Having an air fryer can be an absolute joy, completely transforming your approach to cooking and frying a whole bunch of everyday essentials. It’s an affordable and convenient solution for the modern kitchen - an appliance that’s as much about simplicity as it is healthy eating.
Nevertheless, the one downside that comes with air fryer ownership is the requirement to clean the interior and exterior of the appliance on a regular basis. Baked-on food, grease, oil, and grime build up with every use, resulting in the kind of sticky residue that could compromise its efficiency and performance. You may want to use it less often so why not look at the best air fryers for bigger families from this review. Also, check out what to expect from the best oven under a 100$ in this regard.
Like it or not, regular cleaning is essential to keep your air fryer in decent condition. Not to mention, hygienic and sanitary enough to use with confidence long-term.
The good news - there’s no shortage of tips, tricks, and hacks for anyone looking to clean an air fryer the easy way. Or at least, a slightly less painful way to clean the interior and exterior of most air fryers before allowing things to get completely out of hand!
How to Clean Baked on Grease from Air Fryer: Basket Style or Oven Style Air Fryer
At this point, it’s worth highlighting how properly cleaning an air fryer with a basket is slightly different from cleaning oven-style air fryers. The process is no more or less difficult in most instances, calling for a basic list of essentials, including the following:
- A bottle brush with relatively soft bristles
- Some standard dish soap of decent quality
- Vinegar and baking soda if making a DIY solution
- Plenty of paper towel close to hand
Here’s How to Clean a Basket Style, Air Fryer, in Just a Few Simple Steps:
First and foremost, unplug your unit from the power socket and give it plenty of time to completely cool. Never attempt to clean the exterior or interior of the air fryer while it is still hot. Then remove the basket.
Take as many removable parts as possible that are dishwasher-safe and place them in the appropriate spot in your dishwasher. Depending on the type of air fryer you have, this could apply to most removable parts or none at all - always check carefully.
If using the dishwasher is out of the question, wash the parts you have removed in a solution comprising plenty of warm water and standard dish soap. Use a damp cloth sponge to give them a good wipe and a bottle brush to get deep into any crevices that are difficult to reach.
Use the same solution and method to clean the air fryer on the inside, focusing on the food and grease around the sides and bottom in particular. You will not be able to access the heating element directly, which should be protected from most grease and grime anyway.
Always use non-abrasive cleaning products and scrub carefully, so you don't remove or damage the non-stick coating - any damage to the non-stick layer could make it much more challenging to clean your air fryer in the future.
Give all the parts you cleaned an excellent rinse with plenty of clean water before placing them back inside the main unit (also rinsed) after they have all fully dried.
Top tip - tackling particularly stubborn grime (and baked-on food) can be simplified by combining vinegar with baking soda, smearing liberally over the offending area, and leaving for around 30 minutes. It should then be much easier to remove with a quick rinse. This could prove handy for, let's say, air-fryers for chicken reviewed here, or the ones for chicken wings listed in this post.
Here’s How To Clean an Oven-style Air Fryer
(As the name suggests, this is the type of air fryer that resembles a conventional oven, which will often feature an exposed heating element that should also be cleaned from time to time.)
Top tip - don’t make the mistake of attempting to flush the grease from the drip tray down the sink with water, as to do so is to run the serious risk of blocking your pipes. Always dispose of oil and grease responsibly.
How to Deep Clean Your Air Fryer
Giving your air fryer a quick clean with a damp cloth after every use is the best way of keeping it in pristine condition and avoiding more intensive cleaning jobs. Particularly if you wash the removable components of your device on a regular basis (as outlined above), you’ll rarely need to perform a much deeper clean.
However, if your air fryer starts to smell when it gets hot, emits smoke while in use, or in any way doesn’t appear to be cooking food as it should, a deep clean comes highly recommended. Thankfully, giving its interior and exterior an intensive clean from time to time is no more difficult than the basic cleaning steps outlined above.
Take ½ cup of baking soda and combine it with a few tablespoons of water to make a paste. You can also substitute some of the water for vinegar (just about any type of vinegar will do) for an even more intensive cleaning effect.
Remove as many components as you can from your air fryer and scrape off as much residual gunk and debris as possible. Again, do so carefully so as to avoid causing damage to any non-stick surfaces.
A semi-abrasive sponge or stiff brush can be used to ease most burned-on food and debris from the removable parts and around the opening, including where the heating element is located. At this point, it is worth giving the unit’s interior a clean while on its side and upside down, as all manner of debris will no doubt fall out as you move it around.
Use a kitchen towel to liberally spread your DIY solution over the various bits and pieces that need plenty of TLC, using a sponge to gently but firmly massage the grime away.
After giving the baking soda mixture a few minutes to get to work, you can rinse it away using a clean cloth or sponge with plenty of warm water. Give plenty of time to dry and reassemble your unit once again.
Top tip - always check the manufacturer’s guidelines and be sure exactly which components can and cannot be cleaned using certain products or methods.
Should I Use a Commercial Cleaning Product?
Last but not least, the short answer with regard to commercially available air fryer cleaning products is maybe. There are some specialist cleaning products on the market designed to deliver a deep clean for all types of air fryers without the use of terrifying toxic chemicals. From lemon to vinegar to all sorts of enzymes, they’re capable of doing a great job without putting you in harm’s way.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have dangerously corrosive and abrasive those in their own right. These slightly more worrying commercial cleaning products can certainly do a fantastic job cleaning an air fryer and removing every trace of baked-on grease but aren’t necessarily the safest products to use.
In any case, baked-on grease and grime in most instances can be removed without resorting to the latter bracket of cleaning products. Using the DIY methods outlined above is the best way to start, after which you can decide whether to take things a step further with a commercial cleaning product.
One important thing to remember - the longer you soak the various surfaces and components in soapy solution or baking soda paste, the better they’ll get to work on the offending items. And just for the record, you can also use the same methods outlined above to show your everyday pots and pans a little TLC.