Dear Home-Ec 101,
I have a lovely stainless steel, 4 slice, toaster, with crumb tray. I clean out the crumb tray, wipe everything down, and shake it like a martini over the trash can, but when I set it back down, it still has crumbs falling out. Repeat process many times, plus when I look down in the toaster it looks like a pepper shaker exploded on the inside. Now I am guessing I am not supposed to scrub it in the sink, but how do I clean the inside of the toaster?
Toasted in Tottingham
Good call on not dunking the toaster in the sink. This is another one of those chores whose frequency really depends on how much toast and what kind of toast your prepare. Those of us who dig everything bagels are just begging to clean out our toasters after every use. I figure it’s a worthwhile tradeoff.
Before we even talk about cleaning the toaster, go ahead, reach over and unplug that bad boy. Got it? Ok. And if you just finished making a huge batch of toast, you probably want to wait a few minutes before getting started.
Pop the bottom tray off – over the sink, unless you really enjoy sweeping. Set the toaster aside and shake the tray over the sink to remove as much loose crumb debris as you can. Then use a little dish soap and your green scrubby remove the remaining nastiness. Rinse well and set aside to dry. Now take your dry toothbrush and gently sweep out any crumbs clinging to the inside of the toaster. Now, don’t get carried away, you’re not following your dentist’s orders to brush in circles. Gently flick crumbs away in the same direction as the wires run.
Be careful, if you break a wire, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to one-sided toast.
Already have a toaster that only half works? Amazon has a big selection of toasters that you can pick from.
You may want to turn the toaster upside down and brush around the edges of where the crumb tray fits, too.
Now gently shake, shake, shake your toaster over the sink until it quits raining crumbs or you get bored.
Wipe down the outside of your toaster with the damp rag and you’re good to go.
If you’re still having crumb issues, make sure the tray has a secure fit. If the tray isn’t catching everything, that may be the cause of your crumbs. Another potential source is sloppy spousal or child clean up. Not everyone understands that wiping down the counters includes moving small appliances. If this is the cause, you may need to provide a remedial counter wiping session.
Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.