Including a lemon juice hack for stubborn smells. 
Credit: Photo courtesy of Walmart.

Welcome to Air Fryer Month! Throughout September, our team will be sharing healthy air-fryer recipes and tips and tricks to help you get meals on the table in less time with fewer dishes, courtesy of everyone's favorite appliance. Visit us weekly for the latest Air Fryer Month content.  

One thing about modern home cooks: We love our air fryers. 

“While they originally gained popularity for those looking to enjoy fried food with less saturated fat, I most often recommend air fryers as a fast way to cook food on a weeknight—or busy weekday morning—with excellent texture and minimal cleanup,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.

The key phrase there is “minimal cleanup,” because it’s important to properly clean and maintain your air fryer to avoid cross-contamination and bacteria. What’s more, a dirty air fryer can also increase risk of smoke in the kitchen, as the food gets stuck in the basket’s holes and can lead to burning of whatever you’re cooking next. 

To keep the workhorse appliance of the kitchen in tip-top shape, here’s a guide to cleaning and maintaining your air fryer. 

When to clean your air fryer.

It's important to clean your air fryer as soon as it cools down after use, rather than letting it sit out for hours—or even worse, overnight. “This is both for food safety reasons and to extend the life of your air fryer,” says Jones. 

What to clean it with. 

Yes, some air fryers allow for dishwasher cleaning, but as a general rule of thumb, most machines are not dishwasher-safe. “[If] it sits in the dishwasher before being cleaned, it can deteriorate faster,” says Jones. She recommends hand-washing with soapy water and a cloth or paper towel.  “If the non-stick materials wear away, you may end up having food come in contact with metals or chemicals that you don't want to ingest, so instead use dish soap and warm water,” she adds.

How to clean the basket. 

If there aren’t any stuck-on bits, you can clean the basket with soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge, then wipe dry. To remove baked-on food, soak the basket in soapy water for about 10 minutes and remove crusty bits with a non-abrasive sponge, then rinse with water and dry. Just avoid scraping the basket too harshly; you don’t want any of the non-stick coating to come off. For stubborn smells, wipe the basket down with lemon juice, let sit for 20 or 30 minutes, then rinse and dry again. 

Credit: Vesna Jovanovic / EyeEm/Getty Images

How to clean the rest of the air fryer. 

In addition to cleaning the basket, it only takes a few seconds more to give your machine a good wipe-down. “Get a cloth with soapy water and wipe down the interior and exterior of the cooled-down appliance, then wipe with plain water, and wipe down once more to dry it,” says Jones. Every few uses, grab a soft toothbrush and gently scrub areas where food particles get trapped before cleaning the area with soapy water and towels.  

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