How to Clean Your Coffee Maker

How often do you clean your coffee maker? If you had to stop and think, the answer is probably “not enough.” According to research, 50% of coffee makers contain yeast and mold. That’s not healthy at all, and begs the question: How often should you clean your coffee maker?

If you can see hard water buildup or baked-on stains in the carafe or mineral deposits on the inside of the coffee maker — or your coffee tastes odd — it’s probably time for a good cleaning. To make sure your cup of coffee is germ- and bacteria-free, follow these cleaning and maintenance tips from the pros.

How to Clean Your Drip Coffee Maker

You should clean your coffee maker after every use. Remove the used grounds and clean the brew basket, cover and carafe. Baskets left with used coffee grounds will grow bacteria and mildew, and the condensation beneath the cover is the perfect breeding ground for mold. You’ll also get rid of oil residue, old grounds and general mustiness that can affect the taste of your coffee.

Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Appliances & Cleaning Lab, says, “You can hand wash at the sink with warm, soapy water, but usually the pieces are dishwasher safe. And don’t forget to wipe down the outside and the warming plate where spills can burn on.” She also recommends leaving the reservoir’s lid open between uses so it can dry the moisture that can lead to mold.

Some coffee makers have an audible or visual cleaning signal that usually precedes a machine shut down, so getting caught with a dirty coffee maker might lead to you missing that morning cup of joe. Other coffee makers have a cleaning cycle; you can usually learn how to run it by looking at your machine’s instructions. Just follow the directions and you’re good to go.

Decalcify your machine every month with vinegar.

Over time, hard water minerals build up in your machine’s inner workings and you may notice that your coffee takes longer to make. A monthly cleaning with white vinegar will take care of that, as well as help keep the water reservoir clean and free of bacteria. A great tip that experts agree on is to use white vinegar, as it’s a natural cleaner, disinfectant and deodorizer you can use all over your home.

To clean your coffee maker with vinegar, follow these steps.

  1. Fill the reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water and put in a filter.
  2. Run a regular brewing cycle and stop it halfway through.
  3. Let the hot vinegar and water solution sit in the coffee carafe for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn the machine back on and run another cycle for the other half.
  5. Dump everything out and rinse the filter basket and carafe.
  6. Put the carafe back on the heating plate, put in a filter and fill the reservoir with water.
  7. Repeat this last step as needed to remove all the buildup and residue.

Make your carafe sparkle again.

You should always wash your carafe after each use, but if it’s looking especially dirty, fill it with warm, soapy water and a tablespoon of rice. Swirl the mixture vigorously to loosen grime and stains. Use a scrub sponge to finish the job, then rinse. Another trick to try is to use kosher salt, ice and lemon with the same swirling method. The scrubbing action of the salt, moisture from the ice and the stain-cutting power of lemon makes short work of even the toughest stains.

A third alternative is to use baking soda. Sprinkle a tablespoon of baking soda into the carafe, add just enough water to form a thick paste, and scrub away. The gentle abrasion of the baking soda will get rid of stains quickly without scratching the glass. Rinse the coffee carafe thoroughly and let it air dry.

How to Clean Different Types of Coffee Makers

Not everyone has a drip coffee maker, and while many of the cleaning steps are similar, there are some different cleaning techniques needed for some coffee makers.


Also known by the brand name, Chemex, the glass coffee canisters in pour-overs can stain quickly. Just fill the canister with warm water and dissolve two effervescent tablets inside, or use the cleaning methods for drip coffee maker carafes. Then rinse and dry.

Cold brewer

Because they sit for hours to extract coffee flavor, cold-brew pitchers (whether plastic or glass) can turn brown easily and become permanently stained without proper cleaning. Depending on your pitcher’s construction and frequency of use, you may have to clean it more frequently than your hot coffee carafes. You can use soapy water and rice or one of the other carafe cleaning methods discussed above. Be careful to not scrub too vigorously on a plastic pitcher to avoid scratches.

French press

For presses used infrequently, a quick one-time cleaning could be all you need. Fill the carafe half way with warm, soapy water and plunge up and down. For buildup and tough stains, use one part water and one part white vinegar. Scrub the interior and exterior of the carafe and disassembled components. No matter how you wash your French press, always rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry before reassembling it.

Moka Pot

Moka pots are a kitchen staple for many coffee connoisseurs, and Bialetti has manufactured one of the most popular models for almost a century. “You don’t want to do anything to the Moka pot that’s going to interfere with the (coffee) flavor or the finish,” says Daniel Knight, Bialetti manager for coffee.

That means no soap or other cleaning solutions, because the residue will make coffee taste bad and could ruin the finish of the coffee maker. Never put a Moka pot in your dishwasher; to do so invites oxidation and corrosion Avoid using hard scrub brushes and sponges so you don’t scratch the finish.

“Additionally, over time the coffee’s oils will season the Moka pot, which makes the coffee taste better, so you don’t want to scrub it so hard that you remove that thin oily layer,” says Knight. When you notice discoloration or stains, keep in mind that a little is just part of the Moka coffee experience. Do some light cleaning after each use by wiping everything down with a damp cloth and you should be good.

Pod Coffee Makers

If you use your pod coffee maker daily, perform this cleaning routine weekly to brew great-tasting coffee every time.

Start by unplugging the machine, then disassemble the water reservoir, lid, mug tray and pod holder. Clean the mug tray and pod holder in warm soapy water. Remove the water filter and wipe the lid and other surfaces with a damp, soapy cloth. Rinse the reservoir and let everything air dry before reassembling. Once dry, put the coffee maker back together and plug it in.

Fill the water reservoir with half water and half white vinegar. Start the brew cycle without inserting a pod and repeat until the reservoir is empty. This will clean the reservoir and remove mineral buildup. Every two months, wash the filter holder and replace the filter. Clean the needles as needed by clearing debris with a paperclip.

As long as you follow these coffee maker cleaning routines, you can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee without worrying about mold and bacteria. For help getting rid of germs and mold in the rest of your home, The Maids is just a click away.


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