Since cleaning the entire machine only takes minutes, it makes sense to add it to your cleaning routine. A sparkling coffee maker brews the best and cleanest cup of coffee, and it prolongs the life of the appliance too.
How to Clean a Coffee Maker Using Household Cleaners
If there are coffee drinkers in your house, the coffee pot is probably one of the hardest working appliances in the kitchen. Did you know that It could also be the dirtiest? According to this article from NSF International the coffee reservoir is one of the top ten germiest places in the home. That is a startling fact!
Maintaining a Clean Coffee Maker
The best way to keep your coffee pot bacteria and mold-free is by filling the reservoir with a clean container. The coffee maker’s reservoir grows germs and mold for a few reasons. For the first cup, most users fill the reservoir with a clean mug. However, for the second cup, they often simply rinse their mug and use it to fill the tank again. This practice is problematic because a rinsed mug still contains plenty of bacteria transferred from the mouth or coffee additives such as milk or creamer. Since bacteria flourish in a warm moist environment, they immediately begin to multiply. Multiply this scenario by many in an office setting, and it is easy to see why this is a serious problem.
This cleanliness issue isn’t limited to one-cup brewers. Many people only rinse the carafe of their coffee makers instead of washing it thoroughly between uses, and they use the pot to fill up the reservoir. That is why it is so important to maintain a clean coffee maker by filling the tank with a designated pitcher or directly from the tap.
The rest of this how-to guide will walk you through the process of cleaning your coffee maker from top to bottom.
Cleaning the Removable Parts of the Coffee Maker
Start by dissembling the coffee maker as much as possible. Be extra careful not to lose any small parts or drop them down the drain. Remove the lid from the decanter. Lift out the brew basket which may be one, two, or even three pieces nested inside one another. Run everything through the dishwasher, placing all of the plastic parts as far away from the heating element as possible. Most coffee maker parts are dishwasher safe on the top rack.
If you do not have a dishwasher, hand wash everything in a sink full of hot soapy water. Use a small brush to clean all the grooves and hard-to-reach places, such as the drip hole. Bottle brushes or cotton swabs work well for this purpose.
Rinse everything thoroughly, and let it air dry completely before reassembling the coffee maker.
Cleaning a Coffee Maker with Vinegar
Even if you fill the reservoir with a clean container every time, the coffee maker may still get dirty or start to malfunction. Minerals are present in most municipal water sources and well water too. Over time, lime scale or calcium deposits can clog up the inner workings of the coffee pot. Cleaning a coffee maker regularly with white vinegar is inexpensive and easy. Since vinegar is a strong acid, it should be diluted. However, if you suspect there is mold inside your coffee maker, use vinegar at full-strength. Also, while it is not a true disinfectant, vinegar will kill some bacteria during this process.
For general cleaning, use a 50/50 ratio of white vinegar and water. Fill the reservoir as if you were brewing a full pot of coffee. Do not add a filter or coffee. Turn the pot on and allow it to go through the entire process of brewing. The vinegar will break down the calcium deposits, and they will get flushed out into the decanter or carafe. If your coffee maker is dripping slowly or malfunctioning vs. general cleaning, you may have to repeat this process more than once. After the vinegar bath, run the coffee maker twice with plain water to remove any vinegar residue or odor.
How to Clean a Coffee Maker Without Vinegar
Vinegar is not the only household product that works well. For a clean coffee maker, here are a few other options.
Unlike white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant, and at a price of pennies per ounce, it is one of the cheapest all-purpose cleaning products available. Pour one cup of hydrogen peroxide in the reservoir. Fill the rest of the tank with plain water. For a single-cup coffee maker, use one TBSP to one (8 oz) cup ratio. Run the coffee maker without a filter or coffee pod. Follow the hydrogen peroxide cycle with two additional cycles of plain water.
Lemon juice and white vinegar have nearly equal acidity. You can squeeze fresh lemons, but store bought juice works just as well. Using a 50/50 ratio of lemon juice to water, follow the same procedure as if you were using white vinegar.
Baking Soda or Borax
Baking soda and Borax are not identical products, but the procedure for using them to clean a coffee maker is the same. Dissolve ¼ cup of baking soda OR 2 tbsp of Borax in one cup of warm water. Pour the mixture into the reservoir and fill up the remaining area with plain water. Run the coffee maker through a full brew cycle. Repeat the process until the water runs mostly clear. Follow up with two complete brew cycles of plain water.
The commercial cleaner called CLR (Calcium, Lime, and Rust) is excellent for cleaning a coffee maker. It’s the perfect descaler if vinegar or lemon juice does not seem to do the trick. According to the directions, mix one part CLR with eight parts of water and pour it into the reservoir. Run one full brew cycle. To rinse, follow the CLR cleaner with as many cycles of plain water as it takes to get rid of the cleaner’s odor.
Other Commercial Products
If you do not feel as if you are getting good results from other methods, there are several commercial descaling and cleaning products for your coffee maker. They are more expensive than basic household products, but they are formulated especially for this purpose. For best results, follow the directions on the package.
Regardless of which method you choose, remember to always run at least two brew cycles of the coffee maker with plain water to flush out the remaining cleaning products or odor.
Don’t let germs or mold get in the way of your morning caffeine fix. Remember that to avoid bacteria and mold growth in your coffee maker, always fill the reservoir with a separate clean container or directly from the tap. Otherwise, to keep the coffee maker working well and brewing a great tasting cup of coffee, all it takes is some routine maintenance and regular cleaning. Add coffee pot cleaning to your household routine, and be sure to pin this how-to article as a handy reference.
Written for the Hometalk community by: Stacy | BlakeHillHouse