A clean coffee maker and cup of coffee on a kitchen counter

How To Clean Your Coffee Maker With or Without Vinegar

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Are you an “instant human just add coffee” person? I can’t hardly remember my name without a cup of coffee in the morning. But every so often, I notice my morning jolt of caffeine takes longer or tastes odd. Those are two signs it’s time to clean your coffee maker, but they’re not the only ones.

What follows are different methods I’ve used to clean my coffee maker, with or without vinegar. I do this once a month, or any time it starts working slower than usual.

Signs It’s Time to Clean Your Coffee Maker

There are definite signs your machine is due for cleaning:

  • 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.

Why This Happens

Mineral buildup: Tap water contains calcium, magnesium, and sodium minerals which can create a harden layer in your machine’s pump that makes it struggle to work. So, it’ll sputter, brew slowly, and even make a horrible noise.

Mold: Since coffee maker reservoirs are damp places close to the warming burner’s heat, they also frequently grow hidden mold and mildew. This leads to odd tastes and can make you ill, which is why cleaning your coffee maker routinely is important.

Steps to Clean Your Coffee Maker

To clean your coffee maker with vinegar, fill the reservoir with equal parts hot water and white vinegar, then run it like you’re brewing a pot. When the cycle finishes, run two cycles using fresh water, dumping it out each time.

Substitutions for Vinegar

If you don’t want to use vinegar to clean your coffee maker, add any of the following to the reservoir and top it off with hot water, then follow the rest of the cleaning process:

  • Lemon juice: 1/2 cup. Both fresh or bottled are fine.
  • Baking soda (bicarbonate): 1/4 cup.
  • Borax: 2 tablespoons.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: 1 cup.

Cleaning Your Coffee Maker’s Parts

Oily buildup and dried coffee residue can affect your coffee’s taste. If they clog the basket or filter, they can keep your machine from working properly. Add them to the top rack and let your dishwasher clean them or wash them by hand as follows.

Basket and removable filters: Wash in hot, soapy water using a soft brush to remove any residue, then rinse and dry them.

Coffee pot: Wait for the pot to reach room temperature then wash it in hot, soapy water using a dish rag or microfiber cloth. For stubborn or burnt-on coffee, scour the inside with baking soda or half a lemon dipped into salt and wait 5 minutes for it to loosen the grime. Rinse thoroughly.

Cleaning the Exterior

Unplug your coffee maker and let it cool before cleaning the exterior and burner with a warm, soapy rag. Use an wet toothbrush dipped in baking soda for gentle abrasion on mineral buildup. Then use a rag to rinse away the soapy residue with plain water. Buff it dry.

Pro Tip

Keurig owners: here’s how to clean yours and get it working like new.

How Often Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?

For best results, and a better tasting cup of coffee, wash the removable parts daily after use and clean your coffee maker’s internal parts monthly using any of the methods above. But don’t rely on the machine’s cleaning sensor to tell you when: that’s one of the first things to fail on most of them.

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

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

    1. Sierra Jordahl says:

      Thank you for the tips!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

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