You cooked a perfect quinoa dish in your Instant Pot, but now you’re left with a nasty case of Instant Pot Lid Funk. Today we’ll tell you why, and we’ll also share experts’ suggestions for exiling the stink from your kitchen for good.
The culprit is your Instant Pot’s sealing ring, the food-grade silicone band that goes around the top of the Instant Pot lid, guaranteeing a tight seal for all that pressure cooking you’re doing. See here:
While the smell can be scary, there’s no need to fear. Silicone is entirely safe for food, which is why it’s such a popular material used for kitchen tools and food storage.
There are three reasons the sealing ring gets stanky. First, it’s porous. That means when you cook aromatic dishes — like chili, curries or stews — microscopic particles get in the pores, leaving a memory of dishes past.
Beyond this, though, a deeper funk can develop. In the event the ring is loose, or stored in the Instant Pot while it’s damp, organic matter trapped between the ring and the lid will fuel the growth of microorganisms. When these start multiplying, the smell gets much, much worse. Imagine a teenage boy’s bedroom. Yeah, it can get ripe.
Finally, as you cook and vent with your pot, steam and food residue get stuck, building up and fermenting all kinds of matter. Lucky for you, no matter how bad yours smells right now, cleaning it is likely a one- or two-step process that will have it smelling like new in a few hours.
Whether you’ve never been aware of the sealing ring or you wash it regularly but still notice an odor, it’s simple to not only clean but maintain to avoid future foulness.
How To Clean Your Sealing Ring On An Everyday Basis
The easiest way to keep odors at bay is to pop out the ring and clean it regularly. “We recommend cleaning the ring and the lid after every use,” said Tracy Fadden, vice president of marketing of Instant Brands (which makes the Instant Pot). Be sure to dry it, too! “Let it air dry before storing it,” Fadden added.
We checked with New York-based chef Mariam Shah, who regularly uses her Instant Pot when preparing meals at home. “There’s not much I do except pull it out and wash it with soap and water. I dry it with a clean cloth and return it to the lid,” Shah said.
Drying the ring is of the utmost importance, since dampness is the perfect medium for bacteria to grow. How can you make sure it’s dry? “Placing it in the freezer or under the sun for thorough drying helps to kill the bacteria,” Fadden said.
How To Clean A Sealing Ring That’s Been Around The Block A Few Times
These are great tips for anyone with a new, or fairly new, Instant Pot, but what about for those of us who are dealing with one that’s a little seasoned (pun intended)?
I took one for the team and stopped washing my Instant Pot sealing ring upon being assigned this article. My go-to method is to wash it on the top rack of the dishwasher after each use (it works like a charm!), but I wanted to try one of the more popular internet-recommended hacks ― the vinegar steam.
I left the ring in place and added two cups of distilled white vinegar to the pot and then ran it on “steam” for two minutes. Then I placed the ring on top of two stainless steel drinking straws on a cloth on the countertop, to allow it to fully dry. This worked perfectly and I definitely see myself using this method during the holidays and other times when I’ve got more dishes needing cleaning than I know what to do with.
Here’s How Instant Pot Employees Clean Their Sealing Rings
The internet is filled with suggestions to bake your sealing ring in the oven to get rid of the stink, so I asked Fadden about this. “A fan favorite and one of the techniques we use in our Instant test kitchens is to bake the silicone ring in an oven by placing it on a baking tray at 250 degrees F for 20-30 minutes,” Fadden shared.
Of course, they’re also fans of just putting the ring in the dishwasher. Because silicone can handle the heat, it’s perfectly safe, “and the high heat of the dishwasher helps open the pores of the silicone to remove the odors,” Fadden said. Fadden is also a fan of the steaming method and recommended adding lemon slices to the vinegar.
A huge part of keeping your Instant Pot from scaring anyone away from your kitchen is maintenance, but there are a few other hacks the team at Instant Brands favor.
“Many of our Instant Pot fans keep a separate ring for making sweets like cheesecake and savory dishes like a curry. Some models of Instant Pot come with two silicone rings, one red color and one clear which can be changed out when cooking different food types to avoid mixing of smells,” Fadden said. You can buy them for an affordable price, like these:
Grab your silicone sealing ring, yank it out of your Instant Pot and use one of these methods to get it back to like-new freshness and then remember to just wash it (in the dishwasher, or by hand, if you don’t have a dishwasher) after each use and you’ll never get bowled over by that stinky sealing ring again.
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