How to Clean a Toaster (and Toaster Oven) So It's Crumb-Free

When's the last time you cleaned out the crumb tray?

toaster with bread in it on a pink background
Photo: Adobe Stock

The bread crumb doesn't fall too far from the toaster—in fact, many crumbs find a permanent place inside. Therefore, it is important to learn the right way to clean a toaster and a toaster oven so they're free of debris and old food buildup. The process only requires simple supplies you likely already have on hand, like lemon juice and mild dish soap. When you're ready to get scrubbing, follow these step-by-step instructions for how to clean a toaster so it shines.

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What You'll Need:

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Paper towels or cleaning cloth
  • Lemon
  • Salt
  • Distilled white vinegar

How to Clean a Toaster

  1. Unplug the toaster from the power outlet and wait until the appliance is cool.
  2. Using a toothbrush, gently scrape any stuck-on food bits off of the metal grates inside the slots of the toaster.
  3. If your toaster has a crumb tray, remove it and dispose of any crumbs. If there's any residue on the tray, wash it with dish soap and warm water using a sponge. Be sure to dry the tray thoroughly.
  4. Turn the toaster upside-down over a garbage can and shake gently to dislodge any additional crumbs that didn't fall onto the crumb tray. Then replace the clean crumb tray.
  5. To clean the exterior of the toaster, wipe it with a damp cloth. To remove any dirt or stains, apply a drop of dish soap to the cloth and work it into the stain. Once the stain is gone, rinse with a clean damp cloth.
  6. To de-grease the exterior of a stainless steel toaster, cut a lemon in half and sprinkle the cut side with salt. Rub the lemon and salt onto the outside of the toaster, being careful not to get lemon juice inside the appliance. Clear away the lemon juice and salt with a damp cloth, then dry. To shine the exterior, wipe a cloth dampened with white vinegar on the outside of the toaster, again being careful not to get liquid inside the toaster.

How to Clean a Toaster Oven

  1. Before cleaning your countertop toaster oven, turn it off, unplug it, and allow it to cool before cleaning, recommends Melanie Hernandez, the associate manager of brand marketing at Calphalon appliances.
  2. To clean the exterior of the toaster oven, wipe it with a damp cloth. Dip the cloth in soapy water, then wring it out before cleaning. (Safety note: You should never immerse a toaster in water.)
  3. If your toaster oven has a wire rack or baking pan, remove it from the oven and submerge it in warm, soapy water. Then wipe it with a soft cloth or sponge, suggests Hernandez.
  4. You can also wash these accessories in the top rack of the dishwasher. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before replacing.
  5. Remove the crumb tray and shake off crumbs. Wash with soapy water, and dry thoroughly.
  6. Abrasive cleaners, scrub brushes, and chemical cleaners will damage the coating on the toaster oven, so make sure to only use mild, soapy water. Also, cleaning the crumb tray often will avoid any accumulations and make your toaster oven easier to clean.
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