crumb catcher

Illustrations: David Wyffels

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You Neglect the Crumb Catcher
Pennington says that when Hamilton Beach did consumer research last year, the manufacturer found that the majority of people just turn their toasters upside down and shake them to get crumbs out. While it's good to remove all the burnt bits that accumulate in the machine, since they're a fire hazard, this is definitely the wrong way to do it. Shaking can land crumbs on the heater element, or the lifter functionality, which can hinder how the parts work. Instead, use the crumb tray, which is standard on most new toasters (Pennington says most of the people they interviewed didn't even know their toasters had one). If you use your toaster daily, you should empty the tray weekly; just slide it out and discard the crumbs. Smith also says that if any large crumbs remain, you can use a soft brush—never a knife—to clean inside (just unplug first).