How to clean an air fryer

How to clean an air fryer
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Choosing the best air fryer is one thing but keeping these useful appliances sparkling clean is another altogether - that’s why we’ve compiled a selection of handy hacks to keep your machine looking great and working well. 

Air fryers don’t require anywhere near as much oil as you’d expect to use in a deep fat fryer - and some models, such as the Tefal ActiFry Genius XL, require hardly any oil at all. Many air fryers have removable baskets or drawers so that you can easily clean them. 

Air fryers have risen in popularity over the last decade and are now available from a range of brands including Ninja Foodi, GoWise, and the brand behind Instant Pots. The sizes of each model vary - with options suitable for one person right up those big enough to cater to a family. 

Air fryers cook food quickly when you compare them to ovens or pan-frying, but they are slower than deep frying. They use convection technology to cook your food evenly and this involves a heating element and fans to rotate hot air around the frying basket.

Some models have a basket with small holes and these holes allow the hot air to reach every part of the food and speed up the entire process. Most air fryers are complete with a non-stick coating on the inside of the basket, that’s why they require special care when you’re cleaning them. Here’s our advice for how to keep your air fryer looking as good as new. 

How to clean the exterior of your air fryer 

First things first and before you do any cleaning at all, you need to make sure your air fryer has completely cooled down. Cleaning it while it’s still warm will not only risk you burning yourself on any hot elements, but it can also damage the machine. 

Unplug your fryer from the electric socket and soak a cloth in warm soapy water. Ensure you squeeze excess water out of your cloth before you start wiping the exterior or your machine. Don’t be tempted to use any harsh cleaning sprays or disinfectants as these could cause the outer shell of the appliance to peel off, or the chemicals could end up inside the machine itself. 

If you’re using an air fryer that has a glass window, it might seem intuitive to use a glass cleaner spray to rid the window of any smear marks. However, when you next use your machine and it heats up, the residue from the cleaning solution can also heat up and cause fumes which you’ll obviously want to avoid. Finish cleaning the exterior by using a dry cloth to buff away any smear marks instead. 

How to clean the inside of an air fryer 

Many air fryers now have removable parts that are dishwasher safe. This makes life a lot easier if you’ve just made dinner and need to clean up in a hurry. If there are large bits of food stuck to your air frying basket, however, it’s best to take these off before you place the basket in the dishwasher - you can do this gently with a wooden spatula.

Because air fryers are designed to work without much oil, the cooking baskets are normally covered with a non-stick coating. In order to maintain your machine properly, it’s important not to damage this coating and the best way to do that is by only cleaning it gently. 

If you need to remove dried-on food then you can soak the basket in warm water and dish soap - and then gently ease the food away with a wooden spatula. Steer away from metal utensils when doing this as they will damage the coating. 

For the rest of the parts, repeat the process using warm soapy water and a cloth and give it a thorough wipe without leaving too much water behind. If you notice any food stuck into the parts fan, or elements, a clean, unused toothbrush is fantastic for reaching in those nooks where a cloth might be too big for. 

It’s key to allow your air fryer enough time to thoroughly dry before you pack it away. Closing the lid while the inside is still damp will result in bad odors and if your machine has a plastic seal, this part could become rotten. 

Air Fryer

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

What to do if your air fryer smells 

If you’ve been using your air fryer and noticed that it’s giving off odors, it could be for a host of reasons. First of all, if your air fryer is fairly new and it’s giving off a plastic-like smell, it’s likely that you just need to run the fryer for a few more minutes without any food inside. 

If you’re getting a smokey smell or you can smell burnt food when what you’re making is showing no signs of burning, it may well be that there are crumbs or bits of food left in the machine or stuck in the fan. Follow our advice above for removing debris with a toothbrush. 

Finally, it might be that the odor in your air fryer comes from a meal that you previously cooked and despite your best cleaning efforts, the smell just won’t budget. In this case, using a sliced lemon to wipe around the inside of the machine will really help to remove any strong odors. 

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Sophie Bird

Sophie writes about all things appliance-related and is currently the Home Editor at TechRadar's sister site, Top Ten Reviews. When she's not testing coffee machines and appliances, Sophie is thinking of eating delicious food, and asking people what they're having for dinner.