Cleaning A Popcorn Machine

Cleaning a Popcorn Machine Regularly Keeps It Lasting Longer!


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Cleaning a popcorn machine is important for keeping the machine in top working condition. A regular cleaning routine will always make for great tasting popcorn. As with any machine, it does require some maintenance to keep it working in top condition.

So what makes some popcorn bad and downright inedible? Either you’ve got yourself a batch of bad corn, you’ve used the wrong oil, or your machine is dirty.

As you are popping batches of popcorn for family and friends, the inside of the unit and the kettle do get dirty and need to be cleaned periodically. By taking corrective steps now, will preserve your popcorn machine for a long time. Don’t forget to empty the old maids and popcorn from the kernels tray.

Over time, the machine becomes dirty and will put out some bad inedible popcorn. This is the time to give it a thorough cleaning.

This article will provide owners of popcorn machines with some steps they can use to clean their machines.

Cleaning the Popcorn Machine

Before cleaning the inside of the machine, follow the steps below:

  • Step 1: Turn off all switches and unplug the machine.
  • Step 2: Allow the machine to cool 30 minutes to 1 hour before attempting to clean it.
  • Step 3: Remove any old popcorn and old maids from the tray and clean it using a damp cloth.
  • Step 4: Follow instruction manual in removing the kettle and wipe it clean using a damp sponge, cloth, or towel. Note: Do not submerge the kettle in water as this will damage the electrical parts.
  • Step 5: Use an ammonia-free glass cleaner to wipe down all glass parts. Use a food-safe cleaner to wipe down all metal parts that touch food using a soft cloth.
  • Step 6: Wipe down any interior stainless steel surfaces, heating deck, with a moist towel. Use a food-safe cleaner to wipe down these surfaces.
  • Step 7: Using a damp towel or soft cloth, wipe down all metal outer parts including the kettle.
  • Step 8: Replace kettle to the unit.

If you see a buildup of grease that will not come off after a few wipes, it is time to clean the kettle. See the kettle cleaning steps below.

Cleaning the Popcorn Kettle

As we mentioned before, if the kettle grease does not come off with a few wipes it is time to clean the kettle. This is because grease has built-up inside the kettle. This will require to “boil out” the kettle to return it to like new again. To do this, follow the steps below:

  • Step 1: Use a cleaner especially made for kettle cleaning by taking 1 teaspoon of the cleaner powder and 2 cups of water into the kettle. Close the lid.
  • Step 2: Turn on the power switch and let the water boil. This will take about 10 minutes.
  • Step 3: After ten minutes, turn off the power and unplug the unit.
  • Step 4: Let the kettle cool for the amount of time listed in the cleaners instructions.
  • Step 5: Empty the liquid into a container being careful not spilling any of it on the interior of the machine.
  • Step 6: Remove the kettle from the unit following owner’s manual instructions.
  • Step 7: Rinse in sink and wipe kettle with a soft cloth. Do not immerse kettle in water.
  • Step 8: Clean the inside of the unit using a soft damp cloth. In the glass areas use a glass cleaner that does not contain ammonia.
  • Step 9: Replace the kettle into the unit following owner’s manual instructions.

Note: For tuff grease build-ups, or if kettle is still dirty after first cleaning, repeat this procedure until all remaining grease and salt is removed. Do not scrub the kettle with abrasive rags, sponges, brushes, or cleaners. Doing so can damage the kettles finish.

When cleaning any electrical equipment, always follow safety precautions to prevent any serious injury. Always wear protective gloves when cleaning the popcorn machine.

Popcorn Preparation Chart

Below is the chart you can use for placing the correct amount of oil to kernels based on the kettle machine size you own.

Kettle Size Oil Kernels Pops
4 Oz. 1/4 Cup 1/2 Cup 10 Cups
6 Oz. 1/4 Cup 1/2 Cup 15 Cups
8 Oz. 1/3 Cup 1 Cup 20 Cups
12 Oz. 1/2 Cup 1 1/2 Cups 30 Cups
14 Oz. 1/2 Cup 1 3/4 Cups 35 Cups
16 Oz. 2/3 Cup 2 Cups 40 Cups
20 Oz. 3/4 Cup 2 1/2 Cups 50 Cups

Note: The best place to store popcorn kernels is in a sealed container at room temperature. Do not store the kernels in the refrigerator.

How Often Should You Clean A Popcorn Machine?

This is generally on your preference. However, for best results, it is recommended you should clean your popcorn machine after every 4-5 cycles, as this is the normal cleaning cycle routine. Some owners clean their units after every use. If this is your choice, you can use warm soapy water with a soft cloth or paper towel. Otherwise, you may have to clean the kettle using the “boil hot” method in cleaning the grease buildup in the kettle.

What Size Popper Do I Have?

The easiest way to determine what size popper you have is to measure the depth of the kettle. If it is four inches deep, you have a 4-quart machine. If it is 6 inches deep, you have a 6-quart unit. If it is 8 inches deep, you have an 8-quart machine and so on.

A 4 ounce kettle will produce 10 cups of popped kernels per batch. A 6 ounce kettle will produce 15 cups of popped kernels per batch. An 8 ounce kettle will produce 20 cups of popped kernels per batch. A 12 ounce kettle will produce 30 cups of popped kernels per batch. A 16 ounce kettle will produce 40 cups of popped kernels per batch.

How Can I Make The Popcorn Pop Better?

Try soaking the kernels in water, as the kernels will absorb the moisture. The increased water content will cause the kernels to pop slightly faster. The main reason for kernels not popping is the reduction of moisture in the kernal. This is how you get old maids (unpopped kernels). The increased speed of the popping is not significant when soaking the kernels in water. It can cause some of the kernels to be fluffier.

Note: If you should have lots of old maids, kernels that do not pop, soak them in water for 30 minutes and use them again. You will be surprised at how many of them will pop.


Cleaning the kettle can be very healthful for popping kernels as the grease can build up over time. If left uncleaned, it can cause the popcorn machine to wear out sooner. You will also be serving unhealthy popcorn to your guests or at least not as tasty.

By cleaning your unit in a timely manner will extend the life of your popcorn machine.

We shared the steps on how to clean the machine and the kettle. It is suggested that you clean the machine after every 4 to 5 uses. This will keep your unit in top working condition and not have a build-up of grease in the kettle.

Don’t forget when you are doing the standard maintenance to empty and clean the old maid kernel tray.

Always use a non-ammonia glass cleaner to clean the machines glass parts.

Shop Popcorn Machine Cleaning Supplies

Below are some popcorn machine cleaning supplies you can use when cleaning your machine. You will be taken to Amazon to place the order.

Nu-View Food Cleaner
Gold Medal Kettle Cleaner
6 Oz. Replacement Kettle
8 Oz. Replacement Kettle

Go back to the Pros Cons Shopping home page.