Not many of us are cleaning our coffee makers with as much veracity as we should be. This can actually cause the coffee maker to quit working sooner as well as cause some nasty flavors in the coffee it produces.
Your coffee maker’s user’s manual should have details on cleaning it but not many of us keep those manuals. There are several different techniques for cleaning drip coffee makers from baking soda to vinegar.
Wash Your Pieces and Parts
You should make a habit of washing your carafe and the basket in soapy water on a weekly basis. If you only rinse it with water daily, the oils from the coffee beans will still build up. The buildup isn’t going to spoil or become dangerous but it will give your coffee a bitter nasty flavor. Dish detergent is sufficient for cutting coffee oi buildup. There are detergents that are made specifically for cutting stains from coffee oils but if you maintain your carafe at the very least weekly, regular dish detergent will work. Fill a dishpan with hot water and detergent and simply scrub the carafe and the basket and then rinse and dry them.
Don’t neglect the filter head when you’re doing the washing. This is the part of your coffee maker that sits over the top of the basket where the hot water comes out and filters into the coffee grounds. It’s common for folks to forget to clean this part. You can use the same cleaning cloth used for washing the carafe to wipe the filter head clean.
Descaling is a deep cleaning step that many coffee drinkers neglect. If you don’t clean the hard-water scales that get built up inside of your drip coffeemaker than it can begin to block the tubes that run through the coffeemaker and provide the power. So if you make coffee every day you should descale your maker roughly at least once a month. If you’re not a daily brewer, you should hit the next level of clean by descaling every 40 to 80 times you make coffee. If you have extremely hard water where you live, then you need to descale your maker more often. On a good note, if you have a reverse-osmosis water filtration system in your home then descaling can be down every six months, possibly only yearly.
If you want to check how hard your tap water is you can do so by checking the municipal water report for the area you live in. One to five grains of calcium hardness is ideal.
How To Descale
There are commercial products on the market that you can purchase to descale your coffeemaker. There are also DIY solutions that work just as good as market products.
White vinegar is used widely as a natural cleaner in many homes. White vinegar packs a powerful punch when it comes to removing grease and breaking down the buildup of calcium. This makes it a prime candidate for cleaning coffee makers that are used in homes that have hard water. If you clean with vinegar, you should do so at least twice a year for a hygienic coffee maker that produces great tasting coffee.
There are steps to cleaning with vinegar:
Prep your coffee maker first:
- Remove the filter and be sure there are no loose grounds. Rinse the carafe thoroughly to be sure there are no grounds floating around and sticking to the glass when the water is dumped out. Throw out the used filter.
- The basket needs to be rinsed well with warm water. This is to be sure that there aren’t grounds that are stuck in any grooves inside of it. If there are grounds that are still there after you have rinsed it, wash the basked with soap and rinse it thoroughly with warm water. Put the basket back into the coffee maker once you are sure that you have it thoroughly cleaned.
To make the vinegar solution you need to mix together one part vinegar and two parts of water. For example, you would use one cup of white vinegar and add that to two cups of water or two cups of vinegar added to four cups of water.
Some coffee maker manufacturers suggest that you not use as much vinegar. You can find out what the recommendation is for your maker by reading the user manual from the manufacturer (but again not many of us keep those) or you can do a quick search on the internet to see if there are suggestions from the manufacturer for your brewer. If you can’t find anything regarding your specific brewer, and you’re uncomfortable with using the solution given, you can use a third of the vinegar suggested here.
You need to make enough solution to fill the water reserve. If you make it directly in the carafe, you will ensure that there is enough to clean the brewer without overflowing the carafe even though you only want to run a half of a brew cycle. To start, press the brew button with the vinegar cleaning mixture in the reserve. Keep an eye on it. It’s not advisable to walk away because there’s a good chance you may forget. You don’t want the brew cycle to finish, you should turn the brewer off once it’s halfway through.
If your coffee maker has a clean cycle on it you can use that rather than the brew cycle. As long you have this option your coffee maker should start and stop to make time for the various parts of the brewer to soak in the vinegar solution. So if you’re using the brew option, leave the coffee maker off for an hour. This lets the vinegar mixture fight the buildup of minerals and mold on the inside of the maker.
After an hour, finish the cycle of brewing. The rest of the solution should brew into the carafe through the coffee maker. There’s a possibility there may be brown or white flecks in the water. This means that the vinegar mixture has done its job and has eaten away at the calcium buildup inside the coffee maker.
Pour the vinegar mixture that has run through the coffee maker out. You can just dump the solution down your sink safely once the maker has completed the brewing cycle. If there’s still a bit of the solution left in the brewer do not be concerned.
Rinse your pot thoroughly. Using warm water and soap, you should wash the inside of the pot out. Using a sponge is best so you can scrub the inside well. You can swish warm water around the inside of the pot with soap in it, but that isn’t going to clean the pot as well as actually scrubbing it. Pour the dirty water out and rinse away all of the soap with plain warm water. Keep rinsing until you don’t see any more soap bubbles.
The next step is to run fresh water into the pot. After it’s been rinsed, fill the carafe to the max amount of water required for a full pot brew. You should run a brew cycle of plain water three times. Be sure to allow the cycle to run all the way through every time. After each cycle, get fresh water to run the next cycle. You should allow a cooling time of approximately five minutes between each rinse cycle.
If you can still smell vinegar, you should run a fourth or fifth rinse cycle.
How to Clean Coffee Maker with Baking Soda
If the smell of vinegar is simply a scent that you cannot stomach, you have an alternative do it yourself solution to cleaning the inside of your drip coffee maker.
- Take the filter out of the coffee maker and set it to the side.
- Using the coffee pot as a measuring cup, fill it with one even cup of lukewarm water.
- Measure 1/4 cup of baking soda and add it to the water in the pot. Either use a utensil or swirl the baking soda and water mixture around in the coffee pot until the baking soda has thoroughly dissolved.
- Dump the baking soda and water mixture into the coffee maker reserve. Put the carafe back in its spot the same way you would if you were going to make a pot of coffee.
- Hit the brew button the same way you would if you were making coffee. Allow the mixture to run through the make for a full cycle. The dirty solution will pour into the coffee pot as the inner parts of the coffee maker are cleaned.
- Once the brew has finished, dump the dirty solution down the sink and wash the pot with warm soapy water.
- Fill the coffee maker’s reserve tank again with clean water. Run another complete brew cycle. If the water doesn’t pour into the coffee pot clear as it would from your tap, a second rinse cycle may be necessary.
Washing the Outside of Your Coffee Maker
Fill a dishpan with water and dish soap. Wash the outside of your coffee maker with that water and a sponge or a dishcloth. Remove the pot and basket first. Clean the entire outer surface of your drip coffee maker. A microfiber cloth is the best type of cleaning cloth to use.
Fill a spray bottle with straight water. This should be a spray bottle that has never had any cleaner in it. Put a towel under your coffee maker and spray the water over the surfaces to rinse the soapy water off.
If you can tolerate vinegar, clean the outer parts of the coffee maker with a vinegar spray. Fill a fresh spray bottle with white vinegar. Unlike the solution you use for the inside of the coffee maker, do not dilute the vinegar used to clean the outside of the machine. Spray it on your coffee maker and wipe down the entire outer surface. You may need to wipe it down several times. Q=tips are handy if there are places that aren’t as easy to reach. Finish by rinsing the coffee maker the same way (with a spray bottle of clean water).
The last part of cleaning your entire coffee maker is to wash your coffee pot and basket thoroughly. Hand washing the coffee pot rather than putting it in the dishwasher is advisable. The basket can be hand washed or machine washed. If washing by hand, place some dish soap directly onto the dish towel or sponge you are going to use. Scrub the inside of the pot thoroughly. Be sure to scrub the inside and outside then rinse with hot water. Do the same with the basket.
If you’re opting to use the dishwasher, you should run the pot and the basket through on the gentle cycle. There are products you can buy at your grocery store in the dish soap aisle to fight the lime deposits that you may have inside of your coffee pot.
Put Your Coffee Maker Back Together And Brew
Check your pot and your basket and be sure there aren’t any particles of minerals or mold buildup. Put the pot and the basket back when your inspection is done and you’re ready to brew a fresh pot of coffee full of great flavor!