How to clean an air fryer: the easiest way

Knowing how to clean an air fryer is a real essential if you plan on getting the most out of your machine. If you’ve picked up a new air fryer, odds are it’s about to get a lot of heavy use in your kitchen. From speedy lunches to homemade healthy-ish sweet potato chips, your air fryer is the perfect stand-in to keep your oven usage low on a hot sunny day. The air fryer can also be the perfect stand-in for those busy Sunday lunches where the roasties simply won’t fit into your already-full oven.

No matter how you plan to use it, even the best air fryers will need to be cleaned regularly. If you’re wondering ‘how often do I need to clean my air fryer? the answer is: after every use. This will prevent any residue from the air fryer basket from burning and creating nasty smells in the kitchen, and it will also keep your cooking as sanitary as possible.

The good news is that air fryers are very easy to clean. In fact, it’s one of their most appealing features. However, some parts are easier to clean than others. They often come with dishwasher-safe inserts, meaning that the trays and baskets can simply be placed in your dishwasher after you’re finished using them. However, a lot of people get so much daily use out of their air fryer that waiting for a dishwasher cycle to finish will be a hassle. 

Luckily, we think that once you know how to clean an air fryer by hand, it’s actually so easy that you won’t need to wash it in the dishwasher on a regular basis anyway. For five steps on how to clean an air fryer, keep reading.

1. Make sure it’s unplugged

Before you get started, make sure you unplug your air fryer to cut off the electricity supply. Most air fryers have a removable tray that simply pulls out of the machine, but some (such as the Tefal ActiFry range) have a different design that allows you to lift out the pan inserts from the top of the machine. Regardless of what your specific air fryer may be, switching it off before starting the cleaning process is a safe and smart move.

2. Get rid of residue

Philips Essential Air Fryer

Cooking meats like bacon can often leave a layer of fat coating your air fryer basket.

Many air fryers collect fat at the bottom of the tray, whether it’s dripped away from bacon or fallen off fries. This can solidify when cooled, which can be tricky to wash away with water. Remove fat and crumbs using a dry paper towel, which will help the cleaning process before you start washing.

It’s best to do this before your air fryer basket cools, but if any liquids have already solidified, rinsing some hot water in the air fryer basket or even letting the machine run for a minute or so to warm it up again is an easy way of wiping excess oils away from the basket.

3. Get washing

Wash your basket and tray using soapy warm water and a cloth or sponge. Many air fryers have non-stick coatings, so don’t use anything too abrasive or you may risk damaging the basket. 

Be sure to clean both the inside and outside of the basket, as well as any holes in the insert. Either dry with a clean cloth or leave to drain.

Of course, if your air fryer basket is dishwasher-safe, you could always put it on the top shelf of the dishwasher for a quick rinse. This is great after heavy use, but it might not be necessary after cooking a few chicken goujons or some asparagus. Hand-washing will be quicker, less harsh on the basket, and will also have your air fryer up and running again in time for dinner.

4. Clean the fryer unit

While knowing how to clean an air fryer basket will come in useful on the regular, it’s also important to know how to clean the exterior of your machine. Wipe it clean with a damp microfibre cloth, taking extra care around any buttons and controls.

Some air fryers can mark easily if you operate with greasy fingers. Using a light cleaning spray will help you to buff away any lingering marks.

5. Tackle the inside

A Ninja air fryer basket

Image credit: Ninja

Every now and again it’s important to clean the interior heater in your air fryer. This can be tricky, especially because you should avoid getting the heating element wet.
One of the best ways to clean the inside of an air fryer is to lay it on its back and apply a paste made out of a very small amount of water and some baking soda. Leave this to dry out and then scrub away the paste with a toothbrush.

Baking soda is a great natural cleaner that you’ll see in many of our care and cleaning guides, and scrubbing it away will help to rub any residue and absorbed oil away from the air fryer uni. Just make sure it’s all gone before you next use your air fryer!

How often should I clean my air fryer?

You should clean the basket after every use, or you’ll end up with burnt residue or dangerous hot oils that can emit smoke and damage your air fryer.

Luckily, if you follow our tips on how to clean an air fryer basket you should be able to do this in minutes. As for the exterior and inner heating element, this can be done less frequently.

See more cleaning tips with our guide on how to clean a BBQ 

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