I Tried That TikTok Trick for Cleaning My Air Fryer. Here's What Happened.

Was this hack too good to be true?

A black air fryer sitting on a kitchen counter
Photo: Casezy idea/Shutterstock

Easy cleanup is often used as a selling point for air fryers, but anyone who likes honey- and hoisin-based marinades as much as I do understands the gravity of cooked-on stains.

Usually, my go-to air fryer cleaning method is to soak the chamber in warm, soapy water for at least 30 minutes. Afterward, I tackle any residue (and there's always residue) by scrubbing it with a sponge. It's not the most glamorous household task, but it usually does the trick.

The internet has other ideas, however. One viral TikTok trick for cleaning your air fryer entails filling the chamber halfway with soap and water, and then air frying the watery basket at 350°F for five minutes. In video after video, once-grimy drawers and baskets emerge sparkling clean. But does it actually work? I decided to find out.

Putting the TikTok Air Fryer Cleaning Hack to the Test

I love a smart hack almost as much as I dislike doing dishes, so I was eager to try this TikTok method for myself. One day, I air fried chicken thighs that I'd marinated in a honey-soy-ginger mixture. When I opened the chamber and saw near-black cooking stains, I didn't feel my usual sense of impending duty. Instead, I found myself looking at an obviously gross fryer with optimism. "This is going to work!" I thought, with the blind faith that only a community of digital strangers can inspire.

And so, I half-filled the chamber with water and liberally added dish soap. I reinserted the drawer into the appliance, set the temperature and timer, and let the minutes tick down as I sipped a glass of water, petted my dog, and performed other tasks infinitely more enjoyable than hunching over a sink and scrubbing at caked-on stains.

After five minutes, I pulled out the drawer and expectantly poured it out. As with most of the videos, the water it expelled was brown. I took that to be a good sign that the TikTok trick had worked.

The Dirty TikTok Truth

In an unfortunate twist, it hadn't. The stains were absolutely still there. If I were to be honest with myself, the chamber looked almost exactly as it had before I'd reinserted it to be cleaned.

I tried rinsing the chamber one more time, but no luck. The bottom and sides were still mottled with burnt sugars and cooked-on grime. I sighed, filled the basket with soapy water to soak as usual, and emotionally came to terms with the fact that I would have to scrub it later.

After the drawer had soaked and I scrubbed, my air fryer looked as good as new. Even though I was ultimately unsuccessful, the only good news was that I appeared to have done no damage to my drawer or my appliance by giving this cleaning hack a try. The best news? I'll live to air fry another day.

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