Star-Telegram - - Life & Arts -

Even if noth­ing ac­tu­ally blew up, the ap­pli­ance has a habit of even­tu­ally look­ing kind of grimy. Again, you can har­ness the power of H2O, by heat­ing up wa­ter to help loosen the gunk. Good House­keep­ing sug­gests plac­ing a cup of wa­ter (in a mi­crowavesafe bowl or mea­sur­ing cup, please, or you’ll have a whole dif­fer­ent kind of mess) in the mi­crowave along with some chopped cit­rus or a few ta­ble­spoons of vine­gar and heat­ing it for sev­eral min­utes un­til the wa­ter boils or things look steamy. Give ev­ery­thing 15 min­utes to cool. Then wipe down the in­side of the mi­crowave with a sponge, cloth or pa­per towel.

Toaster oven: This is per­haps the ap­pli­ance we all prom­ise our­selves to clean as we go and never do. But, yes, your toaster oven needs to be cleaned some­times. For a messy rack, use the same strat­egy as the wire rack, above. While re­mov­ing and clean­ing the crumb tray is al­ways a good idea, you can use a pas­try brush or even a baster to re­move smaller amounts of de­bris. For typ­i­cal wear and tear, soap and wa­ter is fine for spiff­ing up the rack, bak­ing tray and crumb tray (soak longer if you need to). To clean the in­side of the oven, Con­sumer Re­ports rec­om­mends a mix of warm wa­ter, dish soap and vine­gar ap­plied to a sponge, avoid­ing the heat­ing el­e­ments.

Pans/skil­lets: A lot of ev­ery­day clean­ing can be ac­com­plished with soap, wa­ter and a sponge. But then you burn some caramel in your saucepan, and all bets are off. Wa­ter to the res­cue, again. If you’ve got time and space, let caked-on food melt away with a good long soak in the sink. Oth­er­wise, set­ting the pan back on the stove top and boil­ing wa­ter in it can work won­ders much faster. Fin­ish things off with a reg­u­lar soap-and-wa­ter clean. Be­cause of the sea­son­ing and pos­si­bil­ity of rust, cast-iron skil­lets re­quire a bit more care in clean­ing. For ex­tra scrub­bing power, pour a gen­er­ous amount of kosher salt in and use its abra­sive power to dis­lodge stub­born bits. You can also mix the salt with wa­ter to form a paste. Just be sure to dry the skil­let quickly and com­pletely once you’re done.

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