Mineral deposits (scale) from water and coffee residue can build up in the components of your coffee maker and, over time, may affect the flavor and impair your brewer's efficient drip operation.
You can use demineralized water, buy mineral deposit removers, or use specially formulated coffee maker cleaners, but the most economical method to restore your brewer is by using a vinegar and water solution.
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 do not advise it, usually because of their coffee maker's metal parts.
Quick Coffee Maker Cleaning
- Empty your coffee maker, rinse the carafe, and ensure that the filter basket is properly set and empty. Remove the permanent coffee filter as well as the water filter, if applicable.
- Fill the water reservoir with a solution of equal parts of water and regular white household vinegar.
- Run it through a drip cycle.
- When the cycle is finished, turn off your coffeemaker but allow the water-vinegar solution to sit in the carafe for a few minutes to remove any scale deposits, then discard the solution.
- You should run clear water (no vinegar) through your coffee maker at least twice, and allow your brewer to cool down between cycles. This will remove any lingering vinegar residue.
- This is a good time to thoroughly wipe the exterior of your coffee maker and clean the removable filter basket, permanent filter, and carafe with hot, soapy water. A change of water filter is also a good idea if your brewer has one.
- Your coffee maker is now ready to resume operation, and you may notice a better taste to your coffee.
How often should you clean your coffee maker? Every household is different. Some follow a monthly cleaning schedule, others do only occasional cleanings at best. At the very least, clean your coffee machine every three months if possible. The frequency of cleaning should be more closely aligned with how often you use it and on the hardness of your water, so cleaning requirements can vary.
Some coffee makers have an audible or visible cleaning signal and that usually precludes a forced downtime. You can avoid the downtime by being proactive with maintenance. Other brewers have a cleaning cycle set-up, which is usually detailed in the manual. Always follow the manufacturer's detailed instructions for cleaning.
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 may build up more quickly. In this case, a monthly cleaning is recommended.
Coffee Maker Cleaning Products
You can find several brands of descaling and coffee maker cleaning kits on the market. For the most part, these kits work well and may make it a little easier to conduct routine coffee maker care.
K-Cup Single Serve Brewers
K-Cup brewers, like Keurig machines and others like them, need a thorough, detailed cleaning to remove trapped coffee residue from the impact needle as well as to clean the brewer. Follow the manufacturer's detailed instructions.