If you’re one of those people who needs, nay, demands, a daily dose of caffeine, we sure hope you or the office intern are giving your coffee machine the re-energizing it needs. Learning how to clean a coffee maker makes for a better tasting cup of coffee. That alone is pretty good motivation to get scrubbing.
When you factor in the mold, yeast, and bacteria that build up in your appliance and can make you sick, there’s really no excuse not to fit maintenance into your routine. By now you are probably wondering, what is the best option?
The good news is that freshening up your appliance is not an arduous task and you can use affordable and natural household ingredients to get the job done fairly easily. Read on for our tips.
How To Clean a Coffee Maker
A rule of thumb to prevent mold growth is to remove any stubborn coffee grinds that are left behind and to air out your appliance when it’s wet. And while you’re at it, the warming plate under the carafe benefits from regular wipe downs.
Because the water reservoir/reserve tank has a moist environment, it is the part of your appliance that hosts more bacteria than a bathroom door handle. It’s therefore not enough to simply dump out the old coffee and hastily rinse the removable parts. Going in with some soapy water when you begin to see bits of brown on the metal layer won’t cut it either.
In general, cleaning a carafe, filter, and filter basket is essentially the same quick process no matter what type of appliance you have. If you enjoy a cup of coffee every day, then that’s how often the removable parts should be washed. Coffee aficionados recommend a clean after every use.
One easy option available to you is to place your glass carafe and its lid, along with the filter basket and permanent filter, into a dishwasher. Make sure you don’t place your water filter disc in as well – it’s not dishwasher-safe.
Do not, we repeat, do not dunk your entire coffee maker in water or place it in the dishwasher. And don’t feel bad if you don’t own a dishwasher – handwashing is actually ideal to prevent warping.
What you have to do to clean will also depend largely on whether you have a digital appliance or a manual one. Digital appliances are easier to clean because they allow for a programmable cycle and the machine does most of the work. Check your machine’s instruction manual for directions specific to your product.
Cleaning With Vinegar
Vinegar does a fantastic job of sanitizing and deep cleaning appliances like kettles and coffee makers which are exposed to mineral deposits from tap water. Vinegar helps to descale and de-calcify your machine, getting it back to its best and brightest self. These are fancy words for removing mineral buildup.
In the event that you don’t deep clean, you’ll have an accumulation of lime etc. which can cause your appliance to function in a sub-optimal manner.
It is always a good idea to deep clean in accordance with the water quality where you live. If you reside in an area where the water is hard and of poor quality, it’s a good idea to decalcify your coffee maker once a month. In soft water areas, you can afford to be a little less rigorous. Pushing the frequency to every two or three months should do the trick.
If you’re not sure what kind of water you have, use a water testing kit to find out.
So, how much vinegar should be used to clean a coffee maker? You can choose to use undiluted vinegar, or make a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, or even two parts water and one part vinegar. The stronger the vinegar component, the deeper the clean, and the longer it may take to eliminate vinegar’s odor.
And FYI, using vinegar of the apple cider variety works just as well as regular white vinegar. Use whatever you have available, bearing in mind that white vinegar is usually cheaper.
Cleaning a manual coffee maker
- Safety first – make sure that your coffee maker is not plugged in and not hot from use before you start. We don’t want anyone to get burned. The filter basket can be rinsed under a faucet and the carafe can be washed in a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Don’t use a scourer, steel wool, or similar abrasive material which can scratch your components.
- Fill the pot or carafe with a vinegar solution. Pour the vinegar into the water reservoir of your appliance until full capacity has been reached. Place a paper filter into the detachable filter basket and close the lid. Remove the water filter disk before you start the cleaning process.
- Place the empty pot on the warming plate, switch the machine on, and when 75% of the vinegar fills the pot, switch off and wait for half an hour while the vinegar does its thing and breaks down mineral deposits. Now, switch back on and let the remaining vinegar flow into the pot. When the brew cycle has come to an end, you can toss out the vinegar and paper filter, and give the pot and removable filter a thorough rinse.
- The last step calls for patience. Ensure there’s no lingering scent of vinegar in your machine by refilling the reservoir with clean water. Use a new paper filter and switch the machine on, then discard the water and switch off. Repeat if necessary. Three brew cycles with fresh water should suffice.
Cleaning a digital/programmable coffee maker
- The machine will display an alert when it needs a clean and when the process is complete. You’ll likely have to fill vinegar into the liquid reservoir, press a button and the machine will do some version of the steps we listed for the manual cleaning. The process takes up to an hour and when it’s done, discard the vinegar and paper filter. Then rinse parts exposed to the vinegar, and fill the reservoir with fresh water. You should only need to fill fresh water for two cycles. Refer to your appliance’s manual for relevant information.
How To Clean Without Vinegar
If you detest the idea of using vinegar and stinking up your piece of hardware, never fear. There are alternatives for vinegar-phobes and those individuals who just don’t have some acetic acid in their pantry cupboard.
Try half a cup of lemon juice mixed with half a cup of water. Lemon juice and vinegar are both effective acids, but the former may not work as well for hard water.
There are also loads of other non-toxic ingredients you can use like cream of tartar and citric acid, although they may create their own buildup over time.
Cleaning With Baking Soda
Baking soda is great at removing grime. After dissolving a quarter cup of this alkaline substance in a cup of water, use it in the same way as you used the vinegar and lemon juice.
When the water eventually emerges into the carafe looking like tap water, you’ll know the device is clean. This is one advantage to using baking soda as opposed to clear liquids.
Here are our tips on how to clean a coffee maker with baking soda. Remember that you a sponge can also be used to remove any residual brown spots in the brew pot.
Cleaning by type of appliance
- Percolators, espresso machines, single serve coffee makers and classic drip machines will utilize a similar method to the one described above. If some of the mineral build up in your carafe still hasn’t come off, it might need encouragement in the form of a gentle abrasive. Use roughly crushed ice or raw rice in foamy water and swirl around. Finish off with the spongey side of your scrubber. And if the reserve tank itself retains some limescale, you’ll need to turn to a chemical descaling product manufactured specifically for coffee makers.
- For a French Press, you don’t need to go digging for coffee remains. Take out the plunger and fill the carafe with water. Now you can pour the brown concoction through a fine sieve and you’re sorted for disposing or composting. Fill the carafe with warm water and dish washing liquid, and use the plunger to loosen debris sticking to the sides.
When you clean your coffee maker, it can last a lot longer. Naturally this in turn allows you to live your best life with delicious, germ-free java.
We’ve covered the basics of how to clean out a coffee maker. You can use typical household ingredients and, as a last resort, a commercial descaling product made for coffee machines. Whether you’re using a pod-based machine, stovetop, auto-drip or some other type of appliance, the concept for deep cleaning should be similar. Having said that, you should always read the info booklet to be sure of what you can and can’t do. Now go forth and conquer!