How to Properly Clean Your Air Fryer, According to Experts

A black air fryer on a kitchen counter

Getty Images/CASEZY

Air fryers may make cooking a lot easier, but cleaning them can be a chore. Over time, your air fryer can get packed with crumbs and caked with sticky grease. And if you don’t take care of the mess, your air fryer can start to smell, smoke, or even get damaged. 

“Leftover food that isn’t cleaned from previous recipes can affect the quality and taste of your latest prepared dish,” Will Cotter, COO of HappyCleans, says. “It can also begin to smoke and smell from being overcooked again and again every time you use your air fryer.”

The only problem? Since air fryers are often lined with grooves, holes, and indentations, there’s no obvious way to clean them. The dishwasher is off-limits, and hand-washing doesn’t always do the trick. So, we turned to two cleaning experts to learn exactly how to clean an air fryer—and exactly how often to do it.

According to them, you should clean your air fryer every time you use it. But with regular upkeep, cleaning your air fryer doesn’t have to be that hard.

Meet the Expert

  • Will Cotter is the COO of HappyCleans, a cleaning company based in Oklahoma City.
  • Emil Perushanov is the owner of Top Cleaners London, a London-based cleaning company.

How Often Should You Clean Your Air Fryer?

You should clean your air fryer after every single use. This news may be disappointing, but you wouldn’t think twice about washing a pot or pan you just used—so why think twice about cleaning your air fryer? 

“Look at it as a pot: once you make your stew and eat it, you wash the pot that you cooked it in,” Emil Perushanov, owner of Top Cleaners London, says. “It’s the same with air fryers.”

A white air fryer surrounded by dirty fishes on a kitchen counter

Getty Images/Ika Rahma

Things You’ll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap
  • A sponge or cleaning cloth
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • A gentle cleaning brush (optional)
  • Wet wipes
  • A clean, dry cloth
A mint green air fryer sitting on a countertop next to a plate of fries

Getty Images/Paulaphoto

How to Clean Your Air Fryer

Step 1: Unplug Your Air Fryer and Let It Cool

Before you can safely clean your air fryer, you need to make sure it’s unplugged and cool. “If you have just used your air fryer, allow it to cool down for 30 minutes before cleaning,” Cotter says.

Step 2: Dump Out Crumbs and Debris

If crumbs and debris have built up in your air fryer, dump them into the trash. If there is still loose debris around, wipe it off with a paper towel or cleaning cloth.

Step 3: Soak Your Air Fryer’s Removable Basket and Pan

Remove the basket and pan from your air fryer and soak both parts in warm, soapy water. “If there is grease present, let them soak in the water for 10 minutes before washing,” Cotter says.

Step 4: Gently Scrub Your Air Fryer’s Basket and Pan

Using a sponge or cleaning cloth, gently scrub the parts you’ve just soaked. Be careful not to be abrasive: you don’t want to damage your air fryer’s non-stick coating.

Dealing with persistent grease? Create a paste from baking soda and water, apply that paste to your air fryer basket, and gently scrub it with a non-abrasive cleaning brush.

Step 5: Wipe Down the Inside of Your Air Fryer

Part of your air fryer should still be sitting on your counter, untouched, so take the time to check it for debris. “Taking a damp cloth, wipe down the interior of the air fryer before drying with a clean, dry cloth,” Cotter says.

Step 6: Carefully Clean Your Air Fryer’s Heating Element

Flip your air fryer upside down, and locate its heating element. If the heating element looks dirty, Cotter recommends using a damp cloth or sponge to clean it. Once you’re finished, be sure to dry the heating element.

Step 7: Wipe Down the Outside of Your Air Fryer

Take a moment to wipe down the outside of your air fryer. Odds are, it shouldn’t be that dirty.

“Be careful when cleaning the outside areas, especially around the cable,” Perushanov says. “Use as little moisture as possible.” He recommends using wet wipes for the job.

Step 8: Dry and Reassemble Your Air Fryer

Before reassembling your air fryer, make sure it’s completely dry. “Wipe away the leftover moisture with a clean, dry cloth,” Cotter says. And check your air fryer from top to bottom to make sure you haven’t missed a spot.

Once you’re finished, put your air fryer back together. Your work here is done.