How to Clean an Air Fryer

Follow these steps to keep your favorite appliance in tip-top shape.
Emily Benda Gaylord Avatar
Air fryer basket taken apart and being cleaned on a white background

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If you love crispy fries or a speedy weeknight meal, then an air fryer provides a healthy, easy way to prepare food. However, the matter of how to clean an air fryer may seem a little less straightforward at first glance. As a general rule, aim to clean your air fryer after each use to prevent buildup of grease or food particles. The longer you wait, the more stubborn the mess will become. The best time to clean an air fryer is right after the appliance has fully cooled after cooking to minimize the chance for food or grease to build up.

We’ll break down how to clean an air fryer to make the touch-up routine quick and easy. The good news is the best way to clean an air fryer calls for things you likely already have in your home.

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Project Overview

Working Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $0 to $30

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With many different types and sizes of air fryers on the market, it’s a good idea to check the owner’s manual for specific steps each unit’s manufacturer recommends for maintenance.

Make sure the appliance is turned off, the cord is unplugged from the electrical outlet, and the air fryer has had a few minutes to cool down after use. Never submerge the part of the appliance that contains the electrical component in water; this could create an electrical shock and/or leave the air fryer unusable.

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STEP 1: Remove the crumbs.

Wait until the air fryer has fully cooled before cleaning. Depending on the style of air fryer you have, begin by pulling out the basket or the crumb tray where food particles gather and emptying it into the trash. Take out any other removable parts and wipe away crumbs with a damp cloth.

STEP 2: Clean the basket and tray.

Wipe down the basket and the tray with a cloth and warm, soapy water. Some air fryer models have a basket and tray that can go into a dishwasher. Look at the owner’s manual for instructions on how to clean an air fryer basket and tray in case the manufacturer has specific recommendations for hand-washing or dishwasher positions for the basket and tray.

If there is food or grease caked on the parts, it may be helpful to soak the basket and tray in soapy water for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, lightly scrub the remaining food off with a sponge before placing them in the dishwasher or washing by hand.

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STEP 3: Clean the inside of the air fryer.

The inside of the air fryer can be harder to clean, especially in the case of small air fryers. But it’s important, since the most messes tend to occur on the inside when food and grease fall through the basket. Take a damp cloth and wipe down the inside chamber.

A great air fryer cleaning hack for tougher stains is to make a baking soda paste. To make the paste, combine ½ cup of baking soda and a few tablespoons of water. Then, gently scrub the stain with the paste and a soft sponge. Once clean, wipe out the inside with a damp cloth.

STEP 4: Wipe down the exterior. 

Take a damp cloth and wipe down the outside of the appliance. For stubborn stains, wet the cloth with mild soapy water. (Again, never submerge an air fryer in water.)

STEP 5: Dry all parts and reassemble the air fryer. 

Let the parts air-dry or use a clean towel to dry the items. Once everything is fully dried, reassemble the air fryer and put it away.

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Final Thoughts

Whether you use your air fryer every night or only bring it out to satisfy your french fry craving, it can be a great kitchen tool for fast and easy cooking, plus healthier frying. To help speed up cleaning, use foil or paper liners like this highly rated option available at Amazon at the bottom of the air fryer basket. The extra layer will catch most of the food particles and drippings and can be thrown away after each use.

Knowing how to keep an air fryer clean with regular attention can help maintain the machine and save time in the long run. If you’re cleaning your air fryer and notice any lingering odors, try cleaning the parts and inner chamber with a homemade air fryer cleaner made of baking soda paste or vinegar and water. Baking soda and vinegar should help neutralize the odors.

While washing dishes and appliances is never the highlight of a meal, staying on top of air fryer cleaning will make each subsequent cleaning quick and easy. Regular maintenance will keep your air fryer free of gunk and food particles and help your air-fried creations stay crispy and delicious.

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FAQ About Cleaning an Air Fryer

Here are some quick answers to common questions that come up while cleaning an air fryer.

Q. How often should I clean my air fryer?

It’s best to clean an air fryer once it has fully cool after each use to avoid food and grease buildup.

Q. How can I remove stuck grease from an air fryer?

For particularly tough messes, try making a paste with baking soda and water. Apply it to a nonabrasive sponge and scrub gently.

Q. Can I clean an air fryer by putting water in it and turning it on?

While a TikTok hack for how to deep clean an air fryer has popularized this method, cleaning your appliance by air frying water and dish soap might not be the best approach. It can help clean up some of the mess, but it doesn’t work as well for areas with baked-on grease. Water won’t boil from the convection heating—and what’s more, adding too much water to the air fryer could cause it to splash into its electronic components. It’s recommended to try the above method first.

Q. Can I put air fryer parts in the dishwasher?

Check the appliance’s owner’s manual for dishwasher compatibility. Some models allow baskets and trays to be cleaned in the dishwasher, but never place the main electrical component in the dishwasher or fully submerge it in water.

Q. Can I use vinegar to clean my air fryer?

Vinegar can be helpful for eliminating odors or difficult stains from an air fryer. Instead of a baking soda paste, mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and spray the solution on tough stains. Let it sit for a few minutes and then scrubbing the mess with a gentle sponge.

Q. What happens if I don’t clean my air fryer?

Lack of cleaning can cause food and grease to build up in the appliance. After a while, these crumbs may cause the air fryer to smoke when heated up or not work correctly.

Q. How can I keep my air fryer clean?

The best way to keep an air fryer clean is to do regular cleaning after every use. Make sure to clean an air fryer with water, soap, a sponge, and if needed, baking soda or vinegar. You can also use tin foil or air fryer paper liners to help prevent food from falling below the basket to minimize cleaning.