TikTok's Air Fryer Cleaning Hack Is High-Key Dangerous

Leave it to TikTokers to come up with innovative (and at times, peculiar) ways to make things spotless and grime-free. Apparently, there's a corner of TikTok where users can connect and share their best deep-cleaning tips. And let's just say that #CleanTok definitely does not disappoint. The TikToks run the gamut from cleaning the kitchen with aluminum foil to how to make filthy mop heads appear like new. But, there's one viral cleaning trick that's a complete disaster waiting to happen. It involves filling a dirty air fryer basket halfway with soapy water and then turning the countertop appliance on to, well, cook. The hack is supposed to get rid of grease and stuck-on food; however, it could also lead to unfavorable outcomes like damage to the machine and bodily injury, among other things.

Let's just say the advice has received plenty of negative reviews online. Some have claimed to have tried the hack, and it didn't actually work anyway. Others have pointed out the fact that the soapy water isn't able to reach above where the machine's element is located, which can also get really greasy — while others still have mentioned that the cleaning method can bend an air fryer rack. But the dirty truth about this air fryer hack is that for those who do choose to try it out — a warped rack is certainly the least of your concerns.  

The dangers of putting water in an air fryer

That's right — although air fryers are incredibly versatile, there's at least one thing that should never go inside them when they're running: water. After all, it's no secret that water and electricity are a bad mix. In fact, the combination of the two can be downright dangerous. It could potentially cause the appliance to short-circuit, resulting in damage to the machine. Not to mention, putting water in a running air fryer is a major fire hazard and could even result in electric shock, which could prove fatal. Most air fryer instruction manuals explicitly state to not submerge the machinery into water — and that they should never be used to boil water.


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In the videos, TikTokers ignore stated warnings and put the soapy water in the air fryer at varying temperatures and durations of time — some put it in for three minutes at 370 degrees Fahrenheit while others opt for more time and less heat at, say, 10 to 15 minutes on 200 degrees Fahrenheit. But, regardless of the length of time or temperature used, the dangers are all the same — and the method may not even clean the machine of baked-on grime.

Have a dirty air fryer in need of a good scrub? Fret not because there are safer ways to rid the mini-convection cooker of grease and grit instead.

How to safely clean your air fryer

In order to prevent charred food remnants and other yucky residue, you should clean your air fryer after every use. Cleaning it regularly will also help prevent any harmful bacteria from festering, especially for those who use it to cook meat. Just be sure to let the air fryer cool before cleaning it so that you don't get burned. After using the machine, unplug it and let the appliance cool for about 30 minutes. Letting it cool down for hours may actually make it tougher to clean because the food particles and gunk will become stuck. When the insides are cool to the touch, it's ready for a good scrub down. To start, wipe the outside using a damp cloth to rid any dust or grime. Then, take out the basket and pan and wipe those clean before rinsing them in the sink using a soft sponge with a little warm, soapy water. 

For tougher grime, the basket and pan may be soaked in water or washed in the dishwasher — depending on the manufacturer's recommendations, so be sure to check the manual first. Don't forget to wipe out the inside of the appliance, getting any crumbs or grease that may have fallen to the bottom, and the heating element before letting them air dry. Once the basket and pan are dry, simply place them back into the machine, and you're ready to get air frying again.