How To Clean Toaster Ovens (Inside And Out) In 4 Easy Steps

Show your toaster oven how much you love her with some regular TLC.

If you’re anything like us, you love your toaster oven. Yes, it makes the perfect (and we do mean absolutely perfect) toast, but it also does so much more than that: pizza, baked goods ... seriously, what can this appliance not do?

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Well, it can’t clean itself. And considering how much love your toaster oven shows your food every time you fire her up, we’re thinking it’s about time you showed her some love, too. (Not to mention all of that food buildup is kind of a fire hazard ... yeah, so that’s another really good reason to clean your toaster oven every once in a while.)

If you’re reading this and thinking that cleaning your toaster oven sounds like kind of a big undertaking, you can breathe a nice big sigh of relief because it really isn’t all that difficult or time-consuming. AND, to make things even easier, we have a simple guide with step-by-step instructions (plus a list of supplies) that will get your toaster oven looking brand-spanking-new in no time.

Ready? Read on!

Gather your supplies

Before you begin, you’ll want to assemble all the tools and cleaning supplies you’ll need to clean your toaster oven. (After all, no one likes to get halfway through a project only to realize they don’t have what they need to finish.) Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Dish soap (our favorite is Dawn)
  2. Distilled white vinegar
  3. Baking soda
  4. Sponge or rag (Stick to soft surfaces and steer clear of steel wool cleaning pads, which can damage the coating on your toaster oven.)

Got ’em? Then it’s time to start cleaning!

How to clean a toaster oven in 4 easy steps

Fortunately, cleaning your toaster oven really involves just four simple steps, and to make things as easy as can be, we’ve broken them down here!

  1. Before doing anything else, unplug your toaster oven. It will make your job way easier and way safer. You may also want to place it on some newspaper or another surface that will help you minimize the mess you’re about to make. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

  2. Remove your toaster oven’s tray, and set it aside to clean separately. We’ll get to it later, we promise.

  3. Mix up a DIY vinegar cleaning solution to use on the interior and exterior of your toaster oven. Around here, we’re BIG fans of using vinegar to clean (and we are not alone in our fandom, we assure you). Vinegar is, most importantly, incredibly effective. Plus, it’s versatile and inexpensive. Truly, adding vinegar to your go-to cleaning hacks will change your life. (And that is not an exaggeration.)

If you already have a vinegar solution you swear by, you can definitely use that here. Otherwise, try this recipe: mix approximately 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water. Then, for a little something extra, add a bit of baking soda (another of our favorite hacks); be careful, though, when you add the baking soda or you might end up with a big ol’ bubbly mess (trust us on this one and go easy). And, if you want to minimize that pungent particular vinegar smell with something brighter and more pleasing, you can also add a squeeze or two of lemon juice to the mixture.

Alternatively, if you don’t have vinegar on hand, you can also mix up a very effective cleaning solution with some dish soap, like Dawn, and water (because dish soap is good for so much more than doing dishes).

  1. Using your custom DIY cleaning solution and either the soft side of a sponge or a soft rag, wipe down and clean the outside and then the inside of your toaster oven. Please don’t use steel wool; there’s a very, very good chance it will scratch your toaster oven’s finish, and no one wants that.

How to clean the outside of a toaster oven

Use your DIY cleaning solution and the soft side of a sponge or soft rag to thoroughly wipe down the outside of your toaster oven. No need to get your sponge soaking wet; getting it damp with your cleaning solution should be all you need. As you go, be sure to get the glass and control buttons, and don’t be afraid to use a little elbow grease, especially on any tough spots. And again, skip the steel wool unless you want scratches all over the finish. (Yeah, we didn’t think you did.)

That’s it for the outside! On to the inside.

How to clean the inside of a toaster oven

The inside of your toaster oven is just a little bit more complicated than the exterior, but don’t fret just yet: it’s still pretty darn straightforward!

You should have removed your toaster oven tray when you began (see Step 2), but if you didn’t, now’s the time. Once that’s done, start by giving the entire interior of your toaster oven a good once-over with your sponge or soft rag and DIY cleaning solution, but be careful to avoid your toaster oven’s heating elements. As you did with the exterior, feel free to really get after any especially stubborn spots.

Next, take a moment to consider your toaster oven’s heating elements. Whatever you do, do not use any kind of cleaning solution or soapy water on your heating elements. In fact, if you have a newer countertop convection oven, there’s a good chance your oven will explicitly say not to touch the heating elements at all. If you have a more traditional model of toaster oven, check your manufacturer’s guidelines to see if you should clean your heating elements, and if so, with what. With older models that can be cleaned, a very light once-over with a slightly damp cloth (water only) usually gets the job done. But again, consult your manufacturer’s guidelines, and when in doubt, skip your oven’s heating elements when cleaning.

Lastly, tackle your toaster oven’s ceiling ... if you want. Toaster oven ceilings often don’t have the same nonstick coating that covers the rest of the interior ... and when food splatters, the ceiling sees the brunt of it. Give it a once-over with your cleaning solution, but try not to worry too much if you can’t quite get it back to like-new condition. Instead, focus on preventing those spots from forming in the first place by staying on top of your toaster oven cleaning game!

How to clean a toaster oven tray

Ah, finally! We return to the toaster oven tray you (were supposed to) set aside at the beginning of this process. Now that the rest of your oven is sparkling, it’s time to tackle this last piece.

Begin by simply wiping it off. You can use your cleaning solution and sponge (or rag). Oftentimes, a quick once-over is all you need to get rid of crumbs and any lightly stuck-on food.

If wiping it off isn’t quite enough, though, soak your tray in warm, soapy water in your sink for a few minutes (or, if you’re dealing with some particularly stubborn spots, an hour or 2). Then use your sponge (again, soft side only) or rag to scrub it clean. When you’re done, rinse and dry your tray, and return it to the oven.

That’s it! Take a step back, and check out your oh-so-clean toaster oven ... and then maybe use it to make a celebratory snack.

How often should you clean a toaster oven?

Here goes: you should really be wiping down your toaster oven after every use. Yeah, you heard us right: every use. Wiping it down, though, isn’t the same thing as a deep clean that involves all the above steps (phew!). Instead, make your food, enjoy your food, and then, when you’re ready to face your dishes, take a minute or two to give the inside and outside of your toaster oven a good once (or twice) over and shake out any crumbs that may have accumulated on your toaster oven tray. That’s it? Yep. That’s it.

However, even if you’re wiping down your toaster oven after every use (which we know you will be from now on), you still need to do a thorough deep cleaning weekly (or thereabouts). We know, it sounds like a lot, and your schedule is already packed, but if you’re wiping down your toaster oven after every use and make your deep cleanings frequent, they really won’t be that bad. Plus, again, food buildup is a fire hazard; keeping your toaster oven free of that buildup is therefore really a matter of safety, and you don’t want to mess around when it comes to the safety of you or your family.

Ready to tackle cleaning the rest of your kitchen appliances now that you’ve got your toaster oven in tip-top shape? We thought so. Start with our guide to cleaning your coffee maker, and then move on to your microwave. Your kitchen is about to sparkle.

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