First and foremost, don't procrastinate.

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Air fryers cook food with a fraction of the oil used in traditional deep frying, which means there's less fat going into your food and less oil to clean up after cooking. With that being said, it's important to remember that there's still a fair amount of cleaning that needs to happen after you're done using your air fryer, and you'll want to get it done sooner rather than later. "The great thing about an air fryer is that it disassembles into several dishwasher-safe pieces," says Belle English, test kitchen manager at Williams Sonoma. After a few rounds of air frying, she takes out the removable pieces (like the frying basket and pull-out drawer) and puts the dishwasher-safe components through a wash cycle. Everything else gets hand-washed. "All it needs is a little soap and water, a quick dry, and you're ready to air fry again!"

Air frying homemade chicken nuggets
Credit: Grandbrothers / Getty Images

For stubborn bits of food that stay on even after being run through the dishwasher, English uses a strong bristled brush and grease-fighting soap. This approach also works for tackling built-up grease and crumbs inside your air fryer.

Cleaning your air fryer often is the best way to avoid the buildup of grease and other food residue. And this includes the heating element and all of the surfaces inside the air fryer; a damp cloth dipped in warm, soapy water should do the trick. "I like to wipe it down and do a spot clean every time I use my air fryer, making sure there are not any large pieces of food or crumbs left behind. Then every three or four times I use my air fryer, I will do a deeper clean and soak to ensure that it's totally clean," English says.

As for when to clean your air fryer, sooner is better, but you'll want to wait until your appliance is cool first. It may be tempting to put off the task until the next day, but English notes that cleaning sooner rather than later will be much easier, as it doesn't give grease and food a chance to stick to the basket or pull-out drawer. If you find that your air fryer has lingering odors from the last time you used it and soap and water doesn't make them go away, English has a trick for that, too. "Make a solution out of equal parts baking soda and hot water and let the separate components soak for an hour or so," she says. "Then scrub and rinse with cold water."

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