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How to clean an air fryer: Our top tips and cleaning tricks

While convenient for cooking, air fryers can be a bother to clean – our how-to simplifies this task with top tips and suggestions

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of the degree to which air fryers have taken the cooking world by storm. Offering hassle-free, healthy convection cooking from our countertops, air fryers filled a niche most of us weren’t ever aware existed. However, with them being relatively new on the block, the question of how to clean an air fryer isn’t quite as settled as it is with other household appliances.

Having thoroughly tested our fair share in our quest to find the best air fryer, we’ve subsequently become fairly adept at cleaning them. So, whether you’ve got a basket-based model, an oven-style air fryer, or a multi-functional multi cooker, our suggested methods will make sure your countertop cooker stays sparkling clean for many meals to come. Read on below for our different cleaning methods, and scroll to the bottom of the page if you’d like to check out our recommendations for a possible upgrade.

How often should you clean an air fryer?

Generally speaking, you should try to give your air fryer basket – and any grill or plate peripherals – a soapy wash after every use. Small crumbs, grease and general grime can be hard to spot in your basket, with air fryers often being dark in colour. Though your basket or plate may look clean after a simple cook, multiple uses can cause dirt to bake on or burn, making future cleans more difficult and potentially affecting the flavour of your food.

More rarely, you’ll want to clean the interior and coil of your unit, as internal build-ups can impact the performance of your air fryer and potentially shorten its lifespan. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning an air fryer’s heating element and non-removable parts roughly once a month.

READ NEXT: Are air fryers healthy?

How do you clean an air fryer basket?

The basket and drip plates of your air fryer are the parts that come into direct contact with food, and therefore, will need the most regular cleaning. There are a few ways to do this, but here’s what we recommend to keep them in top condition.

  1. Firstly, if you’ve just finished using your air fryer, be sure to allow it to cool completely before starting your clean.
  2. Once your air fryer has cooled, turn the unit off at the wall and take out all the removable parts and separable components.
  3. If your air fryer has dishwasher-safe parts, you can simply pop them into your dishwasher and let it run its normal cycle. However, we wouldn’t recommend doing this regularly, as the higher temperatures dishwashers operate at, and the more astringent chemicals used in the tablets, may strip your basket’s non-stick coating over time. If you do want to use your dishwasher, be sure to use the top rack, as it is further from the heating element and therefore will be more gentle on your air fryer’s parts.
  4. If you’re washing by hand, you’ll want to use warm water, a soft sponge for the flat surfaces, a soft bristled brush for any nooks and crannies and a powerful degreasing washing-up liquid. We recommend using the best washing liquid you can, as it will be most effective at removing grease, oil and baked on food more effectively. It’ll also make cleaning easier, reducing the amount of scrubbing you’ll need to do, making it less likely you’ll damage your basket’s non-stick coating.
  5. Once your basket and peripherals are clean, simply rinse them thoroughly and dry with kitchen paper before slotting them back into the main unit.

How do you clean an over-style air fryer?

Some air fryers, such as the Tower Xpress Pro Combo 10-in-1 or Proscenic T31, function more like miniature ovens, eschewing the standard basket style design. While their large interior capacities can be handy for their versatility and functionality, allowing you to, for example, cook whole chickens rotisserie style, they can also be a little trickier to clean, lacking the easily removable parts of more conventional air fryers. Here’s our handy step-by-step advice to get the best results:

  1. As above, make sure your unit is cooled, switched off and unplugged at the wall before you begin cleaning.
  2. Remove any racks, tray or peripherals from the oven and clean them using warm soapy water and your degreasing washing-up liquid
  3. If your air fryer has a crumb tray or grease trap, dispose of its contents and clean this as well before cleaning the interior.
  4. If the inside of your oven-style air fryer has a non-stick coating, you should be able to clean it by gently wiping it down with a damp cloth or soft sponge, avoiding using any cleaning agents besides water. To tackle more stubborn grease and stains, you can try scrubbing the interior with a dampened non-abrasive microfiber cloth.

How do you clean the inside of your air fryer?

With some air fryers, it’s possible to clean various internal parts of the machine, such as the heating element. Whether or not you can open your machine up will depend on the model, so be sure to consult the manual or manufacturer’s website to check if this is possible, and how to do so safely. Once you’ve got your air fryer opened up, here’s how to get it clean:

  1. The heating element, or heating coil, can often be difficult to reach – we’ve found that with many models it can be helpful to turn your air fryer upside down, so as to reach inside more easily.
  2. Once again, to be as gentle with these delicate internal parts, your best bet is to start off with a soft sponge or cloth and plain warm water.
  3. If you’re dealing with tougher, baked on grease or stubborn dirt, try upgrading to a soft bristled brush – an old, worn toothbrush can work well in a pinch – and warm water with a few drops of washing-up liquid in it.
  4. Once you’ve finished brushing and wiping, leaving your air fryer upside down to dry will encourage water to drip out of the machine and generally improve airflow.

How do you keep your air fryer in good condition?

With all that cleaning out of the way, here are a five general tips for keeping your air fryer tidy and in good working order:

  1. Reduce mess and clean-up times by using paper or silicone liners to protect your air fryer basket
  2. Avoid overfilling your air fryer, as this will not only leave you with soggy food but may also lead to crumbs and grease getting into the internal structure of your appliance.
  3. Make sure your air fryer’s hot air vent isn’t facing directly into an electrical socket – for best results, you should use your air fryer near your stovetop’s extractor hood.
  4. When it comes to spritz a little oil over your food, avoid using aerosol sprays, sprays with propellants,or chemical-based non-stick sprays, as these can affect the non-stick coating of your air fryer.
  5. When adding salt to your food, during or after cooking, make sure to do so once the food has been removed from the air fryer basket, as the salt granules can create micro scratches on the non-stick coating of the basket.

What are the best air fryers if you’re looking for an upgrade?

All that said, if your air fryer is quite run down, or has become too difficult to clean over the years, it may be time to consider securing yourself a replacement or a significant upgrade. To save you time and effort searching for the perfect air fryer, we’ve rounded up models with premium features worth upgrading for:

1. Tefal ActiFry Genius+: Best smart air fryer

One of our favourite air fryers overall, the ActiFry Genius+ stands out thanks to some clever, well-implemented features. Firstly, this model comes with a 360-degree stirring paddle, which helps ensure food is evenly and consistently cooked, without the need to stop and shake mid-cook. Along with manual controls, the Genius+ also comes with nine handy presets, for things like chips, breaded snacks, desserts and more, which are all programmable from its digital touchscreen.

Buy now from Amazon

2. Ninja Foodi Dual Zone: Best twin-basket air fryer

If you’d like to transform your air fryer from a handy snack making device into a fully-fledged, dinner-making station, then you should consider switching to a twin-basket model. Our favourite, The Ninja Foodi Dual Zone, is much more than just two air fryers stapled together. For example, the appliance’s sync setting allows you to ensure that both baskets will finish simultaneously, even if they’re set to different times and temperatures. More generally, its Max Crisp setting cooks thinner cut foods much more swiftly than a standard convection oven, while its baking, roasting, dehydrating and reheating features round out its versatility.

Buy now from Ninja

3. Tower Xpress Pro Combo 10-in-1: Best oven-style air fryer

Functioning similarly to a mini table-top oven, the Tower Express offers a little more versatility and finesse than your standard air fryer. Using individual crisping trays, you can bake, roast, air fry and dehydrate, as well as cook a whole chicken rotisserie-style in just 45 minutes. Along with a nice range of features, the Xpress Pro also comes with a solid batch of accessories, including kebab skewers, silicone oven mitts and a small pizza crisping tray. Plus, thanks to its clear glass window, you can ooh and aah as you watch your food cook in real time.

Buy now from Amazon

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