How to Clean Your Coffee Maker

by Team eLocal
Coffee pot and containers on counter

Your day just isn't right unless you start it off with your favorite cup of coffee. Whether you like it black or full of cream and sugar — iced or piping hot — your coffee will of better when you keep your coffee maker clean.

Cleaning your coffee helps remove the buildup that often accumulates inside the machine that can affect the taste of your coffee.

How Do You Clean a Drip Coffee Maker?

White distilled vinegar is a safe, effective cleaner for your coffee maker. It’ll help dissolve all the buildup inside the coffee maker, and it's a good disinfectant. Here's how to clean a coffee maker:

1. Put equal amounts of water and distilled vinegar into your coffee maker's water reservoir. Add more vinegar than water if it's been a while or you suspect your coffee maker is extra gunky. Fill it the way you normally would to make coffee.

2. Place a disposable filter in the coffee maker like normal but without the coffee grounds.

3. Start a normal coffee brewing cycle, but stop it halfway through by shutting off the machine. This leaves part of the vinegar solution in the reservoir and part of it in the coffee pot. Let the vinegar sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. This cleans the glass carafe as well as the inside of the coffee maker.

4. Complete the cycle by turning the machine back on. Dump out the vinegar water. Rinse out the pot well.

5. Scrub the pot more if it doesn't look clean. You can add rice along with soapy water and swirl it together to clean the inside of the coffee carafe.

6. Refill the reservoir with fresh water to rinse out the remnants of the vinegar. Run the cycle like normal with a filter in the machine and dump the water.

7. Run a second cycle of plain water with a fresh filter. Test to see if the vinegar is gone by pouring most of the water out but leaving a little. Add a little baking soda to see if it fizzes. If it does, you still have vinegar in your water and need to run more cycles.

8. Finish by cleaning the outside of the machine so it's ready for your next pot of coffee.

How Do You Clean a Keurig?

You can also use vinegar to clean a Keurig coffee maker. A Keurig has some additional parts that you'll need to clean as well. Follow these steps:

1. Disassemble as much of the Keurig as you can. You can usually remove the reservoir, lid and drip tray. Wash them in soapy water and rinse them well.

2. Open the area where the K-Cups go into the machine. Using a clean toothbrush soaked in vinegar, scrub this compartment to remove any gunk or coffee grounds.

3. Remove the water filter if your Keurig has one.

4. Fill the Keurig's water reservoir with a half-and-half mix of vinegar and water. Position the reservoir on the machine and close the K-Cup compartment.

5. Position a large cup under the dispenser.

Run the Keurig multiple times using the largest size option until you get the message to add more water. Empty the cup each time to prevent it from overflowing.

6. Wait for 30 to 60 minutes. Then, rinse out the reservoir as many times as necessary to get rid of the vinegar smell.

7. Fill the reservoir again with clean water and run multiple cycles until the machine tells you to add more water. Taste the water from the last cycle to make sure it doesn't taste like vinegar. You can refill the reservoir and run more cycles if necessary to clear the vinegar taste.

You can also get special descaling solutions for Keurig machines. Follow the instructions on the descaler packaging.

How Do You Clean an Espresso Maker?

Espresso machines are much more complex than other coffee makers, so always refer to the instruction manual for specifics on how to clean and care for your machine. You should do a basic cleaning each time you use the machine. Remove all the grounds and wipe it clean. Rinse the portafilter and basket and dry them.

For a deep cleaning, you’ll need a specialty espresso cleaner. Follow these steps:

1. Dissolve your espresso cleaner in water per the instructions.

2. Dip a scrub brush in the solution and scrub your group gasket, portafilter and basket. Rinse them well.

3. Take off the screen from the group. Scrub it and the inside of the group.

4. Backflush your espresso maker if the manual says to do so. Insert a blind basket in your portafilter. Attach it to the group. Place some espresso maker cleaning solution in the reservoir and run it per your machine's instructions. You'll typically need to run it for about 5 seconds multiple times. Remove the blind basket from the machine and rinse it with fresh water.

5. Wipe the exterior and drip tray.

How Often to Clean a Coffee Maker

Wipe down the exterior of your coffee maker whenever it needs it. Do the deep clean with vinegar every month if you drink coffee daily or about every 3 to 6 months if you only use it occasionally. If you notice your coffee tasting different, you might need to clean it more frequently. If you have hard water and get lots of buildup, use filtered water in your coffee maker.

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