Why lemons are the secret weapon in cleaning your air fryer

The best hack we've found for fast and easy cleaning

Bowl filled with water and lemons inside air fryer basket
(Image credit: Breville)

Air fryers have easily cemented themselves as the must-have kitchen appliance essential you can more or less find everywhere. However, not even the best air fryers are exempt from the upkeep of regular cleaning and maintenance.

'Air fryers are a modern kitchen staple, with many households opting for this energy-saving appliance over their ovens. But, with frequent use comes frequent cleaning – grease can build up quickly in air fryers which can cause lingering odours,' explains Helen Hope, senior home stylist at Studio.

However, don't fret, because we might've just come across the easiest and fastest way to clean an air fryer if your main focus is to banish those unpleasant smells – and chances are, you've already got the secret ingredient hiding in your fridge. Yes, it's the lemon air fryer cleaning hack you've been waiting for (whether you knew it or not!).

Inside of fridge with produce organised in plastic boxes

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The lemon air fryer cleaning hack

'Often after cooking fish and other foods in your air fryer, you may find there's an unpleasant and lingering smell,' says Zoe McLean, senior home economist at Breville.

'By adding a (heatproof) bowl of sliced lemons and water and then switching the air fryer on for just 10 minutes that will help to remove the smell, leaving your kitchen smelling like a fresh, citrus wonderland.'

'Lemons are not only a common household food item but, because of their acidity, a great natural cleaning product that is safe to use in your air fryer.'

Bowl filled with water and lemons inside air fryer basket

(Image credit: Breville)

If you want to up the ante even more with the odour-banishing, Helen suggests using the cleaning power of white vinegar as well, by combining half a lemon with one tablespoon of vinegar' in your heatproof bowl.

'Turn your air fryer on for 3-5 minutes at 200C and repeat as necessary – it's as easy as that,' she assures.

However, while this air fryer cleaning hack is the perfect little quick fix for simply tackling unpleasant smells in your air fryer, it doesn't equal a complete replacement to your regular air fryer cleaning regime – but merely a supplement towards it.

Wooden cutting boards with a bowl of lemons

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

'This air fryer cleaning hack is specifically to get rid of smells, but we would always recommend the standard cleaning methods first before putting a heatproof bowl of sliced lemons and water into your air fryer basket at a high temperature for 10 – 15 minutes,' advises Stuart McCay, customer service and support manager at Tefal.

'Ensure you are cleaning your air fryer after every use and use this lemon cleaning hack every few weeks to keep your air fryer in the best condition,' adds Helen. And if you're currently using air fryer liners to avoid cleaning just as often, the lemon hack will help with odours in between cleans.

Zoe chimes in to conclude, 'It's also key we all remember that most drawers and trays from our air fryers are in fact dishwasher safe, making our lives that little bit easier!'

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.