How to Clean a Classic Coffee Pot

Used coffee pot that needs cleaning on a kitchen counter

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs, 10 mins - 2 hrs, 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

If you love coffee, you've probably given all the types of coffee makers a try—the single-cup Keurig, a French press, a moka pot—even used a grinder for fresh grounds. If you're like many coffee drinkers, you've returned to the classic coffee pot because it makes enough coffee to serve a tableful of drinkers and quickly makes another potful for seconds.

Most classic coffee makers work by pumping hot water through a filtered basket of coffee grounds into a glass carafe. These makers are reliable, often have a warming plate, and are simple to use. They also need to be cleaned regularly to remove minerals that cling to the maker from the water used and coffee oils that cling to the components, become rancid, and ruin the taste of the coffee.

Take a few minutes when the maker is not in use and clean your classic coffee pot.

How Often to Clean a Coffee Pot

A coffee maker should be cleaned after every use by emptying the grounds and washing the removable components including the glass or metal pot in hot, soapy water.

At least every other month—monthly if you live in a hard water area of the country, a deeper cleaning should be done to remove the build-up of oils and any mineral residue left by the water. Whether you have a metal or glass coffee pot, cleaning a classic coffee maker is easy to do and requires just a few supplies to give you a better-tasting cup of coffee.

What Are Hard Water Stains?

Hard water stains are the white mineral deposits that accumulate on surfaces and the insides of small appliances that use water. In the United States, hard water stains appear most often in homes that use well water in areas that have high levels of minerals like lime and calcium in groundwater.

Before You Begin

It's always best to read the manufacturer's user guide before cleaning any small appliance. Some components may be dishwasher safe but unless you know for sure, handwash each part to prevent damage.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 sink or dishpan
  • 1 sponge
  • 1 microfiber cloth
  • 1 trash can or compost bucket


  • 1 container dishwashing liquid with a degreaser
  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar
  • 1 container citric acid powder


Overhead view of materials needed to clean a coffee pot

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Clean a Coffee Pot Daily

  1. Unplug the Coffee Pot

    Safety first: unplug the coffee pot and make sure it is cool before disassembling and cleaning it.

    Person unplugging a coffee pot before cleaning

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Empty the Coffee Grounds

    Empty the coffee grounds and any disposable filter into a trashcan or compost bin. There are many ways to use leftover coffee grounds around the house and garden, but the one place they should never go is down the sink or into a garbage disposal.

    Emptying the used coffee filter into a compostable bag

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Create a Cleaning Solution

    Use a dishpan or sink to mix hot water and dishwashing liquid to create a soapy solution.

    Mixing a cleaning solution in the kitchen sink

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Wash the Components

    Remove the brew basket and the permanent filter, if there is one. Wash them well in hot, soapy water using a sponge to wipe away oils and residue. Wash the glass or metal coffee pot inside and out.

    Removing the coffee pot components and wiping them with a cleaning solutions

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Rinse and Dry

    Rinse each component in hot water and dry with a microfiber towel that will not leave lint. Reassemble the coffee pot.

    Reassembling the coffee pot after cleaning

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Descale and Thoroughly Clean a Coffee Pot

  1. Add Distilled White Vinegar

    After emptying the coffee maker of grounds and any coffee in the carafe. Fill the water reservoir with at least three cups of distilled white vinegar. If you are using cleaning vinegar, dilute it with water: two cups of vinegar and one cup of water.

    Pouring distilled white vinegar into the coffee pot

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Allow the Vinegar to Work

    Allow the vinegar or vinegar and water solution to sit in the reservoir for at least one hour to help dissolve mineral deposits that are clinging to the coffee maker. Then, run a brewing cycle. Once the vinegar has passed through the coffee maker, allow it to sit in the coffee pot for another hour. It is fine if the vinegar sits in the coffee pot overnight.

    Letting the white vinegar work

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Run Two Rinse Cycles

    After the vinegar has had time to work, empty it into the kitchen sink drain. Fill the coffee maker with water to the top of the reservoir (no coffee grounds) and run a complete brewing cycle. Discard the water and repeat with another rinse cycle.

    Running two complete cycles in the coffee maker

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Clean the Exterior of the Coffee Maker

    Dampen a microfiber cloth with water and wipe down the exterior surfaces of the coffee maker to remove splatters and smudges. Your coffee maker is ready to use.

    Person wiping down the exterior of a coffee maker

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Tips to Keep Your Coffee Pot Clean Longer

  • Use distilled water when making coffee to eliminate mineral deposits.
  • Rinse and wash the coffee pot components after every use or at least daily to remove oils and sediment.
  • Do not allow coffee to sit all day in the carafe, especially if it has a warming plate. Eventually, the coffee will evaporate and leave a burned-on ring in the pot.