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How To Clean A Toaster 1

How to clean a toaster

A lot of people think that cleaning a toaster is a real pain. For some people, it really can be. Certain toasters are set up in a way that makes cleaning them difficult. This includes simply getting the crumb tray out of the toaster.

There are a handful of helpful and useful tools you can use to clean your toaster. Before buying, think about how much time you want to spend cleaning. If you really don’t want to clean your toaster at all, there are toasters that are cleverly designed to help.

Here’s our helpful guide on how to clean toasters. Even if you have cheese or other non-bread foodstuffs in there, we will help you out. We’ll also suggest a few helpful tools to help you clean your toaster even quicker.

Table of contents

  • Do I need any special equipment to clean my toaster?
  • How to clean a toaster
  • How to clean a toaster with cheese in it
  • How to clean a stainless steel toaster
  • How do you sterilize a toaster?
  • How to clean a toaster heating element
  • Conclusion
  • FAQ

Do I need any special equipment to clean my toaster?

Not really, but a toaster cleaning brush can make life easier. These are generally very cheap and can be picked up wherever you can buy toasters and toaster accessories.

If you do not have a toaster cleaning brush, a toothbrush or a bottle brush does an excellent job in its place.

How to clean a toaster

Cleaning a toaster can be a bit grim. You get to see what has been inside your appliance every time you made yourself a snack. With that in mind, prepare yourself to see disgusting clumps of crumbs and whatever else.

Here’s our 7 step guide to cleaning your toaster.

1. Unplug The Toaster

How to clean a toaster

Toasters are powered by electricity. Cleaning them while they are plugged in is dangerous and could lead to serious injury. When we expose electricity to water, we run the risk of shorting the device or causing serious electrical hazards. That’s especially true if you want to wash it with water.

If you have recently used your toaster, you should also let it cool down. The elements in a toaster can reach temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Touching on could cause serious damage to your skin. Don’t cool it down with water, just leave it for a few minutes to cool down.

2. Give It A Shake

Hold your toaster over a trash can and give it a good shake. This is where you will see the horribleness that was inside. This doesn’t get rid of all the crumbs but is a good start.

Getting rid of the loose crumbs will mean that you can cut down on the other crumbs you need to clean later. A lot of toasters collect crumbs at the top of their carriages, so a good shake usually gets rid of them.

3. Open The Crumb Tray (If You Have One)

Most toasters come with crumbs trays. If yours doesn’t, you can skip this section. For the sake of cleaning, you may want to update your toaster.

They either pull out from the bottom or fold down from the side. If you have a toaster with a pull-out crumb tray, you simply pull it out and throw those crumbs in the trash. Leave the tray to one side after disposing of these crumbs.

If you have a fold down tray, hold it over the trash can before you open it. The crumbs are often ready to fall out of the tray. If you’re not over the trash can, your work surface will be covered in crumbs. No one wants that.

4. Brush The Bread Slots

Using a toothbrush or bottle brush, remove any excess crumbs that are refusing to leave. You can be very thorough here, scrubbing the elements and carriage to remove any clumps of toast that are left. If your toaster did not have a removable crumb tray, you may need to use a light cleaning solution (like water and dish soap) to get most of the mess off.

Some toasters have removable bottoms to make this process easier. If yours does, you can brush the carriage from both sides. Sweep up the toaster crumbs and dispose of them into the trash.

5. Cleaning It Properly

With fewer crumbs, you can now dip it in the sink. You really shouldn’t dip an entire toaster in the sink, however. You’re more likely to cause damage if the device is completely wet.

If you have a removable crumb tray, just wash this instead. Use a simple solution of water and dish soap to clean the tray and then hand dry it. Make sure this is completely dry before you put the tray back into the toaster – a wet tray will lead to wet crumbs, meaning you will have to clean your toaster again sooner than you have to.

Top Tip: When washing electronics, you must let them dry completely afterward or the water will short it out. This could lead to broken appliances or even house fires.

How to clean a toaster

6. Clean The Outside

The toaster’s shell can pick up stains and discoloration from constant use and from being in a hot room. Cleaning this off is relatively easy and makes your toaster look as good as new.

The outside of the toaster can be cleaned with a soapy mixture and a sponge. This doesn’t need to be complex, just make sure you remove stains and stray crumbs to get a nice finish.

Remember to dry the appliance after washing. This can be done with any towel, but microfiber clothes give the best finishes. Regular towels can lead to streaky finishes when dry.

Top Tip: If you can’t use a microfiber cloth, newspaper works just as well to dry for a clean finish.

7. Put It Back Together

Now you can put the crumb tray back into the toaster and get toasting again. This is the final step of cleaning your toaster, so you shouldn’t see any leftover crumbs.

Make sure everything is completely dry before you plug it in! If you have had to use a lot of soap and water on the appliance, I advise leaving the device to fully dry for a day. You should leave it so that the bread slots are facing down. This will stop moisture pooling at the bottom of the device.

Simple! For a standard toaster with a plastic shell, you can follow these easy 7 steps. Your toaster will look as good as new. But sometimes, there are additional factors to consider. If your toaster or your problem is different, see below for our top tips on cleaning.

How to clean a toaster with cheese in it

Oops, you’ve got cheese on the inside of your toaster. Knowing how to clean a toaster with cheese in it is half the battle. It’s easy, but requires a little bit of patience.

1. Unplug The Toaster

Turn off the toaster and make sure that it is cool. If you have literally just got cheese on the inside, let this cool too. You don’t want to be handling hot elements.

2. Scrape It Up With A Soft Utensil

Now that the cheese is solid and cool, you can begin to scrape it up. I like to use a soft plastic spatula, but a wooden spoon will do if you don’t have one.

Top Tip: Avoid using metal implements. Even though the toaster is off, there could be latent energy. This could cause small electrical shocks. You’re also more likely to cause damage to the carriage or elements with a metal tool.

Use the utensil to slide under the cheese and “pop” it off the surface it is stuck to. You don’t want to use a great deal of force as this could damage the carriage. When you have popped it off, remove the utensil from the toaster. Tip the toaster over a trash can and remove the cheese.

3. Get Rid Of The Grease

Using a toothbrush or a bottle brush, apply a small amount of dish soap to the greasy stain left by the cheese. This will cause the stain to go, leaving you with a nice clean finish.

Now you can follow our other guide from step 2 and clean your toaster properly.

How to clean a stainless steel toaster

Stainless steel toasters don’t actually need any special treatment on the inside. You will need to do a little more aftercare.

After you have washed the outside of your toaster with soapy water, get a clean dishcloth and dip it in white vinegar. Rub the vinegar over the shell of the toaster, taking time to work over stains. This will give your toaster a nice, clean finish.

How do you sterilize a toaster?

Sterilizing a toaster is the exact same as the process above, but you will need to use a bleach solution instead of soapy water. Mix bleach with water with 1 part bleach for every 10 parts water. Then dip a cloth in the mixture so that it is moist.

Use the bleach / water mix to clean your toaster and then use a cloth dipped in only water to rinse away the bleach. You don’t want bleach to be left over where you are preparing your toast.

How to clean a toaster heating element

Cleaning the element in a toaster can be a bit fiddly. You will need soapy water, a cloth, and vinegar.

1. Unplug the toaster

First of all, make sure the toaster is unplugged and the element is cool. You don’t want to touch the elements when they are turned on as they can reach up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Apply the soapy water

How to clean a toaster

Using a cloth, gently rub the heating element to remove any grease. If you cannot remove the carriage from the toaster, this may be easier with a toothbrush or bottle brush. Remember to clean behind the elements themselves as they can often get grease stuck behind them.

3. Apply the vinegar

This is to get the toughest stains off the elements and give them a fresh look. This will also help them heat up to their maximum potential again, giving you quicker cooking times.

Apply vinegar and gently rub the elements. The stains should run off them easily.

If they are particularly stubborn, use baking soda as well. This will cause a fizz in your toaster, so make sure that you clean up the mess it causes and allow it to dry properly.

When all this is done, you can follow the rest of our step-by-step guide above.


Cleaning a toaster is easy. Just remember the golden rule: electricity and water do not mix. You need to clean the toaster with soapy water (or bleach, if you want to sterilize it), but do not allow an electrical connection to the toaster until it is completely dry.

If you follow our step by step guide, you won’t need to do this often either. Toasters can deal with a few stray crumbs and you can cut down on full cleans by emptying the crumb tray often.

FAQ - #How to clean a toaster

Why do I need to unplug my toaster before cleaning it?

There is a strong electric current flowing through the toaster. It comes from the main power grid. One shock from that and you could be toast (excuse the pun). Toasters are electrical equipment and need to be treated with respect. Turn off the power and there is no risk of serious injury.

What is the crumb tray on a toaster for?

It collects stray crumbs that fall off your toast. Empty it frequently and you will not have to perform as many full cleans on your appliance.

Do I need to use bleach to clean my toaster?

No, but it will make everything sterile. If you do use bleach, make sure to rinse over the bleached areas with a moist cloth. This will stop bleach from getting on your delicious toast.

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One thought on “How To Clean A Toaster

  • Marlene Frank

    This is the 10th or 11th article I have read on cleaning a toaster that uses soapy water and or vinegar to wipe out the inside. So I just had to clean out my 200$+ multi-feature Breville wide slot toaster. It had not been cleaned out except for my occasional emptying the crumb tray in 4 or 5 years. So yuck. After unplugging the device, removing and cleaning the crumb tray and then giving the “big” toaster a good shake over the sink – there still were crumbs and stuff stuck to the bottom and in the bottom corners. I go to the internet for advice. And as said above found multiple articles with the almost the same worded advice (bots anyone?) – soapy water, vinegar, microfiber cloth, toothbush. Okay – the slots are too small for my hands, so how am I going to get a cloth in there? Plus the wire cages that hold the bread are delicate and easily bend if you are too vigorous with pushing your cloth in there. And the tooth brush has the same issue – the depth of the head is thicker than the slots. Also there is no way I am putting anything wet or damp into a smart toaster with all those sensors. And that is the issue. The newer, expensive toasters have all these sensitive sensors. So forget those recommendations. Well what worked? A very thin flat pastry brush. I was able to get it in and brush out most but not all of the “stuff”. There was one resulting problem. After plugging the unit back in, the toaster lever would not remain down. Clearly the “cleaning” had affected a sensor. I went back on the internet, discovered this is a common problem with a so called fast fix. The fast fix is to take your toaster apart and clean the sensors! Omg! After watching 3 of these so called easy fix videos and deciding I was not going to disembowel my toaster – I did this: unplugged it for 10mins or more, gave it another really good shake over the sink, pulled out the tray to remove anything remaining and plugged it back in. That worked – whatever had been obstructing the sensor for the level had been shaken loose. My fancy multi-feature Breville toaster was reasonably clean and working again. Sometimes a good “smack” is all that is needed.