Have you met Instant Pot, the seven-in-one workhorse, yet? It quickly became a kitchen favorite for its space-saving, multi-tasking superpowers. After just a few years on the market, it's still winning over new fans and holding up to all the hype. And while there's little maintenance involved beyond post-cooking cleanup, a few key parts hidden under the lid can make or break the appliance's oh-so-important sealing power.
Here's how to clean your Instant Pot (including the silicone sealing ring that tends to hold onto the odor of your leftovers) to keep everything in working order.
Basic post-dinner cleanup — washing the inner pot, wiping down the housing unit — is the bulk of maintaining a clean appliance. But if functions begin to fail and you suspect you aren't getting the proper seal during pressure cooking, it's time to check out things under the lid and give a few small areas a deep-clean.
Removing the silicone sealing ring is a good start. Because this piece needs to be well-seated for a proper seal, it should always be clean and free of residue before use. And when you put it back in place, check to make sure it's fitted in the lid securely, too.
There are a few other parts that may cause you trouble: the steam release handle, anti-block shield, or float valve. Residue or food particles lodged in any of these may affect their function and throw off the pressure level. If you use the quick release regularly or cook sticky foods, you may need to unscrew the anti-block shield for cleaning. A dirty float valve may also be prone to sticking (which will prevent the lid from opening).
Although the main housing unit won't affect whether your rice is sticky or crunchy, it should get a good once-over on occasion to remove food residue from certain areas. The recess around the pot catches a lot of spill and splatter. The spoon rest and lid holder may also have their fair share of grime.
As always, use caution when using liquid to clean. Water or cleaning products entering the housing can affect operation. Use a damp cloth instead.
Unplug any appliance before cleaning. It's also a great time to check out the cord for any damage or needed repairs.
How To Clean an Instant Pot
What You Need
Cotton or microfiber cloth
Small scrub brush
- Unplug the appliance. Always unplug any appliance before cleaning. It's also a great time to check the cord for any damage or needed repairs.
- Separate lid and interior pot from housing and clean. Wipe exterior of housing to remove crumbs and tough stains. Use a small brush to remove dried food residue in the recessed area of the housing unit. Remember: The housing has electronic components and should never be immersed in water.
- Hand-wash lid with warm, soapy water. If you allow your Instant Pot to cool naturally, the lid is normally rather clean, with condensation water only. Most of the time, you don’t need to unscrew anything to wash it — just simply wipe dry with a dry cloth. But the lid should also get a periodic deep-clean by removing a few key parts for proper maintenance.
- Remove the steam-release handle. Remove the steam-release handle by pulling it off gently to check for food particles. Watch this video with instructions on removing the steam-release handle.
- Remove the anti-block shield. Remove the anti-block shield from the underside of the lid to wipe the steam valve clean. Note: The steam valve should never be removed. Reattach the anti-block shield and tighten by hand. If you regularly use the quick release to let steam out or cook sticky foods, it's recommended to unscrew the anti-block shield for cleaning with some regularity.
- Remove the float valve. Remove the silicone ring anchoring the float valve and clean both portions; reattach when dry. Always inspect the float valve to make sure it can move up and down easily without obstruction.
- Remove sealing ring. The silicone sealing ring should be removed periodically to remove lingering smells and to inspect for damage. If you notice cracking, leaking, or deformation of the sealing ring, you should replace it. The silicone ring can be washed in the dishwasher or soaked in vinegar first to remove odors. The sealing ring should always be clean and well-seated before use to ensure a proper seal during pressure cooking.
- Wash the inner pot and steam rack. The inner pot and steam rack may be hand-washed or washed in the dishwasher.
- Use vinegar to renew finish on inner pot. To remove common rainbowing effect or discoloring on the stainless steel inner pot, wipe or soak with vinegar. Avoid using steel wool, which will scratch the surface.
- Reassemble. Make sure all parts are securely reattached to ensure the proper seal. Double-check that the silicone sealing ring, anti-block shield, and float valve weren't forgotten! Then get back to making some dinner magic.
- Another option for cleaning the silicone sealing ring is to "steam clean” your Instant Pot by adding 2 cups of water or white vinegar and some cut-up lemon rind, running the “Steam” program for 2 minutes with the sealing ring in place, then allowing the sealing ring to air-dry.
Are you in the Instant Pot club? Share cleaning and maintenance suggestions with us in the comments, or even a favorite recipe — you know, so there's a reason to clean up afterward.
(Image credits: Kelli Foster; Erika Tracy)