When using an air fryer specifically, clean up can be either a boring chore – or a walk in the park. It really depends on how much of a mess you have on your hands at the time.
You can keep clean-up to a minimum when you apply these simple ideas for how to clean your air fryer.
Keep Your Air Fryer in Good Shape
Since most of us don’t exactly look forward to cleaning chores, the best way to make it a relatively quick and easy process is to keep your air fryer in good condition. How? Simply clean it after each use. A little cleaning can go a long way as long as you do so as a matter of routine. When you get after it – messes cannot accumulate and make matters worse later. Depending on what you typically cook in your air fryer, you may also need to do a thorough cleaning periodically.
Once you get used to cooking in your air fryer and cleaning up soon afterwards, you’ll be able to take it in stride. It’s really no big deal. But there are a few basic things you can do to make the process a whole lot easier.
The Difference Lies in the Details
When cooking in your air fryer, you could end up with a relatively clean appliance or create a huge mess. It depends on the details. What makes the biggest difference are these two factors:
1. Exactly what food you’re cooking and…
2. How you go about the process.
An air fryer makes it possible to enjoy a taste that’s somewhat similar to that of deep fried foods – with just a fraction of the oil. So it’s a healthier way to enjoy crispy coated foods, including all the popular favorites like fries, sweet potato fries, chicken wings, nuggets and tater tots.
As with any kind of equipment, regular cleaning and maintenance makes it function a whole lot better. The last thing you should do is leave the cleanup for a later point in time. Cook whatever you want, unplug the air fryer and go ahead and enjoy your fresh air-fried foods fully. Then follow through with a proper clean-up.
This typically means washing it thoroughly by hand in the sink. Rinse off well and ensure that your air fryer is thoroughly dry. Wipe down the interior and exterior with a soft cloth dampened with warm water.
If you’re cooking something like a bag of frozen fries, cleanup couldn’t be easier. Most prepared products come pre-oiled, so you don’t have to add anything other than the food to your air fryer basket. After cooking empty the fries into a serving bowl or plate as desired. Unplug the air fryer and allow the air fryer to cool down enough so you can handle it.
Once cooled, all you need to do is wipe down the basket inside and outside with a paper towel to absorb any oil droplets and food particles. Then wipe the basket down with a soft and wet cloth. It’s also a good idea to wipe down the inside and outside of the air fryer as well. But chances are you won’t see much of anything there.
Where Things Can Get Messy
Whenever you’re cooking fatty meats or any food that has been marinated or cooked in a sauce (like Swedish meatballs, for example) – that’s when things can get a little messy or worse. But don’t let that deter you from fully using and enjoying your air fryer.
One common method to help contain drippings from these foods is to add a single layer of parchment paper or aluminum foil to the bottom of the air fryer basket. You’ll want to be careful here though. When you add a liner like this to your air fryer – it’s crucial that you do not completely cover the bottom. You want to allow air to come up through the bottom so we recommend leaving a space all around this liner of about ½ to ¾ of an inch. This way you allow some space all around for the vital heated air to travel.
If you choose to use any foil or parchment paper, be sure to only place it inside the cooking basket. Never place a liner anywhere else inside your air fryer. What you’ll find is that a liner correctly deployed can serve you well by providing significant protection against drippings of sauces and grease to the covered part of the basket. This alone can go a long way to making what would otherwise be a messy cleanup much easier.
Another way to make cleanup less of a hassle is to provide a minimal coating of oil to the food before adding it to the air fryer basket. This helps ensure that the nonstick coating can do its thing effectively. The less food and drippings that stick to the air fryer easier cleanup will be.
If you cook a lot of greasy foods like meat for example you’ll notice that grease can come off the food and gum up the basket. It often becomes sticky and can be burned on making it more difficult to clean. But clean it you must. Don’t neglect your air fryer. Regular cleaning and sanitizing can help prevent bacteria from leaching into your food.
Cleaning is also important because you’ll want to use your air fryer for a variety of foods. If you don’t properly clean up after each use, it could leave food residue behind, which can impact the taste of the next dish you cook. Cleaning up after cooking in your air fryer helps to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Routine cleaning helps keep your air fryer in peak condition. It can help you prevent smoke and unnecessary odors. The more frequently you clean it as you use it – the less of a deep cleaning you’ll need to do as part of your general maintenance.
Break it Down and It’s Easier
The best way to tackle the cleaning process is to simplify the process by taking out any removable parts. Obviously, you should never immerse the main unit in water. Most air fryers these days come with a cooking tray that slides in and out like a drawer in the bottom of the appliance. Usually that tray holds a separate basket where the food goes. Both of these items are detachable and can be cleaned individually.
When you approach the clean up this way, it’s a much less tedious task. Most of the mess will be contained to the basket. And you can soak the basket in hot soapy water in the sink while you eat your dinner. The pull out tray can also be cleaned in similar fashion, or you can simply wipe it down with a damp soft cloth.
But before you start any cleaning make sure that the basket is cool enough to touch. Add hot water and a little bit of liquid soap and let it soak for 20 to 30 minutes – depending on how stubborn any stuck-on stains are. After soaking you can wash out the basket gently. Rinse it thoroughly and dry completely.
Protect the Nonstick Finish
Keep in mind that most air fryers the baskets inside are coated with a non-stick finish. This material is delicate so you need to treat it with great care. That means you should never use metal utensils. Instead it’s best to silicone, nylon or wooden utensils with nonstick coated cookware.
Avoid using any abrasive scouring pads brushes or sponges. Non-abrasive sponges, soft bristled brushes, or a microfiber clothes are the best tools to use to clean your air fryer. Add a little liquid soap and warm water and most clean-up jobs can be handled easily.
The condition of your air fryer overtime depends largely on your cooking and cleaning habits. If you follow these simple directions, you’ll have an easier time of it and your machine will probably last longer as a result.
Hard To Remove Stains
Understand though that some stains may be difficult – if not impossible – to remove using routine cleaning methods. A thin layer of grease can occur in an air fryer. But you should probably focus most of your cleaning efforts on are the greasy spills that remain slimy or sticky.
The heating element inside the air fryer may need to be cleaned on occasion. It really depends on what you regularly cook in your air fryer. If you’re cooking a lot of fatty foods or foods in marinades, you can expect your heating element to sustain occasional splashes of sauce or grease. What happens when the element gets splashed from grease or sauces is it starts to produce smoke as those substances burn on the red-hot element. That’s often a sign that it’s time to clean the heating element of your air fryer.
Before cleaning your air fryer, it’s important to shut it off unplug it and move away from the power supply. That should always be step number one.
Let the air fryer cool down so you can easily handle it. To clean the element, one way is to flip the air fryer upside down, since the element is most often located on the top of the machine. This gives you clear access. You can simply wipe it down with a soft sponge or cloth all around the coil, wherever you see evidence of grease or grime.
Combine Baking Soda and Vinegar
For difficult to remove spills, we recommend a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. If you don’t happen to have any vinegar lying around, you can make a paste with baking soda and water. But if you’ve got vinegar – use it instead since it seems to be more effective at lifting some stains.
After mixing these two ingredients and forming a paste, you should then apply this paste wherever you have stuck on food residue or grease splatters. Let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes and then rinse it off thoroughly. Give it a good cleaning with a soft cloth and rinse it again. Dry all components of the air fryer completely.
Another common ingredient that can help with cleaning your air fryer is coarse salt. In this case, you might want to try mixing coarse salt with a little dish soap and baking soda and applying this mix to those dried greasy spots that are tough to remove. Just be sure to wash, rinse and dry afterwards.
That’s all there is to it. When you do this after each use – or as necessary – your air fryer will be in ready-to-go condition the next time you call upon it.
Nooks and Crannies
To get into any hard to reach place, you might want to use a toothbrush. This works great for the smaller-holed, mesh type baskets. But you can use s toothbrush to get into any hard to reach nooks and crannies. If you neglect your cleanup duties after using the air fryer, you may notice that food residue will burn and may even affect other foods that you subsequently air fry.
If your air fryer basket or rack is made of stainless steel, you can use a stainless steel brush to remove any stuck on food splatters or grease residue.
Beware of the Disconnect
As a good first step it’s always a worthwhile experience to read your owner’s manual from front to back. Pay attention to what manufacturer says about cleaning within the manual. You might find a discrepancy between what a company says in their marketing material and what is suggested in their owner’s manual. Specifically, manufacturers often boast that their nonstick food basket is “dishwasher safe”. You may find that to be true. But don’t be surprised if they also state in the manual hand-washing is recommended.
As a general guideline – always wash components by hand anyway. It’s a virtual guaranteed way to extend the life of your appliance.
Keep It Dry
Before moving your appliance back into storage after cleaning, double check to make sure that it’s thoroughly dry inside and out. Since water has minerals in it (and some water is harder with a higher calcium content) you could be left with unsightly water marks on you air fryer.
A mixture that’s helpful for wiping down the surfaces of your air fryer is a combination of vinegar and water. Specifically, try mixing one part of vinegar to three parts of water and then add it to a spray bottle. This makes a useful all purpose cleaner that works well on the exterior of an air fryer as well as on other appliances.
Steer Clear of Oven Cleaners
Avoid using any kind of oven cleaner on your air fryer. If you’ve ever used an oven cleaner before on a conventional range – you know how overpowering those fumes can be. When you get that kind of chemical compound on a small air fryer – you might find it impossible to get rid of the odor. Should that happen to you – you’re probably going to have to replace your air fryer. Not cool. Stay away from oven cleaner at all costs.
Take Preventative Measures
Whenever you’re working with batter or breaded coatings, consider lining the bottom of the basket with parchment or aluminum foil. Just be sure to add the paper at the same time as you add your food. This means never preheating an air fryer with parchment paper or foil inside.
Oven safe parchment paper will darken a little bit – but it won’t catch fire as long as you’re operating within its limitations on temperature – which is typically 400°F and below.
Tinfoil is not naturally nonstick like parchment paper is. Essentially it is remarkably thin aluminum. When cooking with aluminum it’s best to give it a light spritz of oil before adding your food. Given the choice wherever heat is involved, your best option is parchment paper.
You now know how to clean your air fryer and keep it in peak condition. Use the tips provided here and you’ll find that most air fryer cleanups are relatively quick and easy. If you make it a habit to clean your air fryer after each use, you’ll come to love this popular appliance even more.