Caring for countertop appliances

The Associated Press
Friday February 16, 2001

Countertop appliances will operate more efficiently and last longer with care and maintenance. Here are several common appliances and the care they need to give you better service. 

Toaster Oven 

Toaster ovens are heavily used appliances that are often inadequately maintained. Unplug the appliance, open its crumb tray and use a new, clean1/2-inch-wide paint brush to sweep crumbs and debris out of it. Next, check its plug, especially if the appliance is several years old, or older. To do this, run it through a toast cycle (empty) three times and check the plug and cord to see if they are hot. If they are, have the cord and plug replaced. 

Can Opener-Knife Sharpener 

Combination can opener-knife sharpeners give good service with a little maintenance. Inspect the can opener blade for food particles after using it, and clean it if necessary. Oil the blade shaft with one drop of Three-In-One Oil (the type in the red and white can). Examine the opener’s drive gear and clean it if you find bits of paper or food on it. Debris on the gear’s teeth causes the can to slip while it is being cut, and this results in a partially cut lid. Vacuum the slots in the knife sharpener with an upright vacuum crevice tool attachment, or a shop vacuum and crevice tool. You can also blow metal particles out of the slots using compressed air. 

Pressure Cooker 

A pressure cooker is a simple appliance, with few parts, but it still requires careful use and inspection to ensure that it works well and safely. Don’t cook foods in it that foam (such as pastas) because foam residue can plug the air vent. Similarly, check that the air vent tube is clear before using the appliance. Run a pipe cleaner through it to remove obstructions. The sealing ring and pressure plug should be washed regularly, to ensure they are free of residue, and the sealing ring groove should be gently scrubbed clean with a small brush. 

Coffee Maker 

A drip coffee maker, especially those used in hard-water areas, should be cleaned regularly using a coffee maker cleaner. Also, remove and wash the grounds basket immediately after each use to prevent coffee residue from leaving a film that hardens over time. This is especially important for drip coffee makers with an automatic shut-off assembly below the basket. With these machines, it’s important to rinse off the stopper or stopper-lever assembly, and operate it by hand to be sure it’s clean and free of residue that could cause it to stick. 


The most common mistake that people make with blenders is that they run them on a recently washed counter that has puddles on it. These appliances have motor vents underneath the base. If you set them over a puddle they’ll pull in water along with the air stream, and this will ruin the motor. Otherwise, maintenance on these machines is simple. Keep the jar assembly and cap clean. If you wash the assembly by hand, assemble the appliance after it is washed and run it for a couple of minutes to spin water off the cutter. Finally, these machines are frequently used to make crushed ice. Check your owners manual for the correct procedure. Many manufacturers recommend adding a cup of water to the ice, and then adding ice in small batches until you have chopped all that you need. Crushing the full load of ice at one time is liable to damage the cutter and the motor.