The How-to Guide to Cleaning Your Coffee Maker

A person operating a coffee maker.

 If your coffee isn’t tasting the way that it used to, or you’re not getting that full cup of joe every morning, chances are you need to clean your coffee maker. This is one daunting task that is more often than not taken for granted.

This how-to guide will give you step by step instructions on cleaning your coffee maker, what supplies you need, how often you should clean the coffee maker, and other tips to have a sparkling clean java making machine.

Supplies Needed

The first thing you need to do is to gather the supplies that you need to clean your coffee maker.

Here’s what you need:

  • A vinegar based cleaner and/or descaling solution
  • Rags
  • Hot water
  • Dish soap

How Often Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?

Depending on the manufacturer and the type of coffee maker that you have, you should clean your coffee maker at least every 3-6 months. This helps to remove any mineral buildup, bacteria, and/or mold that lands in your cup of coffee.

Cleaning your coffee maker

Most people own a coffee machine that uses pods rather than the vintage brew basket and filter. However, instructions on cleaning both types of coffee makers will be given.

Coffee Maker With Removable Brew Basket and Filter

This type of coffee maker should be cleaned following each use.

  1. Remove the brew basket, from the coffee maker and place it in hot soapy water after discarding the filter and coffee grounds.
  2. Discard any leftover coffee from the carafe.
  3. Rinse the carafe and clean with a soft sponge.
  4. Rinse basket, filter, and carafe with lukewarm water. Using a soft rag or microfiber cloth, wipe all parts and allow them to dry.
  5. Wipe the coffee maker using a soft cloth dipped in the warm soapy water. Make sure to completely wipe around the brewing areas and the lids. Dip another soft cloth in freshwater and wipe clean. Make sure it is free of soap residue.
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When you are descaling this type of coffee maker, follow the steps below:

  1. Perform steps 1-5. When all parts of the coffee maker are dry, reassemble the appliance.
  2. Fill the water reservoir with equal parts of water and vinegar.
  3.  Place a paper filter in the brewing basket.
  4. Replace the carafe and allow half a drip cycle to run.
  5. Let it sit for 30-60 minutes. The longer the better, to remove buildup in the water channel and reservoir.
  6. Resume the brew cycle after you let it sit. Once it has finished brewing, empty the carafe and change the paper filter.
  7. Replace the carafe on the hotplate and fill the water reservoir with clean, freshwater. Repeat steps 9 and 10 with the freshwater at least 2-3 times.

 Pod Coffee Maker (single-serve, Keurig)

This type of coffee maker is equipped with a water reservoir, which most people believe that as long as you change out the charcoal filter, all the bacteria and germs are filtered out- however, it only filters metals and chemicals.

  1. Any parts that are detachable should be removed. This includes the water reservoir, drip tray, brewing pod holder, and water filter.
  2. Empty the reservoir and pod holder, and remove the water filter. Using a damp cloth wipe all parts and put back together, with the exception of the water filter.
  3. Fill the reservoir with equal parts of white distilled vinegar and water, or a descaling solution and equal parts of water to the fill line located in the water reservoir.
  4. Put a coffee mug on the drip tray catcher.
  5. Plug your coffee maker in and select the largest brewing cycle. Run the brewing cycle without placing a pod in the holder.
  6. Discard the contents of the cup and repeat until you are prompted to refill the water reservoir.
  7. Turn the machine off and wait 30 minutes. After 30 minutes dump the remaining water from the mug and reservoir in the sink.
  8. Replace the water reservoir and fill it with fresh water up to the fill line.
  9. Place the mug on the drip tray, and repeat step 5 at least 3-12 times. This will remove any residue from the vinegar solution. Depending on the size of your machine, you may need to refill the reservoir tank a few times.
  10. Once you have finished the freshwater brewing cycles, discard the remaining water from the mug and reservoir, and turn the machine off. Rinse the tank and allow it to air dry.
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Why should you clean and descale your coffee maker?

The most important reason is for your health. Mildew, bacteria, and mold, thrive in an environment that is moist and dark, such as a coffee carafe or water reservoir. This can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, and upper respiratory issues.

With all of the aforementioned buildup of limescale, minerals, and oil residue failure to clean your coffee pot can lead to blockage of your coffee pot. This can cause your java machine to act up, or no longer work.

The taste of your coffee is affected. That slightly bitter taste is due to the bacteria and germs festering in your coffee maker and transferring to your coffee mug.

Cleaning Tips

  • If you have a hard time removing coffee stains from your carafe, let it sit overnight soaking in one part baking soda and 2 parts of hot water.
  • Make sure to check the manual for your coffee maker, regarding the use of vinegar in the machine.
  • Always clean your drip tray and/or hotplate after each use to prevent buildup.
  • Always run a few freshwater brewing cycles after cleaning your machine to remove vinegar residue.
  • Always use a damp cloth to wipe the machine itself. Never submerge electrical components in water.

Final Thought

The purpose of this guide was to teach you how to clean your coffee machine and why it is important. Follow the instructions in this guide and you will always have a cup of joe that you can enjoy sans the bitterness and bacteria.

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