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How to Clean Instant Pot Multi-Cookers

By Luna Regina | Updated
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The Instant Pot has become a rather familiar sight for many families across the country. With its convenience and versatility, this multi-cooker has proven itself to be essential equipment for home-cooks over the years.

Instant Pot Cooker Cleaning

If you frequently make use of your Instant Pot multi-cooker, then it is crucial that you know how to properly clean it. Without care, the quality of your food will suffer and you may have to replace the Instant Pot before long.

You can learn how to clean Instant Pot multi-cookers in this guide.

How to Clean Instant Pot Multi-Cookers: Is It Easy?

Fortunately, it is very easy to clean Instant Pot cookers.

The company has designed components that are maintenance-intensive like the lid and the inner pot to be dishwasher-safe.

Certain components that contain sensitive electronics like the cooker base and the heating element must be cleaned by hand. But even then, you typically don’t need more than a damp cloth and a small toothbrush to clean them.

How to Clean an Instant Pot Cooker Base & Heating Element

As mentioned earlier, the cooker base and the heating element are the two parts that must be manually cleaned.

The cooker base is home to the cooker’s microprocessor and sensor modules. It is also where the heating element — the part that produces heat for cooking lives.

Even a short stint inside of the dishwasher can irreversibly ruin the unit. In fact, if the cooker base gets wet, it could run the risk of suffering from severe damage.

So, for the cooker base and the heating element, all you can do is to occasionally wipe them off with a damp cloth to take off any dust and food drippings.

It’s more or less the same for the interior: use a damp cloth to clean it out. Let it air dry once you are finished.

After some time, the lips of the cooker base may accrue some food debris. This can solidify into tough, stubborn gunk that is difficult to wipe off. In this case, use a toothbrush to dislodge it from the cooker.

Instant Pot Scrub

We recommend using the fine-bristle type to minimize abrasion. The surface of the cooker is fairly scratchable and a tough-bristle toothbrush will likely deface it.

How to Clean Instant Pot Inner Pot and Steam Rack

Both the inner pot and the steam rack are made from food-grade stainless steel. Respectively, they are made from SAE 304 stainless steel and 18-8 Grade stainless steel.

These two materials are both highly resistant to corrosion from cleaning chemicals like chlorine or the detergent spray of a dishwasher.

For daily, post-cooking cleaning, all you have to do to get these two parts spick-and-span again is throw them into the dishwasher. Either rack is fine.

Instant Pot Inner Pot

However, after some time, the inner pot may develop some water stains. These stains are completely harmless and fixable.

All you have to do is pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the pot and let it sit. Pour out the vinegar after 5 minutes and rinse under the tap. The stains should disappear thereafter.

How to Deal with Bluish Discoloration on the Inner Pot

Although stainless steel is indeed very durable, it is not perfect. It is still affected by corrosion and discoloration, though to a far lesser degree than raw cast iron. So, after a while, it is completely normal for stainless steel cookware’s initial shine to become dull.

This is the case with the Instant Pot’s inner pot.

The assortment of corrosive minerals and salt found in food ingredients can, over time, wear out the finishing of the pot, turning it into a bluish, rainbow-like haze, especially at the bottom of the pot.

There is no documentation stating that this “rainbow” discoloration is harmful, but admittedly, it doesn’t look very good.

You can eliminate it by using specialized, non-abrasive stainless-steel cleaners. 

If you don’t want to use commercial cleaning products, there are homemade cleaning agents that you can employ.

Baking Soda Cleaning Paste

When mixed into a paste, baking soda becomes a powerful non-abrasive cleaning agent. It won’t just clear out the discoloration, it will also return the shine to the bottom of the pot.

Mix 3 parts baking soda with 1 part water. Stir until the mixture has the consistency of toothpaste.

Then, pour this mixture into the pot. Spread evenly using a brush.

Allow the mixture to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Then, wipe the baking soda using a damp cloth. Follow the grain of the steel by feeling for resistance. If you wipe and feel a slight resistance, chances are that you’re going against the grain. Reverse direction until you feel a smoother motion.

Wipe until the stainless-steel surface of the pot’s bottom begins to clear.

When you’re satisfied with the result, use paper towels to clean up the baking soda residue and excess moisture.

Vinegar

The second method is to use white vinegar. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the pot, rest for 5 minutes, then pour out the vinegar and rinse.

Though the discoloration will disappear, vinegar won’t give you the same brightness as either formulated stainless steel cleaner or baking soda paste.

How to Deal With Hard Water Stains

Hard water is a problem in many households across the country. By definition, hard water is water that contains a lot of dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Think back to the last time you washed your hands using the bathroom’s faucet.

If the water felt a little bit slimy, chances are that the water running through your pipe is hard. Hard water, when it reacts with soap, can create “soap scum” — a slimy substance that can irritate your skin.

There are other signs, too. For example, if your glassware often develops milky, hazy stains after being washed, then hard water is to blame. These stains are residue from the dissolved minerals in the water.

The same thing applies to stainless steel cookware, not just glassware.

If you wash your Instant Pot’s inner pot with hard water it will eventually develop white streaks. Hard water stains are not harmful, but they do look quite unsightly.

If you want to clean them off, the best way to do it is with a mildly acidic substance like vinegar or lemon.

Soak a cloth with vinegar or lemon, then use it to scrub the visible streaks. They will come out easily enough so there shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

How to Clean an Instant Pot Lid

Removing the Anti-Block Shield and Sealing Ring

Before you can clean the lid, you have to remove the anti-block shield and the silicone sealing ring. These two parts must be cleaned separately.

The anti-block shield is a small, round component attached to the underside of the lid. In order to remove it, use your thumb to push the shield towards the rim of the lid. It is going to take some effort, but eventually, the shield is going to pop off.

Instant Pot Shield

As for the sealing ring, it is the large silicone ring that runs all around the inside of the lid. Removal is fairly straightforward. Just hold onto the edge of the ring, tug upward, and it should come off.

Instant Pot Silicone Ring

Washing the Lid

The lid is dishwasher-safe, so it shouldn’t take too much effort to clean it daily. Use the top shelf of the dishwasher.

Place the lid on the pot to dry with the bottom facing up. If you place it right side down, the lid may begin to smell.

Before you return the lid to the pot for use, check the various valves on it (steam release and float valve). Make sure that the valves are free from debris and aren’t clogged by anything.

Related post: How to Use an Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

How to Clean the Instant Pot Ring & Anti-Block Shield

Remove the anti-block shield and the silicone ring from the lid to clean them separately.

Wash the anti-block shield in warm, soapy water to clean it of any food stains. Dry carefully with a cloth.

Before you clean the silicone ring, visually inspect it to check for any cracks, warping, or damage. If you see any, you will have to replace the ring with a new one. They’re pretty affordable.

If everything is in order, you have two options: either hand wash or put the ring into the dishwasher. The silicone material is heat-resistant, so it can be cleaned with the dishwasher just fine.

Instant Pot Ring Dishwasher

Make sure that both components are completely dry before you put them back onto the lid.

How to Remove Bad Smells from the Silicone Ring

If you often cook pungent food, the silicone ring may catch the smell. But there’s no need to replace the entire ring, there are plenty of ways to get rid of the bad odor.

When the Instant Pot is not in use, remove the silicone ring and place it somewhere around the house. The smells will eventually dissipate. This is the simplest method, but it usually won’t work for cases of severe smells.

Another way is to coat the silicone ring with baking soda paste and leave it out in the sun to dry. We mentioned how to make this paste in the earlier segment on how to deal with the inner pot’s discoloration. This is more effective at eliminating mild bad odors than just simple air drying.

The third method is to soak the silicone ring in diluted white vinegar for about an hour. Use this method for cases that baking soda can’t fix.

The fourth and last method is for the worst cases. Pour a combination of white vinegar, lemon rinds, and water into the inner pot. Then, run a steam cycle.

How to Clean an Instant Pot Condensation Collector

The condensation collector is the bucket that gathers the liquid that the Instant Pot produces during cooking. This is one of the simplest parts to clean. Just wash it like you would a cup under tap water.

How to Clean a Burnt Instant Pot

It’s not uncommon for the inner pot to be scorched. When this happens, you will find a layer of brownish (sometimes black), carbonized residues at the bottom. This layer, without proper cleaning techniques, is going to be a pain to dislodge.

Pour equal parts water, baking soda, and mild detergent into the pot.

Plug the Instant Pot in and pressure cook the mixture for 3 minutes. Allow the pressure to drop naturally once the cooking cycle is finished.

Open up the pot and rinse using tap water. Scrub off the flaky residue within.

How to Avoid Burning the Instant Pot

If you’re careful enough, you may never have to deal with a burnt pot at all.

Our first tip is to try and use an ample amount of liquid in all of your pressure-cooking recipes. Use at least 1 cup of water to prevent the pot from getting burnt.

The second thing to watch out for is viscous liquids like tomato-based or BBQ sauces. More often than not, they are to blame for the tough, burnt-on residue inside your pot. Add a bit of water to dilute the sauce before you pressure cook with them.

Thirdly, clean up the residue left on the bottom of the pot by sautéed or seared meat. If left unattended, this will carbonize the next time you pressure cook.

Before being carbonized, you can dredge it up with just some water and a wooden spoon (avoid metal spoons or utensils, as they can scratch the pot). But once carbonization sets in, you will have to resort to the baking soda and detergent trick we showed you earlier.

How Often Should an Instant Pot Be Cleaned?

The parts that come into direct contact with the food (inner pot, the steam rack, the lid, etc.) must be cleaned after every cooking session. If you don’t, not only will the pot be more likely to give off bad odors, but the residue may even ruin the next thing you cook.

For parts that don’t come into contact with the food like the Instant Pot’s exterior, you can clean as you see fit. You may never clean the exterior at all and there wouldn’t be any significant issue aside from dust. But we recommend that you should wipe the Instant Pot’s exterior down at least once a month.

Instant Pot Cleaning Schedule

Conclusion

All things considered, Instant Pot has done an excellent job at designing its products. Everything can be cleaned easily, even parts that require extra attention.Hopefully, this maintenance guide on how to clean Instant Pot multi-cookers has been helpful to you.

Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen. Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it. Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.