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I love the budget air fryer that I bought, but it’s developed some rust inside. It’s probably because I live on the coast but because I’ve not been a diligent domestic goddess (confession time). So, I researched how to get the rust off my favorite appliance and enjoy my healthy air fryer recipes. This is what I found:
- How to Remove Rust from an Air Fryer
- Methods to Remove the Rust From Your Air Fryer
- Causes of Rust on Air Fryers
- Preventing Rust Formation on An Air Fryer
How to Remove Rust from an Air Fryer
Whether your air fryer has started to develop rust on the inside or externally, there are ways to get rid of it without too much hassle. For instance, you could use kitchen products such as vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, lemon juice, and salt to remove it or opt for commercial rust-removal products.
Note that the methods discussed below might not remove all blemishes, but they will help to get rid of the rust and help prevent it from reoccurring. However, before you begin, it is better to inspect and clean the fryer while taking safety precautions:
1. Inspection and Safety Precautions
Before you attempt to remove rust from your air fryer, it is advisable to inspect the extent of the damage. You can check for rust on the interior and exterior surfaces, including the basket, tray, and heating elements. You should also know if your air fryer has Teflon to see if it has something to do with the corrosion. Take note of any sharp edges or areas with loose rust particles to avoid injuries during the cleaning and de-rusting process.
Other safety precautions to employ before starting include the following:
- Always unplug the air fryer before cleaning to prevent any electrical hazards.
- Wear strong gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges and rust particles.
- Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any cleaning agents or particles.
- Keep children and pets away from the cleaning area.
2. Basic Cleaning
Now that you know where all the rust and sharp bits are, you can start to clean your air fryer to remove any loose dirt or debris. Doing this will help you gain better access to the rust and not waste your time rust-proofing old food.
Follow these steps:
- Allow the air fryer to cool down completely after use.
- Remove the basket, tray, and any other detachable pieces.
- Wash each part with warm, soapy water and a sponge or microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the surfaces.
- Rinse each part thoroughly and allow them to air dry.
Methods to Remove the Rust From Your Air Fryer
You can begin removing the rust with all the detachable parts removed, cleaned, and dried. Try one or more of the following suggestions to do so:
1. Vinegar Solution
White vinegar has many household cleaning uses, one of which happens to be removing rust. The acetic acid in vinegar helps dissolve the oxide in rust through a process called neutralization, making it easier to remove.
Here’s how you can use this staple household product to maintain your fryer:
- Make a solution of water and white vinegar in a bowl or bucket with a 1:1 ratio.
- Soak a soft cloth (preferably microfiber) or sponge in the solution and gently scrub the rusted areas of the air fryer. Vinegar’s mild acidity will help dissolve the rust without causing damage to the metal.
- For stubborn rust spots, make a paste by adding baking soda to vinegar and applying it directly to the affected areas. Allow it to sit for a while (about 30 minutes) before scrubbing it off with a cloth or sponge. The salt intensifies the acetic acid’s efforts, helping neutralize the oxide.
- Rinse the air fryer thoroughly with water to remove any remaining vinegar solution.
- Then, wipe it with a dry cloth and let it air dry completely before putting it together and using it. As an optional extra, consider wiping the area affected by rust with denatured alcohol.
2. Baking Soda Paste
Baking soda is another helpful alternative for removing rust. It works well with water to dissolve stubborn rust with its alkalinity. Here’s how to use baking soda to remove rust in your air fryer:
- Mix baking soda with water to make a thick paste with a toothpaste-like consistency.
- Apply the fresh baking soda paste to the rusted areas of the air fryer using a soft cloth or sponge.
- Let the baking soda mix sit on the rust for at least 30 minutes.
- Gently scrub the rust spots in circular motions, applying moderate pressure until the rust is removed.
- Rinse the air fryer thoroughly with water to remove any residue from the paste.
- Dry the appliance using a clean cloth and let it air dry completely before reassembling it.
3. Lemon Juice and Salt
Lemon juice is like vinegar in that it is acidic, which can help to neutralize rust. Additionally, by adding salt to the lemon juice, you can create a gentle abrasive scrub that removes bits of rust with greater ease. This is the way to do it:
- Cut a lemon in half, then sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the cut surface. (No, we’re not preparing for tequila shots. Focus on the task at hand.)
- Use the lemon as a scrubber, applying the juice and salt directly to the rusted areas of the air fryer.
- The citric acid in the lemon juice, in conjunction with the abrasive action of the salt, will help remove the rust effectively.
- Rinse the appliance with water to remove any lemon juice and salt residues.
- Dry the appliance thoroughly with a clean cloth, then allow it to dry properly before using it again.
4. Commercial Rust Removers
If the rust in your air fryer is extensive and does not submit to the measures above, consider using a commercial rust remover. Such products are specifically manufactured for this purpose and are available in most hardware or home improvement stores. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the product’s label for safe and effective use.
Causes of Rust on Air Fryers
Understanding the factors that lead to rust formation on your appliances is essential in preventing it from reoccurring. Here are some of the main reasons that lead to its development:
1. Moisture Exposure
Rust occurs when untreated and exposed iron (or alloys containing iron) are exposed to air, moisture, or water (the catalyst). Once the reddish-brown oxide, called iron oxide, begins to form, it can spread rapidly if left untreated.
Air fryers are often used in the presence of moisture, such as steam from cooking ingredients, reheating food, or wet cleaning processes. As such, prolonged exposure to water can create a conducive environment for rust to form on the internal and external metal surfaces.
2. Scratches and Damage
The metal on most kitchen appliances is coated with a protective layer to prevent the metal from coming into contact with moisture. However, scratches and dents on the air fryer’s exterior or in the cooking basket can expose the underlying metal to water and accelerate the rusting process.
Scratches in the basket are most likely a result of using metal utensils to remove food or cleaning it with abrasive cleaning products.
3. Poor Maintenance
Refrain from regular cleaning and maintenance of your cooking appliances to accumulate food particles and moisture, promoting rust growth.
Preventing Rust Formation on An Air Fryer
Obviously, it would be great to prevent the development of rust altogether. But if it’s already there, the next best option is to prevent it from happening again. Here are some proactive measures to thwart the generation of new blemishes:
1. Regular Cleaning
After each use, ensure your air fryer is completely cooled down before cleaning it. Wipe its exterior and interior surfaces with a damp cloth to remove any residue and prevent moisture buildup.
2. Dry Thoroughly
Leaving your air fryer damp can contribute to rust development. So, after cleaning, dry it thoroughly with a soft cloth to remove any remaining water or cleaning solution. If you don’t plan to clean it immediately, remember to air it out after use by leaving the door open or the basket out for a while.
3. Proper Storage
Store the fryer in a dry and clean environment, away from moisture, humidity, and mildew. If the appliance has a storage cover, use it to protect it from dust and potential moisture exposure.
4. Use Appropriate Cleaning Materials
Avoid using coarse steel wool or abrasive sponges, as these products can scratch the interior and exterior surfaces and promote rust formation.
Like cast iron cookware, some air fryer baskets and trays benefit from seasoning. This process creates a protective layer on the metal, reducing the likelihood of rust formation. If you want to season your appliance, do the following:
- After cleaning, lightly coat the metal surfaces with vegetable oil.
- Heat the empty appliance for a few minutes.
- Allow to cool.
- Use as normal.
6. Silicone Mats and Liners
Consider using silicone mats or liners to place your food on during air frying. These accessories can help protect the air fryer’s cooking surfaces from scratches and damage. Alternatives to liners include parchment paper and aluminum foil. I’ve got a combination air fryer, so I’ve lined the crumb tray with foil, which works exceptionally well.
7. Maintenance and Touch-Ups
If the air fryer has any minor scratches or chips, address them promptly with touch-up paint to prevent rust from developing in these areas. However, ensure the touch-up paint is safe to use on appliances used for cooking as it may emit harmful chemicals when heated.
Rust formation can be a common issue with air fryers. Still, it can be prevented with proper cleaning techniques, regular maintenance, and liners. However, suppose you wish to remove existing rust. In that case, you can apply mildly acidic ingredients such as vinegar or lemon combined with gentle abrasives like salt or bicarbonate of soda and rub it off.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.