Are you fond of your slow cooker? The way it cooks food and saves time and energy, it’s just amazing, isn’t it? But no matter how much simpler slow cookers have made our lives, there is one difficulty that most of us have to face at some point; cleaning our slow cookers.
Usually, this problem occurs by overheating the food. It leaves burnt marks, forms a ring of food residue around the inside wall or accumulates a sticky mass at the bottom of the cooker. These are very difficult to get rid of. They not only give your cooker a bad appearance but may also affect its performance.
Are you facing this cleaning problem along with most other slow cooker enthusiasts? Then worry not! Because here are some simple and easy methods to clean your slow cookers and make them look brand new!
Cleaning the Inside Bowl Of Slow Cookers
Let us first discuss the different ways to clean the inside pot of your slow cookers.
1. Put Them In Dishwasher
Check your slow cooker’s manual; see if it is dishwasher safe or not. If it is, then just throw the inner bowl in the dishwasher and let it do the work. The detergents used for modern automatic dishwashers are designed to cut through grease and just might get the job done. But if you have made a great mess of your cooker, then this method might not work well enough. If that is the case, you can then try some other methods.
2. Use Water And Soap
Dish soaps are another good option. Put your slow cooker bowl in the sink, pour in hot tap water with some dish soap. Let the filled bowl with this soapy water set for 1-2 hours. Then wash the bowl again while scrubbing gently.
If this does not help, set your bowl filled with soapy water back into the slow cooker assembly and turn it on low heat. Leave it for about 2 hours and then wash with warm water. Make sure that you do not add cold water to the bowl when it is hot. Since it is made of ceramic; it may not withstand the sudden temperature change.
3. Use Baking Soda
Another cleaning material for your slow cookers is baking soda. It acts as an all-natural scouring powder and is safe to use. Sprinkle some powder in your bowl, scrub with a scrubber and wash it.
Baking soda may also be used in water. Fill the bowl with water (just above the trouble areas), add a ¼th cup of baking soda, and put it on low heat. Leave it for 2-4 hours scrubbing with kitchen brush or scrubber every 30 minutes. This will remove stains and any adhering food particles.
4. Use Baking Soda And Vinegar
The above method is very effective, but some believe it can be made more efficient with the addition of vinegar. To give it a try fill the slow cooker with water, add about one cup vinegar, and a 1/4th cup of baking soda and put on low heat. You may need to add the baking soda in small intervals. Take care as this will produce carbon dioxide… do not cover so the gas can escape.
5. Use Ammonia
If none of the above methods work for you, it means that you have really made a mess of your slow cooker. But don’t worry, there is still something for you, and that is ammonia. Pour some ammonia in your bowl and leave it for some time. The fumes produced will do the work on their own.
6. Use Oven Cleaners
The last thing you can use for your slow cooker is oven cleaner. But let this be the very last resort as it may impose certain harmful effects. Make sure to properly wash the bowl thoroughly with soap and water after using oven cleaners.
I hope you did not make it to step 6, but even if you did, you may not be done. You might have also spilled some food or liquids on the outer casing of your cooker. Keep in mind, the outer casing includes the electrical components so special care should be taken when cleaning.
Cleaning The Main Metallic Casing / Slow Cooker’s Base
- Firstly, check your cooker’s instruction manual for any specific guidance. If you cannot find any instructions, then, you may carry out some simple steps.
- Wipe off with a soft, damp cloth using a small amount of dish detergent. You may put some baking soda and vinegar on the cleaning cloth and wipe with it as well. Take care to not scratch the outside casing. So, be sure to go with a cloth or ‘light’ abrasive sponge. Certainly, avoid using a stronger steel wool type scourer or your outer casing or bowl can get scratched or damaged.
- Remember the electrical components? Keep water away and follow the manufacturer precautions to avoid damage and stay safe.
Preventive Actions for Slow Cookers
Finally, we have some simple preventive measures. These ideas may not eliminate the occasional tough cleaning job, but it certainly will help make it better.
1. Use a crock-pot liner inside the bowl
These are removable heat safe plastic liners for slow cookers. They are to be thrown away after use. These will certainly save time that would otherwise be spent on cleaning.
These plastic liners are recommended to use when cooking ingredients that have greater risks of burning and sticking to your cooker like sugary sauces, cheese etc.
2. Non-stick cooking spray
Spray your inner bowl with non-stick cooking spray before putting the ingredients in. This will help prevent your food from burning. It also helps in removing food if it does get burned.
3. Time and temperature
Make sure to set the time and temperature properly according to the requirements of the recipe to avoid overheating. If you want the food to cook for a longer time period (8-10 hours), then set the temperature at low. If you want a shorter cooking time (4-6 hours) then set it at a higher temperature. But these settings certainly may vary depending on the dish.
If you are using a cooker that comes with a built-in temperature probe, you can use it to check whether the correct temperature is being maintained or not.
4. Steady surface
Place your slow cooker on a flat, firm and sturdy surface to avoid tilting. It may cause some food or water to spill and dirty the outside of your cooker.