How to Clean a Toaster Oven

Food buildup inside this countertop appliance can be a potential fire hazard

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Clean, shiny toaster on green background Photo: Consumer Reports

You might toast a few slices of sourdough or throw a frozen pizza on your toaster oven’s tray without a second thought. But when’s the last time you gave your toaster oven a cleaning? Just like cleaning your oven regularly, you should clean this small appliance routinely to avoid any food buildup.

“People use their toaster ovens for everything from roasting meats to baking casseroles and other items,” says Laurie M. Klein, a home economist for Hamilton Beach, which makes toaster ovens and other small appliances. “So the inside of a toaster oven could have a buildup of grease and various food splatters, which could ignite with high temperatures.”

Here’s how to get the job done in five simple steps, without using harsh chemicals.

Step 1: Unplug It

First things first: Always unplug your toaster oven before you begin cleaning it, says Cindy Fisher, Consumer Reports’ lead test engineer for countertop appliances. Disconnect the appliance from the power source, and make sure the oven is cool before you proceed to step two.

Step 2: Remove and Clean Elements

Put the toaster oven on a piece of newspaper to catch the crumbs, then take out the metal tray, rack, and lower crumb tray and place them in the sink. Use dish soap and water to wash these parts. To combat any stubborn stains on these removable pieces, Fisher recommends leaving them in the sink to soak overnight. Let them dry completely while you clean the rest of the appliance.

How About Your Other Small Appliances?

We have straightforward cleaning tips for blenders, coffee makers, and more.

Step 3: Use a Homemade Cleaner

Create your own cleaning solution for the interior of the toaster oven by combining vinegar, warm water, and a little dish soap. “Apply that to the interior with a damp sponge,” Fisher says, “but try not to get any of the liquid on the heating elements.”

Step 4: Apply Elbow Grease

Some toaster ovens have a porcelain enamel or a nonstick interior that makes them slightly easier to clean. But it can be damaged by metal scouring pads and abrasive cleaners. Instead, use a sponge, a cloth, or an old rag when wiping down the insides of your toaster oven. “For stubborn stains, use a plastic scouring pad,” Klein says.

Step 5: Repeat If Necessary

For food debris that’s hard to remove, our engineer recommends tackling the chore after using your toaster oven. “Try cleaning the oven while it’s still a little warm,” Fisher says. “But again—be sure to unplug it first.”

She advises wiping down the exterior of your toaster oven and cleaning the interior after every use.

If you’ve neglected yours for too long and find that the coating is damaged or the oven isn’t performing as well as it used to, it may be time to consider a newer model.

Shopping for a Toaster Oven?

In Consumer Reports’ toaster oven tests, we rate models on ease of cleaning in addition to how they bake, broil, and make toast. Many of the toaster ovens earned a rating of Excellent or Very Good on our cleaning test. That means that the crumb tray slid out easily and that there were few nooks and crannies to trap crumbs and food splatters. Many toaster ovens have a nonstick finish, which you’ll appreciate when you’re wiping one down after using it to make a messy meal.

Below, members can see ratings and reviews of the toaster ovens in CR’s tests that are the easiest to clean, listed here in alphabetical order. For even more choices, see our full toaster oven ratings and recommendations.

Finding the Perfect Toaster

Do you like for your toast to be a perfect golden brown? On the “Consumer 101” TV show, host Jack Rico gets tips from Consumer Reports on what to look for when shopping for a new toaster.