The No-Hassle Way to Deep-Clean Any Electrical Kitchen Appliance

Keeping the countertop spiffy is one thing. Cleaning devices that have blades, plugs and wires is something else altogether. Here's expert advice on how to clean small appliances.

Toaster in the KitchenPhoto: Shutterstock / Joseph Thomas Photography

The small kitchen appliances that sit neatly on our counters are often our most used. They can also be our most neglected when it comes to deep cleaning. Sure, we wash the pull-out compartments of the coffee maker and the bowl of the blender after each use, but cleaning and sanitizing the machine itself is another story. Who has time to clean the coffee pot every morning, am I right? After learning that coffee reservoirs are among the germiest places in the kitchen and are carriers of mold that can make you sick, you might vow to clean and air out your devices regularly.

Since we can’t plunge our funky coffee makers, crumb-filled convection-style toaster ovens and smoothie-splattered blenders in a sink full of hot, soapy water like we do with egg-encrusted pans and crusty casserole dishes, we’ve asked two cleaning experts how to deep-clean our favorite countertop appliances. Here’s how to keep your machinery looking shiny and new—without fear of damage.

Toaster

Lovers of everything bagels, English muffins and toast, we feel your pain! As we crisp our favorite breakfast carbs to perfection every morning, we can’t help but notice the charred seeds and crumbs accumulating at the bottom of the toaster. To avoid the unpleasant charred smell every time you defrost an Eggo, try cleaning it once or twice a month.

Unplug the toaster and wait until it’s completely cool before cleaning. As with all appliances, advises Kadi Dulude, owner of Wizard of Homes NYC, always check the owner’s manual for specific cleaning instructions. Remove the crumb tray, preferably over a trash can, and shake off the debris. Then wash the crumb tray with dish soap and warm water. Set aside to dry. Gently shake the toaster over the garbage to get rid of loose crumbs. Use a clean, dry toothbrush to knock crumbs out of hard-to-reach corners, then turn the toaster upside down over the trash again.

“If the inside of the toaster needs more cleaning, you can dampen the toothbrush with vinegar to scrub out the inside slots—but be careful to only get it slightly damp,” Kadi says. “You don’t want liquid pooling anywhere in the unit.” Finally, wipe the exterior clean with a rag and a bit of vinegar. Use baking soda to scrub off baked-on stains and polish with vinegar.

Toaster Oven

A toaster oven makes cooking for one or two people a breeze. We love not having to turn on the oven to roast chicken, reheat pizza, roast nuts, bake potatoes—or make a small, guiltless batch of cookies when the mood hits. Keeping it clean can be easy…sort of. One thing Kadi says to keep in mind: “You may be tempted to go with the obvious choice—a chemical oven cleaner like Easy-Off. After all, the appliance does have the word ‘oven’ in its name. But do not do that. Toaster ovens are usually made of aluminum, and Easy-Off will corrode the whole inside surface if you use it.”

Instead, after unplugging the device, wash the removable crumb trays and racks with dish soap and warm water. If needed, soak trays and racks in hot water and soap. Get a sponge slightly damp with a vinegar and water mixture, and wipe down the interior of the toaster oven. Avoid spraying anything directly on the unit, and it’s best not mess with the heating lamps and coils at all. The glass door can be scrubbed clean with dish soap and water. Wipe the exterior with the same vinegar-water solution. Leave the door open to allow the unit to air dry. Return the racks and crumb tray when they’re completely dry.

Coffee Maker

As much as we love making coffee every morning (and counting the stacks of bills we’re saving in the process), the thought of cleaning the coffee maker out is almost torturous. Isn’t hot water running through the machine every day enough? The unfortunate answer is no.

To properly clean and sanitize the interior plumbing of the machine, all you need is some white vinegar. “Fill the water chamber with equal amounts of water and vinegar, and run the machine like you’re making coffee. Then, flush the system my running the machine with just water. Repeat until only clean water comes through,” Kadi says. Flushing twice with water should be sufficient. If you smell vinegar, run with water again. Allow the interior to properly dry before closing the lid. Wipe the exterior with a damp cloth.

Here are other things you can clean with vinegar.

Electric Grinder

Here’s another device we use regularly…but can’t remember when it was last cleaned. To clean a coffee grinder, all you need is a bit of rice. Fill the grinder halfway with rice, then pulverize for about a minute. The rice bits will dislodge residual coffee or spices. Unplug the electric grinder before wiping the interior clean with a dry paper towel, minding the blades.

Microwave

For a low-effort way to clean the interior of a microwave, Kadi suggests simply microwaving a bowl of hot water, lemon slices and vinegar. Keep the microwave door closed and let the steam do all the work for you. You can open the door once the stem starts clearing. The baked-on stains should be fairly easy to pick up with a damp cloth. Use some water and vinegar on a cloth to wipe the exterior. Avoid using anything abrasive to scrub the exterior, as microwaves are easily scratched.

High-Speed Blender

This kitchen essential can clean itself. Fill the blender halfway with hot water and dish soap and blend for 30 seconds, says Donna Smallin Kuper, cleaning expert and author of Cleaning Plain & Simple. Make sure to cap the blender tightly, and throw a dish towel over the top in case any hot water leaks out. Drain and rinse the blender, and allow to dry completely. Use a cloth dampened with water and vinegar to clean the machine’s exterior.

Mixers and Food Processors

Wash all removable parts in the sink with a bit of dish soap and water—or run them through the dishwater. If you use a dishwasher, Donna says, “clean the undersides of food processor blades with a pipe cleaner or toothbrush and hot soapy water first.” Then wipe the exterior of the machine with a hot, soapy cloth. Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth. Allow all the pieces to dry before reassembling.

Immersion Blender

This is another easy one. After making a big batch of tomato or butternut squash soup, make a lovely bubble bath of soapy water in a large, deep bowl or pot. Submerge the head of the handheld blender and swish around for a few seconds. Use a toothbrush to dislodge stubborn chunks from blades. Wipe clean with cloth.

Do yourself a favor and cut down on strenuous cleaning by following these quick-and-easy cleaning routines on a regular basis. Deal with splatters and spills immediately, and keep the exteriors of small appliances spotless with a spritz of vinegar and water on a clean cloth. Cleaning small kitchen appliances makes a huge difference in the appearance of your kitchen and the quality of the food you prepare.

All clean? Time to get cooking.
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Joann Pan
Joann Pan is a content creator based in New York City. Her work has appeared on Oprah.com, Mashable.com, The Huffington Post and more.