By Melanie Fincher

Without proper care and cleaning, food baked onto a toaster oven can catch fire.

Toaster ovens are one of the handiest and most versatile kitchen appliances out there. Perfect for a small apartment or dorm, they can cook small amounts of almost anything you would cook in an oven. They're also great for reheating food (they often do a better job than microwaves at evenly heating some foods). And of course, they can be used to toast bread.

However crumbs, food splatters, and grease can build up in toaster ovens over time, and possibly even catch fire. But fear not—you can have yours good as new in a matter of minutes. Read on to learn how to clean a toaster oven the right way.

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How Often Should You Clean a Toaster Oven?

Although this article is going to teach how to give your toaster oven a deep clean, there are a few things to get into the habit of doing daily that will help keep your toaster oven in tip-top shape.

First, empty the crumb tray along the bottom of the toaster oven with each use, dumping out any crumbs and cleaning any food splatters or grease. Use a damp dish towel or sponge, warm water, and dish soap to clean it if necessary. You should also try to keep your toaster oven unplugged when not in use to prevent potential fires.

In you're wondering how often you should deep clean your toaster oven, there is no magic number. It depends on how often you use it, because each use can lead to more residue build up. A good rule of thumb is to try and give it a thorough clean when you begin to see food buildup or when you see or smell smoke.

Here's What You'll Need:

  • Old newspapers
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Soft sponge
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar (you can substitute dish soap)
  • Dish towel

How to Clean Your Toaster Oven: Step by Step

  • Unplug: Start by disconnecting your toaster oven from the power source. If you've used it prior to cleaning, allow it to cool down completely before cleaning.
  • Clean Removable Parts: Place your toast oven on a piece of newspaper to catch the excess crumbs. Remove the crumb tray, rack, and baking pan. Wash them with warm water, dish soap, and a sponge or dish towel. Don't use harsh scouring pads, as this will scratch the finish of the toaster oven. If you have serious food stains or splatters, soak these parts in warm water overnight before cleaning them. Once you've finished cleaning them, allow them to air dry while you clean the rest of the toaster oven.
  • Clean the Interior: Dip your soft sponge into a mixture of ½ cup hot water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar (or you can use dish soap). Squeeze all excess water out of your sponge. Wipe down the interior walls and ceiling with the sponge.
  • Clean Heating Elements: With a slightly damp dish towel, wipe down the heating elements and allow them to dry completely before use. Be sure to consult your users manual before doing so.
  • Clean the Exterior: Use your water and vinegar mixture to dampen your soft sponge and wipe down the exterior of the appliance. Spray a dish towel or microfiber cloth with glass cleaner to clean the glass door.
  • Reassemble Your Toaster Oven: Once you've cleaned all parts of your toaster oven, make sure everything is completely dry before plugging it back in and enjoying warm bagels or baked goods once again.

How to Keep Your Toaster Oven Clean

I'm sorry to say it, but the trick to keeping your toaster oven clean is wiping it down with each use. It becomes much more difficult to clean once food has been baked onto the surface of the appliance. Once it's cooled down, unplug your toaster oven and be sure to wipe down the interior walls, crumb tray, and any other removable parts with a damp sponge and allow them to dry before reinserting them into the appliance. This will help to cut down on the number of times you are required to deep clean your toaster oven. Always refer to your users manual before cleaning your toaster oven.

Related: How to Buy The Best Toaster or Toaster Oven

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