How to Clean an Air Fryer of Grease and Grime

Anyone who’s ever used an air fryer would probably tell you that these appliances are like a little gift from the kitchen gods. They allow you to enjoy your favorite fried foods without oil splashes and spots on every surface of your kitchen by the time you’re done with the meal prep.

But with no visible oil spots and splashes on their air fryer, most people mistakenly believe that they don’t need to clean the appliance regularly when, in fact, the opposite is true. Ideally, you should clean your air fryer after every use. Not only should you do this to avoid gunky buildup or charred, burnt food the next time you use it, but you should also think about keeping it clean to keep cross-contamination at bay.

The good news is cleaning an air fryer is relatively easy. Ahead, this guide walks you through the best way to clean an air fryer and we’ve also included a few best practices for keeping the mess to a minimum.

black air fryer against a white wall

Photo via Shutterstock

When to Clean Your Air Fryer

A good rule of thumb is to clean the baskets, the tray, and the pan of your air fryer after every use, and considering that oil is usually involved in the process, it’s not a bad idea to clean the actual inside of the machine after you use it as well.

You might be able to skip an exterior wipe down after every use because the oil is typically well-contained, unlike a frying pan that’s notorious for spewing oil everywhere. And while you don’t necessarily need to wipe the exterior of the unit with each use, you should wipe it down once a week or after every three or four uses just to keep it in tip-top shape. 

When you’re trying to figure out if your air fryer needs a cleaning, be sure to check your air fryer’s heating coil regularly and look for signs of oily residue. If there is residue on the heating coils, it will cause the appliance to smoke, and that’s a dead giveaway that it’s time to clean the inside of your air fryer. 

How to Clean an Air Fryer After Use

Cleaning an air fryer regularly is important to keep the appliance operating at peak performance.

In particular, the parts of your air fryer that come into contact with food (the basket, tray, and pan) should be cleaned after each use. In some cases, you’ll need to wash these items by hand, but you may be able to toss them in the dishwasher; just be sure to check your owner’s manual before doing so. 

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Non-abrasive dish sponge 
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap 
  • Toothpicks/wooden skewer 
  • Clean microfiber cloth 

Step 1: Take Out Removable Parts

Before you clean your air fryer, turn off the fryer and allow it to completely cool. Once the unit has cooled, take out the removable pieces. This will typically include the basket, the tray, and the pan. 

Step 2: Clean the Removable Parts 

Use a non-abrasive sponge and warm, soapy water to clean each part of the air fryer. Alternatively, you can check your owner’s manual for guidance: If the removable parts are dishwasher safe, you can place them in the dishwasher and run the cycle.

If there’s any stuck-on food in the basket, try using a toothpick to remove it. You can try soaking particularly tough pieces in warm soapy water for about 20-30 minutes to loosen the food.

Avoid Metal Tools

Never use metal tools for this part of the cleaning process. Using knives or other metal kitchen utensils to pry baked-on food or grease chunks from the baskets or the pan can damage the nonstick coating and, in turn, damage your air fryer.

Step 3: Clean the Inside of the Air Fryer 

Dip a microfiber cloth into some warm, soapy water and wipe down the inside of the unit. Be sure that the cloth is just damp, not dripping wet.

Step 4: Dry The Removable Pieces Completely

Whether you choose to let the pieces air dry or dry them by hand, make sure that all parts of the air fryer are completely dry and then place them back into the unit.

red air fryer set at 170 degrees

Photo via Shelly L Nemeth

How to Deep Clean an Air Fryer

If busy weeknight schedules seem to get in the way and it's been a while since you cleaned your air fryer, you may have to roll up your sleeves and do a deep cleaning to get things back on track. You may notice that greasy, stubborn residue has made its way to the walls of the basket and the walls of the basket cavity and won’t come off with just soap and water. Here's how to give your air fryer a good deep clean.

Tools and Materials Needed 

  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Soft bristle brush or toothbrush
  • A few clean microfiber rags
  • 2 small basins

Step 1: Clear Out the Removable Pieces 

Turn off the fryer, allow it to cool, and take out the removable pieces. 

Step 2: Clean the Removable Parts 

Follow the directions outlined in the previous section for cleaning the removable pieces of your air fryer. If you find that you’re dealing with a lot of stuck-on food or grease, you may want to soak affected parts for about 30 minutes. Once the caked-on food has had some time to loosen, you can move on to cleaning your air fryer with a sponge or put it in your dishwasher if your owner’s manual indicates that it’s safe to do so.

Step 3: “Wash” Your Air Fryer

In a small basin, mix a little dish soap with some warm water. Dampen the microfiber rag with the solution, and wipe down the interior of your air fryer. Be sure to check the heating coil and wipe away any oily residue from there as well.

Step 4: Make Your Cleaning Paste 

In another small basin, mix just enough baking soda with water to form a paste.

Step 5: Gently Scrub Away Sticky Residue

Dip a toothbrush or a soft scrub brush into the baking soda mixture and scrub away any sticky residue. When you’re done, wipe the areas you just scrubbed with a damp microfiber rag.

Step 6: Wipe the Exterior of The Air Fryer 

Dampen a microfiber rag with a bit of warm water and wipe down the exterior of the air fryer. 

Step 7: Reassemble Your Air Fryer

Make sure that all pieces of the air fryer are completely dry, and place them back into the unit. 

Tips for Keeping an Air Fryer Clean

Try as you might to keep it spotless, an air fryer will get dirty. While there’s no magic solution for keeping it residue-free forever (besides not using it), there are a few ways to stretch the time needed between deep cleanings:

  • Don't use wet batters or coatings. These coatings are great for frying in oil, but they won't set in an air fryer; they likely just drip off and create a mess. 
  • When cooking messy items and sticky sauces, line the basket with a sheet of tin foil or parchment paper to minimize the mess. Remember, though, that the hot air circulating through your air fryer can be pretty forceful, so make sure the food is evenly distributed and heavy enough to weigh down the paper or foil. 
  • Speaking of forceful air circulation—if you're topping your foods with dry spices, they can blow around and leave a mess in your air fryer. To prevent this, try mixing your spices in a little bit of oil and then coating your foods with that mixture.

Have you cleaned your grimy air fryer recently? Do you have any tips to share in the comments below?

For a quick video tutorial, check out this Instagram reel on how to clean an air fryer.

Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • Barbara Barbara on Feb 22, 2023

    how would you clean the inside of an emeril Lagasse air fryer

    when the fan and area around the fan has grease on it? Also have soaked the basket and used air fryer liners but the grease gets through and doesn’t come off.

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