How to Clean Your Coffee Maker

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on April 08, 2022
4 min read

Not cleaning your coffee maker may lower the quality of your brew and even damage the machine. Take a look at your coffee maker’s manual and check for any cleaning instructions from the manufacturer. If for some reason you don’t have the manual, consider searching online. There you may get cleaning information for the specific make and model of your machine.

To get the best brew of coffee from your coffee maker, you have to clean each part of the machine. For a drip coffee maker, the parts you must clean are the brew basket, hot plate, and carafe.

The brew basket. A drip coffee maker’s brew basket is notorious for accumulating oily residue after repeated use. The oily residue make a perfectly brewed coffee taste bitter. To prevent this from happening, try rinsing the brew basket in your sink after every use. Make sure that the water is warm and soapy. Regular washing will prevent a build-up of the bitter oily residue in your machine’s brew basket.

The hot plate. Your drip coffee maker’s hot plate may accumulate spilled coffee and burnt-off stains. After making your coffee, wait for the hot plate to cool and then wipe off the stains. A simple wipe may get rid of some stains. For tougher, burnt-on coffee stains, scrub with a damp sponge and some baking soda.

The carafe. You should clean your coffee maker’s carafe after every brew. This goes for both a glass and an insulated carafe. Use warm, soapy water at first.  If this doesn’t work well enough, try filling the carafe with a mixture of two parts hot water and one part baking soda, and leave it overnight. Then rinse it well using clean water.

Unlike the drip coffee maker, a pod coffee maker has no brew basket or hotplate. The parts that need cleaning are the water reservoir and drip tray.

The water reservoir. If you use a pod coffee maker, try washing the machine’s water reservoir regularly using soap and water. The water reservoir can become a haven for germs, yeast, and molds since it provides the moist environment in which they thrive. Some water reservoirs may wash just fine in your dishwasher—but check with your machine’s manual first.

The drip tray. Your pod coffee maker’s drip tray (where the mug sits) collects a lot of spilled coffee. This might become a hot spot for germs if not regularly emptied and cleaned. Try doing regular emptying and cleaning with warm soapy water to prevent that from happening.

Descaling is the process of removing mineral deposits. Tap water is a common cause of mineral accumulation in coffee maker tanks and tubes. These minerals, if not removed, might cause damage to your coffee maker. If you notice your machine producing excess steam or an increase in brew cycle times, your coffee maker may need some descaling.

Mineral build-up may prevent your coffee maker’s heating element from getting hot enough to brew well. Some coffee makers already have a water filter installed to clean the water getting into the machine. Keep track of when you install the filter cartridge. and replace it according to the schedule given in your coffee maker’s instruction manual. Leaving the filter in place for too long may cause clogging, slowing down the flow of water and lowering the quality of your brew. 

In an effort to prevent mineral build-up, some machines’ instruction manuals may recommend that you use filtered or bottled water to brew your coffee.

Some coffee makers may come with a cleaning indicator that illuminates to tell you when you should descale. Descaling is done using water and white vinegar. If not done right, the vinegar may cause damage to the machine’s metal or plastic parts. Take a look at your owner’s manual to get the proper water to vinegar ratio. Some machines come with their own descaling solutions and cleaning cycles.

Descaling a drip coffee maker. If you want to descale a drip coffee maker, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and pour the mixture into the machine. Run the machine but stop the process when the brewing chamber is half empty. Wait about 30 minutes and then complete the brewing cycle. Make sure you use a paper filter. Pour clean water into the machine and put in a fresh paper filter. Run it through a cycle and repeat the process twice to get rid of the vinegar taste. Try doing this at least once every month. 

Descaling a pod-type or single-use coffee maker. To descale a pod-type or single-use coffee maker, run some white vinegar through the machine for a few cycles. Then run the brew cycle with water a few times. This may help remove the vinegar taste before you start brewing coffee again. Try descaling at least once every month to prevent other clogging incidences. Make sure you check your machine’s manual for any cleaning instructions. Also, ensure you always use a clean drinking cup. This may help to keep bacteria from growing in your cup.

Cleaning a coffee pot every two months using vinegar may help dissolve any minerals that may be building up your pot. If you use a glass pot, try rubbing out stains using some baking soda and a little water.

Your coffee maker may be one of the germiest objects in your home. It can even have more germs than a bathroom door handle or a toilet seat. Germs cause infections. Coffee reservoirs are havens for mold and yeast because they provide the warm and moist environment in which they thrive. Mold and yeast may cause health issues like allergic reactions for you or others living with you.