How to Clean a Toaster

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Toasted bread is a simple treat that can be enjoyed on the go or on the slow. Whether you prefer it with a bit of strawberry jam or a mashed avocado, keep the moment stress free by maintaining your toaster. That's right—you can avoid the annoyance of smoldering crumbs setting off a smoke alarm during the wee hours of the morning or prevent a serious kitchen fire as long as you take a minute or two to regularly clean crumbs from your machine.


stainless steel toaster on white cabinets

WARNING: Always unplug a toaster before cleaning to prevent electrical shock and burns. Also, allow a toaster to cool completely before cleaning.


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Thankfully, cleaning a toaster is a quick process. Usually weekly cleaning is adequate; however, it will depend on how frequently you use a toaster and what is being toasted. English muffins and multi-grain breads tend to drop more crumbs than a slice of white bread, and toaster pastries can leave a sugary residue.

  1. Unplug the toaster, both for safety and maneuverability.
  2. Locate the crumb tray at the bottom of the toaster and slide it out. Dispose of the crumbs and wipe the tray clean with a damp cloth. Set aside the tray to dry thoroughly.
  3. Hold the toaster over a garbage can and firmly shake it to dislodge crumbs and small bits of bread or pastry that may be stuck on the racks or heating wires. Shake the toaster in both an upright and upside down position.
  4. Set the toaster on the counter and use a small bottle brush or clean toothbrush to brush away any other food particles that remain. If necessary, shake the toaster over the garbage can again to dislodge crumbs that became loose after brushing.
  5. To clean the exterior of the toaster, use a brush to dislodge crumbs that are stuck in the exterior trim or levers. Wipe away smudges with a damp cloth and dry with a clean towel.
  6. Replace the crumb tray and plug in the toaster.
  7. If you want to sanitize the interior, set the browning level to the longest cycle and operate once while empty. Then return the setting to your preferred browning level so that you don't accidentally burn the next slice of bread.


Before using a toaster, adjust the browning level and cycle to prevent burning a slice of bread or a toaster pastry.
Image Credit: andreygonchar/iStock/GettyImages

WARNING: Do not operate a toaster near a sink because water conducts electricity and creates a risk of electrocution. Operate a toaster away from any nearby paper or plastic products, which could start on fire.


If a toaster does start on fire, unplug it if you can safely reach the electrical outlet. Smother a small fire by pouring baking soda over the flames; otherwise, use a Class C fire extinguisher or multi-purpose extinguisher labeled ABC. Do not use water, because it conducts electricity and can spread the flames or shock or electrocute you. Electrical fires are very dangerous. If you cannot put it out, get out of the building with any other family members, shutting the door as you leave to contain the fire. Call 911.




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