Spick and Span Tricks: How to Clean a Popcorn Maker

how to clean a popcorn maker

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Popcorn makers allow us to make delicious treats and wow guests from the comfort of our homes. When using these appliances, there can be some mess involved, and you need to keep them hygienic to prevent bad smells and the build-up of bacteria.

If you don’t know how to clean a popcorn maker properly, we have created a simple guide below showing the best way to care for different types of machines.

Hot Air Popcorn Machine Cleaning

corn kernel popper

Hot-air popcorn machines are the most common home design and are relatively small and easy to use. They blast hot air into the popcorn popper chamber, which causes the kernels to expand. Follow these five basic steps to clean a popcorn machine:

  1. Make sure the unit is cool and unplug it.
  2. Take out any removable components and wash them with dish soap.
  3. Clean the popcorn chute with warm water and a damp cloth.
  4. Wipe the mess from the popping compartment with a paper towel.
  5. Re-attach all the components and allow them to dry.

Unplugging the appliance and letting it cool is vital to avoid injuries. Also, remove any detachable components to wipe them thoroughly.

The main parts that get dirty are the chute, the butter melting pot, and the popcorn popper chamber. You may have to use grease-cutting dish soap to get rid of any oil and butter residue effectively.

Always wipe with a dry cloth or paper towel to make the whole cleaning task easier. This will help remove the grease and oil and eliminate unpopped kernels and food debris. This step is particularly important for the butter melting pot. Butter or margarine can be slimy and really tough to wipe away with a wet cloth.

Commercial Popcorn Machine Cleaning

This type of popcorn machine is much larger and often has a countertop design with a big glass compartment so you can watch the popcorn poppers – similar to what you may see on a concession stand.

As a result, they can take more time and effort to clean. We have listed the six basic steps for cleaning below:

  1. Unplug the popcorn machine and allow it to cool.
  2. Clear any excess popcorn kernels from the compartment.
  3. Remove the popcorn kettle and clean it with a damp towel and soapy water.
  4. Wipe the glass surfaces with a gentle cleaner and a cloth.
  5. Wipe the other exterior parts with a dry clean cloth.
  6. Replace the popcorn kettle.

The kettle is the main area to clean in commercial-grade popcorn makers. This is where the kernels are stored, and it can get messy quite easily.

For regular cleaning, detach it and wipe it thoroughly with a damp paper towel and cleaning solution.

If the popcorn machine has a glass exterior, this will need a thorough cleaning, too. The glass will get smears and fingerprints and accumulate grease and food debris from the popcorn-making process.

The easiest way to clean this is to use an ammonia-free window cleaner. Make sure it is ammonia-free or food-safe to prevent unwittingly adding dangerous chemicals to the popcorn machine that could cause health issues. This cleaning solution can also often be used to clean the frame and lid that holds the glass in place.

Additional Kettle Cleaning

We also advise giving it a thorough soaking and cleaning once per month (or less, depending on how often you use it).

To do this, create a solution of white vinegar or baking soda and boiling water. Allow the kettle to soak completely in this solution for an hour. Any grease and oil stuck to the sides should dissolve during this time.

Once it has soaked for an hour, pour away the cleaning solution. Rinse the kettle thoroughly to get rid of the vinegar mix, or it might leave a funny smell or taste in your new popcorn batch. After rinsing, simply give a final wipe with a damp cloth and allow it to dry.

Stovetop Popcorn Maker Cleaning

Stovetop popcorn machines have a much simpler design and consist of a saucepan with a turning mechanism and secure lid that prevent the popcorn from flying everywhere.

These are the easiest appliances to clean as they have no electrical components and are usually much smaller. Here are the essential cleaning steps to follow:

  1. Allow the popcorn maker to cool completely.
  2. Remove any excess food mess left inside.
  3. Use an old cloth to wipe any excess oil and butter from the surfaces.
  4. Wash the whole unit in hot water with mild detergent.
  5. Allow the unit to air-dry completely.

It’s important to use a dry cloth initially when cleaning a stovetop popcorn machine. A wet cloth will only smear any grease and oil, not remove it. The dry cloth will make the cleaning process much more manageable.

As with the commercial popcorn machine kettle, you may also want to boil the stovetop saucepan in a vinegar solution every so often to remove any stubborn stains.

Regular Cleaning Will Keep Your Popcorn Machine in Perfect Tip-Top Condition

Routine cleaning and regular maintenance are essential when dealing with any appliance that involves food and ingredients like butter and oil. By following the above steps, you can keep your machine in perfect working order and ensure that your buttery popcorn continues to taste exquisite.

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