At first glance you may think: why would someone possibly need special instructions for cleaning their toaster oven? I suppose it might seem weird since most people already have lots of appliances and surfaces in their kitchens that need regular cleaning. So why are specific cleaning instructions warranted in this case? Because the glass door on your toaster oven can literally explode if you constantly clean it in inappropriate ways.
That's right, it really can explode; this isn't just something I wrote to get your attention. After reading many thousands of consumer toaster oven reviews, I was surprised by the number of reviews written by people who have had the glass door explode during normal everyday use. Some models seem much more prone to this issue, but overall the problem is more widespread than I would have imagined. I contacted the manufacturers of the seemingly dangerous toaster ovens and asked for an explanation. Maker after maker told me that the problem happens when toaster oven users make mistakes when cleaning the toaster oven.
All toaster ovens with glass doors do use tempered glass so if the glass does shatter the shards will not be sharp. Even still, I'm sure most of us can agree we would like to avoid glass flying through our kitchens, sharp or not. The potential for shattering exists because the glass on a toaster oven is just not as thick as the glass on a standard oven. These toaster ovens are scaled down versions of standard ovens and as such are usually constructed with thinner materials commensurate to their size. This means they are more prone to weak spots if proper care and caution is not used.
First and foremost I will say this: read your owner's manual and follow any and all safety and cleaning instructions. The only problem with that is many toaster oven owner's / user's manuals just warn against the use of harsh cleaning products but don't set forth guidelines as to what is considered harsh. You definitely never want to use oven cleaner or abrasive scrubbing pads. That seems very obvious, but there is also a lot of gray area concerning the harshness level of other cleaners or cleaning implements. To be as safe as possible, I suggest using gentle, natural cleansers on your toaster oven. Here are my two favorites:
Clean With Vinegar
Combine a 1/2 cup of white vinegar with a 1/2 cup of very hot water. This is a very cheap yet very effective natural cleaner. Use a soft towel or rag to scrub the inside and outside of the toaster oven with this mixture. The only downside is the somewhat unpleasant vinegar smell, which can be lessened with a cool water rinse after cleaning.
Clean With Lemon Juice
Add the juice of one lemon to a cup of very hot water. Use a soft towel or rag to scrub the inside and outside of the toaster oven with this mixture. While this natural cleaner can cost a bit more than vinegar, it leaves behind a very pleasant scent which keeps your kitchen smelling fresh.