By: Elizabeth Tran

March 3, 2021

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How to Clean a Crock Pot in 7 Easy Steps

Let’s get to the good and imporfant info first: how to clean your crock pot in 7 steps

This process is great for that dreaded dried molten-lava-like food residue but can also be used for regular deep-cleans. Best of all, this process lets the crock pot essentially clean itself. 

  1. Add warm water to the crock pot, filling it to just above the ring residue. 
  2. Add ½ cup of vinegar to the crock pot for every 3 quarts. For example, a 3-quart crock pot needs ½ cup vinegar; a 6-quart crock pot needs 1 cup vinegar. 
  3. Next, SLOWLY add in your baking soda. You’ll be using a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to baking soda. So for a 3-quart crock pot, add ½ cup baking soda. A 6-quart crock pot needs 1 cup. Add the baking soda slowly, waiting for the bubbles to gradually subside before adding more. 
  4. Cover your crock pot, set to low and cook for 1 hour and up to 4. 
  5. When the heating period is finished, uncover the crock pot and gently use a wooden spoon or a spatula to scrape off any stubborn burnt areas. 
  6. Drain the dirty water. Scrape off any remaining residue with a soft sponge. Allow the crock pot insert to cool and then wash with warm water and mild dish soap. 
  7. Let the stoneware insert air dry. 

It’s that simple! Below, we cover more methods for cleaning (specific to getting stubborn stains or cleaning the inside of your crock pot).

How do I get stubborn residue off my crock pot?

Cooked-on food is an inevitable part of cooking with a slow cooker. When your slow cooker needs a little extra cleaning help, we recommend this process from the Crock Pot Brand – the gold standard of slow cookers. 

In fact, did you know the slow cooking tool in your kitchen isn’t technically called a Crock Pot?! Crock Pot is a brand of slow cooker! Crock Pot is such a popular brand their company name is often used interchangeably with “slow cooker” no matter what brand of slow cooker you may actually own.

What do I need to clean my crock pot?

The best hacks for cleaning your crusty crock pot call for items you likely already have on hand. Here’s what you’ll need for the easiest way to clean the inside of a crock pot: 

  • Crock pot stoneware insert 
  • Warm water
  • Vinegar (we recommend distilled white vinegar)
  • Baking soda
  • Spatula or wooden spoon (for scraping stubborn areas)
  • Soft scrub brush (no steel wool!)
  • Mild dish soap

How do I get the white residue off my crock pot?

After years of use, you may begin to notice a white residue on the inside of your crock pot, especially if you have a dark or black stoneware insert. This is easily remedied with vinegar. We prefer distilled white vinegar. 

Apply a small amount of vinegar to a clean paper towel or a soft cloth and rub out the inside of your crock pot. Let the insert dry on its own. Repeat this process if necessary. 

How to Tackle Stubborn Stains on your Crock Pot 

If you own a crock pot with a white stoneware insert and you find yourself with some stubborn stains, you can make a paste out of baking soda and water to restore the brightness of the white stoneware. 

Rub the paste onto the trouble areas and let it sit for a while. After the setting period is complete, wash the insert with warm water and mild soap. Scrub the insert with a mildly abrasive sponge or pad, but be sure to avoid steel wool. 


Can I run cold water on my crock pot?

Always let your crock pot cool completely before running under cold water. Sudden changes in temperature can cause your stoneware insert to crack. That’s why you should never put a hot crock pot insert into cold water. 

Can I use steel wool on my crock pot?

We recommend avoiding steel wool to clean your crock pot especially on a dry ceramic stoneware. This can cause scratching and damage to your crock pot. For best results, we recommend using the cleaning methods we shared above. 

Why does my crock pot smell?

Notice a strange funk coming from your crock pot that smells like the ghosts of dinner times past? This can happen to your crock pot stoneware after repeated uses – unseen residue, stains and odor can get trapped into the ceramic insert, causing the smell. 

To get rid of this, be sure you’re giving your crock pot a thorough cleaning, including a deodorizing regiment. 

How can I deodorize my crock pot insert?

Use a mild dish soap and warm water to do an initial clean. Be sure to scrape off any cooked-on residue from the last meal, using our tips above if necessary. 

Dry the stoneware insert with a clean paper towel or let it air dry. Then add a small amount of white vinegar to a clean cloth or paper towel and wipe down the inside of the stoneware. Let dry completely. Once your crock pot insert is dry, sprinkle baking soda into the bottom of the crock pot insert. 

Using a large plastic bag – we recommend a clean garbage bag – put your crock pot insert into the bag and seal with a rubber band or twist-tie. Let the sealed bag sit overnight. This will help rid your stoneware of any additional odor. 

After letting your crock pot rest, remove it from the bag and clean again with warm water and mild dish soap. Dry with a clean towel. Repeat as needed after meals. 

How do you clean a crock pot without removable stoneware?

Cleaning a crock pot without a removable stoneware insert is tricky but not impossible. Just remember to avoid as much water or liquid as possible on the electrical elements of the crock pot. While you should always check your crock pot’s user’s manual first, here’s one helpful method to help your after-dinner cleaning routine. 

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape out as much of the leftover food as possible. Once the crock pot has cooled slightly, fill it with warm water until just above the food residue line. Be very careful not to overfill. Remember that water can eventually boil if left too long in a heated slow cooker, so be sure you don’t add too much water. 

Add a few drops of mild dish soap and leave the crock pot on low for about an hour. Use your wooden spoon or spatula to carefully scrape away any stuck on bits. Then pour the dirty water into the sink slowly. Take a damp scrubbing pad or sponge and wipe away any other residue inside the stoneware. 

For stubborn areas, use a small bit of paste made from baking soda, water and a drop of dish soap. Wipe away all soapy residue and fill with water again to rinse. Carefully dump out water and dry with a paper towel or a clean cloth. 

How do I clean the outside of a crock pot?

You can begin with a simple wipe-down of the heating element. Always be sure your crock pot is cool enough to touch before doing any major cleaning. 

If your heating unit is in need of some additional TLC, you can use a soft sponge or pad, even a rubber spatula to scrape off any stubborn gunk. Here are a few other ways to tackle even the dirtiest messes: 

  • Use a soft cloth with warm, soapy water to scrub away any caked on food. Soap and warm water is the best approach. Harsh chemicals can damage the outside of your crock pot, which is commonly made of metal like stainless steel. 
  • Spray a mild cleaning product (vinegar is great) or a bit of dish soap onto the dirty area and let it sit. Then wipe the unit down with a warm, wet cloth. Remember to never submerge the heating unit/base in water or any liquid (including the dishwasher). This will ruin your crock pot.
  • Create a paste out of baking soda, Dawn dish soap, and water. Let this sit on any stubborn, baked-on stains. Wipe the heating unit down again with a warm, wet cloth to remove all of the paste and food residue. 
  • Never underestimate the power of elbow grease! But remember to also include these suggestions above, as it will save you a lot of scrubbing and will help preserve your crock pot. 

With just a little extra work at the end of each meal, you can keep your crock pot looking and smelling great. Proper, routine cleaning will keep your crock pot in wonderful condition for years to come.


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