How to Clean Any Coffee Maker the Right Way

A clean coffee maker is a key part of making excellent coffee, but it’s not the only reason to clean your coffee maker

How to Clean Any Coffee Maker the Right Way
  • Coffee makers may harbor mold and yeast, according to a study by the National Science Foundation.
  • Clean coffee makers make better tasting coffee.
  • A regular cleaning/maintenance routine will keep your coffee maker clean and healthy for better tasting coffee.

It’s a fairly well-known fact that clean coffee makers make better tasting coffee, but that’s not the only reason to keep your coffee maker clean. It can also be making you sick, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2011, a study by NSF found that the coffeemaker is one of the germiest appliances in the typical home. NSF tested samples taken from various household surfaces for different types of germs and bacteria.

They found that 50% of the coffee makers tested harbored yeast and mold in the reservoir, and 10% harbored coliform bacteria. Of all household surfaces tested, the coffeemaker ranked 5th as a source of household mold, yeast and bacteria. This was true of all types of coffee makers, including one-cup coffee brewers.

Most coffee maker manufacturers include instructions on how to clean your coffee brewer. We’ve compiled the best practices for cleaning various types of machines, but your manufacturers’ instructions should always be your authoritative source.

How to Clean a Drip Coffee Maker

After each use:

  • Wash the filter basket with warm, soapy water and rinse well.
  • Wash the coffee carafe with warm soapy water, rinse and dry. Don’t forget to clean the lid!
  • If you use a permanent filter, wash that with warm soapy water and rinse it as well.
  • Wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth. Don’t forget to wipe the shower heads that drip water over the basket. It’s the spot most people miss – and it can get really grimy!

Once a week (or after 10-15 brew cycles):

  • Clean the coffee reservoir. If it’s removable, clean it with warm, soapy water.
  • For built-in reservoirs, follow the manufacturer’s instruction or these instructions:
    • Fill the coffee reservoir with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water.
    • Place a paper filter in the filter basket.
    • Turn the coffee maker on and let it run until the pot is half full.
    • Turn the coffee maker off.
    • Wait 30 minutes for the vinegar to work on any lime and scale deposits in the reservoir.
    • Turn the machine back on and let it finish brewing.
    • Run the brew cycle twice with just clear water.
    • Hate vinegar? You can get the same effects using lemon juice, which doesn’t smell anywhere near as bad, or you can buy a commercial descaling product, such as Full Circle Coffee and Espresso Equipment Descaling Liquid

Every 3-6 months:

  • If your machine has a built-in water filter, replace it regularly. A dirty water filter is worse than none at all.

How to Clean a French Press

After every use:

  • Fill the press about halfway with water to loosen up the packed grounds and pour them through a fine mesh strainer. Dump the grounds into your compost or trash.
  • Refill the carafe about halfway with warm water.
  • Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid.
  • Reassemble the French press, and push the plunger up and down several times.
  • Dump the soapy water and repeat.
  • Rinse well and allow it to dry before putting it back together.

How to Clean a Chemex Coffee Maker

The narrow neck of the Chemex presents a logistical problem – how do you get in there to scrub the sides of the carafe? A long-handled dish brush does the trick.

After each use:

  • Rinse the carafe with hot water and fill it about half full.
  • Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid.
  • Scrub the sides with a soft-bristled dishwashing brush.
  • Rinse well and let dry.

How to Clean an Able Disk or Kone Filter

The perforated metal mesh of the Disk and Kone deliver outstanding coffee – but coffee oils can build up in those tiny holes. Here’s the preferred method of cleaning the Able Kone and Able Disk.

  • Rinse the filter to get rid of leftover coffee grounds and sludge.
  • Apply a small amount of dishwashing liquid to the surface.
  • Use your thumb and forefinger to work the soap into mesh so that it can dissolve coffee oils and solids stuck in the holes.
  • Rinse well with clear water.

How to Clean the Aeropress

After each use

  • Rinse the Aeropress clean with warm water OR
  • Wash the Aeropress in the top shelf of your dishwasher.

Every few weeks

  • Remove the rubber seal from the plunger and wash it with hot water and dishwashing soap to remove any accumulated coffee oils.

How to Clean a Keurig or other one-cup brewer

In addition to better tasting coffee and sanitary reasons, cleaning your Keurig regularly will help lengthen its life. Keurig’s are prone to getting clogged with coffee oils and mineral scale. When that happens, they just quit working. Here’s the best way to clean your Keurig.

Every 3-6 months

  • Unplug the machine before proceeding.
  • Remove all the removable parts and wash them with warm soapy water.
  • Wipe the machine clean with a dry or damp soft cloth.
  • Put the Keurig back together and plug it back in.
  • Fill the reservoir with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water.
  • Run a brew cycle with no K-cup inserted. Discard the contents.
  • Repeat the brew cycle until the reservoir is empty.
  • Rinse the water reservoir and fill it with clean water.
  • Run the brew cycle with no K-cup until there is no lingering vinegar taste.

How to Clean Coffee Drip Cones and Other Manual Coffee Making Equipment

After each use

  • Wash the cone well with warm water and dish soap. Use a soft bristle brush to get around any ridges and perforations in the body of the coffee maker.

How to Clean a Moka Pot

There are those who swear that you should never actually scrub or clean a moka pot, that the layer of coffee oils on the inside of the pot add to the coffee flavor. If your moka pot has sat for a while, though, or if you don’t like the flavor of old coffee in your current cup, here’s how to safely clean a moka pot.

After Every Use

  • Wash the inside of the top chamber with mild dishwashing detergent and a soft bristled brush to remove coffee oils. Use a bottle washer to get up inside the coffee spout.
  • Rinse and wash the coffee basket with mild soap and water.

Once a month

  • Fill the bottom chamber with water to the safety valve.
  • Add two teaspoons of vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid.
  • Assemble the coffee maker without any coffee in the basket filter.
  • Let the moka pot run through the coffee cycle until the bottom pot is empty.
  • Dump the water, refill with plain water and run a pot of plain water.

As necessary

  • Replace the rubber gasket before it becomes brittle and dried out.

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