The Easy Way Your Slow Cooker Can Deep-Clean Itself

Slow cookers are here to make our lives easier, as it turns out, in more ways than one. Aside from allowing us to blissfully forget about our dinner cooking while we're at work, these appliances can also help with what comes after we eat our meal: the cleanup. You may not want to deep-clean your slow cooker after every meal, but about once a year, or once a month depending on how often you use it, let your device do its thing to remove any stains and burns that have built up.

Here's how to do it: Fill your appliance with water, distilled white vinegar, and baking soda. Then cover your slow cooker and set it to low heat for an hour. Unplug the device, dump out the water, allow the insert to cool, and then get in there with your sponge. Unlike if you skipped these steps and just started washing your insert like normal, the heat and the extra soaking time will loosen any food particles right there in your appliance. And by using edible ingredients, you can avoid any harsh chemical cleaners, even including dish soap.

How to deep-clean your slow cooker

When pouring in the substances needed to deep-clean your slow cooker, keep in mind that the amounts will depend on how big your device is. After filing your pot with water to just above the leftover food line, add the other ingredients. For a three-quart pot, use half a cup of distilled white vinegar and half a cup of baking soda; but for a six-quart one, deploy one cup of each. Then when you go to wipe away the grease, it's important to make sure the insert is fully cooled down not just to protect your fingers — but if you pour cold water on a hot slow cooker insert when rinsing afterward, you could damage the ceramic. And of course, all of the water and cleaning supplies should touch just the pot, never the metal base.

It's also important to be gentle when wiping away the loosened food, which is why the heated water solution is used before doing so. Never apply the scratchy side of a sponge or steel wool to the insert, but instead use the soft side of a sponge, a dishcloth, or even a toothbrush. If you're just looking to go to work on a certain stain and don't want to deep-clean your entire slow cooker, you can make a solution of baking soda and water, or lemon juice and salt. But for those thorough washes, simply use the low setting on your appliance.