Let your slow cooker clean itself with this easy cleaning hack (+6 tips)

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Slow cookers definitely make life easier. You simply dump everything in, set the temperature and walk away. Many have digital features that allow you to set the timer to start or stop when you need, keeping your food perfectly timed.
However, it isn't always easy to clean the large, heavy crock pot insert. It's awkward and definitely not non-stick. Don't let the dread of cleaning your slow cooker keep it shoved in the back of your cabinet. These amazing crock pot hints and tips will show you how easy it is to clean and maintain your favorite kitchen appliance.
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1. Clean your slow cooker without scrubbing
If you have a crusty mess in your slow cooker, don't reach for the scouring pad. You can easily set it and forget it for an easy clean. Simply fill the crock with water to cover the food residue. Add vinegar and then slowly add in baking soda. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Allow to cool and then easily wash the crock.
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2. Make your own slow cooker scrub (h/t eHow)
If you don't have time to let your crock pot soak for hours, this handy scrub can gently remove grime from the outside and inside of your slow cooker. Simply create a paste using baking soda, castile soap and a few drops of essential oil. Use a sponge or cleaning cloth to gently rub over any dirty or grimy areas of your crock pot, then simply wipe clean.
3. Remove brown residue from the inside
Your slow cooker looks great, until you lift out the insert and find a brown mess on the inside. You know you can't submerge this part in water, but wiping it out just doesn't do the trick. Try this creative trick for cleaning the inside of a crock pot. Fill a small glass bowl with household ammonia. Place inside the slow cooker and cover. Allow to rest overnight. In the morning, discard the ammonia and use a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to gently scrub the slow cooker clean. Wipe out with a clean, damp cloth.
4. Use non-stick cooking spray
The best way to avoid cleaning up a mess is to prevent the mess from happening in the first place. A quick coating of non-stick cooking spray may be all you need to keep food from sticking to the ceramic surface of your slow cooker insert.
5. Keep it clean with disposable liners
You don't even have to clean your crock pot when you use disposable slow cooker liners. These convenient bags are similar to roasting bags, but designed to fit your crock pot. Perfect for parties and family gatherings, you simply remove the bag and throw it away. Your slow cooker stays nice and clean.
6. Grab the foil for baking
Anything you would bake using aluminum foil can be baked in the slow cooker using aluminum foil. Cakes, breads, and baked potatoes can all be made using aluminum foil as a liner. You can easily remove the foil and put the slow cooker back in the pantry without having to scrub it out.
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7. Avoid temperature changes
Don't risk breaking your ceramic slow cooker insert by allowing it to quickly go from hot to cold or cold to hot. Extreme temperature changes can cause your insert to crack, or even shatter. Allow the crock to reach room temperature before cleaning for the best results.
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