How to Clean a Coffee Maker With Vinegar
A buildup of coffee residue and mineral deposits (scale) from water can affect the flavor of coffee and clog the components of your coffee maker. Over time, this can impair your brewer's efficient drip operation. You also might notice your coffee becoming increasingly bitter from the residue if you don't clean the brewing basket and other parts regularly. Plus, the moist environment of leftover coffee grounds can lead to the growth of yeast, mold, and bacteria.
Regular maintenance will help your coffee maker perform well and last longer, and it's fairly simple. Here are the primary steps for how to clean a coffee pot with vinegar:
- Remove the parts and clean them.
- Mix vinegar and water and fill the water reservoir with the mixture.
- Run the coffee maker through half of a drip cycle.
- Resume the brew cycle.
- Run two rinse cycles with water.
- Clean the carafe and brew basket.
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What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Soft cloths
- Dish soap
- White vinegar
- Paper filters (optional)
How to Clean a Coffee Pot With Vinegar
Use this process to descale your coffee maker (remove the mineral buildup). Before you begin, check your coffee machine's manual to ensure that cleaning with vinegar is recommended by the manufacturer.
There are some brands that caution against the use of vinegar, usually because of their coffee maker's metal parts. In these cases, you can clean your coffee pot with soap per the second set of instructions.
Remove and Clean the Parts
Empty your coffee maker. Remove and clean the carafe, brew basket, and permanent filter (if you have one) with hot soapy water. Remove the water filter too, if applicable. Then, replace the empty filter basket and carafe.
Mix Vinegar and Water
Mix equal parts white vinegar and water. How much vinegar you use to clean a coffee maker depends on how much it takes to fill half the water reservoir.
You can add vinegar directly into the machine followed by water if you're able to view the levels. Otherwise, mix the water and vinegar in your carafe or another container.
Fill the Reservoir and Add a Filter
Fill your water reservoir with the vinegar and water mixture if you didn't mix it in there directly. Also, if you use paper filters, place a paper filter in the brew basket.
Run Half of a Drip Cycle
Run your coffee maker through half of a drip cycle, stopping it so the vinegar-water mixture can sit in the reservoir and the water channel. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes to an hour in both the reservoir and the carafe.
Resume the Brew Cycle
After 30 to 60 minutes, resume the brew cycle to finish running the vinegar-water mixture through your coffee maker. Then, discard the mixture from the carafe, and replace the paper filter (if using).
Run a Cycle With Water Twice
The general practice is to run vinegar through your coffee maker once, followed by two rinse cycles with water. But if you have stubborn scale or residue, you can repeat the vinegar steps prior to the water rinses.
Fill the water chamber with plain water, and run it through the system for a full brew cycle. Discard the water, and replace the paper filter (if using). Allow the coffee maker to cool down. Then, repeat a full brew cycle with water.
Clean the Carafe and Brew Basket
Clean the removable filter basket, permanent filter (if you have one), and carafe with hot, soapy water. A change of water filter is also a good idea if your brewer has one. Finally, thoroughly wipe the exterior of your coffee maker with a damp soft cloth.
How to Clean a Coffee Maker Without Vinegar
If you can't or don't want to use vinegar to clean your coffee maker, you can still take steps to remove residue and scale. For this method, you'll use just water and dish soap.
Remove the Brew Basket and Filter
Remove the brew basket, and discard the grounds and any disposable paper filter. Also, remove the permanent filter if you have one.
Run Hot Water
Partially fill your sink or a large container with hot water.
Add Dish Soap
Add dish soap to the water. Ideally use a brand that is formulated for removing oil.
Clean the Brew Basket and Permanent Filter
Place the brew basket and permanent filter (if you have one) into the hot, soapy water. Wash thoroughly with a soft cloth or sponge to remove any coffee grounds and oily residue.
Clean the Carafe
Discard any remaining coffee, and rinse the carafe in warm water. Add a little of the soapy water, and thoroughly clean the carafe with a soft cloth or sponge.
Rinse With Warm Water
Rinse the brew basket, permanent filter, and carafe with warm water. Wipe with a dry cloth, and set them on a drying rack.
Wipe Down the Coffee Maker
Use the soft cloth dipped in the soapy water to wipe down the inner lid, outer lid, and brewing area of the coffee maker to remove any residue. Then, dampen a cloth in fresh water to wipe away any soap residue.
Reassemble the Coffee Maker
When the parts are dry, put your coffee maker back together.
How Often to Clean a Coffee Pot
You should clean your coffee maker after every use, removing the grounds and cleaning the brew basket, lid, and carafe. A deeper cleaning to remove mineral deposits should be done at least every three months.
If your home has hard water (water with heavy mineral content), or if you tend to fill the water reservoir of your coffee maker from a rinsed carafe (not washed), the residue might build up more quickly. In this case, a monthly cleaning is recommended.
Some coffee makers have an audible or visible cleaning signal, and that usually precedes a forced downtime. You can avoid the downtime by being proactive with maintenance. Other brewers have a cleaning cycle setup, which is usually detailed in the manual. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning.
Tips to Keep Your Coffee Maker Cleaner Longer
- Use demineralized water when brewing coffee.
- If you are using the carafe to fill the water reservoir, do so only if you clean the carafe with hot, soapy water after each use.
- Don't leave wet, used grounds in the coffee maker for any length of time.