8 easy tips for cleaning toasters & toaster ovens

Crumbs are bound to get in the toaster during the toasting process. Toaster and toaster oven makers are aware of this and design their appliances for easy clean-up. Here are some handy tips for on-going maintenance.

8 easy tips for cleaning toasters & toaster ovens

1. Empty crumbs weekly

  • Once every week or so, empty the crumbs in your toaster or toaster oven, depending on how much you use it.
  • Toasters are designed for easy crumb removal. Some toasters have slide-out crumb trays; others have hinged doors that allow you to empty the crumbs.
  • No matter what kind of toaster you have or what sort of mechanism it has for crumb removal, always unplug the toaster before cleaning it.

2. If you can't get them all out

Try disintegrating them with heat. Run the toaster empty on the hottest setting two or three times. (This is also the principle behind self-cleaning ovens.)

3. For those hard-to-remove crumbs

  • Use a clean, dry toothbrush, (not the one you use to scrub grout — a new one) or an old, clean paintbrush.
  • Again, be sure the toaster is unplugged.
  • Loosen the crumbs with the brush and then brush them out.
  • Turn the toaster upside down and shake. Make sure you do it gently, as you don't want to damage the heating element.

4. Wipe down the outside of the toaster

  • With a wet cloth, wipe around the control knobs.
  • Add a dash of vinegar or squirt of dishwashing liquid to the cleaning water for more cleaning power.
  • For stainless steel toasters, polish with a stainless steel polish, available from supermarkets and hardware stores.

5. The outside of the toaster oven

  • Toaster ovens typically need a better cleaning than toasters. Many people do more than just toast bread in their toaster ovens — they make toasted sandwiches dropping in cheese, juice-oozing fruit pies and even grill small grease-spattering chickens.
  • Keep the outside clean can by regularly wiping it with a damp cloth.
  • Add a splash of vinegar or a squirt of dishwashing liquid to the wash water for added cleaning power.
  • The control buttons may pull off to make cleaning the control panel easier. Check your owner's manual.

6. Every week or two

  • Empty the crumb tray, which, in most toaster ovens, is removable. Some even have doors underneath for removing the crumbs that fall past the tray. If you'll be opening this trapdoor, make sure you unplug the unit first.
  • Wash the removable tray. Most trays are thin aluminium and may not be dishwasher safe. Read your owner's manual to find out. If you're unsure, hand wash the tray in warm, soapy water.

7. Clean messes right away

  • Do this right after messy toaster-oven cooking sessions.
  • Let the oven cool, unplug it and then remove any oven trays or racks.
  • Clean trays and racks in hot, soapy water.
  • Wipe the inside of the oven with a damp cloth.
  • If you're lucky, your toaster has a non-stick surface on the inside, and baked-on food will come right off.
  • Carefully lift up the heating element (if possible) and clean under it.

8. For stuck-on food

  • Try a moist plastic or nylon scrubber.
  • Never use anything abrasive, such as steel wool. You'll scratch the smooth surface, which will make food stick worse next time.
  • If the plastic scrubber fails, put a small bowl of full-strength ammonia inside the unplugged oven with the door closed. Leave overnight and then remove the ammonia. The fumes will loosen the food.
  • Wipe the inside again and let the oven air out before using.
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