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Keep your countertop appliances in tip-top shape

Expert tips that’ll make your kitchen electrics last

Published: April 21, 2014 02:45 PM
Photo: iCoffee

Once you’ve gone to the effort of finding the perfect coffeemaker, toaster, stand mixer, or other countertop appliance, you want to make sure it lasts. And keeping your coffeemaker free of residue and your toaster free of burnt crumbs results in a better-tasting breakfast. Here are some simple maintenance tips from the experts at Consumer Reports along with some of our top-rated small appliances.


  • Rinse the basket after each and every use, even if you use a goldtone style filter.
    Wash the carafe and lid by hand, or, if it’s dishwasher safe, in the top rack of the dishwasher.
  • Every few months, run a brew cycle using a 1:3 vinegar-to-water solution, followed by three or four brew cycles using plain water. This will remove mineral deposits that can clog the water dispenser over time.
  • Scrub the inside of the carafe with baking soda to remove any coffee residue that’s built up.
  • Never use a glass carafe that’s cracked or nicked; it could shatter when it comes into contact with the heating element.
  • Also, never put a glass carafe filled with hot coffee down on a wet or cold surface. The rapid temperature change could cause the glass to fracture or explode.

Our top-rated drip coffeemaker: Cuisinart Perfec Temp DCC-2800, $100.
Top-rated single-serve: DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio EDG455T, $130.

Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL

Toasters and toaster ovens

  • Empty the crumb tray after every use. Built-up crumbs can smolder and even ignite.
  • Only use the toaster as its manufacturer intended. This means no buttered bread (the butter can drip into the heating element and ignite) and no pastry treats or similar items with a high sugar content (which can also ignite). You can toast these in a toaster oven safely, as long as you keep them away from the heating element.
  • Keep the toaster away from the backsplash, or adjacent flammable materials, like curtains.
  • Never stick any utensil into the toaster; you can damage the interior and risk electrocution. If something is stuck inside, unplug the machine, wait for it to cool, then turn it upside down and shake gently.
  • Don’t consider the top of the toaster oven a storage shelf. They are typically not well insulated, so the top and sides get hot.

Our top-rated toaster: Calphalon Stainless Steel 2-Slot HE200ST, $60.
Top-rated toaster oven: Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL, $250.


  • Only use the blender for jobs it was intended to handle. No mixing pizza dough or grinding coffee beans in most models.
  • Take care not to overload the machine. Having too many heavy ingredients to process could cause the motor to overheat or burn out.
  • Keep the seals tight. Prevent leaks by gently tightening the blade assembly against the base of the jar before each use.

Our top-rated blender: Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004, $60.

KitchenAid KHM926


  • Wipe the base and head of the stand mixer and the beater head of a hand mixer immediately after every use. Some ingredients, like egg whites, can harden quickly.
  • Look inside the slots for beaters and other accessories to be sure they haven’t gotten plugged with dough.
  • Never overload the machine. The user’s manual should offer instructions on both the types of ingredients you can mix as well as optimal amounts.

Our top-rated hand mixer: KitchenAid KHM926, $100.
Top-rated stand mixer: Breville BEM800XL, $300.

Food processors

  • Wipe the base carefully after every use.
  • Remove the blade and wash carefully by hand—even if the manufacturer says it’s dishwasher safe. This will extend the life of the blade.
  • If it’s dishwasher safe, wash the plastic bowl and lid only in the top rack of the dishwasher.
  • Use the machine only as the manufacturer intends. For example, crushing ice or trying to grind coffee beans in your food processor or chopper can damage the blade.
  • Do not overload the work bowl or try to perform tasks the machine isn’t powerful enough to handle. Kneading heavy dough in a low-wattage processor or putting too much in a small-capacity work bowl can overheat and damage the engine.

Our top-rated food processor: Breville BFP800XL/A, $400.

—Adapted from Consumer Reports Appliance Buying Guide

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