How to Clean a Coffee Maker Like a Pro

If your coffee tastes bitter or you smell mildew coming from the water reservoir, it’s time to clean your coffee maker.

A 2011 public health study by NSF concluded that coffee maker reservoirs are the fifth germiest areas in a home, coming after toothbrush holders and pet bowls. To keep germs at bay and your coffee tasting right, deep clean your coffee maker once per month.

Here’s how to clean a coffee maker like a pro.

How (And Why) to Clean Your Coffee Maker with Vinegar 

How (And Why) to Clean Your Coffee Maker with Vinegar 

Vinegar contains acetic acid. It’s one of the top cleaners for killing mold and mildew, performing better than bleach.

Running vinegar through your coffee pot once a month will eliminate mold and hard water build-up.

Here’s what you’ll need to clean a standard automatic drip coffee maker:

  • Undiluted Vinegar
  • Water
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Coffee Filter

Before you start, throw away your old coffee filter and add a new one to the basket.

Step 1: Fill Your Coffee Maker Reservoir with Vinegar and Water

Fill your coffee maker reservoir with half-white distilled vinegar and half water. Allow the mixture to stay in the reservoir for 30 minutes, and then run your coffee pot as usual.

Step 2: Flush the Coffee Maker with Water

After the vinegar has run through the coffee maker, dump it out and fill the reservoir with plain water. Then, run your machine.

Repeat 2-3 times or until you no longer smell the vinegar.

Step 3: Wash and Dry the Pot and Filter Basket

Let your coffee maker cool and take out any removable parts, such as the pot (carafe) and filter basket. Wash with soapy water, rinse, and air dry.

Leave the lid open to your coffee maker’s water reservoir so it can dry. Leaving the reservoir damp is what causes mold build-up.

How to Deep Clean Your Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best coffee maker cleaners, but if you have an aversion to the smell or don’t have vinegar on hand, there are other methods you can try.

Clean Your Coffee Maker with Lemon Juice

Like vinegar, lemon juice is acidic, making it a good substitute. Before cleaning your coffee pot with lemon juice, dump out any remaining coffee grounds. Then, fill the water reservoir with half lemon juice and half water. Run the machine as usual.

After cleaning with lemon juice, run water through the machine 2-3 times or until you can longer smell lemon.

Wash the filter basket and carafe with hot soapy water and allow the pieces to air dry.

Use Bar Keepers Friend Coffee Maker Cleaner

Consider Bar Keeper’s Friend Coffee Maker Cleaner if you want to use a product made for coffee makers. It works for automatic drip machines and Keurigs.

To use Bar Keepers Friend Coffee Maker Cleaner on an automatic drip machine, start by discarding your paper filter and old coffee grounds. Then, fill the carafe by adding 1 ounce of cleaner to every 8 oz of cold water. Dump the solution in the water reservoir tank, put the carafe in position, and run the coffee maker.

Allow the solution to sit in the coffee pot for 30 minutes after it’s finished running, and then dump and rinse. Next, fill your water reservoir tank with water and run the coffee machine to rinse the cleaner.

Clean Your Coffee Maker with Denture Tablets

Since denture tablets contain citric acid and baking soda, they can help remove mineral deposits and disinfect.

Here’s how to clean an automatic coffee maker with denture tablets:

  • Remove any leftover coffee grounds 
  • Fill your reservoir tank with warm water and two denture tablets
  • Allow the denture tablets to dissolve, and then run your coffee maker as normal
  • Dump the carafe
  • Rerun the coffee maker with plain water twice to rinse it

How to Remove Stains from a Coffee Pot

Coffee pots, also known as carafes, build up stains over time. While washing your coffee maker with vinegar will help remove these, you can also use a mixture of dish soap and baking soda for extra cleaning power.

To make a baking soda paste, add a ½ cup of baking soda to a bowl and then add a few drops of dish soap until a paste forms. Next, apply the solution to a paper towel or microfiber cloth and use it to scrub stains inside and outside the carafe.

After cleaning, rinse with water and allow the carafe to air dry.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Can I use apple cider vinegar to clean my coffee maker?

You can clean your coffee maker with apple cider vinegar. White distilled vinegar is more acidic, but either will do the job. Avoid using apple cider vinegar containing “the mother,” or it may clog your machine.

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

You only need to run vinegar through your coffee maker once to clean and disinfect it. But be sure to run water through the coffee maker twice afterward to eliminate the smell and taste of vinegar.

Should you put bleach in a coffee maker?

Bleach is not a good substance for cleaning a coffee maker – it’s harsh and harmful if ingested. Try using white distilled vinegar instead. Vinegar is non-toxic and does a better job of killing mold spores.

Can you clean a coffee maker with CLR?

You can clean most automatic drip coffee makers with CLR, but you shouldn’t use this product on Keurigs, Espresso machines, or coffee makers with permanent carbon or charcoal filters.

Final Thoughts

Your coffee pot is a breeding ground for germs. You can keep bacteria, mold, and mildew at bay by cleaning the coffee maker with vinegar every one to two months. For daily cleanings, wash the pot and filter basket with soapy water and allow it to air dry.

If you don’t have white distilled vinegar on hand, substitute it for apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or try breaking up mineral deposits with a denture cleaning tablet.