Cleaning a Coffee Maker
Step By Step

Most of us use a coffee maker every day without giving so much as a thought to cleaning it. Sure, sometimes we wipe down the exterior if a little coffee spills over, but keeping the outside clean won't do anything for the most important part of the coffee maker - the interior.

Why is important to clean your coffee maker?

Obviously, after months of use, a coffee maker can become dirty with old coffee oils that will change the taste of your coffee. As these oils get rancid, the taste of your brew may become pretty nasty. But the coffee oils are not the main problem.

The most important enemy of your coffee maker is scale - mineral deposits that are slowly forming inside your coffee maker. One of the problems with scale in your coffee maker is that it will actually lower the temperature at which the coffee is brewed. That is obviously not a good thing since the coffee will not be extracted properly. Another problem is that if you do not remove the scale regularly it will eventually clog things up and your coffee maker will stop functioning entirely.

The scale can build up very fast especially if you are using hard water. So it is important that you de-scale you coffee maker on a regular basis. So how often should you clean your coffee maker? Well, assuming that you are using it daily you should de-scale your coffee maker at least once a month if you live in an area with hard water (or if you are using bottled mineral water). If your water is soft you can descale only once in 2 or 3 months.

How to clean a coffee maker

While there are coffee maker cleaning kits available for purchase, most people who actually have experience cleaning a coffee maker will tell you that a little bit of white vinegar can work just as well. Cleaning a coffee maker with simple vinegar involves nothing more than running the coffee-making process and substituting water for vinegar. It is important that you use only distilled white vinegar since other types of vinegar may leave unwanted residues in your coffee maker.

Here are instructions for cleaning a coffee maker with vinegar:

  1. Create the cleaning solution: Depending on personal preference, or on the level of build-up in your coffee maker, you may choose to use pure vinegar or a mixture of vinegar and water to clean your coffee maker. If you clean your coffee maker regularly then I recommend that you use a mixture of 1 part of vinegar and two parts water. If you have not cleaned your coffee maker in a while, then use a stronger mixture.
  2. Place a filter into your coffee maker just the way you would if you were making coffee. If your coffee maker doesn't use a filter, disregard this step.
  3. Pour the water and vinegar solution directly into the water reservoir until it is about 1/4 or 1/2 of the way full, again the same way you would as if you were making a pot of coffee.
  4. Turn the coffee maker on and let it run through one complete coffee-making cycle.
  5. After the initial brewing cycle is complete, leave the carafe with the vinegar solution cool down.
  6. Pour the vinegar solution down the drain of your sink. Remove and get rid of the used coffee filter.
  7. Rinse the coffee pot under cold tap water. This will help remove the vinegar residue from the pot.
  8. Replace the coffee pot, open up the water reservoir, place another filter inside the reservoir, and this time pour in some cold water. ' This will help remove the remaining vinegar residue.
  9. Repeat the cleaning process with water one more time to make sure all the vinegar residue (and smell) has been removed.
If the scale is badly built-up you may need to repeat the procedure several times with undiluted vinegar. Give the outside of your coffee maker a good cleaning with a wet towel, and make sure to clean the mesh filter / mesh filter basket with a soft brush.

Hope this will help you to keep your coffee maker free of scale and rancid oils so that you can enjoy great coffee, cup after cup after cup.

Further Reading

Descaling Espresso Machine
Chemex Coffee Maker Tips
Aluminum Stove Top Espresso Maker Tips
French Press Tips