The toaster hasn’t changed much in its design or function since General Electric rolled out its first model in 1909. We count on it to perform a simple task and to work properly when commissioned to do so. However, there are a few maintenance matters the homeowner must take responsibility for when owning a toaster or toaster oven. Keeping these units running properly is all about keeping them clean. Here we’ll cover 6 easy steps for cleaning a toaster or toaster oven so you can continue enjoying toasted goodies, unabashedly.
- Always step one—power OFF the appliance. The shocks given off from toasters can be real zingers if you’re not careful. If you’ve recently used your toaster or toaster oven, let it cool fully before cleaning it. Note: Inspect your power cord. If it’s cracked, breaking or showing signs of wear, it’s time to the toss the toaster. Don’t take the risk.
- Pull out the crumb drawer from underneath your toaster if it has one. For ovens, this will be a removable sheet (like a mini cookie sheet) at the bottom of the oven. Scrub these trays clean using dish detergent, hot water and a steel wool pad. Wiping the crumb tray down with vinegar will sanitize it as well. Important: Allow to air dry fully before placing it back into your toaster. Liquids inside your toaster are a big no-no.
- While the crumb tray dries, dislodge any crumbs that may be clinging to the inside of your toaster coils. With traditional toasters, you can turn these over a trashcan or outdoors (time to feed the birds!) and gently shake out the crumbs. You can even take a small brush (an old dry toothbrush works well) and run it over the coils and release and stuck-on crumbs.
- For toaster ovens, warm it slightly (no more than 200 degrees.) Spray a moist cloth with commercial cleaner or de-greaser (don’t spray the walls directly), or scrub the inside thoroughly with a mixture of hot soapy water and vinegar. Take caution to avoid any exposed heating elements while cleaning.
- Many wire racks from toaster ovens can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but verify this in your manual or check online. To be extra safe, you’re best to wash any removable pieces by hand with soapy water and a steel wool pad (for goo that’s really stubborn) or a kitchen sponge. Rinse and allow all parts to dry thoroughly before replacing them.
- Lastly, give the outside of your toaster a facelift. Using a damp – not wet – sponge (rather than abrasive pad to avoid scratching) and dish detergent solution, wipe down the top, sides and bottom of your toaster. For stainless steel models, use vinegar rather than soap to prevent streaking. You can de-gunk the window of your toaster oven with a steel wool pad and a solution of vinegar and water. Be careful to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, however, as those glass doors can shatter if not properly treated.
Keeping your toaster or toaster oven clean will keep it running better for you—toasting evenly and safely. Additionally, it’s important to keep these units free of grease, food particles and even dust as these elements are fire hazards in your home—whether from smoldering or a short in the heating element. Take a few minutes every other day cleaning your toaster or toaster oven keeping it crumb- and hazard-free. Furthermore, if your toaster stops working and you can’t determine the source of the problem, it’s best to simply replace it. Units are relatively inexpensive and the risk is too great to keep this hazard in your home.