How to Clean a Food Dehydrator Step-by-Step

modern food dehydrator with food on trays
To clean your food dehydrator trays, wipe them down after every use. While the trays are out, use a scrubbing brush with warm soapy water to clean the inner surfaces of the machine, then wipe away the residue with a paper towel. Allow all parts of the dehydrator to dry fully before storing it.

How to Clean a Food Dehydrator

It is essential that you keep your food dehydrator clean – both to preserve the quality of the goods you are drying and for safety.

Dehydrators are used for many foods and should be cleaned inside and out to avoid cross-contamination. The exterior of the dehydrator can be wiped with a damp cloth, but the interior and trays need more extensive cleaning.

How to Clean the Dehydrator Trays.

After every use, dehydrator trays must be thoroughly sanitized.

  1. Remove the trays from the food dehydrator.
  2. Wipe with a damp cloth soaked in hot water and dishwashing soap.
  3. Use a clean cloth to remove any leftover food residue that can contaminate your machine.
  4. If trays are still dirty, it is best to soak them in a tub containing hot soapy water and white vinegar.
  5. Remove after 2 hours and scrub off any bits of dried food or food particles.
  6. Rinse thoroughly using warm water, then dry completely.

How to Clean the Interior of a Food Dehydrator

It is a best practice to clean the interior of a food dehydrator after each use. This will prevent build-up and eliminate lingering odors.

  1. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any food residue that has built up due to the dehydration process.
  2. For any stubborn spots, try scrubbing the interior with the bristles of a new toothbrush and warm soapy water.
  3. If necessary, use a solution of vinegar and baking soda to sanitize the surfaces.
  4. Wipe the surfaces with a clean cloth and allow them to air-dry for 30 minutes before replacing the dehydrator trays.
interior of dehydrator
Cleaning dehydrator interior

Do You Have to Clean Your Food Dehydrator?

Yes, you do need to clean a food dehydrator. The drying cycle of a food dehydrator causes humidity, and this humid air is filled with particles from the drying food. This moisture contaminates the inside of the machine.

Cleaning your food dehydrator:

  • Helps the machine stay usable
  • Keeps the drying space hygienic and safe
  • Removes unwanted smells
  • Stops new batches of food from being infused with the flavor of old foods

How Often Should You Clean Your Food Dehydrator?

Follow the recommendations within your machine’s instruction manual. This will give you a clear idea of how often deep cleaning is required.

Different brands of dehydrators, such as vertical dehydrators from Nesco and horizontal flow Excalibur dehydrators, will have different maintenance needs.

No matter the model, wipe down your dehydrator trays after every use. The drying process causes food residue to stick to trays. It is easy to remove if it is cleaned immediately after use.

Should You Clean Dehydrator Trays?

Yes, you should clean your dehydrator trays regularly. They should be wiped down after every use and deep cleaned after 3 or 4 uses.

Can You Put Dehydrator Racks in the Dishwasher?

This depends on the model – always check the instruction manual before putting your dehydrator trays in the dishwasher.

Many models say that the drying trays can be placed on the top rack of a dishwasher but must be removed before the drying cycle. If you are worried about forgetting, washing your trays by hand is the safest option.

The Best Soap to Use for Cleaning a Food Dehydrator

You can clean a food dehydrator using any food-safe soap. The dish soap you use to wash your pots and pans after cooking a regular meal works to clean a food dehydrator.

Supplies that Will Help You Maintain Your Food Dehydrator

  • A toothbrush (or scrubbing brush) is useful for removing tough bits of dried-on food
  • Rubber gloves will protect your hands from hot water and cleaning agents
  • Sponges soak up moisture and effectively remove food particles
  • White vinegar solutions are great for removing tough, stubborn residue
Cleaning supplies including a stack of sponges and some cleaning solutions
Cleaning supplies

How to Prevent Your Food Dehydrator from Getting Dirty

  • Clean your dehydrator after every use
  • Don’t chop your produce too small (this can create crumbs)
  • Mesh screens should be lined with parchment paper when making fruit rolls or fruit leather
  • Use parchment paper or non-stick liners to protect your dehydrator trays

How to Store Your Food Dehydrator to Keep it Clean

Store your food dehydrator in a dark, cool, dry place with good airflow and ventilation. Moisture and heat can create mold, so storing the dehydrator correctly is important.

It is also a good idea to avoid storing your dehydrator for a long period of time without airing it out. Take it out of storage every 3-4 months to keep it looking and smelling great.

Jack Fairey

Jack is a writer and keen foodie based in London, England. When he's not writing, he can be found in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes for him and his partner to enjoy!

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