How to Clean a Coffee Maker (And Why You Should Be Doing It More Often)

If a good cup of coffee is your morning drink of choice, it’s not only important to have a good coffee maker, it’s also important to clean it regularly, especially if you use it every day. Without proper cleaning, coffee oils can build up in the pitcher, basket and elsewhere and cause your drink to taste bitter. Or, leave it long enough and there may be yeast and mold lurking in the reservoir, according to a 2011 study by NSF International. While these nasty things likely won’t have a serious effect on your health, the mere thought of them lurking in your coffee maker is distasteful, to say the least. Instituting a regular coffee maker cleaning ritual is easy to do and can pay off big in terms of taste. Follow the steps below to clean a standard drip coffee maker.

Want to know how to deep clean a K-Cup machine? We’ve got you covered: Follow our guide to cleaning your Keurig coffee maker. And don’t forget about cleaning your travel mug, too!

How to Clean a Coffee Maker

Cleaning this desk appliance regularly actually takes a little effort. Carolyn Forté, executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care & Cleaning Lab, says with a little water, soap and vinegar, you should be fine. Forté also mentions that it’s a good idea to check the cleaning instructions from the manufacturer of your coffee maker, as all machines are slightly different. Follow the guide or these simple steps:

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Step 1: Wash the removable parts with dish soap after use.

      “This is important because it helps remove any lingering coffee drips, grinds, and oils,” says Forté. “You can hand wash the pieces in the sink in warm, soapy water, but often the parts are dishwasher safe, making the task easier. And don’t forget to wipe down the exterior and heating plates, where spills can catch fire.” He also recommends leaving the reservoir cap open so it can dry completely after use.

      how to clean a coffee maker

      Step 2: Decalcify your machine with vinegar every three months.

      Over time, hard water minerals can build up in the interior of your machine, and you may notice that your coffee pot takes longer to brew. In order for everything to flow, you need to clean and decalcify the engine. Most coffee makers have an indicator light that goes on when it needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Forté recommends not waiting for the lights to turn on. At that time, it would take several cleaning cycles to clear it. Instead, set reminders to do it at least every three months, or four times per year. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with doing it more often. Here’s how to decalcify a drip coffee maker:

      • Remove the charcoal water filter from the reservoir, if applicable.
      • Fill the reservoir with equal parts white vinegar and water.
      • Place the paper filter into the machine’s empty basket.
      • Position the pot in place, and “brew” the solution until the “add water” light comes on.
      • Pour the vinegar and water into a full pot, and let the machine sit for 30 to 60 minutes.
      • Empty, wash, rinse and replace the water bowl, and fill it with clear water. If it can’t be removed, just fill it with clear water.
      • Insert a new paper filter and boil a full pot of clean water until the “add water” light comes on again.
      • If necessary, add more water and brew another cup or two until no vinegar residue or aroma remains.
      • Replace the charcoal filter with a new one that you have soaked in water and rinsed, according to the directions.

      Step 3: Make your teapot sparkle again using rice.

      You should always wash the kettle after use, but if it looks dirty over time, fill it with warm, sudsy water and some uncooked rice. Stir the mixture to loosen any dirt. Use a scrubbing sponge dipped in a small amount of baking soda to remove any remaining dirt, and rinse thoroughly.

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