It’s easy to do and should be done frequently. Are you making sure your bread machine is functioning at its best?
When it comes to maintenance a lot of us do an average job. We remember to change the oil on the car and install new air-filters on the furnace but we sometimes take things for granted. Our bread machines probably fall into that category. Routine maintenance is actually fairly simple on a bread machine. Maybe that’s why we’re sometimes tempted to neglect it. There are also some steps that are omitted from some manuals such as lubrication of the spindle bearings, so we’ll cover that as well.
Here are some basic steps to routinely do to keep your bread machine baking at its best. In fact, routine cleaning of the machine should occur after each new loaf is baked. Just make sure that you never pour water or any liquids directly into the bottom of the machine when cleaning it. The bread pan can contain liquids like water and milk, but the bottom of the machine is not designed for liquids of any kind. Also, make sure the machine has completely cooled and unplugged before doing any cleaning or maintenance.
Keep it Clean
Most bread pans are not dishwasher safe. This is due to the bearing on the underside of the pan that requires some lubrication. When you clean the bread pan by hand avoid using anything that’s abrasive. Bread pans usually have a non-stick, Teflon coating and abrasives can erode the finish.
Also, take the time to look at the bottom of your bread machine when the pan is removed. This is where you will often find bits and crumbs of baked bread at the bottom of the machine. Because there are heating elements in your bread machine, these “bread-bits” continue to bake and re-bake with every new loaf. Over time they will burn and can affect your machines performance and give a burnt smell to your freshly baked loaf. A vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment does nicely, or you can carefully wipe out the bottom of the machine with a damp rag. Make sure the machine is unplugged.
You should also make sure to wipe up any moisture from the damp washcloth. If a loaf has risen too high and baked to the top or sides of the machine, carefully wipe it off with a moist cloth. Be careful to not scratch the interior or it may become a catching-point for ingredients in the future. You should also avoid using chemicals like bleach or other harsh chemicals. Soap and water is your best bet.
Mind the Bread-Paddles
The bread paddles are one of the most important elements in any bread machine. Take good care of them. Many people have complained that they are hard to replace. A common lament with bread paddles is their tendency to either come off in a baked loaf, or stick to the paddle-spindle in the bottom of the pan. Personally, I prefer it when the paddle comes off in the loaf. It’s easy to remove and I usually clean it by hand. I’ve resisted the urge to add a little vegetable oil to the spindle to make it easier to remove the paddle. Over time the oil will burn and thicken which could cause the paddle to become stuck-fast. Just remember to clean the paddles and the spindles after each loaf. If the paddles do become stuck, add hot water to the pan for 30 minutes and carefully try to remove the paddle.
Oiling the Bread-Spindle Bearings
If you look at the underside of your bread pan, you’ll see the bread spindle shaft. This does require oil on a fairly regular basis. You do not want to add any oil to the interior of the bread pan or the internal spindle, only add a few drops of 3-in-1 Oil to the exterior shaft on the underside of the bread pan. Your instruction book will probably have some information about how to lubricate this part of the mechanism, buy many don’t cover this maintenance step. Many bread machine owners have said that this simple maintenance has kept their machines running quieter and more efficiently. You could do this once a month or more frequently if your machine starts making unusual noises. It all depends on your baking frequency.
Read your Instruction Manual
Your bread machine should have come with a manual with basic recipes and recommendations for regular maintenance. Take the time to read it and try to follow the instructions. If you didn’t receive a manual or can’t find it you can probably download a manual from the manufacturer’s website on the Internet. Eventually you’ll get in the habit of performing this maintenance and have your bread machine for years and years.