom, shake it off over the sink or trash can, then use a brush to remove any errant crumbs that stick to the door or hinges.
Step 3: Clean the basket, tray and/or pan
Don’t fret about knowing how to clean the air fryer basket—it can be washed just like any other dish, with soap and warm water. If you don’t feel like washing it by hand (and we don’t blame you), Hester has good news: “Most removable baskets can go into the top rack of the dishwasher, to make cleaning easy,” she says.
While most air fryers have pieces that are dishwasher safe, the smartest move is to always check the instruction manual for your specific model first, just to be sure.
Food crusted onto the basket or pan? Before you toss them in the dishwasher, soak the parts in hot soapy water for 20 to 30 minutes. Then use a scrub brush to remove the softened gunk.
Step 4: Clean the interior
Once you have removed the basket, tray and pan, you can clean the inside of the air fryer. Simply run a damp kitchen sponge with a little bit of dish soap over the entire interior and wipe it dry.
How to deep-clean an air fryer
Step 1: Unplug the machine
Safety first! As is the case when cleaning all small appliances, make sure your air fryer is unplugged before you begin.
Step 2: Wipe down the exterior
Since there’s very little oil involved in air frying, there won’t be much in the way of greasy residue after each use, which means you don’t need to clean the outside of the air fryer as frequently. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior every couple of uses.
Step 3: Remove buildup
If you notice any food particles that have cooked onto the inside of the air fryer or patches of baked-on grease, cover them with an easy-to-make baking soda paste: Combine a half cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water. Gently use a nonabrasive scrub brush or soft toothbrush to thoroughly scrub the interior of the air fryer.
Never use metal utensils to remove crumbs or caked-on food from the machine. They can damage the nonstick coating and prevent your air fryer from working properly.
Step 4: Wipe down the interior
Once you’ve scrubbed the inside of the air fryer, give it a good wipe-down with a wet cloth. Wipe the appliance dry, then put the newly cleaned basket, tray or pan back. And just like that, you’re good to go.
Now that you know how to clean an air fryer, it’s time for your next cleaning task. (What, you thought you were done?) How about cleaning that refrigerator while you’re in the kitchen?
- Allied Market Research: “Air Fryer Market by End User (Residential and Commercial) and Sales Channel (Hypermarket & Supermarket, Specialty Store and Online sales Channel): Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019–2026”
- Kathy Hester, author of Vegan Cooking in Your Air Fryer and blogger at Healthy Slow Cooking