Toaster ovens are a very convenient device suitable for cooking varieties of delicacies from bread to casserole to roasting veggies.
Due to its convenient size, it takes less space in your kitchen and would not heat your kitchen in the summer. Despite all this joy, toaster oven like any other kitchen appliance will get messy and eventually need cleaning.
That’s not even the worse part. What happens when the heating elements need cleaning? It’s inevitable.
Some of us stall for days, even weeks before we get to cleaning. This is probably because the commonly known method of cleaning a toaster oven can be quite strenuous.
In this piece, tips will be shared about how to clean toaster oven heating elements without much sweat.
Things Needed for Proper Toaster Oven Heating Element Cleaning
To properly clean your toaster oven heating element, here are some things you will need.
- Soapy Water: This is needed to wash heating elements
- Soft Cloth: For cleaning the heating elements without damaging them.
- Vinegar: Helps to deodorize and give your toaster oven a shiny finish.
- Dry Cloth: For cleaning the heating elements after the wash.
- Baking Soda: (optional) for very tough stains.
How to Clean Toaster Oven Heating Element
Most articles about toaster oven cleaning and even toaster oven manuals will always advise you to avoid cleaning toaster oven heating element as much as possible.
So what do you do when your toaster oven is all greasy and messy with splatters of food? There are some steps to guide you on how to effectively clean your toaster oven element without causing any damage or malfunction.
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Don’ts of Heating Element Cleaning
Before we get into the details of how to clean toaster oven heating element, first, the “don’t” of cleaning a heating element has to be established.
Do not allow heating elements to be soaked in water or any other liquid
Do not scrape or scrub the surface of the toaster oven heating element. This could lead to sparks or an explosion when the toaster oven is plugged in.
No Leftover Cloth Fiber
Ensure that the heating element is free from cloth fiber, food particles or any form of material that could get stuck on it. This is to prevent ignition when the toaster oven comes on.
Make Sure There Are No Cracks
Do NOT plugin the oven or operate it if there is any hint of crack or dent in the heating elements. This is a serious electrocution and fire hazard.
Ensure it is Dry
Never, NEVER plug in a heating element while there is still some hint of dampness on it.
If you realize that you have broken any of these “don’ts” while cleaning the heating elements, under no circumstances should you try to plug the toaster oven to test if it works. Always allow it to dry.
Clean the Oven Before the Heating Elements
Clean the heating element after cleaning the interior wall to avoid dripping soapy lather that may not be noticeable immediately. This could cause damage to your toaster oven.
Step to Cleaning Heating Element
Keeping in mind all this, here are the steps to follow when cleaning your toaster oven heating element.
1. For Lighter Stains
Step 1: Ensure that the appliance has been unplugged.
Step 2: Using a damp cloth with a bit of soap or vinegar, clean the length of the heating element gently yet mildly firmly if stains are strong.
Step 3: If the stains haven’t been removed, apply some vinegar to a damp piece of cloth and then run it through the stains.
Step 4: Carefully rinse the heating elements and let them dry up for as long as they need.
2. For Harder Stains
If the vinegar and soap did not work, it would be worth it to try out baking soda to clean the heating elements.
Step 1: Ensure that the appliance has been unplugged.
Step 2: Create a mixture of water and baking soda with equal parts i.e one table spoon water with one table spoon baking soda. This should create a thick paste when you let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Step 3: Apply the paste on the heating elements, especially at the part where the stains are the toughest, and let it sit for about an hour.
Step 4: Carefully, with a damp piece of cloth, clean the baking soda off from the heating elements making sure there is no debris left.
Step 5: Let the heating elements dry for as long as they need to before plugging the toaster oven back in.
3. Method with Removing the Heating Elements
For a deeper clean, we recommend removing the heating elements from the toaster oven.
Step 1: Removing the Heating Elements
For many, it is very difficult to clean the heating elements while they are in their natural position inside the oven. For best results, it is therefore recommended to clean them externally.
THIS WILL REQUIRE SOME HANDYMAN SKILLS. SKIP THIS METHOD IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH REMOVING AFFIXED PARTS AND COMPONENTS.
To easily access the heating elements, remove the oven racks, pots, thermometers, and any other removable item located on the inside of the oven.
In most toaster oven models, the heating elements are located either on the upper end or the lower compartment. The elements are usually covered by a protective pan that’s designed to trap most of grease, grime and food crumbs.
This pan has to be removed to access the heating element. This part of the exercise is not complicated as all you have to do is slide the pan backward to unhook it and then lift it.
Once the heating element is free, gently lift it forward and disconnect the electrical connectors. If unfamiliar with electrical wires, you might want to label them so that you don’t get them all mixed up at the end of the exercise.
Once the element is disconnected, remove it from the oven. While at it, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of being gentle to avoid inflicting unintended damage on the elements.
Step 2: Cleaning the Heating Elements
Place the heating element on the paper towels. If there are any large crumbs, you are free to catch or wipe them off using the brush.
To remove material stuck on the heating elements, there are two options
- Use of Chemicals
If the elements are covered in large amounts of grease or grime, a commercial cleaner would be ideal. Although they go by different brand names, the working agent in almost all of them is sodium hydroxide.
When using a chemical, dip a dishcloth in the chemical and use it to wipe down the elements. A soft brush can also help scrub off material that has strongly attached itself on the surface.
Although most oven cleaning chemicals work great, they can be quite toxic not just to your skin but also painted surfaces and other items around the cleaning area. Which leads us to the second option.
- Homemade Cleaner
If you prefer a DIY solution, you are well covered. You can make an oven cleaning paste by mixing baking soda and some warm water as mentioned in the earlier steps above.
Step 3: Let Dry and Fix Them Back In
Once cleaned, dry the heating elements with a microfiber towel.
Once the exercise is done, it’s time to reconnect the heating elements. While at it, make sure to connect the wires correctly. If you get it wrong, you run the risk of damaging your oven completely or even causing a fire.
Again make very certain that the heating elements have been completely dried out and that they do not have have cloth fiber or other debris stuck on them.
Is it Necessary to Clean Toaster Oven Heating Element?
Cleaning a toaster oven heating element is not necessary every time you clean the rest of your oven.
It’s more of a once in a while chore. The reasons you should not do it often is because there is a chance of damaging it the more you clean it.
To be on a safer side, it’s better to clean it only when you can see visible grease or dirt accumulated on top of it.
On the flipside, not cleaning the heating element if it has gathered grease and spills is a fire hazard. The accumulated degree not only looks ugly, but it can also ignite.
Furthermore, it is better to clean the heating element at the earliest notice than to wait for a lot of grease and spills to accumulate since that can make the cleaning processes harder and riskier.
How to Keep Your Toaster Oven Heating Element Clean?
Cleaning your toaster oven is one thing. Maintaining a clean toaster oven is another.
To keep a toaster oven clean, all you need to do is to simply wipe away the grease and spills accumulated on the sides and surfaces of the toaster oven.
Of course, we mentioned earlier that heating elements should not be touched too often. However, cleaning the rest of the oven can also help maintain the integrity and cleanliness of the heating elements.
Although it is common advice to allow your toaster oven cool down before attempting to clean, the fact is that a warm toaster oven is far easier to clean than a cold one.
This is because the grime is yet to be properly dried and stuck to the surfaces. To make it easier, you can wear an oven mitten to avoid getting burned. Of course, do not attempt cleaning on HOT oven, rather on a WARM oven.
Maintaining a clean toaster oven heating element, on the other hand, needs regular monitoring to see if there is an accumulation of crumbs, grease or spills packed in the heating area.
Can You Use the Self-Clean Function?
If your toaster is designed to self-clean, this can be a helpful tool. However, it is an open secret that this function is far from perfect and only works if your oven is moderately dirty.
To self-clean, your oven locks itself and climbs to temperatures as high as 550 degrees. That’s more than enough to melt and remove small amounts grease and grime.
But if the build-up is large, the self-clean feature does a poor job. In fact, a large amount of unwanted material can even trigger smoke or fire.
As such, it is recommended that you use the self-clean feature only sparingly.
Maintaining clean toaster oven heating elements is aesthetically appealing, hygienic and a safety measure against fire.
Therefore, you should ensure a habit of monitoring and cleaning the heating elements when grease or spills have accumulated.
Cleaning the heating elements is not as simple as cleaning the rest of the oven. You have to be careful since they are delicate.
In the text above we talked about how to clean toaster oven heating element. If you follow the measures and also take proper safety precautions, you can get tidy heating elements easily.