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How to clean an air fryer heating element: Remove greasy residue with these simple steps

Close up of dirty air fryer heating element inside air fryer.

An air fryer heating element can be tricky to clean but these top tips will help you to get it sparkling without damaging your appliance

Air fryers are versatile, speedy appliances that can produce healthier versions of your favourite greasy foods. However, even the best air fryers aren’t perfect and, just like your oven, they get dirty quickly. If you’re a long time air fryer user, you probably know to give the frying baskets or trays a clean after every use but how often do you clean the heating element of your appliance?

A heating element that’s caked in grease or dirt not only affects how well your air fryer performs but it can also be a potential fire hazard. Whether you’re attempting to clean the element for the first time or simply looking for some tips and tricks to streamline the process, read our guide below for all you need to know on how to clean your air fryer heating element.

What is the heating element?

Though often overlooked, the heating element is a crucial part in your appliance. It’s the metal coil tucked inside, typically on the ceiling of the air fryer and is responsible for warming up the air via infrared radiation.

Why do you need to clean the heating element?

Whenever you use your air fryer, the heating element is exposed to oil and food residue. Over time this can build up to form a greasy coating on the coil, compromising the hygiene of your appliance, causing bad smells and impacting the taste of your food. A serious buildup can also turn your appliance into a fire hazard if the residue starts to burn and smoke.

How often do you need to clean the heating element?

You probably won’t need to clean the heating element as often as the baskets or trays.
Having said this, wiping the coil with a damp cloth after each use is a good idea if you want to save yourself some elbow grease. A deep clean is usually needed every few weeks if you use your air fryer regularly.

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How to clean your air fryer heating element:

1. Unplug your air fryer and wait until it is completely cool.

2. To access the heating element, you’ll need to open up your appliance and take out all the removable parts. This should be an easy task in terms of baskets, trays or crisper plates, but depending on your model, the heating coil may be behind a non-removable splatter shield/mesh.

Remember to check your user manual before removing any internal parts. If your shield is attached by screws, you might be able to take it off with the help of a screwdriver. If your splatter shield is non-removable, work around it with a brush.

Before cleaning the heating element you might want to give the parts you just removed a wash. Read our air fryer cleaning overview for tips on how to clean the baskets, trays, racks and more.

3. At this point, you might be able to turn your appliance upside down to make the element easier to access. Though not all air fryers will sit comfortably in this position.

4. Wipe the heating coil gently with a damp sponge or cloth. Make sure the water is warm and use it sparingly.

5. If you’re dealing with stubborn grease or struggling to get to the crevices behind and between the heating element, use a soft bristle brush, bottle cleaning brush or toothbrush.

Add a few drops of washing-up liquid or baking soda paste if plain water isn’t doing the trick. Around 60g of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water should be enough. You could also try a strong degreaser, just ensure that it’s suitable for your air fryer’s heating element.

6. Once you’ve scrubbed off the oil residue from the heating element and its housing, wipe away any leftover soap residue and water with a cloth. You should also leave the appliance unplugged and empty to air dry.

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Can you replace an air fryer heating element?

If no amount of scrubbing seems to help, you’ll want to research replacement options. Some models allow for heating element replacements and this might even be covered under your warranty. If replacing your heating element is not possible and the condition of the coil is beyond saving, it might be time to consider a new air fryer.

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