What You Need:
- White vinegar
- Dish soap
- Clean coffee filters
Prep Time Needed:
Total Time Needed:
Cleaning a dirty drip coffee maker
You probably rinse your coffee pot out after every use, but how often do you clean the rest of your coffee maker? If the answer is "not too frequently," you're not alone.
In addition to the carafe, other parts of your coffee maker—like the filter basket, water reservoir, warming plate and exterior—need a bit of TLC every once in a while. Otherwise, your morning brew may start to taste funky. Plus, those areas are hot-spots for germs, bacteria, and mineral buildup that can then drip into your mug in the morning.
The thought is certainly gross, but don't worry. It's actually quite easy to clean the inner workings of your coffee pot—just follow the steps below!
Oh, and if you're more of a Keirug fan than an old-fashioned drip coffee maker, we have a guide on how to clean and descale your Keurig, as well. The process is a little different from the steps below.
Step 1: Clean the removable parts
Put removable parts, such as the filter basket, in the dishwasher, or hand wash them with a sponge, soap and warm water.
Step 2: Add water and vinegar to the reservoir
Fill the water chamber with equal parts water and white vinegar. The exact amount will depend on the size of the reservoir, but there should be enough liquid for a full pot.
Step 3: Brew the vinegar and water mixture
Put in a clean filter and turn the pot on. Brew the solution halfway then turn the coffee maker off. After 45 minutes, turn the coffee maker back on to brew the remaining water and vinegar.
Step 4: Flush with fresh water
Replace the filter again, and run a full pot of fresh water through the coffee maker. You may need to repeat this step once more to fully flush out the vinegar taste.
How to keep your coffee pot clean
If you’ve only been giving your coffee maker’s carafe a quick rinse in between uses, it's time to step up your game.
It’s important to wash removable components after making a pot of coffee to ensure bacteria doesn’t grow while you go about your day. Many of these pieces are dishwasher-safe, so check the manual to find out which components you can toss in the dishwasher for hands-off cleaning. If they can’t go in the dishwasher, just give them a quick scrub with some warm, soapy water—it will take all of two minutes.
Before you head off to work, you'll want to leave the water chamber open, as well. This will allow any leftover moisture to dry up—remember, bacteria love to grow in dark, damp places. Additionally, you should wipe down the burner where drips and spills can gather and disinfect the outside of the coffee maker where your hands have been.
Why you need to clean your coffee maker
In addition to the whole bacteria situation, hard water build-up can leave mineral deposits in the water chamber of your coffee maker, clogging up the mechanism and ultimately resulting in a slow coffee drip. Not to mention, those mineral deposits probably don’t taste great in your drink. Old coffee grounds can also get stuck in your coffee maker, and those definitely don’t taste good.
But don’t worry! White vinegar is here to save the day—per usual. You should clean your coffee maker with vinegar, as outlined above, at least once a month, and don’t forget to rinse the removable parts daily. With a few easy steps, you can upgrade the taste of your morning coffee and avoid ingesting any germs that might be hiding in the machine. All it takes is warm water, soap, white vinegar and a bit of patience!
Alternative coffee pot cleaners
If you aren't keen on using vinegar for whatever reason, you can also purchase a variety of coffee pot cleaners online. There are coffee machine cleaning powders and coffee brewer cleaning tablets, as well as liquid coffee pot cleaners.
In general, you use these products in a similar way to the steps outlined above—mixing them with water and running them through the machine. Some coffee enthusiast websites suggest that these products are more effective than vinegar (particularly at removing oils) but for moderate cleans or when "good enough" is sufficient, vinegar is fine.