This TikTok air fryer hack is trending — but don’t do it

An air fryer sitting out in the open on a table
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Tiktok is home to all kinds of cleaning hacks, from deodorizing drains to removing limescale with lemons — the list really is exhaustive. And while a lot of these hacks are useful and good to know, there are some you should definitely steer clear of. One in particular which is trending right now with over 200k likes revolves around cleaning an air fryer. 

The problem with this hack is that it’s very likely to cause more harm than good — in fact, you could end up breaking your air fryer altogether. Here, we will explain why you shouldn’t follow this TikTok hack and what you should do instead.

What happens in this TikTok hack? 

In this 14 second video, which was shared by tanyahomeinspo, we see someone squirt dish soap into a dirty air fryer basket, followed by enough water to cover the base. They then insert the basket into the air fryer and run it for three minutes at 200°F. After which, they rinse out the basket, and it appears as clean as new. 


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The problem with this method is that even the best air fryers are not designed to hold this amount of water. It’s difficult to tell exactly how much water is used in the video, but the base of the basket is submerged and it looks just under half-full. At this height, water from the surface could easily be splashed by the air flow from the fan into the internal electrical components, which would effectively short circuit your air fryer. Your air fryer might also overheat in its attempt to ‘cook’ this much water, resulting in a fire hazard.  

That’s not to say water can’t be added to the basket — 1-2 tablespoons can be added prior to cooking to maintain moisture. This small amount of water would essentially evaporate and turn to steam. Adding a small amount of water can also help contain any fatty drippings, which reduces smoke because it doesn’t burn to the base. Consequently, your kitchen won’t fill with that horrible smell and this makes clean-up easier too.

But, you cannot boil or steam in a traditional air fryer. These appliances are designed as convection ovens and the inside cannot reach a high enough temperature to boil the water — that’s why raw rice grains are one of the things you should never put in an air fryer. The vents on your air fryer will also release any steam produced, so this too is counterproductive. Essentially, adding more than a couple of tablespoons of water to your air fryer is a big no-no. 


(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How should you clean your air fryer? 

You should follow your manufacturer’s guidelines for everyday cleaning. Most air fryers come with dishwasher-safe parts, in which case clean-up is pretty straightforward. Otherwise, regular cleaning will usually involve washing the accessories by hand with warm, soapy water. The main unit should never be submerged in water or placed in the dishwasher.  

An air fryer basket being rinsed with water

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

For a deep clean, if no advice is given in the manual, you can scrub the internals of your air fryer using a damp soft-bristled brush, a microfiber cloth and some dish soap. For full instructions, follow our guide on how to clean an air fryer and get rid of baked-on grease.  

For more air fryer tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guides on the best air fryer recipes, best air fryer sales and deals, how to use an air fryer and 11 air fryer mistakes you're probably making

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.