Like every kitchen appliance, air fryers still demand routine cleaning to remove stubborn stuck-on grease and food. Just as a microwave causes food to splatter, the hot air circulation in an air fryer causes food to scatter inside the unit. Not properly cleaning an air fryer creates a breeding ground for bacteria and the possibility that the air fryer will stop working correctly over time. Learn how to clean your air fryer with these simple steps, guaranteeing that your favorite kitchen appliance will stay in tip-top shape!

Forgetting to Clean Your Air Fryer

black air fryer
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Although not all air fryers are entirely alike, they're incredibly similar. Many air fryers include the central unit, a removable inner basket, drip pan, and heating element. Most air fryers require the same basic cleaning protocol. Unfortunately, the necessary cleaning steps essential to keeping an air fryer up and running are often overlooked or forgotten.

When cleaning an air fryer, many home cooks are more than likely to only give the removable inner basket a quick wipe down after each use, unaware or unfazed by food debris still lurking within the unit.

Crumbs and grease often make their way into the drip pan below the removable basket. Not removing the drip pan for regular cleaning will result in your air fryer developing a "spoiled food" odor that will eventually penetrate every food prepared in the air fryer. No thanks!

The air circulation used to cook the food blows small bits of food around inside the air fryer, causing oil residue to hit the unit's inner cavity. It's a good idea to wipe down the inside of the air fryer to remove oil residue, eliminating the risk of bacteria growth.

The fan inside the air fryer will cause food and oil to become stuck on the air fryer's heating element. Failing to clean the heating element prevents the air fryer from cooking food efficiently and causes it to produce a smokey smell.

How to Clean an Air Fryer

1. Unplug The Air Fryer

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Before cleaning your air fryer, make sure that it is unplugged and cool to the touch before attempting to clean it. Although this may sound like an obvious step, accidents can and do happen. Do not risk hurting yourself. Always double-check to make sure the device is unplugged. Some air fryers have a light that illuminates when the unit is plugged in.

2. Clean the Removable Basket and Drip Pan

cleaning removable air fryer basket
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Depending on the brand and model, your air fryer's removable inner basket and pan may be dishwasher safe. Check the manufacturer's recommendations. Soiled baskets and pans should be removed from the air fryer unit after every use. Wash the removable parts with warm, soapy water using a non-abrasive sponge or microfiber cloth. Dry thoroughly before placing back in the air fryer.

3. Clean the Air Fryer's Heating Element

air fryer heating element
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Use a non-abrasive sponge or cloth with hot water to clean the heating element. If stubborn stuck-on food is present, use a soft-bristle cleaning brush to help gently remove it. If you notice any grease, use a small amount of soap with hot water on a non-abrasive sponge or cloth. Allow the unit to dry thoroughly before using again.

4. Clean the Inside and Outside of the Air Fryer

grease inside air fryer
Brittany Baxter/Oola

Never immerse the air fryer's central unit in water, as this will destroy the air fryer.

Both the interior and exterior of the air fryer will accumulate oil residue over time. Using a non-abrasive sponge or microfiber cloth soaked in warm, hot soapy water, gently scrub the bottom, top, and sides of the unit, removing any visible residue. To clean hard to reach crevices in or outside the unit, use a soft-bristled brush with hot water and a small amount of dish soap. Dry thoroughly before use.

Commonly Asked Questions

air fryer drip pan
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How Often Should I Clean My Air Fryer?

To keep your air fryer well-maintained and working properly, thoroughly clean it after every use. Remember to unplug the air fryer before cleaning. Make sure to clean the inner removable basket, drip pan, and heating element. Wipe down the interior and exterior of the air fryer. Thoroughly dry with a towel before the next use. Keeping your air fryer clean after each use will not only extend the life of your air fryer but also protect you and your family from harmful bacteria.

Can I Put My Air Fryer in the Dishwasher?

Never place the main unit of your air fryer into the dishwasher. However, depending on the brand and model, your air fryer's removable inner basket and pan may be dishwasher safe. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for dishwasher safety.

Can I Use a Scrubber Pad on an Air Fryer?

We don't recommend using scrubber pads to clean your air fryer. Many air fryers consist of a nonstick coating, which discourages the use of abrasive sponges. Scrubber pads and other abrasive materials could scratch the nonstick coating, eventually ruining it and making future cleanings more of a hassle. Avoid this problem and use non-abrasive sponges and micro-fiber cloths when cleaning your air fryer.

What Cleaner Should I Use to Clean My Air Fryer?

Cleaning products for an air fryer are not too far from your grasp! We recommend good old hot soapy water as your best approach when cleaning an air fryer. Avoid using abrasive cleaners such as bleach, glass cleaners, or other harsh cleansers.

As an alternative to dish soap, a safe and powerful cleaning solution of vinegar and water will work wonders on a dirty air fryer. Mix three parts water and one part vinegar, and use a non-abrasive sponge or cloth to wipe down the unit.

Additionally, for tough stuck-on burnt foods that won't come off with other cleaning methods, try a baking soda paste. Simply mix a small amount of water with baking soda until a toothpaste like-consistency forms. Apply the baking soda paste with a soft-bristled brush or cloth.

Air fryers are a must-have kitchen gadget for making healthy cooking an absolute breeze. Don't get caught up in the ease of preparing healthy meals with this amazing kitchen appliance without making sure it's cleaned right because you'll otherwise soon regret it.

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