How to Clean a Coffee Maker

By Laura Parker
October 15, 2020

Let’s be honest. A good cup of coffee in the morning is just what you need to start the day off right. But you can’t expect your everyday coffee maker to work seamlessly day in and day out without taking care of it. If you’re not regularly cleaning your coffee maker, don’t be surprised if it spits out poor-tasting coffee. 


The good news is that the loss of flavor is easy to fix. In fact, a good, thorough cleaning may be all you need to restore the taste of your morning brew.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Coffee Maker?

Mineral deposits from water and coffee residue will build up over time, impacting both the flavor and the efficiency of the coffee pot. Even worse, coffee pots are known havens for bacteria and mold, so drinking from an unclean coffee pot could potentially mean drinking mold!

Clearly, regularly cleaning your coffee maker is the smart thing to do. So what is the best way to clean a coffee maker? One of the easiest methods uses regular old white vinegar. 

How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

Follow these step-by-step instructions, and your coffee maker will be brewing sweet-smelling coffee in no time.

Step 1. First, rinse what you can. Dump out old coffee and grounds, and rinse removable parts like the carafe. Make sure to remove the coffee filter and water filter if present.

Step 2. Now, fill the water reservoir with a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and water. This will loosen and remove bacteria and mold buildup inside the machine.

Step 3. Run it through a drip cycle and let the mixture sit in the carafe for a few moments. Then, for a thorough cleaning, do it again. 


Step 4. Fill the water reservoir with clean water (no vinegar) and run the machine through a drip cycle twice. This will clean out any lingering vinegar in the machine.

Step 5. If the outside of your coffee maker has seen better days, you should also take this time to wipe down the exterior with a lint-free cloth and hot soapy water.

Step 6. Your coffee machine is now back in business, and ready to brew better tasting coffee!

How do you clean a coffee pot WITHOUT vinegar?

Using vinegar, there’s always a chance your next few pots might come out tasting slightly acidic, and the process itself can leave your kitchen smelling strongly of vinegar. If you’re worried about any of that, baking soda is a great alternative. 

Just mix a cup of warm water with a fourth of a cup of baking soda, and run the solution through your machine. If you’re really trying to avoid chemicals, you can dilute lemon juice with water and run that mixture through as well.

Cleaning a Coffee Maker FAQs

How do you deep clean a coffee maker? 

Although running a brew cycle with a vinegar solution is one of the best things you can do for your coffee maker, disassembling the coffee maker itself and washing the components with dish soap will really make your whole unit shine. Don’t forget to scrub the inside of your carafe and the warming tray — two places gunk tends to really build up!

How many times should I run vinegar through my coffee maker? 

If you have time, run two complete brewing cycles with your vinegar solution, using a fresh batch each time. 

Is a descaling solution better than vinegar? 

A descaling solution will generally be more effective at cleaning out your coffee maker, but it’s also almost twice as expensive as white vinegar, and you probably don’t already have a bottle lying around the house. Ultimately it’s up to you, but know that you’ll still see great results using just vinegar. 

Maintaining That Sweet Morning Smell

Obviously rinsing what you can after each brew is the best way to maintain good-tasting coffee in the long run. If you can’t do that, we still recommend using a monthly schedule to do a full clean of your coffee machine. 

Remember, cleaning your coffee pot is not just for aesthetic reasons. If waking up to a great-tasting morning brew is important to you, then a clean coffee pot is just as important. Think of it as an investment in your future coffee enjoyment. 

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