5 Ways to Clean Your Coffee Maker

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure page.

Pinterest hidden image

Your coffee maker probably isn’t as clean as you think. A public health study found coffee maker reservoirs are among the germiest places in homes. Here’s how to clean it with or without vinegar.

Clean coffee maker on a white kitchen counter with a freshly-brewed cup and plate of cookies

Why You Need to Clean Your Coffee Maker

Coffee machines accumulate mineral buildup. That’s because most water contains calcium, magnesium, and sodium minerals. On household surfaces, these cause hard water spots. Inside your machine, they leave a residue that restricts water flow and ruins your morning cup.

They’re also warm, damp environments. Know what else likes growing in such conditions? Nasty stuff, which is why your coffee maker might be full of mold.

Signs You Need to Clean Yours

Wondering if you need to clean your coffee maker? There are definite signs that it’s time to do so. Here are a few.

  • Your regular coffee tastes odd.
  • It takes longer to brew a pot than it used to.
  • Your coffee maker makes noises but doesn’t brew.
  • Your coffee maker is louder than usual.
  • Your coffee maker spews coffee everywhere.

How to Clean Your Coffee Maker with Vinegar

1. Dump the old coffee and any grounds in the basket. Return the basket and pot to place.

2. Fill the reservoir with 1/2 hot water and 1/2 white vinegar.

3. Run the machine like you would if you were making coffee. When the process is complete, pour the hot vinegar water back into the reservoir and run another cycle.

4. Once the second cycle ends, empty the pot and wash it in hot, soapy water.

5. Wash the basket in hot, soapy water, too. Use an old toothbrush if necessary to thoroughly remove any coffee residue from the basket’s crevices.

6. Fill the reservoir with clean, cold water, run another cycle, and dump the pot. Repeat this twice to ensure all the vinegar is out of the machine. (On the last run-through, add a pinch of baking soda to the empty pot. Baking soda reacts with vinegar by fizzing — if there’s no fizz, you know the vinegar is completely gone.)

7. Remove water spots from the machine’s exterior using a lint-free cloth. Dip it into vinegar, scrub any stubborn spots, and then wipe with plain water. Buff it dry with a lint-free cloth.

8. Rewash the coffee pot and basket by hand with hot, soapy water or in the top rack of your dishwasher. Let the parts completely dry before putting them back into your machine.

How to Clean Your Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

If you’re out of vinegar or would rather not use it, here are some vinegar-free ways to clean your coffee maker.

Using lemon juice: Add 1/2 cup fresh or bottled lemon juice to the water reservoir, then fill the rest with hot water before proceeding with steps 3-8, above.

Using baking soda: Add 1/4 cup of plain baking soda to your coffee maker’s reservoir, then fill it with hot water. Follow steps 3-8, above, to finish cleaning your coffee maker.

Using borax: Powdered borax can decalcify and clean your coffee maker. Add 2 tablespoons of borax to your coffee machine’s reservoir, then fill it with hot water. Follow steps 3-8 above to finish cleaning. You can find borax in the laundry section of most supermarkets or online. (20 Mule Team is one brand.)

Using hydrogen peroxide: Plain 3% hydrogen peroxide, the kind you get in a brown bottle in the first aid section, can also clean your coffee maker without using vinegar. To do this, add 1 cup to your machine’s reservoir, then fill the rest with hot water. Follow steps 3-8 to finish cleaning. (Here are more things you can clean with hydrogen peroxide to get the most out of your bottle.)

How Often Should You Clean It?

If you want to keep your coffee maker working like new and producing the best-tasting coffee, wash the removable parts daily in hot, soapy water or use the dishwasher to clean them. Then once a month, clean your coffee maker machine using one of the methods above.

Don’t rely on the machine to tell you when to clean it — schedule it monthly on your phone or calendar. Those lights or indicators often stop working after a year or so, even though the machine has plenty of life left in it if you keep it free of mineral buildup and residue.

How to Clean A Dirty Coffee Pot

Here are some easy methods to clean a coffee pot that’s developed a grimy brown film or has scorched, burnt coffee on the bottom.

Lemon and Salt

Rinse the coffee pot and sprinkle a layer of coarse salt inside, deep enough to cover the burnt coffee mess. Epsom, Kosher, or rock salt all work. Then, cut a lemon in half and use it, cut side down, to scour the inside of the coffee pot. Finish by washing it in hot, soapy water.

Homemade Scouring Powder

Make a homemade soft scrub cleaner by stirring hydrogen peroxide into baking soda to form a paste, then add a couple of drops of liquid dish soap. Dab a damp cloth into this and use it to scour the greasy or burnt residue in your coffee pot. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then wash the pot in hot water.

Detergent Tablets

Rinse the coffee pot in hot water and use the corner of a dishwashing tablet to scour the inside. The tablet will begin to crumble with use, but that’s okay — keep scrubbing until the pot is clean, then rinse. If you’d rather take a hands-off approach, pop the dishwasher tablet into the pot and fill it with boiling water. Wait an hour, dump the mess, and rinse it until you don’t see suds.

Not only will cleaning your coffee maker help it work better, but it will also make for a much better-tasting brew. Enjoy!

Comment Policy

Comments are moderated and may take 72 hours to appear. Not all comments are approved. Comments may be removed in the future if they are no longer relevant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Lonnie Hoffkins says:

    I’m curious as to whether anyone has just used Windex instead of vinegar. I know it really gets my carafe spotless and I triple-rinse it when done.

  2. Linda Marr says:

    We clean our stainless steel coffee pot carafe with a dishwasher tablet. Add the tablet, fill pot with boiling water and put on the lid. Wait 1 hour and you have a sparkling clean pot. Just follow with a couple more hot water rinses. We have been doing this for several years now!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you for sharing that, Linda!

    2. Dan Hammack says:

      I’ve done the same thing with dishwasher pods. A 1/2 hour is generally long enough.

  3. I followed your cleaning suggestions and my pot went from 26 minutes to 13 minutes to make a pot.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Excellent news!

  4. We need to clean our coffee pot! Thanks for the post, and the reminder! : )

    1. Sierra Jordahl says:

      Thank you for the tips!