toaster cleaning lead

Cleaning and maintaining a toaster or toaster oven is an important kitchen chore that can easily go overlooked. But it’s critical to show these small appliances regular TLC to keep them in good working order and, more importantly, to keep your family and home safe.

Christine Brown, the head of consumer care at Revolution Cooking, offers some general tips for cleaning a toaster or toaster oven, starting with safety, “To clean any toaster, unplug from the outlet and wait for the toaster to cool completely before removing the food.”

Brown provides a quick list of tips to ensure you stay safe while cleaning these small appliances.

• Unplug from the outlet and wait for the toaster to cool completely.
• The crumb tray should be emptied often to avoid food buildup; failure to regularly clean out crumbs can create a fire hazard.
• Do not attempt to dislodge food when a toaster or toaster oven is plugged in.
• Do not insert utensils in any toasters as they may damage heating elements, as well as involve a risk of fire or electric shock.
• Avoid spraying or dousing a toaster or toaster oven directly with water and/or cleaning agents.

Tools for cleaning a toaster or toaster oven

From $6 at Amazon

Winco Pastry Brush

A pastry brush for brushing out crumbs.

From $11.99 at Amazon

Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, 24-Pack

Microfiber cloths for cleaning the exterior of the appliance.

$7.69 at Amazon

Palmolive Essential Clean Liquid Dish Soap

Dilute dish soap in water to make a gentle cleaning solution to remove stuck-on food and buildup.

$11.49 $9.99 at Amazon

Scotch-Brite Dobie All-Purpose Pads, 3-Pack, Set of 2

A non-scratch abrasive sponge for scouring stubborn buildup from the interior and/or exterior of the unit.

$6.49 at Amazon

Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda Shaker

A paste of baking soda and water can help to gently scour stubborn buildup from toaster oven parts, its interior and glass door.

How to clean a toaster

toaster istock 1

Regularly cleaning a toaster to remove crumbs is an essential part of keeping these small appliances running well, and of reducing the chance of fire. Follow these steps to routinely clean a toaster.

Step 1: Prepare the appliance for cleaning

Unplug the toaster and allow it to cool before cleaning.

Step 2: Dislodge crumbs

Dislodge crumbs by holding the toaster over the sink or a trashcan and gently shaking and/or banging the sides of the unit. If the toaster has a crumb tray, remove and empty it. Use a pastry brush to brush out crumbs that are clinging to the interior of the toaster; if the design of the toaster allows it, brush from the top and from the bottom of the unit.

Step 3: Clean the exterior

Clean the exterior of the toaster by wiping it down using a damp microfiber cloth. Pay particular attention to levers and knobs; on some models, those can be removed and washed by hand using hot, soapy water.

If there is stuck-on food, splatters or a sticky buildup, the cloth can be dipped in a solution of diluted dish soap for extra cleaning power. A Dobie Pad can also be used to safely clean the exterior of a toaster that has significant buildup.

Step 4: Dry and reassemble 

Dry the exterior of the unit with a microfiber cloth. Dry individual parts thoroughly and return them to the unit and reassemble the toaster.

How to clean a toaster oven

toasteroven istock 1

Cleaning a toaster oven involves a few more steps than cleaning a traditional toaster. Here’s how to keep these small appliances in good, and safe, working condition.

Step 1: Prepare the appliance for cleaning

Unplug the toaster oven and allow it to cool before cleaning.

Step 2: Wash removable parts

Remove the cooking tray and rack from the unit. Wash them in hot, soapy water or, if they are dishwasher-safe, in the dishwasher. Cooking trays and racks that have stuck-on food or buildup can be soaked for 30 minutes, up to overnight, to make cleaning easier.

Step 3: Dislodge crumbs

Dislodge crumbs by holding the toaster oven over the sink or a trashcan and gently shaking and/or banging the sides of the unit. If the toaster oven has a trapdoor on the bottom of the unit, open it to dispose of crumbs. Use a pastry brush to brush out crumbs that are clinging to the interior of the toaster oven; if the design of the toaster oven allows it, brush from the front and from the bottom of the unit.

Step 4: Clean the exterior

Clean the exterior of the toaster oven by wiping it down using a damp microfiber cloth. Pay particular attention to levers and knobs; on some models, those can be removed and washed by hand using hot, soapy water.

Step 5: Deep clean the interior

To remove stuck-on food from the interior of a toaster oven, use a damp Dobie Pad to scour away buildup; never use steel wool, abrasive scrub sponges or scrapers on the interior of a toaster oven. A paste of baking soda and water may also be used to safely scour stuck-on food from the interior of a toaster oven.

When cleaning the interior of a toaster oven, avoid getting the heating elements overly wet.

Step 6: Clean the glass door

Apply a paste of baking soda and water using a damp sponge or Dobie Pad to remove baked-on food and buildup from the toaster oven’s glass door. Wipe the paste with a clean, damp sponge and then wipe the door clean with a microfiber cloth.

Step 7: Dry and reassemble 

Dry the exterior of the unit with a microfiber cloth. Dry individual parts thoroughly and return them to the unit and reassemble the toaster oven.

How to clean smart toasters and toaster ovens

“Regular crumb tray cleaning is important to eliminate the crumbs that can build up and become a safety hazard,” Brown says, “but remembering to do it can be the hardest part.” Smart toasters, like the Revolution InstaGlo Toasters, and smart toaster ovens, like the June Oven, have features that tell users when it’s time to clean crumbs from the unit. They also typically are designed with ease of cleaning in mind.

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Revolution InstaGLO Toaster + Panini Press + Warming Rack Bundle

Brown provided the following instructions for cleaning a smart toaster.

  • Step 1: Unplug the toaster and allow it to cool completely before cleaning.
  • Step 2: Remove the crumb tray, empty and replace it in the unit.
  • Step 3: Clean the exteriors with a slightly dampened soft cloth, then polish with a soft dry cloth to dry completely.

$849 at Amazon

June Oven Plus Bundle Countertop Convection Smart Oven

Matt Van Horn, the co-founder and CEO of June, which makes a 12-in-1 countertop oven, recommends monthly cleaning using commercial oven cleaner. 

Most toaster ovens should not be cleaned using oven cleaners like Easy-Off; consult manufacturer instructions before using any cleaning agents stronger than soap or baking soda to clean a toaster or toaster oven.

Van Horn provided the following instructions for cleaning the June Oven.

  • Step 1: Spray the inside walls and inside door of your June with a cleaning solvent like Easy-Off Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner, avoiding the heating elements.
  • Step 2: Close the oven door and let the solvent sit until grease wipes away easily with paper towels.
  • Step 3: Wipe out the solvent with dry paper towels, and then wipe the interior with a damp sponge to get rid of any residue.
  • Step 4: Use June’s dual convection fan Blow Dry feature to speed up the drying process.