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7 Air Fryer Cleaning Hacks That Work

An air fryer sitting on a counter top alongside of other kitchen tools.
Enjoy The Life/Shutterstock.com

Nowadays, you can find air fryers that broil, bake, and even dehydrate your foods in a flash. We’re waiting for one to come on the market that offers a self-cleaning mode— who’s with me?

Until then, we’ll just have to rely on each other for all the best cleaning hacks that keep our favorite appliance in tip-top shape.

The Old Reliable Dish Soap

Two side by side images displaying the new EZ squeeze dawn platinum dish soap and an OXO scrub brush with a built in soap dispenser.
Dawn/OXO

Like most kitchen appliances, holding off on cleaning them will lead to more laborious scrubbing sessions down the road. This is especially true for air fryers. The basket where food sits is prone to collecting all sorts of greasy gunk, which becomes more difficult to remove over time.

You can save on elbow grease by cleaning your air fryer after each use. You know, kind of like what we do with all other kitchen equipment and tools.

All you’ll need is some dish soap and a reliable scrub brush. If you haven’t gotten your hands on the new EZ-Squeeze bottle, boy, are you in for a treat. It’ll make your dishwashing adventure more tolerable (and may I even say enjoyable) without the messy cap or bottle-flipping fiasco.

Dawn Platinum EZ-Squeeze Dishwashing Soap

The dish soap bottle you've always dreamed of!

Pair that with an OXO soap dispensing dish brush, and you’ve got a scrub-a-dub dream team! The OXO brush dispenses soap beautifully, and the bristles are tough enough to help remove even the toughest baked-on foods. It’s the only brush I’ll buy.

OXO Good Grips Scrub Brush

Easily dispenses soap and scrubs like a champ!

As long as you clean your air fryer often, you won’t ever have to worry about scrubbing tirelessly down the road.

Let Your Air Fryer Do the Work

Three images displaying the steps that @tanyahomeinspo from TikTok uses to clean her air fryer.
@tanyahomeinspo/TikTok.com

Nothing quite beats the ease of pressing a button and letting an appliance do all the hard work. Even though the air fryer technically doesn’t have a button made for that, TikTok influencer @tanyahomeinspo found a genius way to give the air fryer a self-cleaning mode after all.

In the video, she drizzles soap and water directly into the air fryer basket, pops it back in, and sets it to “air fry” for 3 minutes. You’ll notice all the grime gets pulled up from the hot water. After seeing this, there was no stopping me from trying the nifty hack, and guys, it totally works!

The water and heat work together to help bring up the stubborn food pieces and tenacious gunk. I gave mine a final (and quick) wash and rinse to remove any leftover soap residue, and the results were fantastic.

@tanyahomeinspo

Wow! It actually works💥 #lifehack #homehacks #airfryer #airfryerhack #tanyahomeinspo #cleantok #fyp

♬ Isii Nafta (Love You More Than My Life) - Nimco Happy

Some viewers commented on the video, expressing concern about safety as some air fryer brands warn not to add water to your air fryer. While this hack works like magic for many, read your air fryer’s manual before trying it yourself.

Make a Soaking Solution with Vinegar

Someone working to clean their air fryer basket, by adding water and vinegar to the basket to allow it to soak.
SalmySaznira/Shutterstock.com

Vinegar is an excellent natural ingredient that’ll help eliminate the sticky-ickies. Pull out your air fryer basket, and make a cleaning solution that consists of equal parts water and vinegar.

Harris Cleaning Vinegar

Natural cleaning agent with a lemony-fresh scent!

Let your basket soak for at least 15 minutes, then wash it by hand as you usually would. Only this time, all the stubborn food should slide right off thanks to the magical natural ingredient.

Degrease with Baking Soda

Three side by side images of an air fryer being cleaning with baking soda, dish soap and boiling water.
Carolina McCauley/TikTok.com

We have another hack that works similarly to running the appliance with water in the basket without having to turn it on at all. You’ll need a bit of baking soda, dish soap, and boiling water to get the job done.

TikTok creator Carolina McCauley shows us just how simple the method is. She removes the basket, then sprinkles baking soda inside. From there she drizzles dish soap and carefully pours boiling water into the basket to allow it to soak for some time.

@carolina.mccauley

How to deep clean your air-fryer 💖 #cleaninghacks #cleaningtips #cleaningtips #kitchenhacks #tutorials

♬ Les champs elysées - Quatuor Morphing

If you’ve ever had to remove burned food from the bottom of a pot or pan, then you know how powerful soaking it can be. Adding baking soda to the equation will take your soaking session to the next level.

But why does it work so well? According to Live Science, sodium bicarbonate (Aka baking soda) works to dissolve organic compounds like dirt and grease. Not only that, but the powder offers a gentle abrasive, which does wonders for scrubbing without scratching.

Deodorize Using Fresh Lemons

A scrub brush with some lemon.
Igisheva Maria/Shutterstock.com

While you might not think your air fryer looks all that bad, the grease caught under the grates can give off some lingering odors. The last thing you want is your fresh meal tasting like a rancid version of your previous one.

One way to eliminate those stinky smells is using the fruit that’s best known for its citrusy freshness! According to Consumer Reports, the best way to deal with lingering odors in an air fryer (even after it’s been washed) is to slice a lemon in half, rub it all over the basket and let it sit for 30 minutes, then rewash it.

Because many bad smells (like leftover food scraps) are alkaline, introducing an acidic ingredient like lemon will help neutralize and absorb that odor.

Your Air Fryer Doubles as an Air Dryer!

A home cook replacing their air fryer basket back into the air fryer.
Enjoy The Life/Shutterstock.com

One of the most overlooked secrets of an air fryer is its ability to dry its own basket with the air frying function. Since washing and drying go hand-in-hand, we thought we’d share this secret with you too.

After you wash your baskets, shake off any excess water, then place the basket back in the air fryer. Set it to “air fry” for 1-2 minutes, and voila, you have a dry, sparkly clean air fryer.

It’s effortless and works like a charm. Again, we recommend checking your air fryer’s instruction manual about replacing air fryer baskets with water, as some brands warn against it.

Line Your Baskets

A piece of salmon with veggies placed over parchment paper in a an air fryer basket.
AUYNantapon/Shutterstock.com

To avoid a big mess in the first place, don’t forget the magic of air fryer liners! These are especially handy when it’s time to throw raw meat, seafood, or fish inside.

When food sticks to the bottom and the basket is used over and over, the piece becomes, well, more stuck. That’s where liners come in. They create a barrier from the grates to avoid any sticking from occurring.

Disposable Paper Liners

Line your basket and cut down on cleaning time!

If you want to use your air fryer now but don’t have the liners handy, there are a few other ways to create one.  Aluminum foil is considered safe to use, and it will extend the time between two cleanings. Like always, be sure to read through your owner’s manual, as some models might not be able to withstand the added layer.

A torn-off sheet of parchment paper will work just like the liners (as they are made from the same material), so feel free to use that if you have it. It’s more lightweight than foil and doesn’t restrict airflow as much.


Cleaning your air fryer doesn’t have to be a hassle. Thanks to social media, there are so many life hacks available that getting through these types of tasks can be almost fun.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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