How To Properly Clean Your Toaster Inside and Out

Photo: Getty Images / CocoSan
It’s easy to remember the basics when cleaning the kitchen, such as wiping down countertops, cleaning dirty pots and pans, dishes or utensils, emptying out the trash and running a load in the dishwasher. But just because certain appliances don’t immediately come to mind for a good cleaning doesn't mean they don't need it. Learning how to clean your coffee maker, blender, and—yes—even your toaster is an essential part of keeping a tidy kitchen.

The toaster is an countertop appliance that gets pretty dirty after use, where crumbs and other food particles remain trapped and build up over time. Unless cleaned and removed regularly, these food particles can become hazardous and affect your machine’s ability to function, which is why proper maintenance and care is essential.

Experts In This Article
  • Adriana Aziz, cleaning expert and operations manager with MaidForYou

Why You Should Clean a Toaster Regularly

It’s important to know how to clean a toaster and how often to do so in order to avoid bad odors in the kitchen, damage to your machine or kitchen, should something catch on fire, as well as poor food quality.

“Your toaster builds up with ash and burnt bread crumbs, especially in the case of a pop-up toaster, and will make your toasted sandwiches taste burnt over time,” says Adriana Aziz, cleaning expert and operations manager with MaidForYou, a house cleaning company based in Sydney, Australia.

When there’s food in your toaster, it heats up and can impact how your toaster functions and prevent toast from cooking evenly.

Additionally, if leftover crumbs get caught on the heating element or become trapped in between the slots, it’s a fire hazard. You’ll likely notice a strong odor (like something is burning) if you haven’t cleaned your toaster in a while, too.

And if lack of cleaning becomes a habit, you may have to replace your toaster with a new one, if the parts become too damaged over time.

How Often Should You Clean a Toaster?

Toasters get dirty mostly by the accumulation of crumbs from toast and bagels, and so how often you use your toaster will be a huge factor in determining how to clean a toaster for ideal maintenance. The more frequently you use it, the more build up of crumbs and old food particles there will be, as well as a need for upkeep and regular cleanings in the week.

Empty the crumb tray with each use and clean the interior and exterior of a toaster weekly in order to best avoid excess grime and burnt food particles. Deep cleaning a toaster and wiping the grills may benefit from baking soda solution in order to really eliminate those smelly odors and should be done once a month.

“In the case of a pop-up toaster, I highly recommend cleaning it at the end of every week and to do a thorough clean of the appliance at least twice a year,” says Aziz. (You should remove burnt bread crumbs after every use) “Use a toothbrush or other small brush when the toaster is switched off to remove burnt pieces of bread from the toaster,” says Aziz.

A tip to really making sure those crumbs are gone is to hold the toaster upside down and shake it, where any lingering crumbs that are stuck will fall out. Using a dry toothbrush and cleaning in those hard-to-reach crevices will help afterwards, too.

How To Clean a Toaster Properly

Beyond daily maintenance and cleaning of the crumb tray, to thoroughly clean a toaster and its parts, you’ll need a toothbrush and a solution containing a mixture of white vinegar and water for an effective cleaning solution that’ll give a toaster that sparkle and shine, once again. As always, unplug the toaster and make sure there is no residual heat emanating from the device first.

What you’ll need:

  • Toothbrush
  • Small lint-free cloth
  • White vinegar
  • Dish soap

“The first step is to locate the crumb tray and thoroughly wipe it down with a solution mixture of dish soap and water, and to make sure to rinse well, until all the crumbs are gone,” says Aziz. Once finished, let the tray sit out to dry.

“The next step is to clean the inside of your pop-up toaster, which can be difficult because of the electrical components inside the appliance,” says Aziz.

Mix white vinegar with water for a cleaning solution that’ll give that toaster a good scrub down. Once mixed, grab a toothbrush, dip it in the solution of white vinegar and water, and use it to clean the heating coils inside your toaster. Once finished, use the lint-free cloth to wipe down the larger internal components of your toaster.

Lastly, use a microfiber cloth and a general multipurpose cleaner to thoroughly wipe down the exterior of your toaster. Try to avoid getting heating elements damp, too. Try and wipe them with a dry towel or microfiber cloth, rather than a wet towel.

To step up your cleaning approach and to do a real deep-cleaning, you may choose to use a baking soda solution instead and mix equal parts baking soda and dish soap. And take note, aluminum toasters are sensitive to chemicals found in cleaning products. So, exposure may cause damage to an aluminum toaster’s interior. Do some research to figure out which solution is best.

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