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The Proper Way to Clean a Toaster (Without Electrocuting Yourself)

No, shaking the toaster over your sink doesn't count as cleaning. Here's what to do to prevent a fire hazard.

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

Regularly clean your toaster to remove any food residue that could cause that less-than-ideal burnt taste -- or even fires.

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My go-to breakfast each morning is some variation of avocado toast with egg. That means every day, without fail, I'm toasting a piece of bread or two. Though cleaning out my toaster (or toaster oven) isn't usually very high up on my to-do list, it's important that I clean out my trusty appliance at least once a week and 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:

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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

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