Is Your Toaster Smoking? Here’s Why & How to Fix It!

Smoking Toaster

Waiting for your breakfast to be ready, you notice wisps of smoke coming from your toaster! While this can be frightening to see, it typically is not a serious problem and can be easily fixed. 

Why is Your Toaster Smoking?

There are a few reasons that may explain why your toaster is smoking. Luckily, it is usually a simple process to stop your toaster from smoking. There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening in the future.

Food Debris

The most common reason for a toaster to start smoking is that there is food debris in the toaster. It is normal for bits of bread or other food to fall off when you place them in the toaster. The process of heating the food can also cause crumbs to fall into the tray. 

When pieces of food land in the crumb tray they can build up there. If the tray is not regularly emptied and cleaned, the crumbs are exposed to heat each time you use your toaster. Eventually, these bits of food will start to smoke from the heat.

Food may also get stuck on the inside of the toaster. When pieces of food are stuck on the heating elements they can start to smoke. This happens more often when the food is too large for the toaster slot.

If your toaster is smoking due to food debris, the first step is to unplug your toaster. This stops the electricity so the toaster will no longer produce heat. Let the toaster cool down until you can comfortably touch it.

Remove the bread or other food item from the toaster. If the food is stuck in the toaster, do not use a fork or other metal object to remove it. Empty all debris from the crumb tray and wipe it with a warm soapy cloth. Do not immerse any part of the toaster in water.

You may turn the toaster upside down and give it a gentle shake to remove any stuck-on pieces of food. If this doesn’t get rid of all debris, use a wooden utensil to gently remove it. For more detailed instructions read my guide on cleaning a toaster.

Toaster Set Too High

Sometimes your toaster will smoke simply because you have set it too high. Toasters have a range of settings that determine how long your food is exposed to the heating elements. The highest settings are typically not needed and can often burn food.

Try using your toaster on a lower setting to see if you get a better result. If the toaster is still producing smoke on a low setting you will need to consider other possible reasons. 

Toaster was in Storage

If you recently brought your toaster out of storage or unpacked it after moving, this may be the reason for it smoking. When a toaster has been sitting for a long time it collects dust and other debris. 

Using the toaster for the first time after it has been sitting can cause all of that debris and dust to be heated up. When the dust comes into contact with the heating elements it can start to smoke.

In this case, all you need to do is unplug the toaster, wait for it to cool, and give it a thorough cleaning. A gentle cloth and some soapy warm water are best for cleaning the toaster.

Plastic Bag or Bread Tag

It may not be food or debris that is causing your toaster to smoke, but plastic! Check to see that the twist tie or bread tag didn’t accidentally fall into the toaster while you were getting your bread.

The plastic bread bag itself can even cause smoke if it is touching the toaster and gets too hot. Always take a peek inside the toaster before putting food in it and ensure there is clear space around the appliance.

If you do have plastic inside your toaster, consider replacing the toaster. It can be difficult to thoroughly clean the burnt plastic off. If that’s the case, my review of the best toasters made in the USA will come in handy.

Time for a New Toaster

When you can’t find any reason for your toaster to be smoking, it may be the case that there is a safety issue you can’t see. There may be a problem with the wiring or the heating element. It is also possible that a part came loose inside the toaster which is causing problems.

If you suspect that there is a safety concern with your toaster, it’s time to replace it. Toasters will generally last 6-8 years depending on how often they are used and how well you maintain them. 

Toasters are inexpensive kitchen appliances. The cost of purchasing a new toaster is well worth the peace of mind you will have knowing that it is safe to use. Especially if you opt-in for one of the budget-friendly toasters I reviewed recently.

Why is Your New Toaster Smoking?

When you use your new toaster for the first time, you may notice smoke coming from it. This is typically no cause for alarm. Due to the manufacturing process, toasters may produce a small amount of smoke and odor.

It is normal for your new toaster to smoke a bit for the first couple of uses. You can simply cycle your toaster through two or three uses without putting any food in it. Just push the lever down so the toaster heats up.

Once you have done this two or three times, you can then safely use your new toaster. All smoke and odor should be gone by this point. If your new toaster is still smoking it may have a safety issue and need to be replaced.

Don’t forget to check that you have removed all packaging materials from the toaster. Look inside and underneath to ensure you haven’t left any pieces of plastic, paper, or cardboard behind.

Toaster Fire Hazard

Toasters, like any appliance that creates heat, can be a potential fire hazard. Toasters can reach temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. There are a few precautions you can take to reduce the risk of your toaster catching fire.

Always check the wires and plugs prior to using your toaster. If you see any signs of damage or discoloration, you should not use the toaster. 

Place your toaster in an area where there is plenty of airflow around it. Keep it away from anything flammable like kitchen curtains, papers, or drying cloths. 

You can leave your toaster on the counter or table when not in use. If you choose to put it in a cupboard when you’re not using it, make sure it has completely cooled before storing it.

In the unfortunate case that your toaster does catch fire, don’t panic. Unplug the toaster. Use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket to smother the flames. 

Do not use water to put out the fire! If there is oil or grease in the toaster, water will make the fire worse. Using water can also cause electric shock if there is still electricity running to your toaster.

Once you have put out the fire, open the windows to ventilate the space. If you are unable to control the fire or if you have a lot of smoke in the home, call emergency services to help.

Don’t attempt to fix a toaster that has caught fire. There may be damage that you cannot see that presents a safety risk. It is much safer to replace the appliance.

Stay Safe & Stay Toasty!

A toaster is a handy appliance for your kitchen and with a few steps can be used safely and easily. Always inspect your toaster before using, clean the crumb tray regularly, and ensure it is turned off and unplugged when not in use.

Larry Flynn

Hi everyone! My name is Larry Flynn and I've been working in the kitchen appliance industry for decades. From manufacturing to retail and everything in between. My latest hobby is running this website, where I share all the knowledge I gathered throughout the years in the industry. I also run a small toaster repair shop in downtown NY, and collect vintage toasters.

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