How to clean an air fryer step by step

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How to clean an air fryer step by step
Regularly cleaning your air fryer will help prevent any lingering smells.Enjoy The Life/Shutterstock

Thanks to their versatility and easy operation, the best air fryers are only getting more and more popular. You can expertly cook everything from air fryer chicken wings to french fries in minutes, but what about cleaning this new appliance? Even the best air fryer we tested, the Instant Vortex Plus, needs to be maintained in order to avoid smells and stay in tip-top shape.

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Based on our own extensive air fryer experience and interviews with Samantha Blair, senior manager of PR at SharkNinja, and Karen Diep, product expert at Breville, here are step by step instructions on how to clean your air fryer. (If you're looking to skip one the steps below, check out the best silicone air fryer liners.)

How to clean a basket-style air fryer

How to clean an air fryer step by step
If you spend just a few minutes cleaning an air fryer, then there's no need for deep cleaning — it'll always be ready to go for the next dish.James Brains/Business Insider
  1. Unplug and let it cool. Let the air fryer cool off so it is safe to handle but still warm. Unplug the unit and let it sit for about 30 minutes. This way the unit and parts won't be blazing hot, but any stuck-on food should still be easy to remove.
  2. Wash the fryer basket(s). Many baskets (sometimes called cooking trays) are dishwasher-safe, but be sure to check a manual. Otherwise, wash with hot, soapy water and a soft sponge.
  3. Wash the grease catcher. Sometimes called a crisper plate, outer basket, or pan, air fryers often have this piece under the basket to catch any drips. Many are dishwasher-safe, but they can also be cleaned with hot, soapy water.
  4. Deep clean (if needed). If the basket or grease catcher has stubborn, stuck-on food, Blair suggests soaking them in hot, soapy water for several minutes before cleaning. A mixture of baking soda and water can be used to help scrub any remaining grime.
  5. Wipe the interior and exterior. Give the main unit and control panel a wipe with a damp cloth.
  6. Check the heating element of the air fryer. The element is located at the top of the air fryer and should be checked periodically. If needed, carefully give it a wipe with a damp (not wet) cloth and let it dry completely. Consult the manual on how to access the model's element safely.
  7. Dry. Let all of the components completely air dry before reassembling.

How to clean an oven-style air fryer

How to clean an air fryer step by step
Karen Diep, product expert at Breville, recommends giving the tray(s) a wipe down after light use and giving the unit a deeper clean regularly.Jen Gushue/Business Insider
  1. Unplug and let it cool. It's easier to clean a warm air fryer, but a hot one could burn you. Unplug and let it cool for about 30 minutes.
  2. Wash all removable accessories. Oven-style units will have wire racks and many models also include broiling racks and removable pans. Remove from the air fryer and wash in warm, soapy water. "Do not use abrasive cleansers, metal scouring pads or metal utensils," says Diep.
  3. Clean the crumb tray. Diep recommends removing the tray after every use and emptying any crumbs. When cleaning, wipe the tray down using warm, soapy water and a sponge.
  4. Deep clean (if needed). If the racks or trays have baked-on grease, soak them in warm, soapy water and use a non-abrasive liquid cleaner and sponge.
  5. Wipe the interior and exterior. Give the inside and outside a once-over with a soft, damp sponge. If needed, apply a liquid cleaner to the sponge to help remove any build-up. Diep recommends using a glass cleaner to clean the glass door.
  6. Dry. Let all removable parts fully dry before reinserting them back into the air fryer, and do not use the air fryer until it is dry and the crumb tray and racks are in place.

Tips for cleaning an air fryer

  • Consult the manual. As tedious as it sounds, don't skip the manual for your particular model. Air fryers can have different parts with different stipulations for proper cleaning, including which parts may be dishwasher safe. Get to know the model before cleaning.
  • Don't submerge the unit. "When cleaning an air fryer, do not immerse the main unit in water or any other liquid and make sure that you never put the main unit in a dishwasher," says Blair. This will damage the electronics and ruin the air fryer.
  • Use a soft sponge or damp cloth. Metal tools and scouring pads can damage the nonstick coating. If some stuck-on residue refuses to budge, soak the parts in hot, soapy water before scrubbing with a sponge. For parts that are not removable (like the interior), use a paste made from baking soda and water and wipe away with a soft sponge.

How to avoid lingering smells

If you have a brand-new air fryer producing a burnt plastic smell, this may be from a protective coating burning off inside the fryer. Give the new appliance a good clean and then run it a couple of times without any food inside to get rid of the smell.

For lingering food smells, try this trick from Diep: "Place an oven-safe bowl in the oven with two cups of water mixed with the juice of half a lemon and let it steam at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. That should pull off any remaining grease on the interior surfaces and the lemon can help with covering up the smell."

Insider's takeaway

To keep any of the best air fryers working perfectly and free of unwanted smells, give them a clean after every use. Be sure to read the manual for the model since improper cleaning can damage the air fryer. Most models have dishwasher-safe components, making them especially easy to keep clean.

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