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How to Clean a Toaster So It’s Free of Crumbs and Burned-on Food

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Enjoying a warm, crispy bagel fresh from the toaster is one of the best ways to start the morning. But when was the last time you remembered to wash this handy kitchen appliance? Knowing how to clean a toaster (and doing it often!) will help avoid the buildup of crumbs and food stains that become a struggle to get rid of over time.

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Making it a habit to regularly clean your toaster will also ensure it’s always in tip-top shape and does its job well. Not to mention, it will be less likely to set off that noisy smoke detector! So, let’s dive into a few tips and tricks for tackling messy toasters that will make it less of a chore.

Can you wash a toaster in the sink?

It might seem more convenient to wash a toaster in the sink to catch any crumbs or food debris, but rinsing under the faucet is definitely not the safest way to go. Excess amounts of water can get trapped inside of the machine and if it doesn’t dry off properly before plugging back in, it can cause an electrical disaster.

A better option is to keep it right next to the sink so that you can dump any crumbs or pieces out rather than the gunk getting on your counters. You also can empty out any food debris in the trash. Either way, you should never submerge the entire toaster in water. Simply wiping it with a damp rag or sponge will work just fine.

Also, remember to unplug the machine before cleaning, for safety reasons and so that you won’t have trouble moving it around during the process.

How do I clean and sanitize a toaster?

Leaving crumbs, burnt on pieces of food, and other stains on your toaster is an easy way for germs and bacteria to grow. If any of this gets on to the piece of food that you’re toasting, it might make you sick with food poisoning. Plus, a dirty toaster can be dangerous to use because the food particles will heat up and could cause the machine to catch on fire. Yikes!

So to avoid any kitchen disasters or an upset stomach, follow Howcast’s step-by-step guide on how to clean a toaster:

  1. Unplug the toaster and place it near the sink for easy clean up.
  2. Brush off any crumbs that might be in or around the top of the toaster slots.
  3. If your toaster has a removable crumb tray, take it out from underneath the machine and dump the debris into your sink or a nearby trash can.
  4. Clean the tray with a sponge and mild soap. Rinse off the excess soapy water and dry it off.
  5. If your toaster model doesn’t have a crumb tray or there’s any remaining bits left inside of the machine, turn it upside down over the sink and shake it a few times to get rid of them.
  6. Once those are out, insert the crumb tray back into its place.
  7. Wipe the outside of your toaster clean with a one-to-one ratio of white vinegar to water on the cloth.
  8. Your toaster is now ready to use again!

The experts at Better Homes & Gardens recommend emptying the toaster’s crumb tray and cleaning it at least once a week if you use it everyday. But for less frequent use, you can tidy it once a month.

How to Clean a Toaster With Cheese In It

Trying to remove stuck-on globs of cheese from a toaster can be a headache and it might feel easier to just want to replace it with a brand new one. (We just so happen to have a list of the best toasters to choose from if you want to go down that route.)

But if you’d rather stick with your current appliance, a little patience and some extra elbow grease can help remove even the most stubborn cheese. Take it from professional cleaner Jennifer Betts who gave Love to Know her three simple steps for how to clean a toaster with cheese:

  1. Unplug the toaster and allow it to cool down to solidify the melted cheese. 
  2. Once it’s solid, use a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape or pop it off carefully.
  3. After removing it, use a soft, clean toothbrush to remove any residue on the bars.

How to Clean a Toaster Oven Inside 

Toaster ovens are more spacious than regular toasters, which not only allows you to crisp things up but also fully cook a meal. As nice as that it is, this means clean up can be a little bit harder with more intense food stains.

“People use their toaster ovens for everything from roasting meats to baking casseroles and other items,” Laurie Klein, a home economist for Hamilton Beach, said to Consumer Reports. “So the inside of a toaster oven could have a build up of grease and various food splatters, which could ignite with high temperatures.”

With all that in mind, it can seem intimidating to clean a toaster oven at first. Thankfully, Cindy Fisher, lead test engineer for countertop appliances for Consumer Reports, shared her tips for making it easy:

  1. Unplug the machine from the outlet.
  2. Sit the toaster oven on a few pieces of newspaper to catch any crumbs, then remove the metal tray, rack, and lower crumb tray and place them in the sink. Use dish soap and water to wash these parts with a sponge. If there’s stubborn stains on these removable pieces, you can leave them in the sink to soak overnight. Let them dry completely while you clean the rest of the oven.
  3. Make a DIY cleaning solution from white vinegar, water, and dish soap for the interior of the toaster oven. Use your best judgement on the ratios, but equal parts of the vinegar and water with about a teaspoon of mild dish soap should do the trick. “Apply that to the interior with a damp sponge,” Cindy said. “But try not to get any of the liquid on the heating elements.”
  4. Use a sponge or cloth to throughly wipe down your toaster oven.
  5. Repeat this step if needed.

Fisher recommends wiping down the exterior of your toaster oven and cleaning the interior after every use.

How do you get burn marks off a stainless steel toaster?

Similar to stuck-on bits of melted cheese, burn marks on a stainless steel toaster require something a little more powerful to completely remove. In this case, the experts at Simply Maid suggest grabbing baking soda, which is known to remove stains and make stainless steel items shine like new. Mix it with equals parts of water until it forms a paste, then spread it on the areas where it looks scorched.

Next, let the paste sit for at least 15 minutes before you start scrubbing it with a damp sponge. Once you’ve removed the burn marks from the machine, you can wipe it down with a moist clean rag to remove any lingering bits of the baking soda before you dry it off. This easy DIY tip gives your stainless steel toaster a new life so it can continue to shine on your kitchen counter.

Want more tips to make cleaning a breeze? Check out our guides for how to clean a Keriug, how to clean an oven, and how to clean your kitchen.

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