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How to Clean a Slow Cooker

Easily remove stuck-on food with these easy tips and tricks for slow cooker cleaning.

By: Editors,
How to Clean a Slow Cooker

It is always good to be on the lookout for revolutionary new cooking tips, but sometimes it is just as important to get back to kitchen basics. If you're someone who uses their slow cooker a lot it probably gets a bit messy. Our guide will teach you how to care for one of your handiest kitchen appliances.

The tips below will help you through some tough messes and sticky situations involving your slow cooker. Food can easily become dried and stuck to the inside of your slow cooker, so we've provided tips for normal washing as well as a step-by-step guide for deep cleaning. If you want to be more proactive with your slow cooking and prevent messes, we also have some suggestions for that too. 

We're sharing these helpful tips and tricks to make your life easier, and get you back to slow cooking faster! Besides, who wants to deal with cleaning right after you've cooked and eaten a great meal? Not many people we know. With a few tips up your sleeve you'll be able to enjoy a low-maintenance meal from your slow cooker without stressing about the clean-up.

Tips on Cleaning a Slow Cooker

  1. If possible, wash the slow cooker's lid in the dishwasher. In order to prevent warping, plastic lids should be washed on the top rack. Glass lids are also generally dishwasher safe. You may also be able to put the slow cooker's removable insert (the pot in which the food sits) in the dishwasher, but always check the user’s manual before doing so.
  2. Soak your slow cooker insert just like you would any other pot. Even if your pot has cooled and is now sporting a caked-on, burnt-on mess, all is not lost. Soaking the slow cooker insert with hot water and dish soap is the first step to try.

How to Deep Clean a Slow Cooker

For stubborn messes, let the slow cooker do the work. While slow cookers don't come with a self-cleaning feature, one of the easiest ways to clean the burnt-on food in your slow cooker is to fill it with water and add white vinegar and baking soda. Then set it to low and let it “cook”! This will loosen all of the baked-on and burnt food so that you can easily wipe it away. In fact, Crock-Pot recommends a similar cleaning method.

Step 1: Pour water into the slow cooker until the water covers the leftover food.

Step 2: Add distilled white vinegar to the slow cooker. (1 cup for 6-quart slow cooker, 1/2 cuo for 3 quart cooker.)

Step 3: Slowly add baking soda a bit at a time, waiting for the bubbles to die down before adding more. (1 cup for 6-quart slow cooker, 1/2 cuo for 3 quart cooker.)

Step 4: Set cooker to the low setting, cover, and let sit for 1 hour. After an hour, remove the lid and scrub the inside with a scrub brush. 

Step 5: (Optional) Repeat this process for 4 hours. However, this may not always be necessary depending on the severity of the mess inside your slow cooker.

Step 6: Let cooker cool for an hour and empty contents into the sink. Make sure to let the slow cooker cool before handling it. Clean one last time with hot, soapy water and dry.

Preventing Difficult Clean-Up

  1. Take advantage of slow cooker liners. You can find these convenient plastic liners in your grocery store. They fit easily into your slow cooker and are food-safe, so you can feel confident in using them. After you finish using your slow cooker, simply dispose of the liner. Even though you used a liner, be sure to still wipe the inside of your slow cooker with a clean cloth in order to prevent any accidental contamination. Read more about how slow cooker liners can help you with kitchen cleanup here.
  2. Before putting food in the slow cooker, spray the interior with cooking spray. Using cooking spray will help your finished food come out easier. You will still have some cleanup, but the cooking spray will make it significantly easier.
  3. Clean the slow cooker pot while it is still warm. This will make the mess easier to remove because it won't get the chance to become caked-on. Adding hot water to the slow cooker while it is warm will also help loosen any grime that remains. 

    Note: Always use hot water when the pot is still warm; cold water could cause your slow cooker to crack from the rapid change in temperature.

Safety Tips

  1. Never use abrasive cleaning solvent or scouring pads. This could damage or scratch the finish on your ceramic insert. 
  2. NEVER submerge the base of your slow cooker. After unplugging it, wipe the slow cooker base clean with a sponge or clean cloth and warm, soapy water. You should NEVER put the base in the sink or submerge it in water.
  3. Hand-washing is best. Please keep in mind that while many slow cooker brands say that the removable inside crock is dishwasher safe, hand washing is recommended in order to preserve the hard ceramic.

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Such a great resource. I guess I can finally say "goodbye" to the days of scrubbing my slow cooker for HOURS. They will not be missed.

Oh wow! I never really knew how to get my slow cooker super clean until now. It actually seems like a really simple process. I like that I already have the cleaning ingredients in my kitchen, so I don't have to spend more money. I'm going to try giving my slow cooker a good clean with this method after I do up my next pot roast on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to seeing how well it works!


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