How to clean your Instant Pot (and make it smell new again)



If you own an Instant Pot, you probably use it a lot. The addictive all-in-one electric pressure cooker is so easy to use, you might find yourself turning to it for many weeknight meals. The result? An Instant Pot that needs to be cleaned — badly. This guide lays out the tips and tricks every Instant Pot owner needs to know. We’ll cover everything from removing stuck-on food from its stainless-steel cooking pot to keeping its lid nice and clean. We’ll even tackle ways to remove stubborn smells likely coming from the silicone ring. Read more: What all the buttons on your Instant Pot mean and Instant Pot safety tips

Step 1: Clean the base

The first step is to clean the base — the heaviest part of the Instant Pot that houses the stainless-steel tub. For obvious safety reasons, start by unplugging the Instant Pot. 

Now remove the inner cooking pot from the base and set it aside. Now use a clean, damp (not wet — you don’t want to drench it) cloth to wipe the inner base area, heating element and its rim. Bits of food debris can collect inside this recessed rim, too. One handy method is to use a pastry brush or even a foam paintbrush to clean this crevice. Once you’ve done that, go over the rim again with a dry cloth. This will help prevent that area from forming rust.

Step 2: Scrub the cooking pot

Instant Pots come with an inner pot made of stainless steel that can handle a lot of cooking methods — even searing and browning meats. The drawback, though, is that bits of food and char can really cling to it. Rice can be particularly stubborn. Here are a couple common scenarios.Blueish stains. The Instant Pot is like any stainless-steel cookware and can develop blueish stains caused by minerals in water and food. To remove these stains, simply soak the pot in white vinegar for about 5 minutes and rinse away. If there’s more, soak a sponge in vinegar and use a little elbow grease. Stuck-on food. To get rid of any build-up or food stains, first try soaking the pot with a little dish soap and warm water. The treatment significantly softens stuck-on junk that should then scrub away easily. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to try Bar Keeper’s Friend, which is safe for stainless-steel cookware like the Instant Pot’s pot. Sprinkle a little bit on the affected area, then use a soft, damp sponge to work away the grime. Rinse thoroughly, and you’re set. The pot is dishwasher-safe, too, so you can pop it in on the bottom rack for deep cleaning.Instant Pot lids have many parts that can get dirty or clogged.
Josh Miller/CNET

Step 3: Cleaning the lid and its parts

Oils, aromatic seasonings, fats and liquids tend to settle into the Instant Pot’s seals and gaskets. Here’s a checklist for keeping it clean:

  • Check the steam release valve and red float valve. You’ll want to make sure they’re both free and clear of any food deposits or debris. 
  • Remove the anti-block shield, a silicone nub that covers the float valve from the inside. With the shield off, you can get a better look at the float valve to confirm any blocks or clogs. It’s a small part, so take care not to misplace or lose it.
  • Remove the silicone sealing ring. This part easily picks up strong odors. One method to rid it of any unwanted smells is to wash it separately in dishwasher. Make sure to select a high-temperature cycle such as sanitize. The combination of high heat and detergent should remove most of the unpleasant odors present.

instant-pot-sf-smart-home-5-8-18-7905The silicone ring found in the Instant Pot’s lid tends to attract odors quickly.
Josh Miller/CNET

Step 4: Put that ring through the ringer

Smells lurking in the Instant Pot’s silicone ring are tough to banish. Trips through the dishwasher help, but you might still notice a lingering sweet or savory smell. If that’s the case, try this. Add 2 cups of water or white vinegar to the Instant Pot plus a roughly chopped lemon rind. Next run the steam program for 2 minutes. Then, remove the ring and air-dry it. If that doesn’t work, try soaking the ring overnight in vinegar, which is a natural odor eliminator. Just remember to run the ring through the dishwasher or thoroughly hand-wash before using.

Some home cooks don’t bother with eliminating the odor and opt to buy an additional silicone ring. One ring is used for sweet dishes and the other for savory dishes. In any case, Instant Pot recommends that you swap in a new ring at minimum every 6 to 12 months.

Step 5: Wipe down the outside

Don’t forget to clean the outer body of Instant Pot — it needs love, too. For general cleaning, use a very damp sponge; for blueish hard-water stains, use a sponge dampened with white vinegar, followed by a damp (water) paper towel. 

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