Need to know how to clean an airer? Understanding how to get rid of oil, crumbs, batter, and bits is essential if you want your appliance to last for a long time.
Even the best air fryers need regular cleaning, in the same way your pots and pans need rinsing after use. Cleaning your air fryer ensures it stays hygienic, maintains the ability to heat up quickly, and isn't a fire hazard on your kitchen countertop!
We recently trekked to our test kitchen to review a bunch of different models, which involved cleaning the basket inserts, heating elements, glass screens, and exteriors after we were done cooking.
Rather than asking someone else to do it, we got our hands dirty, creating a step-by-step guide in the process. We've also recommended some of the best cleaning supplies, so you can keep calm and carry on with cooking.
You will need
Cleaning an air fryer: understanding the different types
Not all air fryers are made equal. Some have baskets, others have trays, many have separate drawers, and a few even have rotisserie functionality. But, so we can be thorough in our explanation — we've decided to show you how to clean the most popular types: Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer (opens in new tab) (a basket-style machine), and the Cusinart Air Fryer Toaster (opens in new tab) (which is akin to a mini oven).
P.S: We've got an in-depth review of the Lakeland air fryer and have also tested the Cuisinart convection oven too, so if either of these piques your interest for their easy cleaning abilities, you can also get a taste of what other smart features come with.
1. Let the air fryer cool completely
Air fryers can get very, very hot when cooking, so unplug it and wait until it’s completely cooled before you get stuck in with cleaning. Don’t leave it too long though, or you’ll have to deal with solidified fat, which is trickier to remove.
2. Take the air fryer apart
Most air fryers come with a removable basket and a tray that either slots inside or is attached to the handle. Either way, this should lift away from the basket itself. Both need to be cleaned for sparkling results.
There’s also the interior of the air fryer itself, which does not have to be cleaned after every use — but it is still good to clean every once in a while.
3. Get scrubbing
You know how this bit works: Submerge your basket and/or tray into warm water and start scrubbing away with a soft-bristled brush/sponge and some dish soap to bust the grease.
When we reviewed air fryers in our test kitchen, Millie Fender, head of reviews, used a dish wand, which is super effective at making sure you've got enough washing-up liquid on your sponge without being wasteful. We like the Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Advanced Soap Control Dishwand (opens in new tab), personally.
Wondering how to clean an air fryer basket? Most air fryer baskets have a non-stick coating, which makes the cooking process easier but can be more sensitive to harsh and abrasive cleaning methods. Treat it with care to prolong the life of your machine. Do not — we repeat — do not use a metal scourer!
If your air fryer has shelves, you'll need to clean these too. Depending on how dirty they are, you can either give these a quick wipe-down or clean them properly in the kitchen sink.
4. Wipe with a dry cloth
Take a soft (ideally microfiber) cloth (opens in new tab) to remove any remaining grease as well as the leftover water. Then just leave the air fryer to air dry.
Don't put it back inside the machine itself until the air fryer is fully dry, as this could result in steam the next time you cook, which is not helpful when aiming for that air-fried crisp result.
5. Wipe down the exterior
It’s worth giving the outside a wipe down with a slightly damp cloth (or sponge) too, as this can get greasy from daily use.
6. Clean the heating element
You don’t have to clean the heating element after every use, but it’s a good idea to do this every few uses to make sure your air fryer is working properly and safely.
Carefully flip the air fryer upside-down to access the heating element — you should have the basket removed in order to do this. Try not to use anything that could leave fumes when cleaning this element, as it could prove dangerous when you have your next air-fried meal.
Use a microfiber cloth to remove any grease that’s on the heating element. If it’s difficult to remove, you can use a very gentle scrubbing brush (opens in new tab) (or even better, an old toothbrush) to really get stuck in.
Keep your appliance clean with these air fryer liners
If you don't want to clean your air fryer frequently, or just don't like chores full stop, invest in some air fryer liners (opens in new tab). They're super cheap on Amazon, and there are different types available, including single-use parchment paper options or silicone/rubber sheets. Rather than cleaning the air fryer parts, you literally lay one of these down and then lift it out after cooking.
Whatever you do, don't try this TikTok air fryer cleaning "hack" that's doing the rounds. It will invalidate any warranty and make your food taste soapy!
These brown paper air fryer liners are game-changers when it comes to keeping your air fryer clean. The liner holds oil from the food, glaze, and sauce that would normally drip off and burn onto the basket. And, rather than trying to cut some baking paper to size, these conveniently come pre-cut in 6.3, 7.9, or 8.9-inch dimensions. It can also be used in your oven or microwave.
Silicone air fryer liners are a more environmentally-friendly option if you don't want to throw away baking paper each time you cook. We're a fan of these ones in particular, as they have handles to help you lift out food and also come in a number of colors to add a pop of color to your kitchen.
If you happen to own an air fryer with two baskets, look this way. These rectangular silicone air fryer liners are great for keeping your drawers free from food debris. A great, affordable purchase if you have invested in the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer (opens in new tab).
How often should I clean my air fryer?
You need to clean your air fryer after every use. While air frying is the ultimate low-fat way of cooking air fryer recipe ideas, it can leave a lot of residual grease when cooking something that’s naturally fatty, like bacon or chicken wings.
There’s also a high chance that anything coated in breadcrumbs or seasoning will leave some residue at the bottom of your air fryer, so removing this before your next use is a must.
With that said, when you compare an air fryer to a deep-fat fryer, it's far less messy to cook fries in!
What happens if I don’t clean my air fryer?
We’ve been there. Sure, it can be annoying to clean after every use, but if you don’t, then you could end up with nasty smells circulating your kitchen and even smoke coming off all the leftover crumbs and burnt oils. That’s not nice.
Generally speaking, air fryers are a healthy way to cook food — granted you are cleaning your appliance regularly to get rid of bacteria — and not eating scorched scraps from the previous meal.
Can I put my air fryer in the dishwasher?
Yes — most air fryer parts are dishwasher safe, so if yours fits in your dishwasher, you can put it on a hot pan cycle. For this reason alone, air fryers are worth the investment, because you can't exactly put your oven on a dishwashing cycle now, can you?!
However, you will need to do a bit of pre-cleaning. Pay attention to the air fryer basket and the inner chamber — any food that's stuck on will need to be removed with a brush before you put the air fryer in the dishwasher. Otherwise, the bits of food will stay stuck to the parts or they could clog your dishwasher filter. If you find yours does get clogged, learn how to clean a dishwasher filter correctly.
Millie Fender has reviewed dozens of air fryers for Real Homes from her own kitchen in South London. She's lucky enough to have a (half-size) dishwasher, but in her testing, she also cleans air fryers by hand to check how well they scrub up manually. Her top tip is to always pop the used basket straight into the sink once you're done with it, otherwise, it's easy to forget about it once the time comes for doing the dishes!
Christina Chrysostomou balances her time sitting behind a desk and getting hands-on with some of the best air fryers on the market. Though reviewing these appliances is fun, she appreciates that removing bits of food, grease, and debris can be a chore. Hence the need for this guide on how to clean an air fryer. You'll even notice her green-polished nails in our step-by-step solutions.
Her top tip? "When turning the machine over to clean the heating element, you might notice some crumbs pepper your countertop — use your handheld vac to quickly clean these up."