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How to Clean a Coffee Maker

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Gather Tools and Materials
Someone cleaning the inside of a coffee pot with a sponge.
  • You can clean a coffee maker with commercial cleaning solution or create a DIY cleaner with white vinegar and water. You will also need mild dish soap and, depending upon the condition of your coffee maker, baking soda.
  • For washing removable parts of the machine, look for a dish sponge or scrubber that is non-abrasive. Do not use steel wool or anything else that may leave scratches on the carafe or surfaces of the coffee maker.
  • Use paper towels, kitchen towels or microfiber cleaning cloths to dry the cleaned coffee pot.
  • If you have a French press coffee maker to clean, a bottle brush and a rubber spatula will make the task easier.

Daily Cleaning
Cleaning water tank of coffee maker

Learning how to clean a coffee maker daily doesn't have to take a lot of time.

  • Unplug and disassemble the removable parts of the coffee maker, including the carafe, brew basket and water tank (if applicable).
  • Discard the used grounds or save them for composting.
  • Submerge the parts into a basin of warm water and mild dish soap, then wash briskly with a dish sponge.

Tip: You can utilize rubber gloves to protect your hands

Deep Cleaning
Someone pressing a button on a coffee maker.

Most manufacturers recommend deep cleaning your coffee maker every one or two months, depending on usage. Begin by cleaning the removable parts of the coffee maker as above, then reassemble and plug the machine in.

If using a commercial coffee maker cleaner, follow the package directions exactly.

For a DIY cleaning solution, follow the steps below:

  • Fill the water tank of the coffee maker with a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 white vinegar. Cleaning a coffee maker with vinegar is an effective all natural solution. This solution will decalcify the interior of the device as well as add acidity to the hot water to disinfect.
  • Turn the coffee maker to the brew cycle and allow the cycle to brew halfway.
  • Turn off the coffee maker and let the mixture steep for 30 to 45 minutes, then turn the machine on and allow the brew cycle to complete.
  • Discard the cleaning solution and refill the water tank with clean water.
  • Turn on the brew cycle and allow the all the water to run through the system. Discard the water, refill the tank and repeat the brew cycle.
  • When the last cycle is completed, pour out one cup of the water and discard the rest. 
  • Sprinkle one teaspoon of baking soda into the cup. If the soda fizzes, then there are still traces of vinegar in the water. Repeat the rinsing brew cycle again and retest the water when it is completed.
Cleaning a French Press Coffee Maker
A French press coffee maker on a white tray.

Some people prefer the simplicity of a manual French press, but its design can still hold some challenges when it comes to how to clean a coffee maker.

  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the spent coffee grounds out of the carafe of the French press.
  • Alternately, you can fill the carafe with water and swirl to loosen the grounds, then pour the water out into a fine sieve. This prevents the grounds from falling down the drain.
  • Discard the used grounds or save them for composting.
  • Fill the carafe 3/4 of the way with warm water. Add a teaspoon of mild dish soap.
  • Insert the plunger lid and use the press top to move the plunger up and down rapidly in the carafe three or four times.
  • Empty the carafe and rinse it and the plunger well.
  • Dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  • Reassemble the coffee maker.
  • For deep cleaning, unscrew and disassemble the components of the plunger including the filter screens and disks.
  • Wash all the pieces in warm water with mild dish soap; you may need to lightly scrub the screens to remove old grounds.
  • Rinse all the pieces well and allow to air dry.
  • Reassemble the French press.

Consider composting old coffee grounds removed from the French press. 

Tip: Don't wash spent grounds down the kitchen drain as this can contribute heavily to clogging the drain. 

Prevent Buildup
Coffee maker with lid open

A few additional tips to help you prevent buildup on your coffee maker:

  • Hard water leaves scale behind on your coffee maker. Consider using filtered water to make your coffee if your coffee pot sees heavy usage.
  • Leave the lid open after brewing and after cleaning; more air circulation to the parts of the coffee maker keeps it dried out and less inviting to bacteria. You can also use a paper towel or kitchen towel for this.
  • Even if you can't clean the coffee maker right away, empty and rinse the brew basket after each brew cycle.

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