How to clean a coffee maker

A clean machine will last longer and make better-tasting coffee

If your morning routine used to consist of a quick stop at a local cafe, you’ve probably come to heavily rely on your own coffee maker in recent months.

It’s hopefully brewing just fine as it works overtime, but your machine may be long overdue for its own pick-me-up in the form of a good cleaning.

Without proper care, coffee residue and mineral buildup can wreak havoc on your machine, affecting the quality of your brew and even causing your brewer to malfunction.

“You should clean your coffee maker every three to six months, depending on how often you use it. Check your coffee maker’s instruction manual for a more precise time frame,” says Ginny Lui, CR’s test engineer for coffee makers. “Some coffee makers also have a cleaning indicator, which will light up when it’s time for descaling.”

To help you get your coffee maker sparkling clean, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide that you can follow, regardless of whether you own a drip or pod brewer. Afterward you’ll have better-tasting coffee and a machine that looks like new—the better to watch your brewer dispense your caffeinated elixir of life, drip by beautiful drip.

Just make sure to also consult your coffee maker’s manual to see whether it has any special cleaning instructions. If you lost or threw out the manual, a quick online search by make and model should yield a digital copy you can view.

In the market for a new coffee maker? Check out our complete coffee maker ratings and buying guide.

Step 1: Clean the Brew Basket and/or Water Reservoir

If you use a drip coffee maker, you might rinse the brew basket at the sink after you empty it. Now and then, it’s good to go the extra distance by washing it thoroughly in warm, soapy water. This will take care of the oily residues that can leave behind a bitter taste.

Pod coffee makers don’t have a brew basket, but they usually have a removable water reservoir. You should remove the reservoir and wash it with soap and water. Some reservoirs can even be placed in the dishwasher, but consult the owner’s manual to be sure.

Step 2: Clean the Hot Plate or Drip Tray

Unless your drip coffee maker has a thermal carafe, it will have a hot plate that keeps the coffee warm. When the hot plate has cooled, wipe off any spilled coffee. To remove burnt-on coffee stains, scrub the plate with a damp sponge and a little baking soda.

Rather than a hot plate, pod coffee makers feature a drip tray that your mug sits atop. The drip tray can collect a lot of excess coffee and become a haven for germs. Clean the tray with soap and warm water, and make sure to empty it regularly.

Step 3: Remove Mineral Deposits

Minerals in your home’s water can clog your coffee maker’s tank and tubes. If it gets bad enough, the machine could stop working completely or its brewing performance will be compromised; excessive steaming and increased brew cycle times are two telltale signs of trouble.

The removal of this mineral buildup is called descaling. If your machine has a cleaning indicator, it will illuminate when it’s time to begin this process.

For most machines, all you need to do is occasionally run a mixture of water and white vinegar through the machine. Check your machine’s instructions for the proper ratio though, because vinegar can damage some metals and plastics.

Finishing the descaling process doesn’t mean you can start brewing coffee right away, however. “Always run the brew cycle with water a couple of times to get rid of the vinegar taste before brewing coffee,” Lui says.

Some machines, such as those made by Keurig and Nespresso, tell you to use their own special descaling solutions instead. Some brewers feature dedicated cleaning cycles as well, so check your owner’s manual for any specific cleaning instructions.

Step 4: Clean the Carafe (Drip Machine)

Whether your machine uses a glass carafe or an insulated thermal carafe, you should always clean the carafe with soap and warm water after every brew. If you can’t remove coffee stains, fill the carafe with a solution of one part baking soda and two parts hot water, and let it stand overnight. Then rinse thoroughly with fresh water.

Easy-to-Clean Coffee Makers

Rather start fresh? Here are four models (two drip and two pod) that perform well in our convenience tests, which evaluates, among other factors, how easy the machine is to clean.

Yep, vinegar can help!

How to clean a coffee maker

Germs love warmth and moisture — two things that your coffee maker produces every single morning while brewing your daily cup. In fact, 50% of these household appliances contain yeast and mold, according to an NSF study. Yikes.

To ensure your morning mug contains no hidden surprises, you’ll want to clean your machine on a regular basis. Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Appliances & Cleaning Product Lab, swears by these three rules that will keep your coffee tasting great:

1. Wash removable parts with dish soap after every use.

“This is important because it helps remove coffee, grinds, and oil that are left behind,” says Forte. “You can hand wash at the sink with warm and soapy water, but usually the pieces are dishwasher-safe. And don’t forget to wipe down the outside and the warming plate where spills can burn on.” She also recommends leaving the reservoir’s lid open so it can dry out completely after each use!

2. Decalcify your machine every month with vinegar.

How to clean a coffee maker

Over time, hard water minerals can build up in your machine’s inner workings, and you may notice that your coffee takes longer to drip. To get things back in tip-top shape, you need to cleanse and decalcify the machine. Forte’s trick: good ol’ reliable white vinegar.

Fill the reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water, and place a paper filter into the machine’s empty basket. Position the pot in place, and “brew” the solution halfway. Turn off the machine, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, turn the coffee maker back on, finish the brewing, and dump the full pot of vinegar and water. Rinse everything out by putting in a new paper filter and brewing a full pot of clean water. Repeat once.

3. Make your carafe sparkle again with rice.

You should always wash your carafe after each use, but if it’s looking dingy over time, fill it with warm, sudsy water, and a little rice. Swirl the mixture to loosen any gunk. Use a scrub sponge to remove debris and rinse well.

Wondering how to sanitize a K-cup machine? We’ve got you covered. Follow these tips for cleaning Keurig coffee makers from the Good Housekeeping Institute, and don’t forget about your travel mugs too!

If you can’t remember the last time you descaled yours, read this now.

How to clean a coffee maker

How to clean a coffee maker

Owning a Keurig means you no longer have to think about wrangling filters and ground coffee beans every morning. But many of us are probably guilty of not thinking about cleaning it either — and that thing can get dirty. Like all coffee makers and pod coffee systems, Keurigs can serve as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and mold if not regularly cleaned. Grossed out? Us too.

We asked Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, for advice on how to maintain your go-to morning machine. Start by buying the following cleaning essentials, then follow the timeline below for how often you should clean every part of your brewer.

What you’ll need:

How to clean a coffee maker

How to clean a coffee maker

How to clean a coffee maker

How to clean a coffee maker

How to clean a coffee maker

Every week:

Ideally, you’ll want to wash the removable parts of your machine on a weekly basis.

  1. Unplug the machine.
  2. Disassemble the water reservoir, lid, mug tray, and K-cup holder.
  3. Clean the mug tray and K-cup holder in warm soapy water.
  4. For the water reservoir and lid, remove the water filter, then wipe the surfaces with a damp, soapy cloth.
  5. Rinse the reservoir and lid with water and let air dry — you don’t want to dry it with a cloth since this could leave lint behind.
  6. Wipe down the exterior surface with a wet sponge.
  7. Replace all the removable parts and plug the machine back in.

Every two months:

Replace the water filter cartridge to keep your coffee fresh every other month.

  1. Start by soaking a new cartridge in fresh water for five minutes, then rinse it for 60 seconds.
  2. Wash the mesh of the lower filter holder.
  3. Insert the cartridge into the upper filter holder, and snap on the lid.
  4. Finally, put it back into your reservoir and lock it into place.

Every three to six months:

Descale your machine to remove hard water minerals that can build up over time, which could affect how well it works.

  1. Begin the descaling process by filling the reservoir with 10 ounces of white vinegar or Keurig’s Descaling Solution.
  2. Start the brew cycle without a K-cup and let the machine run as usual, using a mug to catch the liquid.
  3. Repeat this process a second time.
  4. Then, repeat the process one last time, but with 10 ounces of fresh water to remove any vinegar taste.
  5. Brew coffee as usual.

As needed:

When you see grounds in your K-cup holder, remove them with a sponge to prevent them from ending up in your beverage tomorrow morning. If you’re having trouble brewing, there may also be coffee grounds stuck in the needles, which punch the entrance and exit points the water flows through.

Wondering how to clean a coffee maker with vinegar? We know the answer!

If you’re a coffee drinker, you look forward to that first cup of the day. You can’t imagine trying to function without it, or the other cups of joe that may follow.

You love your coffee for its flavor, its ability to help you be alert and for the comfort it provides. It’s one of life’s simplest pleasures.

Deep cleaning your coffee maker with vinegar is probably the last thing on your mind. But, did you know your coffee maker needs this regularly? (Most coffee makers can handle vinegar, but check the manufacturer’s instructions for yours.)

How to clean a coffee maker

Cleaning your coffee maker with vinegar will improve the taste of your coffee. You’ll get rid of bacteria and mold (eww!), plus mineral buildup that can affect the flavor.

Plus, your coffee machine will function better and more quickly. Your appliance will last longer, too.

How to clean a coffee maker

How Often to Clean Your Coffee Pot

You should rinse out your standard coffee pot and wipe it clean every day.

If you have hard water, which contains lots of mineral deposits, you’ll need to decalcify your pot once a month to remove mineral buildup. If you have soft water in your household, you can get away with doing this deeper cleaning once every few months.

How to clean a coffee maker

How to Clean a Drip Coffee Maker with Vinegar

  1. Fill the reservoir with equal parts white vinegar and water.
  2. Make sure your filter is empty.
  3. Run the brew cycle until it’s halfway through.
  4. Turn off the machine.
  5. Wait 30 minutes.
  6. Resume brewing the solution until it’s finished.
  7. Drain your coffee pot.
  8. Brew a full pot of water to rinse any remaining residue. Drain your pot.
  9. Brew one more full pot of water and drain it.

How to clean a coffee maker

How Much Vinegar to Use to Clean a Coffee Maker

A 12-cup coffee pot makes 12, 5-ounce cups of coffee, or 60 ounces total. You’ll need 30 ounces of vinegar and 30 ounces of water to deep clean it.

A 10-cup coffee pot makes 10, 6-ounce cups of coffee, so it also holds 60 ounces total. You’ll need 30 ounces of vinegar and 30 ounces of water to decalcify it.

How to clean a coffee maker

How to Clean and Descale a Keurig with Vinegar

You should descale your Keurig every 3-6 months.

  1. Empty the water reservoir and wipe out any residue.
  2. Fill the reservoir with 10 ounces of white vinegar.
  3. Make sure the K-cup holder is empty.
  4. Get a tall mug and place it under the dripping area.
  5. Brew on the large setting, then drain your mug.
  6. Repeat until all the vinegar is brewed.
  7. Fill your reservoir with 10 ounces of water and repeat the brewing process until the water is gone.

Now that you know how to clean your coffee pot with vinegar, get brewing! And check out the recipes in 17 Reasons for Coffee Lovers to Rejoice.

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How to clean a coffee maker

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How to clean a coffee maker

Many coffee experts say the best coffee starts with the cleanest equipment. Using a dirty coffee maker can make even the most expensive coffees taste bitter or stale, so it is important to clean a drip coffee maker regularly in order to produce a drinkable beverage. Cleaning a drip coffee maker is not a difficult process, although some may find it a little time-consuming. The most important ingredients to have on hand when cleaning a drip coffee maker are a supply of clean water and white vinegar.

A traditional drip coffee maker does not contain a lot of moving parts which must be disassembled for thorough cleaning. However, there are some areas which tend to collect oily residue from brewed coffee beans, and other areas which can develop a build-up of scale from untreated hard water. Neglect can also lead to the development of mildew and mold if coffee filters and their used contents are not removed promptly. Cleaning a coffee maker properly means addressing everything from the glass carafe to the water delivery system.

To clean the glass carafe which holds the finished coffee, a person could swirl a small amount of soapy water with a soft plastic brush around the interior and then rinse it with clean water several times until the soap residue is completely gone. This method may give the coffee an unpleasant taste, however, so many people try to avoid the use of chemicals when cleaning the carafe.

An alternative cleaning method used by many restaurants involves the use of ice cubes, coarse salt, and lemon juice. This mixture can be added to a dirty coffee carafe and swirled for several minutes to remove any burned coffee residue or oily build-up. After several minutes, the ice mixture can be tossed into a sink and the carafe rinsed out several times with clean water.

Cleaning the actual coffee maker requires a different approach. The part of the machine which holds the coffee filter should be removed and checked for any contamination. Any old filters or grounds should be thrown away immediately. The user should replace the filter holder, but not use a filter during the cleaning process. A clean coffee carafe should be in place to receive the cleaning solution as it moves through the coffee maker.

The user should add a mixture of white vinegar and water to the coffee maker’s water receptacle. Sources disagree on the proper water-to-vinegar ratio, but in general, two parts water to one part white vinegar should be sufficient for routine cleaning. Especially dirty coffee makers may benefit from equal parts vinegar and water, however. The white vinegar can be placed directly in the receptacle, then diluted with the water until the machine is full.

The next step is to run a normal coffee cycle with the vinegar and water mixture. The solution should drip steadily into the carafe, and it will most likely appear dark or cloudy as the oily residues and dirt are removed. When this cycle is finished, the user can throw away the contents of the carafe and begin a second cycle with a fresh supply of white vinegar and water. If the finished water in the carafe still looks cloudy or dark, a third cycle may be helpful, but often two cleaning cycles should be enough.

After the last cleaning cycle has been completed, the user should start several cycles of clean rinse water to remove all traces of the vinegar. The result should be a very clean coffee maker, which should be allowed to dry thoroughly before starting the next pot of coffee. Some coffee drinkers may notice a distinct improvement in the overall quality of the brew right away, but sometimes the changes are more subtle. Other factors such as water temperature, coffee bean grind size, and filter quality can also affect the taste of brewed coffee, but keeping a coffee maker properly cleaned can help tremendously.

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Follow these simple steps for cleaning an auto-drip coffee maker for a germ-free home brewer and a fresh tasting cup of joe.

Related To:

For many, a daily run to the local coffee shop has become a cherished morning routine. But costs for that store-bought brew can add up quickly. And when getting out isn’t possible, nothing can be more convenient than a morning walk to the kitchen for that cup (or several cups) of just-right joe.

How to clean a coffee maker

Drip Coffeemaker

A man pours coffee from a coffeemaker carafe into a mug. It’s important to clean your drip coffeemaker regularly.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Aleksandra Suzi

Your coffee routine should include basic cleaning to ensure your home auto-drip brewer makes its best tasting coffee and doesn’t breed germs. A 2011 study conducted by NSF International found that coffee reservoirs ranked as the fifth-germiest place in the homes sampled.

7 Top-Rated Coffeemakers to Break Your $5 Coffee Habit

Say goodbye to standing in line and paper coffee cups with these highly-rated coffeemakers from Amazon.

Lisa Yakas, a microbiologist and senior project manager at NSF International, says coffee makers are so germy for two primary reasons: moisture and warmth. “Also, people may not be aware of the need to clean their coffee makers regularly, which allows more time for growth,” Yakas says.

Always check the cleaning recommendations in your machine’s manufacturer’s manual. Yakas also recommends the following cleaning routines. You’ll just need a little soap for daily cleaning. Every month or so you’ll want to clean your coffee maker with vinegar.

How to clean a coffee makerWhen is the last time you cleaned your coffee maker? You probably don’t remember, do you? You should clean your coffee maker at least once a month. Every time you brew coffee, debris from the beans and hard water and lime deposits build up inside the machine. It needs to be cleaned to remove those deposits and keep your java tasting fresh.

Your coffee maker might have an indicator that tells you when it needs to be cleaned. If it does not, you should plan to clean it once a month, or more often if you use it more than average. Also, if you have particularly hard water or do not use a water softener, you should clean your coffee maker more frequently.

So how do you go about cleaning your coffee maker? Of course you know how to brew your coffee. The good news is that cleaning your coffee maker is as simple as brewing coffee. Here are the steps:

  • Put a clean filter in the filter basket.
  • Fill the reservoir with half plain white vinegar and half water.
  • Turn the coffee maker on and run it as if you were brewing coffee.
  • After the cycle is complete, empty the pot of vinegar and repeat the process twice with plain water. Be sure to do this twice so that your coffee doesn’t taste like vinegar.
  • When you have completed cleaning the internal parts of the coffee maker, you can put the pot and filter basket directly into the dishwasher.
  • If you don’t have vinegar, you can dissolve two denture cleaning tablets in warm water and fill the coffee pot with that solution.

You can also use a coffee maker cleaning product like Dip-It, but using vinegar is just as effective and safer. It doesn’t contain any of the harsh chemicals that you would find in a manufactured cleaning product.

More Time for You has been providing award winning housecleaning, lawn care and handyman services to the Powell, Dublin and Northwest Columbus since 1999. Friend us on our MTFY FaceBook Page.

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2011 at 4:52 pm and is filed under MTFY. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

If you haven’t cleaned your coffee maker in a year, let alone since you bought it, your home coffee game isn’t as strong as it can be.

Proper maintenance not only ensures your machine stays in tip-top shape, it also leads to better tasting coffee. When not cleaned regularly, coffee makers accumulate dirt, coffee oils, mineral residue, and even yeast and mold — all of which can get into your brew.

Luckily, cleaning a coffee maker isn’t hard. Beyond daily cleaning, your coffee maker is most likely in need of descaling — the process of removing limescale and buildup with a simple vinegar solution.

You’ll want to refer to your machine’s instruction manual for any specific information, but the guide below applies to drip coffee makers from Mr. Coffee to Bunn, as well as single-serve brewing systems that use coffee pods.

What you need

  • Cleaning cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water

How to clean a drip coffee maker

If you use your coffee maker every morning, daily cleaning is a must. After a daily brew, be sure to wipe down your coffee maker with a damp cloth to clean up coffee drips, throw out used filters immediately, and the wash pot and filter basket with soap.

For a deeper clean, it’s recommended to descale your coffee maker monthly following these simple steps.

  1. Empty the coffee maker. Make sure the water reservoir and coffee pot is empty, and there are no coffee grounds or filters in the basket.
  2. Mix equal parts water and vinegar. Fill the reservoir with the mixture. For more thorough cleaning, you can increase the amount of vinegar, which sanitizes and removes unwanted buildup.
  3. Flush the mixture through a brew cycle. Run the coffee maker like you would if you were making coffee. If your machine has a “brew-pause” feature, pause the cycle halfway through and let the solution soak. Otherwise, you can run the vinegar mixture through the brew cycle twice, if needed.
  4. Finish with a few brew cycles of water. Follow the vinegar solution with two to three cycles of clean water, or until the smell of vinegar is gone. Once the water cycles are complete, let your coffee pot cool before cleaning it.
  5. Wash the pot and any other removable parts. Hand-wash the pot, filter basket, and any other removable parts with warm soapy water and allow everything to dry.

Quick tip: To get rid of stains in the coffee pot, try a mixture of lemon, Kosher salt, crushed ice, and water.

“Squeeze lemon juice and drop the lemon rinds into the pot. Add the ice, salt, and water and then swirl clockwise and counterclockwise for 15 seconds each direction,” says Jaclyn Houtman, owner of Merry Maids of Houston.

For severe stains, Houtman recommends leaving the lemon and salt mixture overnight.

If you’re particular about your coffee and want a professional solution, there are safe store-bought options worth exploring, from the barista-approved Urnex descaling solution to brand-specific descalers like the one offered by Keurig.

How often should I clean my coffeemaker?

“If you have hard water in your area, you may want to follow these steps weekly. Otherwise, you can clean your coffee maker once a month,” says Houtman.

Note: Hard water is defined as water with high mineral content like calcium and magnesium . To find water hardness in a specific area, you can check a hard water map. To test for hard water at home, check your faucet for buildup or do a soap test.

Wiping down your coffee maker daily, and never leaving coffee grounds and filters in the machine will go a long way in maintaining its cleanliness and avoid any major buildup.

Insider’s takeaway

These simple cleaning steps can make the difference between a perfect cup of a coffee and an overly bitter one. With a monthly cleaning routine, along with daily maintenance, your coffeemaker will keep brewing fresh cups for years to come.