How to clean an Instant Pot

Potatoes that have been steamed and mashed in the bowl of an Instant Pot
(Image credit: TechRadar)

These cleaning tips will help keep your best Instant Pot pristine because while cleaning it is easy to do, there’s a bit more to it than just chucking your stainless steel pot into the dishwasher. That’s particularly true with more stubborn stains, such as burnt-on lentils: they seem immune to even the most expensive dishwasher tablets. The good news is that there’s a hack for that.

While almost all of your Instant Pot is okay to wash in the dishwasher (if you have one), it’s not always the most effective way of shifting stains – and if you’ve ever put a sealing ring in the dishwasher in order to get rid of the smell of a strong chilli or soup, you’ll know that sometimes a dishwasher doesn’t really make a difference. Don’t despair, though. It’s really easy to get rid of even the toughest and most persistent stains and smells. Here’s how to keep your Instant Pot perfectly clean. 

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Clean your Instant Pot: start with the pot itself

The Instant Pot’s main cooking pot is dishwasher safe, so if you have a dishwasher then you can simply put the pot upside down in the lower rack as you would with any other pot. You’ll often find that dishwashing the stainless steel pot can leave it with a blue-ish haze; if you encounter that, soak it in white vinegar for a few minutes before rinsing and drying it and the blue will be gone.

No dishwasher? No problem. You don’t need any special cleaning products for the inside of your pot. Hot soapy water and a non-scratch scourer will do the trick. Don’t use steel wool or abrasive cleaners, though. They’ll damage the finish.

How to clean burnt-on food from your Instant Pot

We’ve burnt food onto our Instant Pot lots of times, usually by using a too-hot sauté setting or by forgetting to deglaze the pot before adding stock. To remove burnt-on food, rinse the pot as best you can to get rid of the easy bits and then add two tablespoons of baking soda and four cups of water. Put the lid on and do a manual pressure cook for five minutes. Once you’ve done that, let the pressure release naturally. You should now be able to get your pot perfectly clean with hot soapy water.

How to stop the Instant Pot seal from smelling

The sealing ring in your Instant Pot lid is a bit of a magnet for smells, so for example when we make a very garlicky soup it’s still smellable long after we’ve eaten it all and given the pot a wash. There are lots of online guides to making your Instant Pot sealing ring clean, but our favorite is by cooking bible The Kitchn: Kelli Foster recommends two options, using either white vinegar or lemon. Simply add two cups of white vinegar or two cups of water with a lemon rind and run a steam program for two minutes. You can then take the sealing ring out of the lid and let it air dry before refitting it.

You can also buy extra Instant Pot sealing rings, and if you buy the Instant Pot Pro or Instant Pot Duo Plus you'll get a second one in the box. Instant Brands recommends having two different ones: one for savory foods and one for sweet. They’re not expensive: expect to pay around $12/£12/AU $13 for a pack of two.

The Instant Pot Duo Plus with all its accessories

Instant Pot Duo Plus with spare sealing ring and steaming rack (Image credit: TechRadar)

How to wash your Instant Pot lid

Every part of your Instant Pot is dishwasher safe apart from the main cooker base, but I’ve found that the lid takes up far too much room in the dishwasher and doesn’t always come out brilliantly clean. I prefer a manual scrub with hot soapy water instead.

How to wash your Instant Pot air fryer lid

The air fryer lid for the Instant Pot Crisp models doesn’t look like it should be dishwasher safe, but it is – provided you give it plenty of time to cool down before use, as it gets very hot when you’re frying. 

Cleaning the air fryer lid is a bit more involved than cleaning the standard Instant Pot lid. That’s because air frying many foods will create grease that can gunk up the lid somewhat. You can fix that with a baking soda and vinegar solution.

How to clean the food basket for your Instant Pot Crisp

The food basket in your Instant Pot Crisp can suffer from the same baked-on grease and grime that affects the racks in your oven, but unlike most racks it’s small enough to go in the dishwasher. If that doesn’t shift the grime (or you don’t have a dishwasher), a long soak in hot soapy water will remove a lot; if even that’s inadequate, try the very first tip here on cleaning burnt-on food.

If you’d like to prevent your basket from getting messy in the first place you can buy air fryer basket liners from the usual home and kitchen retailers.

How to clean the fiddly lip bit around the top of the Instant Pot

I hate the groove where the Instant Pot lid joins onto the rest of the cooker: it’s like the trench in Star Wars’ Death Star but filled with bits of chili rather than TIE fighters, a perilous chasm requiring incredible skills or some wadded-up kitchen towel and cleaning spray. Some owners suggest using a soft toothbrush dunked in hot soapy water for this.

How to clean the main Instant Pot body

Don’t put it in the dishwasher. The bit of the Instant Pot with the controls and heating element is absolutely not dishwasher safe; you need to use a slightly damp cloth to clean it inside and out (and if you’re cleaning it on the inside, make sure you’ve given it plenty of time for the heating element to cool down). The recommendation is “slightly damp” because you don’t want water getting into the control panel.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.