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How to Clean Your Slow Cooker

clean your slow cooker crockpot
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It’s been a very long time since I posted a cleaning tip!  I guess I’ve tried everything Pinterest has to offer 😉 I use my slow cooker all year, but it seems to get more use in the Fall and Winter when soups and other hearty meals like roasts are on the menu.  I pulled it out tonight to get ready for lunch tomorrow, and it was gross!  Something spilled inside the heating element and it was NOT coming off with soap and water.  Plus, you can’t just fill up the sink and soak your slow cooker! After scrubbing for a while, I remembered a pin I’d seen a while ago, and behold, this post was born: How to Clean Your Slow Cooker.

Note: this is for cleaning your slow cooker’s heating element.  The inside part, you know?  NOT the actual “crock” from your crock pot.

What you’ll need to clean your crockpot:

One can of oven cleaner. I got mine at the dollar store. Yay for cheap! Not all oven cleaners are safe to use with aluminum. It will most likely be marked on the can if it’s not safe to use on aluminum surfaces, so be sure to read the labels.

oven cleaner for slow cooker

What to do:

Spray an even coat of foam around the inside of the cooker.  You really should do this outside.  I’m pretty sure I hacked up a lung after I inhaled some of the cleaner.  Lesson learned.  After you have a nice, even coat of foam, let it sit for a couple hours.  I left mine outside and went to make dinner and eat.  As we were cleaning up afterwards, I pulled it back inside to finish.  So it was probably closer to ninety minutes.  Then, just use a scrubby sponge to wipe out the foam! Everything but the most caked-on spot just wiped right off.  The big yucky spot took some scrubbing, but it was WAY easier than when I was trying to clean it before.  So there you go. Now that you know, there’s no excuse. 🙂


While you’re cleaning your slow cooker, you might as well get started on your stove top as well! This is another “set it and forget it” cleaning tip that I use ALL THE TIME for my stove grates and burner covers. It’s the easiest way I’ve ever tried to get the stove clean. Click here to see the “after” photo and get the instructions!

Some of my favorite cleaning tips:

how to clean and shine cloudy glassware


spring cleaning tools

cleaning tips roundup

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  1. I love the idea, but I think I’ll try the Baking Soda & Vinegar 1st. I’ve had the enameled bottom of a R Ray pot partially ruined when I tried oven cleaner before….just a suggestion: maybe edit your initial article to add the possible paint problem to the sides?

  2. I shuddered when I saw my crock pot last night….. it’s disgusting. I have no idea how it even got that dirty but low and behold, it’s bad. Thank you for this tip. I will be doing this tomorrow!

  3. I’m curious as to how one’s crockpot got that dirty to begin with. I’ve used mine for 15+ years and it’s never looked like that. I have a few tiny brown spots, but that’s all.

    I’m not surprised oven cleaner works to clean it… I use it to clean the drip pans on my stove. I may try to get those small brown spots off. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Mine got dirty when I was removing the crock while it was full and some of the cooking juice/sauce dripped over the side and down onto the heating element. The problem was that I didn’t notice it and it got used again, cooking the grease on for good! I need to clean mine again, as it looks even worse than it did in the photo in the post. I keep asking where it’s coming from?!? (I suspect my kids don’t do the greatest job with the dishes) 😉

      1. The fact that you replied to this rude person without going off on her makes you a very nice person. Regardless of how our crock pots get the way they do is really no ones business, things happen, life happens… as long as the great ideas clean up the life messes is a fabulous thing!!

      2. I bought Efferdent, denture cleanser, to clean the interior of my crock pot. Do I pour hot water in the slow cooker,then drop the efferdent tablet in & stand back & watch the magic ?

    2. My crockpot got dirty on the inside from traveling with it (with food inside). I have a carrying case for it, but all that does it keep the food from spilling outside of the bag, liquids still get splashed around while I drive and end up on the inside.

    3. Mine gets like this, too. It has something to do with the steam condensing inside the lid and then running. I’m not 100% sure how it manages to make it down into that space, but it does, and it’s just as part of the process of using it — no one has SPILLED anything down there or anything. It’s one of those weird things in life like what happens to the second sock in wash. 😉

      1. I have a small one and a really big one. If I start with the small one, I really don’t want to have to wash both, so I pray for the best, and it usually doesn’t work out. My boyfriend has one that’s in between, so when we move in together, I told him that’s one of the few kitchen things he gets to keep. 🙂

    1. You should see how dirty mine is now! I had a bunch of sauce/cooking juice splash down the side when I was removing the crock and I didn’t notice it until it was cooked on. It’s so much worse than my original photos :/ Time to take my own medicine 🙂

  4. Love the tip. I had also read a tip, a couple of months ago, to use oven cleaner for an easy clean up for the bottoms of your pots and pans. Now I have two reasons to go buy that cleaner!

  5. Its been many years since I have used oven cleaner, but as I recall you heat the oven before applying the foam. It seems like the same concept would work and maybe not leave “the most caked-on spot”. Anything is worth a try to keep from scrubbing that mess out!

  6. I just use baking soda. It works wonders and I have never had a problem getting the slow cooker cleaned with it. Plus it is nontoxic.


  8. I did this on a used one that I purchased from a friend. Worked great, except I wasn’t as careful as I thought so it removed some of the paint from the outside of the crockpot. So, I just sprayed the entire outside and let it remove all the paint. Then I cleaned it really good with a sponge and let it dry. Next i used masking tape to cover the handles and the top edge and taped paper over the opening to the crockpot. Then I took it outside and sprayed the outer surface with black paint. (You could use any color, but that’s what the hubby had on hand) I let it dry. Later I removed all the tape, put some water in the crockpot before turning it on low for a couple of hours to ‘bake’ the paint on. It’s been over a year and the paint is holding up great. I did it to another crockpot so they would match, too.

    1. Wow! I didn’t know you could do that! And WOW that must have been some really strong oven cleaner! I didn’t even think to be careful when spraying mine. I’m going to be cleaning mine again this weekend so I’ll be sure to make sure it stays inside so I don’t end up with a painting project 🙂 But I like the idea of personalizing my colors!

      1. I’m actually planning to do it to some other ones too, so that they aren’t all different designs 🙂 Since I have a variety of sizes, I’m thinking of doing each a different color. Then they would co-ordinate with my variety of Fiesta dishes…

        1. I have a few crockpots, I like this idea, think I’ll use blackboard paint and then I can write the contents on it when at potlucks.

  9. I never thought to use oven cleaner for my slow cooker. I have used it to clean the burner liners on when I had an electric stove, along with the grate on my old bbq charcoal grill.

    1. For the really tough stains apply the oven cleaner and then plug in the cooker and let it warm up before it cools down completely you can wipe it clean. When stuff heats up it liquefies and is easier to wipe away.

  10. How did you know I needed this information??? 🙂 I’ve got 3 slow cookers and I work really hard to keep the insides clean because I have actually thrown one away before because of the mess. When a dirty one heats up it smells…Yucky!
    But, my three do have some stains that need attention before I get to the garbage can stage. This is genius! I’m doing this for sure! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I cannot locate the Rinso oven cleaner. Checked the dollar stores in Dallas area do not sell. I can buy it on line but, hate to pay postage.
    Thanks for any suggestions.

  12. Get the fume-free oven cleaner, it is SO worth it!!
    I work for a professional cleaning company, and I would probably die if we didn’t have the fume-free stuff.

    1. I love how active the oven cleaner is but I have been on a mission to find natural cleaner now that I am a mommy! and I have to say baking soda and lemon juice does the same thing and it doesn’t hurt the back of my throat. even the fume free hurts my throat. but this new found love of mine also has many many many uses. I have found that is will take of rust from laminate counters clean my bath with ease and is great for deodorizing laundry. It is the best natural cleaning I’ve ever found! put the powder in the pot then use juice of a lemon you can even get those cheap little plastic lemon squeeze things at wally world. just squeeze the lemon and watch the two foam up let it sit for a few seconds maybe even a min. then wipe it with a green scour pad it is the most wonderful natural cleaning power!

      1. I prefer to use things like vinegar and lemon juice when I can, as well. However, it just didn’t cut it for this job. I was glad that I could just take the pot outside and didn’t have to breathe the fumes! I should have STARTED out there, though! 🙂 I love the way lemon and baking soda smells when I’m scrubbing with it, though! 🙂

      2. SO Felicia you don’t add anything but the lemon juice and how much baking soda do you use to one plastic lemon thingy?

        1. When I’ve used baking soda and lemon juice in the past, I just cover the stain/mess in a dusting of powder and then spritz on enough juice to make it a paste. Good luck! (I’ve also used a combo of vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice with some success)

      3. White vinegar in place of the lemon juice works too! It’s cheaper and, granted it doesn’t smell as nice at first, it does neutralize odors just as well.

        1. Yes! I use a lot of white vinegar in my cleaning. However, for this task, it didn’t work. Had to go for the harsher stuff. But I haven’t had to do it again, so I figured it was OK for very intermittent cleanings! 🙂

  13. I somehow had a plastic lid from a whipped topping container between my crock and the base of the crockpot. ( never thought to check it BEFORE I plugged it in!) Needless to say, it melted and I had a horrid mess. The worst part, I turned it on and left for work, so I had no way of knowing from the smell of melting plastic UNTIL I walked in the house after work. I tried everything I could think of to get it clean, with no luck, so I put it in my pantry, thinking someday, I might find the “Cure” I used the oven cleaner trick as a last resort and it worked! Thank you!!

    1. I had similar happen to me. I smelled burning plastic and blamed it on my crock pot liner. Even wrote the company about it. Then when I washed the pot I saw a ziploc bag inside the metal part that had melted. Had to have hubby warm it up and pry it off!

  14. Wouldn’t oven cleaner mar the integrity of the metal? I allowed a tomato based soup to bubble over (rookie mistake) and got it clean with no problem by making a thick paste of baking soda and water, then gently scrubbed with a sponge until the burned goo lifted – took no effort. I am disabled with weak hands so If I could get the stains off this way, anyone can, trust me. I heard from friends that dribbling Dawn over the stickiest of goo, then fill the liner up to ‘stain line’ with hot water and leave to sit overnight works very well – just don’t submerge the whole thing IN water, of course!

    1. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you for sure. I read the side of my can of cleaner to make sure it was safe for multiple surfaces, and since it was only on there for an hour and I don’t clean my heating element regularly (this was the first time ever) I think it’s fine. I did try to scrub it out first with blue Dawn and even a little baking soda/vinegar combo, but no luck. But mine was not a fresh stain- it had been cooked on for quite a while. If you can get yours clean without chemicals, I’m all for it! But if not, this is another option. 🙂

  15. Another use I’ve found for oven cleaner is cleaning the inside of the glass doors on my fireplace. Just make sure to wear rubber gloves and use LOTS of paper towels when wiping it clean. It doesn’t get it sparking, but it sure helps.

    1. the best product for the inside of glass fireplace doors is the cleaner for glass cooktops. I use it all the time…easy to use and hardly any effort!

  16. Thanks so much! My 17 year old daughter is the chef in my family of (2 – me and her). Her beloved crock pot is dirty. Now I know how to clean it for her (nice surprise). Also I help in the football concession stands (talk about dirty crockpots), now know how to clean them as well as leave the instructions for future helpers. 🙂

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you!