How to clean a toaster – expert advice on how to remove crumbs and dust safely

If you can't remember the last time you tackled this household chore, this is how to clean a toaster properly and safely

Kettle and toaster with mugs
(Image credit: Future PLC / Darren Chung)

If you can’t start your day without a couple of slices of toast and Marmite (or another less divisive condiment of your choice), then knowing how to clean a toaster should definitely be on your radar. 

With their narrow slots and electrical components, it would be easy to assume that the best toasters are impossible to clean. And while you should definitely heed the viral TikTok toaster cleaning warning, cleaning a toaster isn’t as hard as it sounds. With the right tools and the correct method, you should be able to tick it off your cleaning calendar in no time. 

To help you get the job done, we’ve consulted with cleaning experts and put together the ultimate step-by-step process on how to clean a toaster. Plus, there are tips on how to keep it clean when you’re done.

Toaster in appliance garage in white kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC / Douglas Gibb)

How to clean a toaster 

'Since toasters aren’t sealed appliances, they can become full of crumbs, dust, and bacteria easily. Not cleaning the inside of your toaster can be potentially dangerous, as a big enough build-up of crumbs can be a burn risk and can potentially cause a fire in extreme cases,’ explains cleaning expert Nicki Rodriguez (AKA @Essex House Dolly), working with AEG. But how do you clean a toaster… properly?

What you'll need


kitchen area with brick wall and toaster and pots and pans on floating shelves

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd)

1. Unplug your toaster

You probably don’t need us to tell you that water and electricity don’t mix. So, avoid an early morning electrocution by unplugging your toaster before attempting to clean it. 

For this task, it’s also a good idea to move it away from any electrical sockets and make sure it’s fully cool before you whip out the cleaning products. Because of this, it’s best to clean your toaster before using it or at the end of the day. 

Then, you’ll want to clear a space on your kitchen worktop. We’d advise placing kitchen paper or a clean kitchen towel on your worktop, too, to catch any bits of debris that fall out while you’re cleaning. 

2. Remove the crumb tray

Nowadays, almost all modern toasters come with their very own crumb tray - even if you’ve never actually seen yours before. This is a removable tray at the bottom of your toaster that catches loose bits of toast and stops them from falling onto your countertops.

Start by slowly pulling this out and tipping the larger crumbs into the bin. Then, you’ll want to wash the tray. You can do this with warm, soapy water as there are no electrical components inside it. You can then just leave it to air dry while you complete the next step. 

3. Get rid of the remaining crumbs

Your toaster likely has hundreds of loose toast crumbs and bits of dirt and dust inside it. To get rid of the bits that the crumb tray didn’t collect, simply turn your toaster upside down, and (gently) shake it. This is when the paper towels will come in handy! Keep shaking until all the debris appears to have fallen out, and place your toaster right-side up again. 

Housetastic's cleaning expert, Karen Barrigan advised, 'Avoid vigorous shaking though, as you may damage the toaster.' Pop the crumbs that dropped out into the bin.

white wall kitchen with wooden table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

4. Clean the inside of the toaster

Next comes the confusing task of cleaning the inside of your toaster. This step can be daunting, as the slots are often too small to reach your hand into, and it’s easy to get your hand stuck. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can employ to get the inside of your toaster gleaming. 

Mark Greig, head of supplier management at Marks Electrical, explained, 'This part is slightly more awkward, so using a soft cloth or a spare toothbrush will help to tackle the job. All you need to do is wipe it gently around the inside of your toaster to either pick up or dislodge any dirt.'

'To ensure the toaster coil has received a sufficient clean, put a small amount of white vinegar on your cleaning tool of choice to remove any food that is stuck,' Mark continued. 'It’s important not to get your cleaning tool wet (aim for slightly damp) otherwise, this could risk damaging the toaster.' 

Some experts also suggest using a small pastry brush to get at those awkward spots if you don't have a clean toothbrush to hand.

5. Clean the outside of your toaster

Cleaning the outside of your toaster is the final step. Karen told us, 'Whatever material your toaster is made of, you can use a soft cloth and a non-abrasive, chlorine-free cleaner to wipe over the outside.'

You could also place your cloth in some warm, soapy water (again, washing up liquid is fine). Wring out the excess water, and wipe the cloth over the outside of your toaster, rubbing a little bit harder on any finger, water, or food marks. Then, get a dry cloth to wipe it over again, so as not to leave any water stains.

If you have any particularly stubborn stains, try mixing baking soda (one of our favourite natural cleaning ingredients) with water to create a paste, and scrub it gently onto stains on the outside of your toaster, before wiping clean with a separate cloth.

After this, you’ll want to leave your toaster to dry completely before using it again – there’s no set time limit, but an hour should do the trick. 

Finish by placing the crumb tray back into the bottom of the toaster and plugging it back in. Then, you’re ready to get toasting again! 

A black AEG toaster with toast inside it being popped up by a hand, on a dark black marble worktop

(Image credit: AEG)

How often you should clean a toaster

Cleaning your toaster will not only improve the taste of your toast, but it can also increase the lifespan of your appliance and keep it in good working order. So, this means that it will also help you keep your energy bills down

How often you clean a toaster ultimately depends on how often you use it, though. If you’re a regular toast eater and use it on a daily basis, it’s suggested that you should clean it at least once a week. 

If you don’t use it very often, though, you can get away with cleaning it less. Just keep an eye on your toaster as you go, as you should be able to tell if you need to clean your toaster by the amount of crumbs in your crumb tray.

Grey kitchen cabinets with a built-in pantry, white floors, and windows overlooking the garden

(Image credit: Future)

How to keep your toaster clean

While cleaning a toaster isn’t the most time-consuming job in the world, we’re sure that there are better things that you’d like to do with your time. So, by keeping your toaster clean and opting for smaller (and quicker) cleans, you might be able to avoid these lengthy cleaning sessions altogether. Here’s what you can do:

Inspect your bread: It may sound silly, but giving your bread a once-over before you pop it in the toaster can reduce the amount of crumbs that get stuck in your appliance. All you need to do is brush off any visible, large crumbs before toasting. 

Wipe the outside: You already know that cleaning the outside of your toaster is part and parcel of the general cleaning process, but adding this into a general kitchen clean is the best way to keep it in tip-top condition. So, when you wipe down your kitchen countertops, wipe down your toaster, too! Making it part of your routine will make things so much easier. 

Keep the area clear: Have you ever accidentally burnt the plastic bag your bread comes in? You’re not alone. Melted plastic can wreak havoc on your toaster and make it impossible to clean the inside, so keeping the area around your toaster will prevent this from happening. 

Move it elsewhere: Personally, I used to have my toaster next to my hob. And while this initially made sense in my small kitchen, I soon realised that oil was constantly splashing on my toaster and making ti dirty. By moving your toaster somewhere that’s clear of your cooking space, you can reduce how often you need to give it a deep clean. 


How do I clean the inside of a toaster?

As mentioned, cleaning the inside of your toaster can be tricky. But using the above technique is the best way to handle it.

Once you’ve shaken out your toaster, using a slightly damp (clean) toothbrush or pastry brush will help you to get into the groves of your toaster to clean it out. Any bits of dirt should stick to the brush, so you can pull them out. Equally, it can be helpful to tip the toaster upside down and shake it once again after doing this, to get rid of any bits of debris that you might have dislodged.

For any particularly stubborn bits of food that won’t detach, you can use a small wooden spoon or spatula to scrape at the inside of your toaster. However, it’s important to do this very gently to avoid damaging the heating mechanisms inside. And only use a wooden instrument – even if your toaster is unplugged (as it should be!) it is never safe to place a metal utensil inside of it.

How do you clean burnt bits out of a toaster?

If you have large pieces of burnt toast in your toaster, cleaning the crumb tray and then turning your toaster upside down and giving it a gentle shake should dislodge them. 

However, if these burnt bits are stuck within the coils, you should try and dislodge them using either a microfibre cloth or a toothbrush. 

Any remaining burn stains can then be cleaned using a mixture of baking soda and water. Simply mix the two ingredients into a paste and scrub the concoction into the stains with the toothbrush. Then, wipe it away with a cloth. 

Try to avoid using too much water when you’re cleaning the burnt bits out of a toaster, as this can be extremely dangerous. 

Is it okay to clean a toaster with water?

It is safe to clean a toaster using the above method, but it is never ever safe (we can’t stress this enough), to submerge your toaster into water, even if it is unplugged.

You should use minimal water, applied via a damp cloth, when cleaning your toaster, as it is full of electrical components that could prove extremely hazardous if exposed directly to water.

In conclusion, it is safe to clean your toaster, but be sure to steer clear of any excess water. The same applies for almost any kitchen appliance – be it your best sandwich maker, or your best kettle – none of these should be cleaned by submerging them in water.

How do you clean a stainless steel toaster?

Whether you're cleaning a stainless steel sink or a stainless steel kettle, you can use pretty much the same techniques to get your stainless steel appliance sparkling as you would the rest of your kitchen.

Karen advised, 'Stainless steel encased toasters are cleanable using a specific cleaner or mild, ammonia-free cleaner. Wipe it over with a cloth, then buff it over with a clean, dry cloth to finish.'

If you want to get your stainless steel toaster really sparkling, you could also use a combination of white vinegar and water. Combine the two together in equal parts, in either a bowl or spray bottle. and wipe over your toaster. Then, as ever, dry with a clean microfibre cloth for a great shine.

Follow these quick and easy steps, and you’ll have a clean toaster in no time. 


 Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist and editor, now working in a freelance capacity specialising in homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, overseeing the homes, books and features sections of the website. Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine

With contributions from