I mean, it happens.

By Gillie Houston
Updated February 08, 2018
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The Instant Pot is a real MVP when it comes to shaving time off of prepping your favorite hearty and flavorful dishes. However, after a few uses, the lid and silicone sealing ring tend to harbor odors from dinners past that dishwashing liquid just can’t cut. Gross, right? Even if it seems like you’ve washed these parts within an inch of their lives, don’t lose hope just yet. You can combat the off-putting smells with a few simple maintenance tricks. First, let’s address the lid...The Instant Pot’s lid is dishwasher safe, and it’s key that you place it on the top rack, removing the silicone sealing ring and the anti-block shield, in order to give it the optimal washing. It’s also important to double check the steam valve to ensure that there is no food stuck in any small crevices. After washing, make sure the lid is completely dry before you place it back on the pot for storage. That said, if placing your lid in the dishwasher makes you nervous, you can wash it by hand with soapy water and a soft dish cloth. WATCH: How to Make Instant Pot Beef StewNow, about that ring.Being that the sealing ring is made with (food-grade) silicone, it is highly prone to picking up odors from the foods you cook in your Instant Pot. The ring is a crucial piece of the Instant Pot because it ensures optimal pressure cooking. If the ring becomes damaged or is not inserted in the lid correctly, it can prevent your pot from operating properly—so be sure to pay attention when you remove the ring for the first couple of times so that you know how to properly replace it. This ring should be removed from the lid and washed separately after every use. A mix of soapy water and vinegar should help remove lingering smells. However, over time, the smells may become more difficult to remove. The Instant Pot care and cleaning guide recommends that if you cook both savory and sweet dishes in your pot, it would be best to have separate rings for each style of cooking. One easy solution is to simply purchase a few replacement silicone sealing rings and swap them out on a regular basis. You can order a package of two on Amazon for about $12, so you may want to go ahead and stock up on enough to allow for tossing your old ring every couple of months or so.  The care guide also recommends that you wash the ring in the dishwasher on a high temperature with an extra-strength detergent. It also claims that you can soak your ring in tomato juice (an acidic liquid) overnight night and then place it the dishwasher for further cleaning. This method also works with a water-based solution of vinegar or lemon juice. Still stinky? Here’s another trick you may want to try: Store your sealing ring in a plastic bag filled with baking soda or ground coffee. Both baking soda and coffee have the ability to neutralize strong odors. That said, if you go the coffee route, your ring may also pick up the odor of coffee; therefore, you should run it through the dishwasher after it’s stored in the bag for a few days. Of course, if you don’t fancy yourself a DIY-type of person and all of these cleaning “hacks” immediately register as a real pain, I’d suggest purchasing a set or two of the replacement rings and calling it a day. 
| Credit: Courtesy of Instant Pot

There’s no denying that Instant Pots—the modern day pressure cookerthat has built a massive devoted following—are built to last. With a stainless steel body and inner pot, 10 built-in safety features, and no chemical coatings, the company claims the machines should last for over 100,000 uses. But, we’re all human and kitchen mistakes happen. So what should you do if you’ve dropped, burnt, or damaged your Instant Pot in another way?

Buying Replacement Parts vs. a New Machine

Certain aspects of the Instant Pot can be very affordably replaced if damaged irreparably. Smaller parts—which have a larger chance of getting lost or tossed—like condensation collectors, steam release handles, float valves, and detachable power cords can all be replaced for under $20 through the official Instant Pot website.

The most fragile part of the Instant Pot, and the one most likely to be replaced at least once every few years, is the ring, which experiences a lot of wear during everyday usage. In the case of damage, or when your ring is simply worn down, sealing rings can be replaced online for between $6-13 depending on the size of the machine.

When it comes to replacing the inner pots, lids, and bases, the prices go up significantly. Although the inner stainless steel pot was designed to survive any kind of damage, in the case of loss, a replacement can be purchased for between $30-35 depending on the size.

The replacement parts that will do the most damage to your wallet are bases and lids. However, in most cases replacing one of these pricier pieces will still save you cash in comparison to purchasing a brand new Instant Pot. Though each Instant Pot does come with a one-year warranty, this policy only covers machines that are faulty and not any damage that is a result of a user error.

In addition to the official site, Instant Pot parts can also be found on Amazon, but typically not for a discount in comparison to the parts sold by the company.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

The best way to avoid the time and money needed to repair a damaged Instant Pot is to treat the machine with care, and to avoid these common but potentially harmful mistakes.

  • Instant Pot pressure cooker valves should never be covered, as releasing steam is the machine’s main safety mechanism. While it’s tempting to limit the amount of steam being released with a towel or cloth, obstructing this vent could result in permanent damage to the cooker. For an alternative method for clearing steam out of the kitchen quickly, place the device under the exhaust fan of your range hood so that the steam is slightly disseminated.
  • Avoid overfilling your Instant Pot, as this can cause food to spray out of the pressure valve upon release. This will result in both a messy situation and food residue potentially getting stuck in the valve and interfering with machine functionality in the future. Your pot should never be more than 2/3 full, or ½ full if you’re preparing a food that expands during cooking, like rice. If you’re worried that you’ve potentially overfilled your pot, use the natural pressure release method, turning off the heat and allowing the pressure to lower slowly over a 5-20 minute period.
  • Make sure the inner pot in always in place before tossing in ingredients. While this might seem obvious, during a hectic dinnertime it’s easy to let this step slip your mind. Try placing a lid or wooden spoon over the opening to the pot every time you take the inner portion out, so that it will never slip your mind to return the inner pot into position before tossing in your ingredients.
  • If you’re planning to store your Instant Pot on the stovetop, place a wooden cutting board below the machine to prevent any accidental burning of the bottom.

It’s important to note that due to the high build up of pressure, using a damaged Instant Pot should be approached with caution to prevent a dangerous cooking environment. If you’re concerned about the condition of your pot, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact Instant Pot support with your issue before attempting to use the pot again.

For inspiration on how to get cooking with your Instant Pot, check out these easy and delicious recipes.