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Instant Pot pressure cookers have been taking the world by storm in recent years, thanks to their ability to produce wonderful-tasting, nutrient-packed, single-pot meals. However, they’re also known for being a bit of a nuisance to clean—especially when trying to learn how to clean the film off an instant pot liner.
So how do you clean the film or residue off an Instant Pot Liner? Keep reading to find out, plus plenty more tips!
In This Post We…
A surprise contender and cleaning face-Off
We conducted a small test using two products we reviewed last month and felt might work well, but hadn’t seen mentioned for cleaning the Instant Pot yet. And those two products are none other than the Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel and Mrs. Meyer’s Baking Soda Cream Cleaner.
Our goal was to see how well they might work on their own or when used back-to-back. We also want to determine which method or product worked the best for removing the filmy residue from the liner.
Spoiler Alert: Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel ended up coming up on top but really shined—literally and figuratively—when coupled with the baking soda paste cream cleaner. You can keep reading or skip ahead to the “test” section to see how, why, and what stood out for us the most.
You can also learn more about the Mrs. Meyer’s baking soda and vinegar products by checking out our reviews when you’re finished here, using the links directly below (new tab).
What is the cloudy film or residue that forms on an Instant Pot Liner?
If you’ve ever wondered what that residue on your Instant Pot liner is—much less any kind of stainless steel cooking appliance is—it’s most likely from fatty or starchy foods. However, other causes for stains or residue buildup may also occur, sometimes even simultaneously, making things even more tedious and difficult to remove.
Here are a few other common causes for potential films, residues, and stains on your Instant Pot pot.
Likely Causes for the Filmy Residue on an Instant Pot
And, no, it’s not your imagination that the buildup or staining tends to worsen over time. It’s also typical for the film or residue to be almost impossible to remove, regardless of the dish soap or detergent you might use and no matter how often and deeply you wash the liner.
Luckily, however, the film or residue can be fairly easy to remove from the Instant Pot pot liner. And there are a few easy steps you can take to help prevent the buildup from forming in the first place, which we cover in the steps below.
How do you remove the white, sticky from an Instant Pot liner?
As mentioned above, many of the films or types of residue left behind after washing an Instant Pot liner are usually the result of fatty meats, grease, calcification, oxidation, and/or starchy foods.
Fortunately, most films or residues can be treated with affordable acidic-based methods. Some methods can be done using store-bought alternatives; whereas, other choices can typically be found in the home, such as some of the ones listed below.
The FIY on the DIY
This section discusses different approaches for treating common stains and residue issues on the liner and other stainless steel surfaces on an Instant Pot using common DIY treatments.
You can find instructions and more information on the more popular methods in the sections below.
The DIY Acids
Sometimes the most convenient and cost-effective cleaning options for treating the liner of an Instant Pot are none other than distilled white vinegar and lemon juice—though lime works fine too.
Because of their acidic properties, both vinegar and lemon juice can work great on other various household cleaning tasks, such as descaling a coffee pot, cleaning shower glass, or removing mineral build-up from a faucet.
Lemon and vinegar can also be great for addressing some of these other issues around the home, too.
Ideal for Cleaning or Reducing:
Vinegar and lemon—or just acidic cleaning products in general—can also help reduce oxidation on stainless steel to some degree and can be ideal for removing grease or greasy residue. They’re also suitable for removing soap scum and other things that lean on the other end of the pH scale.
You can even use vinegar water or lemon juice as an inexpensive yet highly effective clarifying rinse on your hair to help remove greasy buildup or product buildup, which is a similar concept to the Instant Pot treatment. Just be careful, as both can also get into and sting your eyes.
Ideal for Cleaning or Reducing:
In our experience, non-acidic (or alkaline) and more neutral-leaning methods and products can be helpful for when you’re dealing with organic matter, dirt, grease, oils, fats, and proteins. This is regardless if it’s concerning something fatty or starchy that you’ve been cooking up or if it’s the residue from your favorite bar soap.
However, keep in mind that mixing acid with an alkaline product simultaneously will usually result in one product canceling the other out.
Note: Always be careful when mixing products, particularly when it comes to bleach and ammonia. Sometimes mixing chemicals or products may cause a dangerous chemical reaction or, at the very least, may simply cancel each other out. Do not use bleach on stainless steel.
Store Bought Methods
Store-bought products that have alkaline or acidic bases are also options to consider. This is more so the case if you want something that’s a little more heavy-duty or has significant build-up or staining to contend with. Store-bought products are also ideal if you hate extra steps and just want to squirt, wipe, and go.
Store-Bought Products for the Instant Pot
We were surprised to have had a lot of luck testing Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel out on the white film of our Instant Pot liner. And we had even better results after we followed up with some of the Mrs. Meyer’s Baking Soda Cream Cleaner to clean up further any left behind burnt-on stains.
Keep reading for more details on the results, or check out our reviews for each product to see how it performs on other items around the home (links in the Conclusion).
And while the Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel and Baking Soda Cleaner did wonders on the old Instant Pot liner we went ahead and tested, some people also have had luck with products such as Magic Erasers and acidic-based products such as Bar Keeper’s Friend too.
I sometimes find that if Mrs. Meyer’s Baking Soda Cream doesn’t work, it sometimes helps to try Bar Keeper’s Friend and vice versa when using the products on other stainless steel items or the like around home. This is likely due to the different pH levels and approaches. Just make sure to rinse or wipe clean the area before switching products properly.
Note: We are not chemists and cannot verify the true pH of the above products; it’s merely an uneducated guess based on ingredients. Please contact the manufacturer for further details and avoid mixing products to prevent a potential chemical reaction.
White distilled vinegar is likely the most affordable and popular DIY option for removing the white, sticky residue commonly found on an Instant Pot liner.
It’s also been our primary go-to for cleaning the Instant Pot of light residue build-up for several years now, and it’s great to use as a rinse directly after washing the Instant Pot liner to help prevent further build-up from occurring.
Some individuals may use plain vinegar on their IP liner. Others may prefer to dilute the vinegar with some hot water to fill the pot adequately, depending on the buildup.
While using ACV (apple cider vinegar) isn’t out of the question, white distilled vinegar is usually more cost-effective, and we’ve never noticed any difference in performance.
Here are a few effective ways to use vinegar to clean up residue or film from your Instant Pot liner. In truth, though, there are no hard-and-fast rules. However, more severe cases may require several applications, additional scrubbing, or allowing the vinegar solution to soak inside the liner for a more extended period.
If the film or residue buildup isn’t too bad and is mainly focused around the bottom of the Instant Pot liner, you can try adding vinegar to the bottom of the pot and then fill it up a bit with some warm to hot water until it’s reached the desired height.
Swirl the mixture around the bowl to get at the sides a bit more, then allow it to sit or dwell for a few minutes before scrubbing with a sponge, cloth, or cleaning brush. Empty once finished and dry accordingly. Please use caution when dealing with hot liquid.
For moderate to more severe build-up, some people like to use steam to clean their Instant Pot liner. And what better source of steam than using the pressure cooker itself?
However, keep in mind that vinegar can be harsh and somewhat caustic to inhale. We suggest doing this in a well-ventilated area and with nearby windows open.
To use the steam method, you can try 1 cup vinegar to 1 cup water, or whatever ratio seems ideal to you. You can always experiment to see what works best. Some individuals use 2 cups of vinegar only, but keep in mind that all the steam from the vinegar has to be released and can smell up the vicinity—more if not diluted.
Make sure to have windows open and use caution when around children or pets—especially birds.
How to Steam
Please use caution when dealing with hot liquid.
Tip: You can try to use the vinegar water on the outside of the liner as well as on the stainless steel exterior of the instant pot to help clean the surface. Allow the vinegar to sit for a bit, if necessary or for heavy buildup, then wipe clean with a lightly damp cloth. Dry using a lint-free towel or microfiber and polishing cloth.
While not as cost-effective as other methods for cleaning an Instant Pot liner, lemon or lemon juice can be a great substitute for when you’re short on vinegar or just don’t want to deal with the smell.
Just like vinegar, lemon is acidic, making it great for cutting down on grease and calcification—two culprits that can build up on pressure cookers.
Sometimes even just getting some on a sponge, brush, or cleaning cloth and spreading it around, and letting it sit a moment before rinsing things clean works great.
So don’t pitch used lemons—or limes, for that matter—when you use freshly squeezed juice in your future Instant Pot recipes. Instead, use it to clean your inner pot liner once you’re finished cooking.
We love to use leftover lemon wedges and/or juice in our Instant Pot to prevent buildup—especially when using lemons for an Instant Pot recipe. Plus, if there isn’t much buildup, you don’t even need to use a lot.
Lemon and lime wedges can sometimes work to remove any mild residue buildup on an Instant Pot liner since the wedge itself can even double as a mildly abrasive sponge. Just run it over the filmy areas of your Instant Pot liner, let the juices sit, and rinse or scrub until clean.
If the film or residue buildup isn’t too bad and just around the bottom of the Instant Pot liner, try adding lemon juice or lemon juice to the bottom of the pot liner. Fill it up a bit with some hot water until it reaches the desired height.
Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a cleaning sponge, cloth, or brush. Empty once finished and dry accordingly. Please use caution when dealing with hot liquid.
You can use lemon juice or lemon water on the outside of the liner and on the stainless steel exterior of the Instant Pot to help clean the surface.
Some people may also use the mixture in a spray bottle for easier application. However, because lemon juice is a food product that can sometimes go bad after a while, you may not want to make too much at one time.
If necessary, allow to sit for a bit, and then wipe clean with a lightly damp cloth. Dry with a lint-free towel or polishing cloth.
Note: Some people may prefer to use a few drops of their favorite essential oil in their spray bottle to enhance the scent. However, since this pot is used in cooking and any essential oils may affect flavoring, we prefer to skip the essential oil and let the lemon do the job.
For moderate to more severe build-up, try 1 cup water to 1/2 cup to 1 cup lemon juice, or whatever ratio works best for you. Experiment if you want to!
Set the unit to the Steam setting for approximately 2-5 minutes. Don’t forget to activate the sealing lever and use the silicone ring. You can either do a quick release or a natural release method.
Empty the inner pot clean when safe to do so and scrub clean. Rinse and dry when finished. Please use caution when dealing with hot liquid.
3. Baking Soda
In some situations, a film or residue may crop up on the Instant Pot liner that acidic methods won’t easily remove.
This residue often becomes darker and is more of a burnt-on layer from a previously cooked meal. It may also s be the result of oxidation, which often shows up in scratches or embossed areas on the surface.
Many types of baked-on or burnt film and stains can often be treated using hot water and some degreasing dish soap and left to soak in the pot for a while before scrubbing.
Treating burnt or baked-on stains with baking soda can typically be done by mixing roughly equal parts baking soda powder with warm water until it forms a spreadable paste. You then scrub the surface and, if desired, allow it to sit a while before scrubbing again, and then rinse and/or wipe the surface clean.
Note: Some people do use vinegar with baking soda; however, vinegar and baking soda actually cancel each other out chemically when it comes to their cleaning power, making it a pretty ineffective method in the long run. Therefore, we generally recommend doing a vinegar treatment separate from a baking soda treatment if you’d like the benefits of both cleaning methods.
Dawn and Baking Soda
Mixing Dawn dish soap with baking soda is pretty much a DIY cult classic cleaning method.
The reason for this is because it provides the grease-fighting benefits of Dawn along with the stain-busting abrasiveness and deodorizing benefits of baking soda.
Luckily, you can pretty much make your own Dawn Baking Soda Paste mixture and mix it to whatever consistency you prefer. You also won’t need much for the Instant Pot liner.
Simply add a few drops of Dawn in a bowl or directly inside the Instant Pot liner. Then add baking soda powder and mix until the combination is at the desired consistency, which should at least be spreadable. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-20 minutes for tougher stains.
We often use a no-scratch, nylon-covered sponge or similar to scrub the pot while using the paste. You may prefer to use a scrub brush or something like the Rubbermaid Power Scrubber Brush or another non-scratch tool.
Tip: While any soap can be used, most find that Dawn Platinum 4x provides the best degreasing results and requires less dwell time (time to sit). However, feel free to use whatever you feel comfortable using. It’s recommended not to mix Dawn with vinegar.
Looking for more Dawn cleaning hacks? Check out our post on Top 10 Helpful Tricks for Using Dawn Dish Soap next (new tab).
3. Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel and/or Baking Soda Cleaner (Top Pick)
A few weeks ago, we did a couple of in-depth reviews on the Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel and Baking Soda Paste duo, which we’ve been using for a few years now and for various cleaning tasks around the house but wanted to try on some different items.
The Instant Pot Resdiue Test
One item in our home that we hadn’t tried to use the vinegar gel or baking soda cream cleaners was on the Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Seeing as how well one of the products worked on the stainless steel crumb tray of our Breville Toaster oven during the testing phase of our reviews, I had a feeling that it might just outdo our usual vinegar or lemon juice methods.
The vinegar and lemon juice methods usually worked well enough for my mother’s 4 or 5-year-old beat-up Instant Pot, not to mention the pressure cookers at my last place. However, they weren’t always effective on burnt-on messes on their own, and we often would have to repeat the process when dealing with particularly heavy build-up.
The same could be said when using heavy-duty dish soap on its own, which usually didn’t remove the filmy residue anyway, surprisingly enough.
I wanted to see if the Mrs. Meyer’s products would be faster or any more efficient. After all, I’m all about reducing effort and time when it comes to cleaning. And after letting our pot accumulate some residue for a few weeks by not rinsing it with vinegar or lemon juice after heavy cooking, we were ready to test.
We were thrilled to see that the Vinegar Gel, in particular, worked almost right off the bat, followed by the Baking Soda Cream Cleaner for other stains, as I figured it might do well with too. Here’s what we discovered:
***We are not, to date, sponsored by or directly associated with the Mrs. Meyer’s company.
We love the Mrs. Meyer’s Vinger Gel because it has both vinegar and lemon in it, giving things a double whammy when it comes to cleaning.
I love this because there’s no second-guessing which method to use for the most effectiveness. Plus, the vinegar smell isn’t nearly as noticeable, and who wouldn’t love that? You mostly smell Mrs. Meyer’s well-known lemon verbena fragrance.
We also love the Vinegar Gel because it has the descaling and degreasing benefits that vinegar and lemon are well known for. Yet, its gel-like consistency allows for it to stick to the surface of the pot, similar to dish soap or other cleaners.
The gel cleaner can sit on the sides of the Instant Pot’s liner than regular vinegar or lemon juice would. As a result, both the vinegar and lemon in the gel are more concentrated and able to do their job more effectively.
The gel consistency also allows for the user to scrub and get it into small nooks and crannies with more ease, which helps you achieve that deeper clean.
The Exterior of the Instant Pot
We always kind of had trouble with the outside of the Instant Pot liner. Fortunately, the vinegar gel’s gravity-defying consistency makes it faster and easier to clean the outside of the Instant Pot, too, where stains, spills, and greasy fingerprints tend to accumulate.
You just apply it with a lightly damp, no-scratch sponge or cleaning cloth, allow it to sit for a few minutes for significant messes, and wipe it down with a clean and lightly damp cloth or microfiber cloth.
It may not get that high-polish shine that certain polishing products, like Weiman’s, might achieve, but it does well enough. Plus, it’s safer to avoid those products anyway since the pot comes into contact with both heat and your food.
Here are some quick pictures that we took while going over the Instant Pot with mostly the Vinegar Gel—though they, unfortunately, were taken in a hurry and may also be out of order since they look pretty similar in some cases. But you get the gist!
We also did a quick once-over with the baking soda paste cleaner to get some of the dark marks off, which were likely oxidized or cooked-on stains.
Note: (Liner) Even though the Mrs. Meyer’s product claims to be no-rinse, it is not rated food-safe. Therefore, we definitely recommend thoroughly rinsing or washing off the liner before towel drying and putting it away for future use. (Exterior) You can use a lightly damp cloth to remove the product from the exterior before drying.
The Baking Soda Cream Cleaner
We didn’t necessarily need to use the Mrs. Meyer’s Baking Soda cream cleaner during our testing of the Vinegar Gel in order to remove the film or residue.
Because Mrs. Meyer’s Baking Soda Cleaner is great for brightening up burnt or oxidized stains and can help with scrubbing, we wanted to see if it would boost whatever results we got from the vinegar gel.
This was more so the case around the embossed measurements on the inside of the Instant Pot Liner and wherever scratches were inside the pot as well, since those tend to darken up easily too.
We also tested it out on the ceramic hot plate inside the Instant Pot, where we noticed some burnt-on marks from probably ages ago, just to see what would happen.
I admit I was in a rush with the sun setting and felt a bit lazy and distracted during this part of the testing. It was also hard to take pictures of the stainless steel liner, and my phone tends to exaggerate things a bit too.
But I was pretty impressed with how well the Baking Soda Cream Cleaner worked on the liner and for the short amount of time I gave it after using the Vinegar Gel.
As shown in the pictures above, it did really well when used with the Rubber Maid Power Scrubber—especially around areas where the Vinegar Gel treatment left behind burnt-on stains and some oxidizing in some areas.
The Mrs. Meyer’s Baking Soda Cleaner did okay on the ceramic plate, but not a 100% job. However, textured ceramic surfaces on heating elements like that are kind of tough to clean anyway and for whatever reasons.
Note: Please make sure to thoroughly rinse the product off, if not wash it entirely, before drying the liner off and putting it away for future use.
In this post, we discussed our favorite methods for getting rid of the white or cloudy residue that can sometimes appear on an Instant Pot liner, which primarily involved lemon juice, vinegar, and/or baking soda.
However, we also decided to test two other products that we felt would work after reviewing and trying them last month. Those two products were Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel for treating film or white residue, followed closely by the Mrs. Meyer’s Baking Soda Cream Cleaner for treating baked-on stains.
Our Top Pick
We were surprised to find that, while vinegar or lemon juice can work wonders on film buildup commonly found on Instant Pots—not to mention other areas around the home—the Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel worked slightly better. In fact, the difference in effectiveness and ease of use helped it become our new go-to method for cleaning the Instant Pot.
What I also loved about the Vinegar Gel Cleaner compared to regular vinegar or lemon juice applications is that it didn’t smell as bad as regular vinegar, and I could apply it easily to the outside of the liner as well as the on the stainless steel on the exterior of the Instant Pot.
Still, despite the vinegar gel’s no-rinse claims, we suggest rinsing the product off well and giving it a light handwashing before towel drying and putting it away for future use.
Overall, we feel that it’s a clear winner for cleaning white film off our stainless steel Instant Pot liner when it happens to build up, and we do recommend it for that purpose and many other tasks around the home.
Things to Consider
Regardless if you go DIY or store-bought to clean the film off an instant pot, keep acid and alkaline treatments separate. At the same time, don’t hesitate to do them back-to-back—especially since you may be dealing with more than one issue that may require either acidic or alkaline methods.
It may even help to switch up the order you apply or do them in, and it’s always good idea to give the treatment plenty of time to sit on the surface for a bit in order to allow it to do its job—something I’m really bad at.
However, we will very likely try to treat the liner each time we wash it with the Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel, or stick to vinegar water as a sort of preventative step to keep buildup in check if not preventing it from forming in the first place.
To learn more about the Mrs. Meyer’s Vinegar Gel along with any pros and cons, check out our in-depth review of it here. You can also find the review for the Mrs. Meyer’s Baking Soda Cream Cleaner, which we also like using, here to learn more.