How to Clean a Toaster

Performing routine maintenance on this small appliance can prevent big problems.

light blue toaster on kitchen counter

Stacey Brandford 

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

When it comes to the humble toaster, it can be easy to forget to perform routine cleaning and maintenance. But cleaning a toaster regularly to ensure it is free of crumbs will keep it in good working order and, more importantly, greatly reduce the risk of fire. In just a few minutes and with basic cleaning supplies, you can remove crumbs and residue from your toaster to help it look and function like new.

What to Know Before Cleaning a Toaster

Cleaning a traditional toaster is a quick and simple task, but there are some important safety considerations to be aware of before you begin.

  • Always unplug a toaster from the outlet before cleaning.
  • The toaster should be completely cool before cleaning.
  • In between cleaning, empty the crumb tray often; a full crumb tray is a fire hazard.
  • Never attempt to dislodge crumbs or other debris when a toaster is plugged in.
  • Do not insert utensils into a toaster; doing so can damage the heating element, as well as pose a risk of fire or electric shock.
  • Avoid spraying or dousing a toaster with water and/or cleaning agents.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Pastry brush
  • Non-abrasive sponge


  • Microfiber cloth(s)
  • Dish soap


  1. Prepare Toaster

    Before cleaning, unplug the toaster and, if it has been used recently, allow it to cool completely.

  2. Empty Crumbs

    If the toaster has a crumb tray, slide it out and empty crumbs into the trash. Hold the toaster over the trash can or the sink and gently shake it to dislodge crumbs.

  3. Clean Crumb Tray

    Use a pastry brush to dislodge crumbs that remain stuck to the interior parts of the toaster. A pastry brush can also be useful for thoroughly cleaning the crumb tray—think of it as a tiny broom fit for a toaster.

  4. Clean Exterior

    Wet a microfiber cloth with water and wring it out so that it is damp but not dripping wet. Use the microfiber cloth to wipe the exterior of the toaster clean, paying particular attention to high-touch areas like levers and knobs. 

  5. Remove Stuck-On Stains

    If the exterior of the toaster is especially dirty with visible stuck-on food or splatters, dilute a few drops of dish soap in water to make a solution that offers more cleaning power than water alone. A non-abrasive scrub sponge can also help to scour stuck-on food, splatters, and the sticky buildup from cooking oil that is common on small kitchen appliances.

  6. Clean Toaster Knobs

    If the toaster's knobs are removable, take them off and wash them in hot, soapy water.

  7. Dry and Reassemble Toaster

    Immediately after cleaning, buff the exterior of the unit dry with a microfiber cloth to prevent streaks and/or water spots from forming. If any parts have been removed from the unit, dry them thoroughly before reassembling the toaster.

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