CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

How to Clean Your Toaster (Without Starting a Fire)

Keep your toast from tasting burnt -- or actually burning -- by cleaning your toaster once a week.

Macy Meyer Editor I
Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn't writing, she's volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
Expertise Macy covers a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, smart home tech, fitness, nutrition, travel, lifestyle and more. Credentials
  • Macy has been working for CNET for coming on 2 years. Prior to CNET, Macy received a North Carolina College Media Association award in sports writing.
Macy Meyer
2 min read
hand cleaning toaster

Shaking the toaster over the sink is just the first step in a proper cleaning.

Getty Images

What's breakfast without toast? Every morning I make some variation of avocado toast with egg, which means every morning I toast a piece of bread or two. That's why I make a point of cleaning out my trusty toaster and toaster oven at least once a week, to remove any food residue that could cause a less-than-ideal burnt taste -- or even a fire.

The bottom of a toaster can quickly accumulate a surprising (and icky) amount of dust, crumbs, lint and even bugs if left dirty. So it needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Luckily, there's an easy method, and you won't get electrocuted. I promise. For more cleaning tips, learn how to wash your bedding the right way and how to clean your kitchen in under 15 minutes

How to clean out your toaster

If you use your toaster as often as I do (daily), you'll need to clean it at least once a week. If you use it sporadically, you can get away with cleaning it every few weeks or so, or when you notice food remnants building up. Here's the best way to clean your toaster:

CNET Home Tips logo

1. Unplug your toaster and do the usual upside-down shake thing over the sink. And no, just shaking the appliance over the sink isn't thorough enough. 

2. Pull out the crumb tray, if it has one, and then wash it with warm water and dish soap.

3. While you let the crumb tray dry, dampen a cotton cloth with a little white vinegar and wipe out the slots where the bread, pop tarts or other treats sit. 

4. If there's stuck-on food residue left over from breakfast pastries on the heating elements, gently brush them with an old toothbrush dampened with white vinegar. 

5. Wipe the insides down with a water-dampened cloth to remove any vinegar residue.

6. Give the toaster one last good upside-down shake. 

7. Let the toaster dry completely before plugging your toaster back in. It should only take a couple of hours to dry.

For more household tips, check out how to kill mold in your washer and keep it away, and how to clean cat pee from your couch

More home cleaning tips