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How to clean a toaster in less than 5 minutes

How to clean a toaster
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

One of the many appliances we all forget to clean is the pop-up toaster. Some of us use these everyday for our morning bagels, but it’s only when a trail of crumbs builds up underneath that we realize it needs some TLC.

Luckily, cleaning a toaster is faster and easier than you’d think and just takes a few household cleaners to do so. Here's our step-by-step guide on how to clean your toaster, and how often you should do it.

How often should I clean my toaster?  

How often you clean your toaster largely depends on how often you use your toaster, but if you make toast everyday then emptying the crumb tray once a week is good practice, followed by a deep clean once a month.  

What you will need

Dish soap

Pastry brush or toothbrush

Microfiber cloth or sponge

White distilled vinegar (optional)

Baking soda (optional)

Toothpaste (optional)

This will stop the crumbs from building up and will keep the exterior free of oil and grease. It’s essential that you make time to clean your toaster, as an excess of crumbs can become a fire hazard. It can also create an unpleasant smell and affect the taste of anything you toast, so you need to keep on top of it.  

How to clean a toaster

1. First, unplug the toaster and give it a chance to cool down. You might want to place some newspaper underneath or prepare to clean it over your sink as this can get messy. 

2. It’s worth mentioning that you should never put your toaster in the dishwasher to clean it under any circumstances. As an electrical appliance, this will damage it.

3. Start by carefully removing and emptying the crumb tray if you have one. It looks like a small panel you will find at the base of your toaster and there will usually be a small handle to hook it out. In some cases, the bottom of your toaster might be hinged, and swing down. If you don’t have a crumb tray, move onto step 5.

Crumb tray

(Image credit: Future)

4. Wash your crumb tray in warm soapy water then leave it out to completely dry.

5. Carry your toaster (with the crumb tray removed) to your trash can or sink and gently invert and shake it to remove any other crumbs caught inside.

6. Next, you can tip your toaster on its side and take a look at the internals. Using a pastry brush or toothbrush, gently give the elements inside a scrub to dislodge any remaining crumbs. Do not put your fingers inside the toaster or use anything metal to clean the interior.

7. If you’ve got some stubborn residue inside, you can dampen the brush with water or white vinegar to give it added cleaning power. Do not overwet the brush though to avoid damaging the toaster. It’s also worth checking your toaster’s manual as well in case it doesn’t recommend this method or it invalidates the warranty.

8. Invert the toaster once again to shake free any crumbs you’ve just dislodged.

9. Now it’s time to clean the outside. Using a damp sponge or microfiber cloth with some dish soap, give the outside a scrub. This will shift any unsightly fingerprints or splatters. Then rinse away the soap with a damp microfiber cloth and buff.

10. If any crumbs have become trapped around your controls, you can use the toothbrush to dislodge those.

Polishing toaster

(Image credit: Future)

11. If you have a stainless steel toaster, you can use a microfiber cloth which is dampened with white distilled vinegar to polish it.

12. Leave your toaster to completely dry before reassembling it and plugging it back in.

How do you get rid of the brown stains on a toaster?

Another annoying stain toasters can get are those little brown marks near the slots. These will take a little more elbow grease to remove, but it can easily be done. 

1. Once again, wait for the toaster to cool and unplug it.

2. Mix up a paste of baking soda with water. You want it to be thick and not too runny.   

3. Carefully apply the paste directly to the brown marks using a cloth or your fingers. Make sure it doesn’t drip into your toaster as this will be difficult to remove. You can also use toothpaste rather than baking soda as an alternative.    

Toaster with toothpaste

(Image credit: Future)

4. Leave the baking soda to sit for 5 minutes or more depending on how stained it is. If you’re using toothpaste, you don’t need to wait.

5. Using a damp sponge or toothbrush, scrub the baking soda/toothpaste away. Be careful not to be too abrasive as stainless steel can show scratch marks. Your brown stains should now be gone.

Your toaster should now look like you just got it out of the box. Remember to check the crumb tray regularly to keep on top of its maintenance!

Clean toaster

(Image credit: Future)
Katie Mortram

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be stand mixers as she loves to bake in her spare time.