How to clean and care for a toaster

While I don’t turn on my regular oven every day, my toaster is a different story. Whether it’s for baking or toasting, there’s hardly a meal, let alone a day, when we don’t put this tabletop appliance to good use.

Of course, the more you use something, the dirtier it gets and the more it needs cleaning. The toaster is no exception. A word of caution: before you begin work, make sure the unit is cool and unplugged. Here are a few more cleaning and maintenance tips to keep your toaster in tip-top shape (which you should keep in mind even if you use it occasionally).

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Empty that crumb drawer. Have you ever put something in the toast and smelled something burnt? Yes, me too. Check the crumb tray.

“That should be removed and cleaned regularly,” says Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications at Cuisinart. In fact, Rodgers thinks many people don’t even know that there’s a removable crumb tray, or drip tray, on the bottom of the toaster.

In many cases, it’s in a slot that you access from the outside bottom front edge. Simply pull out and dust off the crumbs. If a little more work is needed due to grease or other drips, you can wash it with warm, soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge or cloth. Let it dry completely before putting it back in.

Wipe the glass door. If you can’t see into the oven, it’s high time to clean the glass door – and maybe the entire interior. The door is a useful signaling device, Rodgers says, because if the inside of the door is dirty, it likely means the rest of the oven is, too. She uses a glass cleaner like Windex, although you can also go the soap and water route. America’s Test Kitchen vouches for another option from appliance manufacturer Breville, which is warm water combined with a Magic Eraser. Again, stay away from abrasive cleaners to avoid scratching the glass.

Clean inside and out. Warm, soapy water and a soft cloth works well on both the inside walls and the outside of the toaster oven, says Rodgers. Avoid using abrasive scrubbers which can scratch and stay away from metal which can fall off and possibly come into contact with the heating elements. In fact, it’s best to avoid the heating elements in general as much as possible lest you damage them.

Similarly, Consumer Reports uses a mixture of some vinegar, dish soap, and warm water, applied to the inside with a damp sponge. The baking sheet and rack can also be cleaned with soap and water and soaked if necessary to remove stubborn stains, they say.

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If you choose to use a spray cleaner, Breville recommends applying it to the sponge rather than the oven surface.

Regardless of what you use, allow the oven to dry completely before plugging it back in and turning it on.

Watch out for the gap. For the sake of your walls and your toaster, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for how far the toaster should be from the wall. In general, it’s a few centimeters. This allows for proper ventilation and circulation of the oven and can also prevent residue from building up on your walls. Rodgers says some ovens have small stoppers that prevent you from placing the units flush against the wall, but if not, check the clearance from time to time. Over time, the device may be pushed against the wall during use or while cleaning the counter.

Using foil for cooking is fine as long as you are careful. A lot of what you make in a toaster oven can be messy. If you’d rather not mess up the baking sheet, you can line it with foil, although you should check your appliance manual to be sure – some models may not recommend this. If you use foil, Rodgers says, make sure it doesn’t come in contact with the heating elements.

Also, don’t line the crumb tray at the bottom of the oven with foil, where Breville says it could overheat.

Stay tuned. The best attack is a good defense, as the saying goes. I will not recommend cleaning the toaster after each use as I have seen from other sources. Twist eyes. Even Rodgers shook his head emphatically when I asked her for that advice. Her rough guide: Try each month, but cater to more pressing needs as they arise, e.g. B. when the crumb tray needs to be emptied or you have cooked something particularly messy or heavily cooked. Rodgers cooks a lot of salmon and chicken thighs in her toaster, which can leave odors or splatter. These are the times that require immediate attention. (You can see Rodgers give a cleaning demonstration on one of Cuisinart’s air fryer toaster ovens in this video.)

If you leave a mess in the oven, “it will continue to bake and become a little more difficult to remove,” she says.

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