When It Comes To Cleaning Your Pressure Cooker, Don't Be Lazy

Pressure cookers are one of those wonderful kitchen tools previous generations could only have dreamed of having at their fingertips. Though they've technically been around since the 1600s, pressure cookers as a kitchen appliance didn't become popular until the latter half of the 20th century (and didn't become widespread until the 1970s, as during the '50s and '60s, they had a tendency to explode). Though they're similar in concept to slow cookers, pressure cookers are great for making meals that usually take a long time in short order.

The problem with pressure cookers, though, isn't a fault of the appliances themselves, but of the people using them. Much as you should really clean your air fryer between each use, the same applies to your pressure cooker. It can feel like a pain to clean it every time, but it's extremely important to do so rather than just throwing it in the fridge with the food still inside. Pressure cookers aren't built to store food but to cook it, and leaving your leftovers in there can actually significantly damage them.

Cleaning your pressure cooker is important, but not difficult

Pressure cookers are designed for one thing: To cook food quickly under pressure (hence the name). What they're not designed for is to be comparatively expensive metal storage containers. Leaving food in a pressure cooker can cause the material inside to erode, or at the very least become marked and stained. There's really no reason to leave food in there other than laziness; when you're done cooking, just put your food in a long-term storage container.

Even if you do remove the food, though, you still shouldn't just leave the dirty pressure cooker sitting there; you should take the time to actually clean it. The bad news is many pressure cooker parts aren't designed to go in the dishwasher, and they're not designed to sit and soak, so you're going to have to do this by hand with a bit of elbow grease. The good news is the process isn't complicated and isn't all that difficult, it just requires a little bit of effort.

Clean each part of the pressure cooker individually

The first step is to unplug the pressure cooker and take out its constituent parts like the inner pot, lid, and steam rack. Using a scrub brush or toothbrush, deal with any dried-on bits of food — if your pressure cooker hasn't been left to sit, these will most likely be on the outside of the device or wedged in its cracks somewhere. Wash the inner pot and steam rack in warm water with dish soap; as these are typically stainless steel, you'll want to avoid particularly abrasive materials like steel wool. Clean the lid and its constituent components like the sealing ring and anti-block shield the same way — although do be aware some lids are dishwasher safe, so check whether that applies to yours. Wipe everything down with a microfiber cloth, then leave it out upside down on a tea towel to dry the rest of the way, and you're good to go.

If you did leave food in there for longer than you should, the good news is there's a pretty simple way to fix it using something you likely already have around your home: White vinegar. You can pour some vinegar into the stainless steel inner bowl for about five minutes, and if wiping it dry afterward doesn't deal with the stains, you can generally buff them out yourself.