How to Clean a Coffee Maker

Drip filter coffee makers need to be cleaned monthly to remove hard water deposits (scale), leftover coffee oils that become rancid, and other impurities. Washing the pot just isn't going to cut it: what about the internal components? Follow these steps to clean your coffee maker through and through and you'll taste the difference.


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    Make a mixture of 3 cups white vinegar to 6 cups water-- enough to fill the pot. For a stronger solution (which might be necessary if this is the first time you've cleaned your coffee maker since you got it three years ago) make a mixture that is half vinegar and half water instead. Here are some alternative mixtures:
    • a pot's worth of water and two denture tablets. Remember to dissolve the tablets in a separate container of water and not the coffee maker water reservoir. Undissolved tablets can make the rinsing process lengthy.
    • dissolve 1 oz of citric acid in 4 cups of hot water, then add 4 cups of cold water to the mixture.[1]
    • store-bought coffee maker cleaners
    • straight bleach (for the glass carafe only) will instantly dissolve baked-on coffee. Never mix bleach and vinegar or any acid; the fumes are poisonous.
    • Do not use baking soda and warm water; this mixture can clog and ruin your coffee maker! You can resolve this issue by running white vinegar through the coffee maker with 75% success rate
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    Put a filter in your coffee maker, as usual.
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    Pour the mixture into the coffee maker where you would normally add water.
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    Turn the coffee maker on and let the mixture run completely through.
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    Discard the filter and mixture.
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    Let the coffee maker sit and cool for 15 minutes while it's off.
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    Rinse the coffee pot.
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    Repeat all of the above a second time, but this time with plain cold water. This will make sure all of the vinegar and water solution is completely gone. If short on time, smell the coffee pot and maker after the first rinse. If there is no smell of vinegar left, you can skip the second rinse.
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  • Never use the coffee pot to pour water into the reservoir. This will transfer oils and impurities from the pot, and eventually give the coffee a nasty taste. Instead, use a pitcher that is reserved for water only.
  • To keep the inside area around basket, filter, lid area clean (from coffee ground spatter) simply place a second filter over the top of the grounds in the first filter. Push second filter down so that spout will clear top of second filter (on many makes of coffee makers) as lid is closed. This keeps interior in pristine condition and doesn't take much time or expense.
  • Instead of a pitcher, you can use the sprayer from your sink to fill the coffee maker without spilling!
  • Does your pot have hard to reach areas? Use a wooden chopstick with a paper towel to get in there.
  • Use baby bottle brush inside for stubborn stains.
  • To clean just the pot, do what many restaurants do. Put about two cups of ice, 1/4 cup of rock or table salt, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice (bottled or fresh is fine) and swirl around the pot. Measurements are not that important, just guesstimate. Be sure that the pot is cold before you try this, or you may break the glass pot.
  • You can put ice cubes and a little water(enough so you can swirl it around) in pot and swirl them around, for harder stains put some table salt in pot and swirl it around for a few minutes and then rinse.
  • For tough stains, scrub the pot using a paper towel or clean (not soapy) dish towel. Rinse thoroughly.
  • A microfiber towel (found in automotive departments) will clean better than paper towels.
  • Clean a brand new coffee pot prior to using it for the first time.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Rub Eraser (not the bathroom one) is a handy item to use to clean coffee residue off the inside of a glass coffee carafe.
  • Put a glass marble in the water chamber to attract mineral deposits from hard water. Wash it once a week. [2]
  • Heat a toothbrush by the bristles enough that you can bend it to a 90° angle. This makes a perfect brush for cleaning the filter basket.


  • Some coffee pots are made of tempered glass (i.e. Pyrex brand). This type of glass is stronger than regular glass but can still shatter and cause injury from the pieces. Never move any glass directly from heat to cold.
  • Never wash the coffee pot with soap. This will bind with the oils deposited by the coffee and will leave a taste behind. Do not wash in the dishwasher for the same reason.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar and water (or one of the other options outlined)
  • Coffee maker
  • Fresh filter

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