Refreshing the toaster oven is often a low priority during routine kitchen cleaning, but ignoring it could have harsher consequences than we realize.

Toasters are one of a handful of appliances involved in thousands of kitchen fires each year. And while unattended equipment is the primary reason for fire department calls, improper cleaning accounted for over 13,000 annual cooking-related fires from 2014–2018.

When it comes to ensuring your appliance’s performance and avoiding a potential fire hazard, taking a few minutes to maintain your toaster each week can go a long way. Here’s how you can easily clean your toaster oven to keep it safe and functional.

How to Clean a Toaster Oven

Tools and Materials

  • Sponge
  • Non-scratch scouring pads
  • Clean cloth or paper towels
  • Dish soap
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Old toothbrush

1. Unplug the Toaster Oven

Unplug the toaster oven from the wall. Ensure the heating element and all internal components cool completely before you begin cleaning. 

Empty a sink basin to prepare it for soaking the removable toaster oven parts. To make the cleaning process more convenient, clear a spot by the sink where your toaster can sit while you work.

2. Remove and Hand Wash the Trays and Shelf

Most toaster ovens have a removable crumb tray and oven racks that you can wash separately. Use dish soap and a soft sponge to clean them, letting them soak in the sink if they have tough grease buildup. While the parts soak in the warm soapy water, tackle the rest of the toaster.

Do not put toaster oven pieces like the crumb tray in the dishwasher. The high heat alongside the harsh chemicals in dishwasher detergent will corrode and discolor aluminum pans. You can check your user’s manual to see if any components are dishwasher safe, but it’s still generally safer to hand wash them yourself.

3. Remove Crumbs

After removing the loose internal parts, tip the toaster upside down into the sink or garbage can to dump all the crumbs. Use a dry cloth to scrape the remaining crumbs stuck to grease splatters along the oven’s walls, ceiling, and bottom. Run a pastry brush or old toothbrush along corners to remove any dug-in debris.

4. Mix a DIY Cleaning Solution

The simplest and safest way to clean toaster ovens is with a DIY solution of distilled white vinegar, warm water, and dish soap. Mix vinegar and warm water in a 1:4 ratio with a few drops of dish soap in a bowl.

Dip a sponge into the cleaning solution and squeeze out any excess to prevent drips. Carefully wipe the toaster oven interior with the damp sponge, avoiding the heating elements.

5. Use a Non-Abrasive Scrubber

Many toaster ovens feature a non-stick coating such as polytetrafluoroethylene (e.g. Teflon) or ceramic to make cleaning easier. But if you neglect to clean yours for a while, burnt-on food can still become an issue. If that’s the case, a gentle approach is crucial to avoid damaging or wearing down the non-stick material.

A plastic scrubber or other non-scratch scouring pad may be necessary for challenging baked-on food. Do not use steel wool or other abrasive materials that could scratch the metal interior. It may take a few rounds of laying in some elbow grease and scrubbing with a damp soft cloth to get stubborn stains to budge, but it’s worth not damaging your toaster.

6. Wipe Away Grease with Baking Soda

For baked-on grease, you can use the same fix that works so well for safe and easy oven cleaning — baking soda! Sprinkle baking soda onto greasy surfaces, and use a damp cloth to wipe away grime. A gentle scrub is a convenient way to remove residue on a gunky glass door.

Make a baking soda paste with water to handle more intense grease spots. Apply the paste over stubborn grime spots, letting them soak overnight. When you come back to them, wipe the area with a paper towel or microfiber cloth.

7. Use a Magic Eraser

To save time and energy, you can tackle your toaster oven with a clean Magic Eraser. Melamine sponges will quickly cut through grease, particularly on glass doors.

8. Clean the Heating Element

Heating elements don’t demand soapy water or special cleaners, as they often burn off any grime that might accumulate on them. At most, you’ll typically only need to wipe the element down with a paper towel, ensuring it doesn’t get wet.

9. Clean the Outside of the Toaster Oven

After cleaning the toaster oven interior, wipe down the outside. Pull out your homemade all-purpose vinegar cleaner to clean away greasy fingerprints from the oven door and metal exterior for a streak-free shine. Take removable knobs off the control panel to give the surface a healthy clean, but don’t let any liquid fall into cracks or holes where it might reach the electrical components.

Can I Use Easy-Off Oven Cleaner in a Toaster Oven?

Abrasive cleaners, such as Easy-Off or Bar Keepers Friend, may seem like the fastest way to get your toaster oven clean, but depending on the interior material, these solutions could do more harm than good. 

Many oven cleaners like Easy-Off contain sodium hydroxide, a caustic substance that reacts with aluminum to degrade it. Although many products will say they’re safe for the material used in your toaster oven, it’s easier, cheaper, safer, and often equally effective to use a gentle homemade solution.

Hire Help for Your Next Kitchen Deep Clean

A quick wipe down after each use can prevent tough grease and grime buildup that makes the eventual toaster oven deep clean all the more challenging. And when you’re ready for the weekly deep dive, following these simple tips can leave your toaster oven sparkling clean in minutes.

When you feel like taking the week off from the kitchen cleaning chores, including your new toaster oven cleaning ritual, jump online with Anita’s to find a local cleaning expert to help around the house. Our vast network of vetted professionals make it quick and easy to find cleaners near you who fit your budget and needs. Request a booking today, and enjoy a well-deserved break from the ongoing battle with daily chores.


Anita's Housekeeping Editors