Air fryers are a versatile addition to the kitchen appliance line-up, expertly cooking everything from wings to Brussels sprouts to pancakes with the push of a few buttons. And while the sleek appliance is easy to learn and use, cleaning is another story. All of the unfamiliar parts can lead to lots of questions — what’s dishwasher safe? And what exactly do I need to clean and how often?
“Keeping your air fryer clean is important in order to maintain optimal cooking results,” says Samantha Blair, Senior Manager of Influencer and PR at SharkNinja, an appliance company that makes air fryers. And while cleaning the gadget might seem daunting, it takes just a few minutes while also keeping an air fryer in tip-top shape and smell-free.
Tips for cleaning an air fryer
Consult the manual. As tedious as it sounds, don’t skip the manual for your particular model. Air fryers range in design and can have different parts with different stipulations for proper cleaning. This is especially key when determining if there are parts of your air fryer that are dishwasher safe. Get to know the model before cleaning.
Don’t submerge the unit. “When cleaning an air fryer, do not immerse the main unit in water or any other liquid and make sure that you never put the main unit in a dishwasher,” says Blair. This will damage the electronics and ruin the air fryer.
Use a soft sponge or damp cloth. Metal tools and scouring pads can damage the nonstick coating. If some stuck-on residue refuses to budge, soak in hot, soapy water before scrubbing with a sponge. For parts that are not removable (like the interior of the air fryer), use a paste made from baking soda and water and wipe away with a soft sponge.
Cleaning extends the life of the fryer. Not only will cleaning the cooker help produce better dishes and rid it of unwanted smells, but it also helps the appliance work properly. This means you’re less likely to encounter mechanical issues.
How to avoid lingering smells
Using the air fryer repeatedly without a proper clean can lead to lingering smells inside the cooker. “To avoid trapped smells, follow routine cleaning maintenance after each use,” says Blair. If you have a brand-new appliance and it is producing a burnt plastic smell, this may be from a protective coating burning off inside the fryer. Give the new appliance a good clean and then run it a couple of times without any food inside to get rid of the smell.
For lingering food smells, try this trick from Diep: “Place an oven-safe bowl in the oven with two cups of water mixed with the juice of half a lemon and let it steam at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. That should pull off any remaining grease on the interior surfaces and the lemon can help with covering up the smell.”
To keep an air fryer working perfectly and free of unwanted smells, give it a clean after every use. Be sure to read the manual for the model since improper cleaning can damage the air fryer. Most models have dishwasher-safe components, making them especially easy to keep clean.
Laurel Randolph is a food writer, cookbook author, and recipe developer based in Los Angeles, CA. She has written four cookbooks, one of which was the #2 best-selling cookbook of 2017. Laurel has contributed to such publications as EatingWell, Food52, The Spruce Eats, Paste Magazine, Serious Eats, Eaten Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, and more.