How Often To Clean Your Air Fryer For The Best Tasting Food

Admittedly, an air fryer doesn't need the heavy-duty scrubbing that an oven does, nor does it need the gentle tending that goes into keeping a stovetop squeaky clean and shiny like new. Plus, without the hassle of having to dispose pots full of hot oil after frying food, air fryers don't seem like appliances that require much care and maintenance beyond the occasional scrub. 

But, if you care for the flavor and texture of your food, the longevity of your appliance, and how efficiently it works, you will want to clean your air fryer and clean it often — after each use to be precise.

Air fryers use heat instead of oil to cook food, throwing hot air around whatever's placed in the basket to crisp it up. But this blast of hot air also causes tiny food crumbs, drops of grease, and moisture to fly around and get everywhere in the machine, including even the heating coil and fan. When left unchecked, this grime will collect in the nooks and crannies of the air fryer, making it harder to clean over time. 

Not only will you find your air fryer taking longer to cook and your foods lacking that same crispy texture, but it will also affect the flavor of any food that's cooked in the appliance afterward. In some cases, the build-up of grime could even smoke and cause your food to burn — but this can be avoided with more regular cleanings.

How to clean your air fryer after each use

The first step to cleaning your air fryer is to turn off the appliance and unplug it. Unless you've cooked something sticky in it — in which case your best shot is to get scrubbing while things are still slightly warm — you should wait for the air fryer to cool down before pulling out all the removable parts. While some air fryers have parts that are dishwasher-safe, even just a soap and warm water rinse with a non-abrasive sponge can take care of the job. If you notice burnt bits of food that are still stuck on, you could soak the parts in warm soapy water for a few minutes before scrubbing them too, or coat them in a paste of baking soda and water.

Next, wipe the insides of the air fryer down — particularly the heating coil — with a damp cloth that's soaked in some soapy water, and give the exterior a quick rub down. Alternatively, you could even spray white vinegar mixed with equal parts of water on the insides of the air fryer and let it sit for a few minutes. The vinegar water solution will loosen up all the grease and gunk while also disinfecting the appliance and neutralizing any odors leftover from the food that was cooked before. Once cleaned, make sure to dry everything thoroughly before turning on the appliance again.

More tips to keep your air fryer in top condition

Besides cleaning your air fryer each time it is used, a little care and maintenance will go a long way in keeping the appliance in top condition and ensuring that your food always tastes and crisps up as it should. One of the biggest mistakes that people tend to make when using an air fryer is adding too much oil. Adding more than just a smidge of oil will lead to a build-up of excess grease in the drip tray that can smoke and burn, subsequently affecting the flavor of your food — and leaving one big mess to clean up.

A great way to minimize this and make you cleaning job easier is to line the air fryer basket with parchment paper or silicone liners. Just as they are used in ovens, parchment papers and silicone liners will act as protective layers in the basket that catch excess grease and leave less burnt and stuck-on grime to scrub from the machine itself.

The kind of oil that is used matters too: While most oils are fair game, cooking sprays can mess with your air fryers. That's because some cooking sprays contain soy lecithin, which can not only affect the color and flavor of foods, but can cling onto the non-stick surfaces of your air fryer baskets and trays and damage them, only making the cleaning job more difficult in the long run.