How to Clean a Coffee Maker – With or Without Vinegar

Brewing coffee at home is a convenience that many enjoy. However, just like any appliance, coffee makers need to be cleaned from time to time. Wondering how to clean your coffee maker? Well, here is everything you need to know!

Coffee makers get a considerable amount of mineral buildup over time. On top of that, bacteria can grow in your coffee machine…no thank you!

Before we get into the step by step instructions you may be wondering if your coffee maker actually needs cleaned. Here are some suggestions and what to look out for.

What happens if a coffee machine is not kept clean?

If you don’t clean your coffee maker on a regular basis it can wreak havoc on your machine and the quality of your cup of coffee.

Minerals can build up in your coffee machine over time if you don’t clean it regularly. This can not only affect the taste of your coffee but also slows down the drip. If you let it go too long without cleaning it can get completely clogged.

Bacteria is another issue. Many people think that not cleaning a coffee maker is the key to a flavorful cup of joe. However, when you never clean your machine, bacteria will grow in areas where water is stagnant. Places like the water reservoir and filter basket are common locations for bacteria to grow.

How do you know when to clean your coffee maker?

Here is what to look out for and indicators that your coffee machine needs a good cleaning.

Coffee Maker looks dirty

Ok, so this one is pretty obvious. If you notice that your machine is looking dirty, that’s a very good indication that the machine needs a cleaning. If enough time has passed for significant build up on the outside of the machine just think about what might be going on inside.

Noticeable difference in taste

A dirty coffee maker will have oils from old beans, mineral and grime build up that can all impact the taste of your freshly brewed coffee. If you notice a change in taste and you haven’t changed the brand of beans, it’s time to clean your machine.

Coffee is taking longer to brew than it used to

You may notice that your coffee maker has been taking longer to brew than it used too. That’s probably because there is a considerable amount of mineral build up in the machine. This is usually the first indicator if you have hard water like I do.

Calcium deposits will build up inside the machine and slow down the flow which in turn makes it take longer than it should to brew a pot of coffee. Annoying, but totally fixable if you just descale your machine.

How often should you clean a coffee maker?

You should clean your coffee machine every 3 – 6 months or more frequently if you notice the quality of your coffee has declined or your brew time is taking much longer than it used to.

Cleaning your machine regularly will not only ensure that the coffee maker lasts longer, but you’ll be able to continue enjoying a great cup of coffee made at home.

How to Clean Coffee Maker With Vinegar

White Vinegar

Cleaning your coffee maker with vinegar is is a simple, inexpensive and very effective way to descale your machine. Here is what you’ll need to do.

Step 1 – Fill half of the reservoir with white vinegar

If you have a 12 cup coffee maker use 6 cups of white vinegar. If it’s a 10 cup, use 5 cups etc.

Step 2 – Fill remainder of reservoir with water

Fill the remaining half of the reservoir with water

Step 3 – Run a cycle on your machine

If you have a “clean” cycle, use that. If you don’t, just run a normal cycle.

Step 4 – Repeat as needed

If you notice that the water in the pot is dirty (brown) or if there is a considerable amount of calcium deposits in the filter, you may need to repeat steps 1-3.

Step 5 – Run water through the machine

After you’ve completed the cleaning, run a few cycles of only water through your machine to flush out any of the vinegar that may have been left behind.

Apple Cider Vinegar

You may prefer to use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar to clean your coffee maker. That may be because it’s the only vinegar that you have on hand or because the smell of apple cider vinegar is a little less potent. Either way, you can still get a great cleaning with apple cider vinegar.

Step 1 – Fill half of the water tank with apple cider vinegar

You’ll want equal parts vinegar and water so fill half of the water tank with apple cider vinegar.

Step 2 – Add water

Fill the remainder of the water tank with water.

Step 3 – Run a cycle on your coffee maker

Run the clean cycle on your machine if it’s an option. If not, just run a normal brew cycle.

Step 4 – Repeat as needed

Repeat the cleaning process as needed.

Step 5 – Flush out your machine with water

To get the vinegar taste out of the coffee machine you’ll need to run a few cycles of just water to flush it out.

How to Clean Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

While using vinegar is my preferred method to clean my coffee maker, some people just can’t stand the smell of cleaning with vinegar and I can understand that. Here are three alternate methods to clean your coffee make without vinegar.

Affresh Tablets

Affresh tablets are an effective and easy alternative to using vinegar to clean your coffee machine.

They are great at descaling your coffee maker and will deep clean without the odor that comes along with vinegar.

The link below is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner, Works with Multi-cup and Single-serve Brewers, 3 Tablets
  • Descales your coffee maker, fighting hard water deposits and mineral buildup for a better tasting brew

Lemon Juice

Lemons can be used in place of vinegar because they have a similar acidity. The benefit you’ll get with lemons is that they don’t have the sour vinegar smell.

The acidity in the lemons will remove the buildup and grime from your coffee maker.

To clean your coffee machine with lemon juice, follow the instructions below:

Step 1: Juice 4 lemons

Squeeze four lemons to juice them. Alternatively, if you don’t have lemons you can use 1 cup of lemon juice if you buy it premade.

Step 2: Dilute the lemon juice with water

In your water reservoir, add the lemon juice and then add water until you fill up the entire reservoir.

Step 3: Run a cycle on your coffee machine

If your machine has a cleaning cycle use that. If not, just run a normal brew cycle.

Step 4: Repeat as needed

If you notice that the water in the carafe is brown/dirty or you see calcium build up, you may need to repeat the cleaning. Do this for another one or two cycles until the water is clear.

Step 5: Run a cycle with only water

After you’ve cleaned your coffee machine with lemon, run one last cycle with just water to ensure that the lemon taste is removed.

Baking Soda

If the lemon smell is still too potent for your preference, try using baking soda to clean your coffee machine.

You’ll be able to descale your coffee maker just as effectively as using vinegar or lemon and it won’t smell like anything at all.

Here is how to use baking soda to clean your coffee maker.

Step 1 Mix water with baking soda

Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda into 1 cup of hot water and stir until it is dissolved.

Step 2 Pour baking soda water into reservoir

Pour the mixture into your water reservoir and then top it off with more water until the reservoir is full.

Step 3: Run a cycle on your coffee machine

If your machine has a cleaning cycle use that. If not, just run a normal brew cycle.

Step 4: Repeat as needed

If you notice that the water in the carafe is brown/dirty or you see calcium build up, you may need to repeat the cleaning. Do this for another one or two cycles until the water is clear.

Step 5: Run a cycle with only water

After you’ve cleaned your coffee machine with baking soda, run one last cycle with just water to ensure that any remnants of baking soda are completely gone before you brew your next pot of coffee.

How to clean coffee pot glass (carafe)

If your cleaning your coffee pot regularly you should be able to wash it with your normal dish soap and water just like any other dish that you clean.

If you’ve gone too long without cleaning and your pot is all stained up, follow these steps to remove the stains.

How to remove stains

  1. Put a handful of ice cubes into the coffee pot. Crushed is best but cubes will work too.
  2. Add 1/8 cup of table salt
  3. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  4. Stir the mixture and let it sit until the ice melts
  5. Rinse the coffee pot

How to Clean Coffee Maker Water Tank

If your coffee maker has a removable water tank, simply remove it and wash it with dish soap just like any other dish. Sometimes there are hard to reach components so you may need a small brush or toothbrush to get into the tight spaces.

If the water reservoir is integrated into your coffee machine, use vinegar, lemon, baking soda or a manufactured cleaner to descale and clean your entire machine. Following the instructions listed earlier in this article will ensure a clean water tank and machine.

How to Clean Coffee Maker Heating Plate

The heating plate on the bottom of your coffee maker is great for keeping your glass carafe of coffee warm for hours. However, it gets dirty over time with dirt, grim and drips of coffee.

To clean the heating plate first be sure to let it completely cool.

Next, wet a washcloth with warm water and wipe down the heating plate.

If the heating plate has burnt on stains, add a small amount of baking soda to a wet sponge and use that to scrub it. Then use a wet towel to wipe it clean.

More Cleaning Tutorials!

Check out more of my cleaning tutorials and tips for your household appliances.

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