But, while pulling together one of these slow-cooked meals is as easy as pushing a button, cleanup still requires some effort. Everything from scorched BBQ sauces and glazes to rings of crusted, stuck-on food emerge after hours of simmering—and their ceramic interior bowls require specific precautions before scrubbing commences.
That’s where we come in. There are a couple of different ways to go about it, and we’re going to walk you through the two best, depending on the extent of the mess you’re trying to tackle: one from the OG slow cooker brand, Crock-Pot, and the other, a tried-and-true home remedy. Read on for step-by-step instructions for the easiest, fastest ways to clean a slow cooker.
Some of our (my) grandmothers have cleaned their slow cookers for decades without having to leave their homes for any fancy equipment or harsh chemicals. Most slow cookers have a ceramic bowl that is dishwasher safe—an easy move for an average mess, but if what you’re dealing with is more caked on, you’ll need a bit of elbow grease and pantry items.
Cut a lemon in half, squeeze out the juice and remove the pits (save the extra for a cocktail reward once the scrubbing is done!).
Add enough salt to the lemon juice to make a paste when stirred together.
Grab the coarse side of a sponge or a dish brush and turn the slow cooker on its side or, if the messy part is on the bottom, leave it standing up.
Pour the mixture onto the stuck-on food or stain and scrub for a minute or two.
Let the mixture stand for five minutes, then rinse it all away.
Going through the steps of deep cleaning your slow cooker might take a little bit of time, but if you use the countertop appliance regularly, it’s worth the extra steps to keep it in tip-top shape. For a Crock-Pot or other brand of slow cooker, many consider using liners that help prevent burning and the hard-to-clean messes that comes with it. However, like most things, liners come with some pros and cons. They can help you get through post-dinner cleanup (much) faster, but because they’re single-use plastic or nylon, they’re not a great choice for the environment, because of the amount of energy they take to make. These plastics and nylons also can’t be reused or recycled and aren’t biodegradable, meaning they’ll likely stick around in a landfill somewhere for an infinite amount of time, too.
It’s likely no surprise, then, that our advice is to follow the tips we outlined above for the quickest and easiest way to work through the mess. Taking these steps every now and then will keep your slow-cooking wonder in top shape, and get you back even more of your time to enjoy the things you actually like to do.
Do you have a tried-and-true slow cooker cleaning method we haven't heard about? Tell us about it below!
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