With their curves, knobs, and moving parts, small appliances can get gritty and dirty sitting on the counter. To keep them looking shiny and spiffy, follow a few simple cleaning rules and tackle each mess as you make it.

For safety’s sake, always unplug the device before removing any parts for cleaning, and carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions. And of course, never immerse your small electrics in water.

Here's how to clean your small appliances from Consumer Reports’ book, “How to Clean Practically Everything.”

Blenders and Food Processors

Clean blenders and food processors after each use. Although certain parts may be dishwasher safe—usually in the top rack only—their odd shapes can make them difficult to secure; hand-washing is therefore strongly advised. Remove the cutting or shredding blade from the bowl, and wash each part separately (to minimize the chance of injury or damage) using a mild detergent in hot water, followed by a thorough rinse in warm water.

Use a toothbrush or a bottle brush to clean off any stuck-on food, but do not allow cutting blades to soak in water or to become obscured from view. Carefully wipe metal parts dry with a soft, clean towel; let plastic parts air-dry. Use a mild all-purpose cleaner or a soft cloth dampened with water or white vinegar to clean the motor base.

Coffee Makers

Drip coffee makers. Dried coffee oils can ruin the taste of even the best blend. After every use, wash the carafe and brew basket of an electric drip coffee maker in dish soap and water, then rinse and dry. Once the hot plate cools, wipe any coffee that may have spilled onto it and remove burnt-on stains by using a little baking soda on a damp sponge. To avoid accumulation of minerals in tanks and tubes, especially if you have hard water, occasionally run equal parts of water and white vinegar through the machine. Then run water through it a couple of times. (Check the manual first: Some coffeemakers will suggest a different ratio.) Or use a special coffee-machine cleaning solution.

More on Cleaning Appliances

Pod coffee makers. Clean your pod coffee maker regularly. Mineral buildup and coffee residue slow brewing; they can also affect taste. Instructions for some models recommend using filtered or bottled water for brewing. Coffee maker owner’s manuals typically advise running a cycle of white vinegar through the machine every month or so; the process differs by model. Pod coffee makers call for a similar method, though they might vary further. 

Keurig, for example, sells a special Descaling Solution ($13 for 14 ounces), which it calls “the only Keurig-approved cleaning solution for Keurig brewers.” The one-year Keurig warranty excludes damage from using non-Keurig pods and accessories; that could include using another cleaning solution. But after the warranty is up, there’s no reason not to try white vinegar instead. As always, run at least one cycle of just water afterward.


When cleaning a juice extractor, do not use your fingers or any metal utensils to remove pulp from the inlet chute, the cutting teeth, or the strainer. Use the handle of a spatula or of a wooden spoon to clear clogs in the chute. Clean the strainer and cutting teeth with a toothbrush or other firm-bristled brush.

Toasters and Toaster Ovens

Cleaning the crumb tray of a toaster is just one tip for cleaning small appliances.
Most toasters come with removable crumb trays.

Toasters. It doesn’t take long for a toaster or toaster oven to become filled with crumbs, but fortunately most models come with removable crumb trays that make for easy cleaning. Before cleaning, make sure the device is cool to the touch. Place a plastic garbage bag or a few sheets of newspaper underneath the tray, then carefully slide it out, and shake off any crumbs or loose food. Use a damp, soapy sponge or nylon scrubber to remove any baked-on particles, rinse well, and dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. Make sure the tray is completely dry before reinserting it.

If your toaster does not have a crumb tray, turn it upside down over the sink or garbage can and shake out loose crumbs. Use a thin paint brush or basting brush—never a fork or metal utensil—to loosen any crumbs that may get caught.

Toaster ovens
 Because they are typically used for broiling and baking as well as toasting, toaster ovens require more frequent cleaning. Regularly wipe down the exterior walls and the crumb tray with a sponge dampened with some water and a drop of mild dishwashing liquid, then wipe down with a damp sponge. Carefully slide out the cooking racks, and clean them in the dishwasher or let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes in hot soapy water. Use a damp, sudsy cloth to clean the glass door; wipe off any leftover soap with a damp sponge and dry with a clean towel.

The interior walls of most toaster ovens have a “continuous clean” coating that helps ward off stains and splatters, but which can be damaged by metal scouring pads and abrasive cleaners. To remove any burnt-on food from inside a toaster oven, use a polyester or nylon scrubber dampened with water, but take care not to touch the heating elements. Make sure all parts are completely dry before using the toaster oven.

Microwave Ovens

Use a mild cleaner and soft cloth to clean the exterior of your microwave oven. Wipe up any spills in the interior immediately. To remove cooking stains, wipe the walls and floor of the oven with a hot, damp cloth. Wash removable parts, such as the turntable, in hot water and dishwashing liquid.

To mask odors, place a bowl of water containing 1⁄4 cup of lemon juice in the oven and run it on high for one minute. Remove the bowl and wipe the oven cavity, using the condensation that will have formed to clean it. Wipe stains using plain water. Repeat if necessary. Scrape off stubborn stains with a plastic credit card. However, never scrape the inner surface of the window as this might damage any microwave-blocking finish.