West is a fan of reusable silicone and disposable parchment liners, which are specifically designed to help minimize cleanup. Look for ones that are the same size and shape of your basket.
Never clean an air fryer that is still hot. When you’re done cooking your food, remove the items and unplug the unit. Wait until all parts are cool to the touch before you begin cleaning to avoid burns. But don’t wait too long. The longer caked-on mess sits, the harder it will be to remove. This isn’t the time to let your dishes sit until the morning.
Most countertop units have three main components—the main unit which contains the heating element, the basket, and the basket base—and you’ll want to clean all of them each time you use the air fryer. Keeping these components free of gunk and grime will ensure a better cooking experience the next time you use your air fryer and will help the unit work at its optimal performance.
West sometimes cleans the basket and basket base in the dishwasher but cautions that everyone should refer to the instruction manual that came with their air fryer, as this isn’t an option for all models. Handwashing is always a safe bet.
You’ve likely seen some viral posts on TikTok that suggest filling the basket with water and turning it on to dislodge stuck-on bits. You’re better off using the ramekin and lemon juice method outlined above. With that, you’re containing the water and keeping it clear of the electrical elements.
For most messes, warm water and a bit of dish soap can get the job done. If the interior of the air fryer basket is really greasy, then soaking it in hot water can help break up the residue before you tackle the mess with a scrub brush. Both West and Abbott often turn to Dawn Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray to make the task even easier. “You just squirt a little on the toughest grease and spills, allow it to sit for a minute or two, and then rinse clean with little to no elbow grease,” West says.
Whichever dish soap you use, make sure you’re applying it with a nonabrasive sponge. More abrasive materials can damage the nonstick coating on the basket.
Though it may be tempting, don’t skip cleaning the main unit. Use a damp cloth moistened with a bit of soapy water to wipe it clean, including the heating coil. If something is stuck in a hard-to-reach place, a soft-bristled brush (like an old toothbrush) can be used to gently dislodge it.
Finish up by giving the outside of the air fryer a quick wipe with a clean cloth or paper towel to remove any grease or food particles that may have accumulated.
It’s important to take special care of the nonstick coating inside your air fryer, West says. In addition to using nonabrasive cleaning tools, it’s also important to avoid using metal utensils inside the air fryer while prepping or cooking. Once the coating is damaged, food will stick to the components even more, so it’s best to be careful. She also points out that each air fryer works a little differently and that you should always use a recipe as a guide for timing and temperature. Doing so will help you avoid burnt-on messes that require a deep clean.