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Here’s How to Clean a Slow Cooker

Since the slow cooker is a home cook's best friend, you should know how to clean it. Below, we offer three easy ways to get a squeaky-clean slow cooker.

Shutterstock / Joshua Resnick
Shutterstock / Joshua Resnick

 

Whether you are craving a heaping plate of pulled pork or a savory stew, if you’re like many home cooks, you agree the slow cooker is hands-down the most important kitchen gadget. Simply drop in the ingredients, turn on the cooker, and the whole family comes home to a scrumptious, savory supper. Best of all, you’re not stuck in the kitchen for hours at a time.

But do you know how to really clean it? We’re here to help with these three easy tricks.

 

How to Clean a Slow Cooker: 3 Easy Ways

 

Method 1: The Routine Clean

Your slow cooker may look clean, but if it’s the first time you’ve used it in a while, it doesn’t hurt to give it a scrub-down. After all, that black bean and pumpkin chili probably won’t pair well with dust mites. Simply fill the slow cooker insert with water, add a few drops of dish soap and turn it on for an hour. After 60 minutes, discard the soapy mixture and give the inside a quick rinse. Yes, it’s really that easy.

 

Method 2: When There are a Few Tough Stains

If bits of jambalaya are baked onto your slow cooker insert, this mission may call for reinforcements. Enter baking soda. If you haven’t gotten the memo, baking soda can do a lot more than make bread rise (here are 50 genius ways to clean with the stuff). You’ll want to follow the same steps mentioned above, but swap out the dish soap for baking soda. And for good measure, enlist a kitchen brush. Scrubbing the sides for a few minutes will help loosen those stubborn food particles.

 

Method 3. The Major Overhaul

Maybe you forgot to clean it right after dinner, or maybe you whipped up an incredibly thick and saucy dish, but one thing’s for sure: Your slow cooker is in need of a deep clean, stat. When you really need to get down to business, fill the cooker with water, baking soda and vinegar and then turn it on for an hour. Baking soda is a base while vinegar is an acid, so when the two are combined, they fizz up and can take on any tough stain. If you’re still not seeing the squeaky-clean results you hoped for, leave the slow cooker on for a few more hours and occasionally scrub the inside with a brush.

As for the outside, spot cleaning is the way to go. Wipe it down periodically with a damp microfiber cloth, and you’re all set. If it’s greasy, follow this advice.

 

Now that you know how to clean your slow cooker, the only question left is which finger-lickin’ dish you should make next.

Our Top 10 Slow Cooker Recipes of All Time

Creamy Italian Chicken

Italian salad dressing mix is like a secret weapon for adding flavor to this creamy chicken dish. Served over rice or pasta, it's rich, delicious and special enough for company. —Maura McGee, Tallahassee, Florida

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Forgotten Jambalaya

During chilly months, I fix this jambalaya recipe at least once a month. It’s so easy…just chop the vegetables, dump everything in the slow cooker and forget it! Even my sons, who are picky about spicy things, like this dish. —Cindi Coss, Coppell, Texas

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White Bean Chicken Chili

My sister shared this white bean chili recipe with me. I usually double it and add one extra can of beans, then serve with cheddar biscuits or warmed tortillas. The jalapeno adds just enough heat to notice but not too much for my children. —Kristine Bowles, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Stamp-of-Approval Spaghetti Sauce

My father is very opinionated, especially about food. This recipe received his almost unreachable stamp of approval. I have yet to hear a disagreement from anyone who has tried it! —Melissa Taylor, Higley, Arizona

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Flavorful Pot Roast

On hectic days, this pot roast is so quick and easy to prep! Convenient packages of dressing and gravy combine to create a delicious sauce for a fall-apart roast. —Arlene Butler, Ogden, Utah

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Lime Chicken Tacos

Our fun, simple chicken taco recipe is perfect for a relaxing dinner with friends. If we have any leftover filling, I toss it into a garden-fresh taco salad. —Tracy Gunter, Boise, Idaho

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Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

This slow cooker teriyaki chicken always goes over big with my family. The chicken thighs turn out just right, every time. —Gigi Miller, Stoughton, Wisconsin

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Tangy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

The slow cooker not only makes this an easy meal, but it keeps the pork tender, saucy and loaded with flavor. —Beki Kosydar-Krantz, Mayfield, Pennsylvania

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Stuffed Chicken Rolls

Just thinking about this dish sparks my appetite. The ham and cheese rolled inside make for a tasty surprise. The chicken rolls are especially nice served over rice or pasta. —Jean Sherwood, Kenneth City, Florida

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Potluck Macaroni and Cheese

This is a great way to make America's most popular comfort food. The dish turns out cheesy, rich and creamy. —Jennifer Babcock, Chicopee, Massachusetts

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Author
Kelsey Mulvey
Kelsey Mulvey is a New York-based writer. She has written for several publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, LuckyMag.com, Wallpaper.com.