How to Clean a Coffee Maker (And Why You Really, Really Should)

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Ah, coffee—the beloved beverage that gets us up in the morning. Heck, we love the stuff so much that we sometimes come around for another cup hours later just to stave off the afternoon slump. Yes, coffee is both our salvation and a beacon of hope, so we really do owe a great debt of gratitude to the appliance that makes caffeine magic happen with minimal effort, aka the coffee machine. But sadly, we haven’t been caring for this handy kitchen appliance as well as it cares for us, so it’s time to right the wrong. What’s the first step? Read our guide on how to clean a coffee maker and start doing it on the regular.

How often should I clean my coffee maker...and do I really have to?

Let’s start with that last bit: Yes, you definitely, absolutely have to clean your coffee maker. Why? Because according to a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) study, your trusty brewing buddy just might be the germiest thing in your kitchen.

Your coffee maker is a prime breeding ground for mold and bacteria due to the fact that it comes in regular contact with water, followed by heat and trapped humidity. In other words, things can get pretty gross, which is why the NSF says you should wash the removable parts of your coffee maker daily as well as give the chamber a deep clean once per month. The first part is self-explanatory, but you’ll want to read on for detailed instructions about how to deal with the harder-to-access areas of the machine.

How to clean a coffee maker in 4 easy steps

You might be giving your coffee maker the side-eye right now, but really there’s no need for that because this chore is significantly easier than most. In fact, cleaning your coffee maker is a breeze if you watch the video above and follow a few straightforward steps. Note: As previously mentioned, removable parts should be washed daily—the instructions below refer to a deep cleaning and descaling process that should be done on a monthly basis.

1. Prepare your cleaning solution

Good news, friends: no special or costly products are required for this job. To get your coffee maker as clean as the day you brought it home, all you have to do is dilute distilled white vinegar with an equal amount of water. Note: The exact measurements will depend on the capacity of your coffee maker, but the idea is to fill her up with a 1:1 ratio of the two.

2. Fill and run the coffee maker

Pour the solution into the water chamber of the coffee maker and put a clean filter in the basket. Then, run the machine as if you were making a full pot of joe. Keep an eye out while the coffee maker does its thing because you’re going to want to stop it halfway through. That’s right—once the pot has been filled up to its midpoint, press the stop button and let the coffee maker sit idle for a full hour with the remaining liquid still in the chamber.

3. Run it again

When you’ve reached the 60-minute mark (longer is fine, we all have things to do), start the brew cycle again to finish the job. Once all the piping hot liquid has been emptied into the pot, the deep clean is complete.

4. Rinse

About getting that vinegar taste out of your coffee maker: Run your coffee maker through a couple of water cycles to flush out the cleaning solution. And that’s it—your machine is now ready to go.

What about cleaning my Keurig coffee maker?

Maybe your run-of-the-mill coffee maker (and college best friend) bit the dust so you decided to upgrade, or perhaps you chucked the relic in favor of something that can meet your caffeine needs much faster. Either way, if you have a Keurig coffee maker at home, you can follow the guide below for both weekly and periodic cleaning instructions, courtesy of the manufacturer.

1. Unplug the machine

When dissecting an electronic appliance, the first thing you should do is unplug. Next, proceed by taking the Keurig apart and washing the component pieces.

2. Clean the drip tray

Remove the drip tray and wash it as you would any dish—with warm soapy water. Thoroughly dry both parts of the tray and set aside.

3. Now turn to the water reservoir

Just like the inside of any water pitcher, the reservoir should be cleaned regularly. Again, warm, soapy water will do the trick—just be sure to remove the filter (if you have one) before washing and then let it air dry. Note: Do not wipe the reservoir dry as this could leave behind lint.

4. Run the machine with water

Once the reservoir has been washed the good old-fashioned way, run a water-only brew using the maximum capacity setting to remove soap residue.

And here’s how to descale a Keurig

Keurig coffee makers don’t need to be deep cleaned quite as often as the standard type, so you can get by performing the descaling process once every three to six months instead of on a monthly basis. Still, it’s an important part of caring for your Keurig that, if overlooked, will lead to calcification—a build-up of gunk that will affect the performance of your precious machine. Fortunately, the instructions for this quick and easy process can be found in Keurig’s straightforward step-by-step. But before we leave you to it, it’s worth mentioning that in the event you don’t have the brand name descaling formula, the 50/50 solution of distilled white vinegar and water will definitely get the job done on a Keurig as it does other coffee makers.

Now go forth and make many clean, tasty (and not at all yucky) cups of coffee to get you through whatever lies ahead.

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Emma Singer

Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...
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