How to clean an air fryer: tutorials and tips for the basket, attachments and heating element

Get your air fryer shining again with these quick and easy cleaning tips

Someone tipping chips out of an air fryer basket onto a plate
(Image credit: Amazon)

There’s a good chance that your air fryer is the most commonly used appliance in your kitchen. The best air fryers make cooking easier, quicker and healthier, using little to no oil to crisp and cook your favourite foods. But while it might not use much oil or liquid to do its magic, your air fryer can still get surprisingly filthy.

Like any kitchen appliance you own, an air fryer can get extremely greasy, sticky and dirty. If you don’t clean your air fryer regularly, grease, crumbs or chunks of food can build up inside your air fryer. Not only is this unhygienic and can contaminate the food you’re trying to cook next, but it can be a safety hazard and cause your air fryer to stop working quicker than its expected lifespan.

To help keep your appliance in top condition, T3 has created a step-by-step guide on how to clean your air fryer. The tutorials and tips below cover all areas of the air fryer, including the basket, body and heating element, plus answers to your most commonly asked air fryer cleaning questions.

How to clean an air fryer: the basket

The basket is one of the most important parts of your air fryer, and it’s also one of the dirtiest. To cook your food, you need to place it inside the basket before you attach it to the main body of the air fryer. This means you’re getting oil, seasoning and raw food all over the inside of the basket every time you use your air fryer, so it needs a good clean after every use.

An air fryer basket can be cleaned manually or in the dishwasher. For the latter, you’ll need to check your air fryer’s instructions to make sure the basket is dishwasher safe – I’ll explain how to get the best results when cleaning your air fryer parts in the dishwasher in the next section.

How to clean an air fryer basket

1. Unplug your air fryer from the mains and let it cool. Once it’s cooled down, remove your basket from the main body of the air fryer, and take out any attachments that you had inside the basket.

2. If the basket has any loose crumbs or food inside it, throw this out into your food waste bin before cleaning.

3. Wash the air fryer basket in warm soapy water with a sponge. Use a brush (most air fryer brands provide a cleaning brush with purchase) to remove any stubborn food or stickiness, and scrub deep into the corners and hard-to-reach spots. If your air fryer basket is made of non-stick material, make sure the bristles of your brush aren’t too harsh.

4. If there’s food stuck or burnt to the basket that’s not coming off with the sponge or brush, make a baking soda paste by combining baking soda with water. Apply the paste to the food and let it sit for up to 20 minutes before removing the solution with a brush.

5. Once cleaned, rinse the basket with water and let it dry.

A Ninja air fryer sitting next to a basket as someone removes asparagus from it

(Image credit: Amazon)

How to clean an air fryer: the attachments

Air fryers have many pre-set programmes so you can use them for almost any type of cooking method. With this in mind, most air fryer manufacturers design and sell accessories, like grill plates, racks and pizza pans (see these 9 air fryer accessories you need for your mini-oven for more). Most air fryer attachments can be easily cleaned in the same way as you’d clean the basket, and they can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

How to clean an air fryer attachment manually

1. Once you’ve unplugged the air fryer, let it cool and removed the basket, take the attachment out of the basket.

2. Using warm soapy water, scrub the attachment to remove any stains and stickiness. If the attachment is non-stick, use a soft cloth or the softer side of a sponge so you don’t damage or scratch the coating.

3. If you’ve used a rack attachment, use the same cleaning method as above. For stubborn stains stuck to the grates, use a brush to remove any food and residue.

4. Rinse your attachment and leave it to dry.

How to clean an air fryer attachment in the dishwasher

Most air fryer attachments are dishwasher safe, although I’d recommend manually washing them to protect the coating. The best dishwashers can reach extremely high temperatures, and dishwasher tablets are chemically harsher than washing up liquid, so this method can damage your attachments. However, if you’d rather use your dishwasher, this is how to do it.

1. Once you’ve removed your attachment from the air fryer, give it a quick rinse and scrub to remove any big chunks of food that could get stuck in your dishwasher.

2. Place your attachment on the top rack of your dishwasher. The reason for this is because the water’s heat and intensity tends to be more gentle than if you were to place it directly above the heating element and spray bar.

3. Once your dishwasher has completed its cycle, remove the attachment and pat it dry before storing.

Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

How to clean an air fryer: the main body

It goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway: the main body of your air fryer should never go in your dishwasher or be cleaned using too much liquid. Once you remove the basket and attachments, you’re left with the electrical part of your air fryer which shouldn’t come into contact with water.

But, if you use your air fryer a lot, you might notice that the outside or the control panel can get a little dirty, especially if you have a touchscreen display. So, this is how to get it sparkling again.

1. The first step with any air fryer cleaning job is the same every time: unplug it and let it cool!

2. Once it’s cooled, using a lightly dampened cloth or a paper towel, wipe down the exterior of your air fryer. Concentrate on the front, back, sides and control panel.

3. As the air fryer basket will be removed while you do this, make sure to get into all the corners of the bottom interior of the air fryer. Avoid using too much fluid as this is where the heating element is.

4. The outside of your air fryer shouldn’t feel wet or damp after you’ve done this but if it does, dry it using a fresh and dry paper towel. Reattach the basket when both parts are clean and dry.

How to clean an air fryer: the heating element

The heating element inside an air fryer

(Image credit: eBay)

The heating element of your air fryer is located above the basket. It often looks like a metal coil, but because it ‘loops’ around itself, the space between the coils can get quite dirty. The grease and grime around the heating element is typically food residue or oil and if this builds up too much, it could disrupt the taste, smell and look of your food, and potentially catch fire.

How to clean an air fryer heating element

1. Once the air fryer is unplugged and cooled, remove the basket. Check the heating element or coil on the underside of the air fryer to see if it’s covered in dirt. If it’s not or has very little stains, cleaning experts suggest not cleaning the coil.

2. If your heating element is looking dirty, clean it gently using a soft sponge that’s been dunked in a minimal amount of soapy water. Get the stubborn stains off as gently as you can, pat it dry and leave to completely dry before using your air fryer again.


How often should you clean your air fryer?

It’s recommended to clean your air fryer basket and attachments after every use, so you don’t contaminate the next thing you cook and don’t get a buildup of food bits and grime.

For the outside of your air fryer, give it a wipe down when you notice any marks or stains. A deeper clean involving the heating element should be done after every few uses if you notice any grime stuck to the coils.

Do you need to clean your air fryer before you use it the first time?

Yes. Before using your air fryer for the first time, you should give the basket, attachments and inside of the appliance a quick clean to remove any production residue, like fingerprints, industrial oils or plastic.

How do you get rid of bad smells from your air fryer?

If you cooked fish in your air fryer and the smell still isn’t going away, you can try the lemon cleaning hack. Put a lemon and some water into an air fryer safe bowl before placing it into the basket. Turn the air fryer on for a couple of minutes before removing the bowl and wiping down the basket.

How do you prevent sticky messes when using an air fryer?

If you’d like to cut some corners to avoid too much mess, you can put baking paper or silicone trays and cases into the basket before adding your food. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still clean your air fryer but it does cut down some of the clean-up time.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!