How to clean an air fryer – inside and outside including the basket

Follow these top tips on how to clean an air fryer – bust caked-on grease and grime in minutes

COSORI Air Fryer Max XL on a kitchen worktop with wood cabinetry
(Image credit: Amazon)

Need to know how to clean an air fryer? It's well worth doing especially if you use yours often. 

Air fryers do need regular cleaning, in the same way your pots and pans need regular cleaning. Not only is cleaning your air fryer essential for keeping it hygienic, but you'll also get better results every time you use it if it's clean. 

The best air fryers are easy to clean, so don't be daunted by the prospect of cleaning yours. Just a few easy steps – and your air fryer is ready to be used again.  

How to clean an air fryer

a hand in a yellow rubber glove squeezing a pink cloth in soapy water

(Image credit: Shuttershock)

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. 

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. 

inside an air fryer

(Image credit: Ninja)

3. Get scrubbing

You know how this bit works: submerge your basket and tray into warm water and start scrubbing away with a soft-bristled brush and some dish soap (opens in new tab) to bust the grease.

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. 

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 next time you cook, which is not helpful when aiming for that air-fried crisp.

5. Wipe down the exterior

It’s worth giving the outside a wipe down with a slightly damp cloth too, as this can get greasy from daily use.

a woman serving chips freshly made in an air dryer beside chicken drumsticks on a worktop

(Image credit: Philips)

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. 

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 especially, 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 proving 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.

woman standing by a Ninja air fryer cooking food

(Image credit: Ninja)

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 delicious crispy 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.

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.

Can I put my air fryer in the dishwasher? 

Yes – air fryer parts are dishwasher safe, so if yours fits in your dishwasher, you can put it on a hot pan cycle. 

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, or the bits of food will either not be washed off or could clog your dishwasher filter. If you find yours does get clogged, learn how to clean a dishwasher filter correctly.

Millie joined the Real Homes team in 2021 after working at TopTenReviews as a Staff Writer. She is now the head of all things cooking, working as the Small Appliances and Cooking Editor on the Homes Ecommerce team. Millie is constantly on the hunt for the latest (and best) kitchen appliances, and reviewing these products hands-on. She has passed our five-step certification process to become a verified customer advisor on coffee machines. As a baking enthusiast, Millie’s job at Real Homes is the perfect excuse to cook up an endless supply of snacks. When she’s not in the kitchen though, she loves knitting and exploring London's top food markets.