How to clean a toaster and safely remove those smelly burnt bits at the bottom
- To clean the inside of your toaster, you need to get as many crumbs out of it as possible.
- The best way to remove crumbs from a toaster is to turn it upside down and give it a gentle shake.
- Use mild soap, water, and a soft dishcloth to wash the exterior of the toaster.
The classic slot toaster has a simple, straightforward design. That is, until you have to clean it.
And you should really be cleaning your toaster on a regular basis. Because here's a fact: The more you use it, the more crumbs accumulate inside. A dirty toaster can smell, smoke, and make your toast taste unpleasant.
Kitchen blogger Clare Ivatt of Kitchen Timesavers, gives us her best tips on how to keep your toaster in like-new condition, even after many years of use.
How to clean a toaster
What you need
- Soft-bristled brush like a toothbrush or pastry brush
- Dish soap
- Non-abrasive sponge
- Soft dishcloth
- Baking soda
- White vinegar (for stainless steel toasters)
1. Unplug it. When cleaning small appliances, remember to always disconnect it from the power source to avoid any electrical safety hazards.
2. Remove and clean the crumb tray. Most standard slot toasters include a removable crumb tray located at the bottom of the appliance. "Most of the crumbs fall down into the crumb tray on their own," says Ivatt.
If your toaster has a crumb tray, give it a gentle shake and use a brush to dislodge any loose particles so they fall to the bottom. Remove the crumb tray and empty it in the trash. Wash it with warm, soapy dish water, and then put it aside to dry.
3. Turn the toaster upside down and give it a shake. If the toaster doesn't have a crumb tray (and even if it does), hold the toaster upside down over your sink or trash, then shake it to loosen any remaining debris. Depending on the amount of crumbs, this may take a few attempts.
Quick tip: To dislodge leftover bits from hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, you can also use compressed air. Just be sure to do it in a controlled manner and don't get any liquid into the toaster.
4. Wipe down the exterior. For toasters with a plastic or mixed-metal exterior, wipe down the outside with a damp cloth, using warm, soapy water. "Use a soft cloth soaked in dishwashing soap to gently wipe over the outside of the toaster. Do not use harsh or abrasive chemicals or scouring pads," says Ivatt.
When cleaning the outside of a stainless steel toaster, mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar with a drop of dish soap. Wet a cloth with a mixture and wipe the toaster down. To get your toaster shiny, buff it with a microfiber cloth.
5. Use a paste of baking soda and water to remove burn marks. "If you have brown stains on the entrance to the slots, you can remove these using a paste made of baking soda and water," says Ivatt.
She recommends using a toothbrush to buff the paste onto the stains, then a clean and soft cloth to wipe the paste residue away. However, take care to not let the paste drip down inside the toaster, as this can be hard to remove.
6. Reinsert the crumb tray and allow it to dry. The toaster will take several hours to dry. Once everything is clean, pop the crumb tray back into place and plug the toaster back in.
How often you should clean a toaster
A toaster that's used daily may need to be cleaned every week. If you notice a burning smell, that's a sure-fire sign that crumbs have accumulated at the bottom or on the heating elements.
As a general rule, Ivatt says removing and cleaning the crumb tray on a weekly basis will make it easier to clean. And using a warm, soapy cloth to clean your toaster's exterior every week or so will keep it in good shape.
Toasters are easy to clean with a few basic tools. Just remove the crumb tray or tap the crumbs out of the entrance slots, then clean the tray with dish soap, and use a thin brush to remove crumbs from the interior. Wash the exterior with dish soap, water, and white vinegar for stainless steel.