I use vinegar to shift baked on grease on my air fryer – but my cleaning tip comes with a caution

Keeping my most used appliance looking its best was a challenge before I found this versatile cleaning tip

A black and silver air fryer on a kitchen side
(Image credit: Alamy)

My air fryer is one of the most used appliances in my kitchen, with this versatile little device easily becoming my favorite fuss-free cooking tool. With such frequent use, however, it quickly picks up stubborn grease and food deposits that can be difficult to shift. 

After learning that the viral tip of heating up soapy water in my air fryer was a dangerous method that could damage my machine or worse, start a fire in my home, I was desperate to find a way to clean an air fryer that kept mine looking as good as new while also staying safe. 

It turns out that one of my favorite household cleaning tips also worked for my air fryer, and so cleaning with vinegar became my go-to once again.

A clear spray bottle with black top with clear liquid inside

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Even the best air fryers need cleaning regularly to prevent build-up, but I had become lazy and skipped a few deep cleans after late-night cooking. The result was thick grease stains that were almost impossible to get off without using harsh abrasives – if you know how to use an air fryer, you will know just how easy it is to quickly use it and then leave saying 'I'll clean it in the morning', and then not get round to it until the next night. 

Not cleaning an air fryer correctly is one of the most common air fryer mistakes I make. 

I turned to my trusty vinegar water solution for help. Although I know that not everything should be cleaned with vinegar (and how important it is to know what not to clean with vinegar), its acidic properties make the solution an easy home remedy for fighting grease build-up, especially when cleaning a kitchen. 

To make my air fryer cleaning solution, I mix one cup of white vinegar with one cup of warm water and shake it in a spray bottle. I find that it is best to use this mixture while it is still warm as the hotter water temperature helps to dissolve the grease deposits faster. I also find that adding a teaspoon or two of lemon juice makes the mixture smell nicer. 

Somebody washing up in a kitchen sink

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Then, I simply spray the areas that need a good clean with the solution and allow it to sit for a few minutes before using a very gentle abrasive pad or sponge to wipe the grease and spray away, before rinsing.

If I have been particularly negligent when it comes to cleaning my air fryer and this is not enough to clean my fryer completely, I soak my basket in the solution for an hour or so. Don't be tempted to leave your air fryer to soak overnight, however. As I discovered, the water cools the greasy deposits will solidify again and make it even more difficult to clean away. 

To clean the air fryer elements, I spray the solution onto a soft cloth as opposed to directly onto the heating elements or fan itself. Applying the spray directly could damage the machine and leave me without my reliable gadget. 

After using the solution, I give my air fryer a wipe-down with clean water and sometimes dish soap to get rid of the vinegar residue. Although vinegar is perfectly food safe, it can sometimes change the taste of whatever you are cooking – this might be great for fries, but not so much for other foods!

A couple of words of caution: vinegar is acid which can, over time and used undiluted, eat away at any rubber parts; you may also find that not cleaning your air fryer exactly as your manufacturer recommends will nullify any guarantee you might have. However, diluted vinegar has not harmed my air fryer, particularly because I only use it when I've let grease build-up.

The benefits of cleaning your air fryer properly mean that you can keep the costs of running an air fryer down as it runs more efficiently. 

Can you put dish soap and water in your air fryer to clean it?

It is safe to use warm soapy water to clean your air fryer, however you should not turn the air fryer on while there is water in the device. Despite online trends suggesting that this is an easy way to clean your fryer, the appliance was not designed to hold large amounts of liquid and water can easily be sucked up behind the fan causing a short circuit. 

Short circuiting your machine can cause permanent damage and even cause a fire if not dealt with correctly. When using warm soapy water to clean an air fryer simply allow sections to soak unplugged or use a non-abrasive scrubber to wipe down the appliance. 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.