Toaster Is Smoking? Here’s Why and How To Fix It

Be it a pop-up toaster or a toaster oven, a toaster is a staple appliance of any kitchen and something you probably use every day. Therefore, it can be pretty worrying when one morning your toaster suddenly starts smoking. What is going on, and what can you do about it?

Your toaster is smoking because there is a build-up of oil, grease, or crumbs, and other food debris. They can also smoke if they are new and have their factory coating. Finally, toasters can smoke if there is a build-up of dust inside due to infrequent use.

Read on for more information about what is causing your toaster to smoke, what you can do about it, and how to properly clean and maintain both your pop-up toaster and your toaster oven. 

Why Is My Toaster Smoking?

Seeing wisps of smoke coming out of your toaster is not at all how you want to start your day. However, before you begin panicking, know that most of the time, the reason is something you can easily fix.

Crumb Build-Up

The most common reason that a pop-up toaster will start to smoke when toasting bread is a build-up of crumbs in the crumb tray. If you use your pop-up toaster every day, you should clean your crumb tray at least fortnightly to prevent a build-up of crumbs.  

Food Debris

Another very common reason why both pop-up toasters and toaster ovens can start smoking is because of food debris. In pop-up toasters, this is usually larger crumbs or small chunks of bread stuck to the heating elements.

 Meanwhile, in toaster ovens, this can be any food debris left behind after cooking. It may be either on the walls or floor of the oven or on the baking rack. Make sure you take out any noticeable food debris before toasting or cooking something in one of these appliances. 

Dust Build-Up

If you do not use your appliances very often, they will accumulate dust that can cause smoking when you use them again. The best way to prevent this is to put your toaster away in a cupboard or box until you use it again. If you take your pop-up toaster or toaster oven out to use after a long period of inactivity, wipe it down before you turn it on to avoid this problem. 

Oil or Grease Build-Up

The final common reason why your toaster oven is smoking might be a build-up of oils or grease. This is typically more common in toaster ovens, although if you are toasting things like pop-tarts in a pop-up toaster, grease can still accumulate. While cleaning will prevent this problem, oil or grease will usually burn away in a few minutes anyway. The smoke caused by this is nothing to be concerned about. 

Why Is My New Toaster Smoking?

If your pop-up toaster or toaster oven suddenly starts sending out plumes of smoke, it can be even more worrying if that appliance is brand new. Do not panic, though, because this is generally perfectly normal. 

New appliances often smoke because manufacturers will apply a protective coating. This helps to keep the appliance free from any damage, such as rusting when it is being stored and transported. 

This coating should burn away after a few sessions of use. For pop-up toasters, you can toast a few pieces of bread and discard them to burn the residue away, and for toaster ovens, you can just let them work for a little while to get rid of the smell. However, it is best to have your windows open during this “burn-in” process so it will not trigger any smoke alarms incorrectly. 

Can a Toaster Catch on Fire?

If you see your pop-up toaster or toaster oven smoking, your first concern is probably whether or not the appliance will catch on fire. Well, we’re sorry to say that yes, a toaster can catch on fire. There are a variety of things that can cause your appliance to suddenly start burning, such as: 

  • A build-up of crumbs and food debris
  • Fraying electrical cords
  • Covering your pop-up toaster with something when it is in use
  • Leaving food cooking in your toaster oven for too long
  • Faulty electrical components

Most toaster fires happen without warning, so do not leave your toaster alone when it is in use. It is a little scary to think that you might start a fire when you are just making breakfast, but thankfully, most toasters will be fine if you are exercising the proper care and maintenance.

How Do You Stop a Toaster From Smoking?

There are a few things you can do to stop your toaster from smoking. 

Store Your Toaster Properly

How you store your appliances can have a significant impact on how long they last. As mentioned, one reason why a toaster, especially a pop-up toaster, can start smoking is a build-up of dust. Properly storing your pop-up toaster or toaster oven will also make sure that its components do not wear down faster than they should, or their electrical cords become frayed and therefore dangerous. 

Putting your appliances away in a dry cupboard is the best place for them. If you are keeping them in your garage, put them inside a box where pests such as mice will not find them and cause damage to them. 

Clean Your Toaster Regularly

By far, the best way to prevent your toaster from smoking is to keep it nice and clean. How often you clean your appliances depends on how often you use them.

If you use your pop-up toaster daily, cleaning it every couple of weeks is the best way to avoid a build-up of crumbs and other food debris. If you use it less often, once every couple of months should be fine.

Your toaster oven requires a similar cleaning schedule, although you should clean it immediately if there are any big spills inside. Doing this will prevent smoking and grease or oils will not bake onto the surfaces and become hard to remove. 

How To Clean a Pop-Up Toaster

Cleaning a pop-up toaster is pretty easy. You will need to clean the inside of the toaster to remove any crumbs and debris, but it is also a good idea to clean the outside as well to keep it free from any build-up that may ruin its appearance.

Cleaning the Inside of Your Pop-Up Toaster

What you need:

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Clean sponge
  • Clean, dry toothbrush
  • Spatula

How To Clean the Inside of Your Pop-Up Toaster

  1. Unplug the toaster and make sure it is cool. It probably goes without saying, but you need to unplug the toaster so you do not risk electrocution, and you cannot clean your toaster immediately after using; otherwise, you will burn yourself.
  2. Clean the crumb tray. First of all, if your toaster has a crumb tray (and most toasters will), remove it and shake it out over the bin. Then, wipe the crumb tray with a damp sponge and soapy water to make sure it is completely clean. Leave it to dry.
  3. Get rid of any excess crumbs and debris. To make sure there are no pesky crumbs left, turn your toaster upside down and gently shake it over the bin. Then, take the toothbrush and carefully clean out anything left inside. Use water but no soap for this, as you do not want your toast tasting funny, and it can be hard to make sure all of the dish soap residue has been cleaned out of the inside of the toaster.
  4. Clean any residue on the heating elements. If you have residue that is difficult to get off, you can scrape it out with a spatula. Then, use the toothbrush to carefully clean off any excess residue that is left. Tip your pop-up toaster upside down one final time to make sure no debris has been left inside.

Cleaning the Outside of Your Pop-Up Toaster

What you need:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Clean sponge
  • Clean, dry toothbrush

How To Clean the Outside of Your Pop-Up Toaster

  1. Wipe down the outside. Most pop-up toasters will not be seriously dirty and, therefore, will just need to be wiped down with a clean sponge and a bit of warm water mixed with dishwashing liquid. 
  2. Remove stains and marks with baking soda and dishwashing liquid. Use warm water and dishwashing liquid to clean the outside first. Then, use a toothbrush to scrub any marks with baking soda, wiping off the baking soda with a sponge and water.
  3. Vinegar can be used to clean the outside of chrome toasters. Mix vinegar and water at a 1:1 ratio. Then, wipe the outside of your chrome toaster with this mixture and a sponge. 
  4. Leave your toaster to dry. Never plug it in and use it again until all the moisture is gone. 

How To Clean a Toaster Oven

Cleaning a toaster oven may seem like a lot of work, especially if there is a lot of baked-in food debris, but it is actually a lot easier to do than you think. Keeping your toaster oven clean will make sure that there is no risk of smoking or it catching on fire. 

Cleaning the Inside of Your Toaster Oven 

What you need:

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Clean sponge
  • Clean, dry toothbrush
  • Baking soda
  • Cleaning cloth

How To Clean the Inside of Your Toaster Oven

  1. Unplug the toaster oven and make sure it is cool. Do not clean your toaster oven when it is plugged in because there is a risk of electrocution. Also, do not clean it straight after use when it is still hot; otherwise, you may burn yourself. 
  2. Remove and clean the baking tray. Clean the baking tray by washing it in the sink with warm water and dishwashing liquid. If there are any stubborn bits of food, remove them by scrubbing the rack with a toothbrush and baking soda mixed with water. Rinse the cleaned rack with water and let it dry.
  3. Coat the inside of the toaster oven with a paste of baking soda and water. Leave this paste for a few minutes and then wipe with a sponge. If there is anything that is difficult to get off, like baked-on cheese, use the toothbrush to scrub at it. 
  4. Use a cleaning cloth to rinse the inside with water. Wipe off the baking soda paste with a cloth and water. You may need to rinse the inside of the toaster oven several times to make sure all of the baking soda paste is gone. 
  5. Reassemble the toaster oven and leave it to dry. Do not use the toaster oven again until it has properly dried.

Cleaning the Outside of Your Toaster Oven 

What you need:

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Clean sponge
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Baking soda

How To Clean the Outside of Your Toaster Oven

  1. Wipe the outside with a sponge soaked in warm water and dishwashing liquid. As a general rule, the outside of your toaster oven will probably not be incredibly dirty, but there can be a bit of build-up on the exterior surfaces over time. 
  2. Remove stains with baking soda. Use a toothbrush to scrub them off and rinse the baking soda away with clean water and a sponge. 
  3. Polish the outside. Using a microfiber cloth to do this will get your toaster oven looking shiny and brand-new again.
  4. Leave to dry. Do not use the toaster oven again until both the inside and outside are dry. 

Final Words

If you notice your pop-up toaster or your toaster oven smoking next time you prepare a meal, do not worry. Chances are it is a simple reason like a build-up of food debris or grease, and you just need to give your appliance a thorough cleaning.

Keeping your toaster clean will not only reduce the chance of it smoking, but it will prevent dangerous fires and also prolong the life of your appliance. Ensure you are cleaning your toaster regularly, and you should face no problems from it in the future.