How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

You can clean your coffee maker with vinegar, and nothing else! It’s easy to do, and unlike some cleaners, it won’t add any flavor to your next pot of coffee.

Vinegar is a a natural and effective cleaning agent, so it’s really good to use for cleaning around food and drinks. When I waited tables years ago, this was how we cleaned both our carafes and those big machines we used to brew the coffee, so you know it’s safe and effective.

Coffee maker on kitchen counter

Why Clean Your Coffee Maker?

If you’re wondering exactly why coffee makers need to be cleaned, here’s the answer. Over time, mineral deposits, oils, and residue from coffee beans can accumulate in your machine.

These build-ups can change the taste of your coffee and even lead to clogs in the coffee maker’s internal components. Regular cleaning removes those deposits, so your coffee always tastes like it should and your machine works well for as long as possible.

The Supplies

You’ll need the following supplies:

  • White distilled vinegar
  • Water
  • Clean cloth or sponge
  • Dish soap (optional)
  • Paper filter or reusable filter

Cleaning the Exterior

Start by cleaning the outside of your machine.

  1. Unplug your coffee maker and give it a few minutes to cool down before starting the cleaning process.
  2. Mix a solution of equal parts water and mild dish soap.
  3. Dampen a clean cloth or sponge with the soapy solution and gently wipe down the exterior of the coffee maker.
  4. Pay special attention to any areas that may be stained or have sticky residue.
  5. Rinse the cloth or sponge with clean water and wipe away any soap residue.
  6. Dry the exterior thoroughly with a clean towel.

Cleaning the Carafe

You can clean a carafe with soapy dishwater, but scented dish soap can leave a taste behind in it. I don’t clean it daily, unless I’m making a different type of coffee or tea with it.

Most of the time, if you’re making the same boiled beverage over and over, the carafe isn’t really getting dirty. But it still needs a deep clean every now and then. What we did at the restaurant, and what I still do this day is:

  1. Pour some salt in the empty carafe.
  2. Add warm water.
  3. Squeeze in some lemon juice, if you have fresh lemons on hand.
  4. Swirl it around several times. If you see any stains or gunk, you can remove those with a dish cloth or bottle brush.

Clean the Filter Basket

  1. Empty any coffee grounds from the filter basket.
  2. Remove the carafe and filter basket.
  3. Wash both with warm, soapy dish water.
  4. Use a bottle brush or sponge to scrub away any stains or residue.
  5. Mix a teaspoon of vinegar in 1-2 cups of water.
  6. Use that water to wipe away any soap residue.
  7. Dry the carafe and filter basket completely before putting them back into the coffee maker.

Cleaning the Coffee Maker with Vinegar

Now comes the magic. This part is easy!

  1. Fill the water reservoir of your coffee maker with a mixture of half white vinegar and half water.
  2. Place a paper filter or reusable filter in the filter basket.
  3. Turn on the coffee maker as if you were brewing a full pot of coffee.
  4. Allow the vinegar solution to run through the machine until it fills the carafe. I don’t know if everyone agrees, but I love how this makes my home smell.
  5. Turn off the coffee maker and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, allowing the vinegar solution to work its magic.
  6. Discard the vinegar solution and rinse the carafe thoroughly with clean water.

Removing Vinegar Smell

If you think there’s any vinegar smell remaining in the filter basket or other areas of the coffee maker, you can take the following steps.

  1. Fill the water reservoir with clean water.
  2. Run a brew cycle without any coffee grounds or vinegar solution.
  3. Rinse the carafe and filter basket with clean water once more.

Cleaning Hard-to-Reach Areas

  1. To clean hard-to-reach areas like small crevices around the filter basket use a small brush or toothbrush dipped in vinegar.
  2. Gently scrub these areas to remove any build-up or residue.
  3. Rinse with clean water to ensure no vinegar residue remains.

Cleaning the Heating Element

  1. Over time, mineral deposits can accumulate on the heating element of your coffee maker.
  2. To clean the heating element, dampen a cloth with vinegar and gently wipe away any deposits.
  3. If there are stubborn stains, make a paste using baking soda and water, apply it to the stains, and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away.

Regular Maintenance Tips

To keep your coffee maker in top shape, here are some regular maintenance tips:

  • Clean your coffee maker every month or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Use filtered water instead of tap water to minimize mineral deposits.
  • Remove and clean the filter basket and carafe after each use.
  • Descale your coffee maker periodically using a descaling solution to remove stubborn mineral build-up.

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Last Updated:

December 16, 2023