Toasters can be a workhorse, making an appearance throughout the day from breakfast to BLTs, as a base for appetizers, and as a midnight snack. There's something special about the crispy bite that happens after applying some extra heat to baked bread that we can't resist. Whether you make your toast with a hard-working toaster oven, pop-up slice toaster, or a combination of the two, a clean appliance will produce tastier (and safer) toast.
How Often to Clean a Toaster
If you use your pop-up toaster daily, weekly cleaning is best to remove crumbs and any food residue that could cause a burnt taste or a fire. Since toaster ovens are used for much more than making toast, they need cleaning more often. If you only use the oven to make toast, weekly cleaning is sufficient. However, if you heat foods or broil other foods, the oven—especially the food tray— should be cleaned after every use.
Equipment / Tools
- Pastry brush
- Sink or dishpan
- Sponge or dishcloth
- Microfiber cloth
- Trash can
- Warm water
- Dishwashing liquid with a degreaser
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar
- Melamine sponge
How to Clean a Toaster
Unplug and Cool the Toaster
Before you attempt to clean the toaster, always unplug it first. Inserting anything except food into a toaster while it is plugged in can cause an electrical shock or a fire. Once the toaster is unplugged, allow it to cool completely before beginning to clean.
Shake Crumbs Loose
Move the toaster to a trash can or hold over a sink with a garbage disposal. If the appliance has a removable tray in the bottom or a bottom that opens, open it and use a pastry brush to remove crumbs from the toaster and into the trash can. Turn the toaster upside down and shake out the crumbs from the toast slots into the trash can.
Make a Cleaning Solution
In a sink or dishpan, mix a solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid. If the toaster has a removable crumb tray, submerge only the tray in the soapy water and wash it well with a sponge or dishcloth. Rinse the tray with clear water and dry with an absorbent cloth.
Choose a Degreaser
Choose a dishwashing liquid that contains a degreaser for the best cleaning results. The degreaser will cut through any build-up more quickly and with less elbow grease than regular dishwashing liquid.
Brush Away Crumbs From the Interior
With the crumb tray removed, use the pastry brush to reach any crumbs still clinging to the interior of the toaster. Do not put your fingers inside the slots or you risk damaging your fingers and the interior components. If possible, work from both the top and bottom of the appliance.
Clean the Exterior of the Toaster
Dip a sponge or dishcloth in the soapy water to wipe down the exterior of the toaster. Wring out most of the water so the sponge is just damp. Pay extra attention to dials or levers on the controls, as well as handles. You may be able to remove dials so they can be washed in the soapy solution.
When the exterior is clean, wipe down with a sponge dipped in clear water to remove any soapy residue. Dry the appliance well with a soft, microfiber cloth.
Making Stainless Shine
To make the exterior of a stainless steel toaster shine, use a commercial stainless steel cleaner or dampen a clean cloth with a bit of distilled white vinegar. Wipe down the exterior to remove smudges and leave a streak-free shine.
Reassemble the Toaster
To finish the cleaning process, replace the crumb tray, reset the dials to your favorite setting, and plug-in the toaster.
How to Clean a Toaster Oven
Since a toaster oven is often used for reheating and cooking foods, as well as toasting bread, the interior needs more extensive cleaning.
Unplug the Oven
Always unplug the appliance and make sure it is completely cool before beginning the cleaning process.
Remove and Clean Components
Most ovens have a cooking tray and rack that can be removed. Once removed, these can be washed in warm, soapy water or placed in the dishwasher. If there is stuck-on food, allow the components to soak overnight in soapy water for easier cleaning.
Shake to Remove Crumbs
Move the toaster oven to a trash can or sink. If possible, open the bottom and give the appliance a good shake to remove crumbs and food particles. Use a pastry brush to brush out any crumbs that are clinging to greasy surfaces.
Mix a Cleaning Solution
Mix 2 cups of very warm water, a few drops of dishwashing liquid, and 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar.
It may be tempting to grab a commercial oven cleaner to tackle the interior of a toaster oven. That's a bad idea because most interiors are made of aluminum and oven cleaner can damage it.
Clean the Interior
Dip a sponge into the solution to clean the inside of the toaster oven. Be sure to wring out the sponge so it is damp but not dripping. Wipe down every interior surface—walls, floor, and ceiling—rinsing out the sponge frequently. If there is burned-on food that is not budging, make a paste of baking soda and a few drops of water. Dip a plastic scrubber or a melamine sponge into the paste and scrub lightly. Never use steel wool or any excessively abrasive scraper.
Do not attempt to clean the heating elements and avoid getting them overly wet during cleaning.
Make the Glass Door Sparkle
Most toaster ovens have a glass window in the door. Cut through any grease and make the glass sparkle by using full-strength distilled white vinegar. Spray or wipe it on the glass and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe away with a soft cloth for a streak-free shine. For old baked-on food or grease, use a melamine sponge to cut through the layers of grunge on the glass, then finish by wiping with a soft cloth.
Clean the Outside
The same cleaning solution used for the interior can be used to wipe down the outside of the toaster oven. Use a soft sponge that will not mar the finish. Do a final wipe down with a soft cloth spritzed with just vinegar to make stainless steel shine.
Don't forget to clean the controls. If dials can be removed, they can be washed in warm soapy water, rinsed, and dried well before reassembling.
Reassemble the Toaster Oven
When everything is clean and thoroughly dry, reassemble the components and plug in the oven so it is ready for use.
Tips to Keep Your Toaster Clean Longer
- Trim a reusable oven liner to fit a toaster oven's crumb tray. This will make cleaning easier when spills happen.
- Eliminate crumbs that can prevent bread from popping up. Clean toasters and toaster ovens regularly to prevent residue from interfering with internal mechanisms.
- Do not place plastic bags of bread or bagels near the appliances. The heat from a toaster can quickly melt the plastic.
Removing a Melted Plastic Bag From a Toaster
If a plastic bag has accidentally melted onto the finish of a toaster, remove as much plastic as possible using a wooden or plastic scraper. Unplug the appliance and allow it to cool before removing the remaining plastic. Then sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub the area. Wipe away with a clean damp sponge and repeat until no more plastic is coming off.
To remove the final discoloration, dip a cotton ball in acetone-based nail polish remover. Rub the area with the cotton ball and use a fresh ball as the plastic is transferred. Lastly, wipe down the area with a water-dampened soft cloth to rinse the area.