Why You Need to Deep Clean and Disinfect Coffee Maker
You’re lazy… We’re lazy… it’s so easy to put off cleaning your coffee maker to another day.
But it’s also SO important to clean your coffee maker often:
You could get SICK if you don’t! Beware of germs and mold growing. And don’t forget yeast and mineral buildup.
Not to mention that you’ll have better tasting coffee to reward yourself. If you just follow a few simple cleaning steps!
So we’re going to cover both a daily and monthly cleaning method that will keep your coffee machine clean and free of bacteria.
The daily method is easier and faster. While the monthly cleaning method is more of a deep clean. So you can save more time while still ensuring a clean coffee maker.
These methods will work for all different types of coffee makers – for example: a drip coffee maker or Keurig coffee maker. We even have special tips for coffee makers with grinders!
Let’s get started!
Daily Method: How to Clean Your Coffee Maker Fast
Again, we can relate to being super lazy some mornings.
So at least you should:
1) Rinse and Dry the Coffee Pot
Use hot water to quickly clean a coffee pot. You don’t need soap, but the point is to wash leftover coffee off ASAP.
Leftover coffee oils and grounds can stain the coffee pot and affect future coffee taste.
2) Rinse and Dry the Filter Basket
Get rid of remaining coffee grounds. Then use soapy water again to rinse the filter basket + reusable filter (if you have one). Use a brush to get rid of any remaining oils or grounds.
Then let it sit out to dry.
3) Leave the Coffee Maker Lid Open
Prevent moisture from building up in your coffee machine. You want exposure to air so that your entire coffee maker will dry up faster.
Bacteria grows easier in moist coffee makers, and we don’t want that!
4) Extra Credit
If you have extra time, it doesn’t hurt to try these out:
- Use a damp cloth to wipe down your coffee machine
- Wash and dry more removable parts from your coffee maker
Pro tip: if you share your coffee maker with family OR if you have a coffee maker in an Airbnb listing — this 4 step list is easy to teach someone else to do.
How to Decide if Your Coffee Maker Needs a Deep Clean
Before we go into the monthly method, we need to admit something: you can go maybe 2 or even 3 months without cleaning your coffee maker!
This really depends on your environment: for example the climate and how humid your kitchen is. Your daily cleaning can also be a factor.
But here are some ways you can decide if deep cleaning and disinfecting are really needed:
- coffee tastes bad: bacteria and coffee residue can make coffee taste bitter or sour
- brew cycle takes long: mineral buildup can clog your coffee machine which makes it slow
- your coffee maker is leaking: see our article to learn more, but basically leaks can be prevented by deep cleaning
- your coffee maker is overflowing the grounds basket
- your coffee maker or coffee smells: watch out for germs and mold!
- your coffee maker or coffee filter is clogged
- your (fancy) coffee maker has a light telling you that you need to clean!
Regular maintenance and cleaning are the best way to prevent these problems.
But don’t worry if you have any of these. Let’s learn how to deep clean and disinfect your coffee maker now!
Monthly Method: Deep Cleaning and Descaling
This is super important so again: most coffee makers are moist and warm places where bacteria grow fast.
They’re actually in the top 10 most germ infected places in your home! According to a 2011 international study by the National Science Foundation (in the USA): you should be especially careful with the water reservoir in your coffee machine.
Any reservoir is a breeding ground for germs.
Cleaning Your Coffee Maker With Vinegar
Looking for a cheap and easy solution? Distilled white vinegar is your best bet.
Why vinegar? Most important: vinegar kills and removes bacteria and mold. It gets rid of lasting smells and mineral deposits.
Anyhow, here are the simple steps:
- Use a vinegar solution with equal parts white vinegar and hot, clean water. This will remove coffee stains, mineral deposits, and oily residue.
- How much vinegar and hot, fresh water do you need? Fill the water reservoir with as much water as you can fit. For example: if it’s a 12-cup water reservoir, try to fill it with 11 cups of water and vinegar.
- Pour the white vinegar solution into the water reservoir of your coffee maker and then start a brew cycle. Discard the solution.
- Repeat steps 1-2 and wait for half of the brew cycle to finish. Turn the coffee maker off.
- Then let your machine sit for 1 to 3 hours. There will be a bit of white vinegar and warm water throughout your machine. Turn the coffee maker back on and let it finish brewing.
- Finish up by running 2-3 more cleaning cycles but this time only with plain water. This will remove any vinegar remains. If there is any vinegar smell (there shouldn’t be!) – then just run a few more cycles of clean water.
(Pro tip: use a new paper filter to catch any extra coffee grounds and remains that get washed out from this cleaning process.)
Vinegar Substitutes for Cleaning Coffee Maker
You shouldn’t have any problems disinfecting your coffee maker with vinegar.
But if you really hate the smell of vinegar, no problem! Let’s explore how else to deep clean your coffee maker.
Lemon Juice or Baking Soda
The steps to create your lemon juice or baking soda mixture are almost the same as before.
Create a mixture of one half hot water + one half lemon juice or baking soda. Fill the water reservoir with the mixture.
Run a brewing cycle just like your normal brewing process with coffee. Repeat this cleaning cycle until there is no baking soda or trace of lemon juice left.
If your coffee maker is super dirty, no worries! Just repeat these steps again until you’ve got a clean machine.
Frequently Asked Questions about Coffee Maker Cleaning and Disinfection
How to clean coffee makers with grinders?
Make sure to clean your coffee maker grinder too! You’ll get a better tasting cup of coffee if you do.
Here are 4 simple steps:
- Use a mix of a vacuum, brush, and wooden sticks to clean a coffee maker with a built-in grinder.
- Add a small amount of baking soda to the hopper and run the grinder for a few seconds. Remove the baking soda. Then use warm water to rinse out the grinder.
- Wash the filter basket with hot soapy water.
- Clean your coffee pot with a soft cloth and hot soapy water. Feel free to use the cleaning solution from before as well: hot water with vinegar or baking soda.
Why is my coffee pot taking forever to brew?
A deep clean could be what you need! Follow the cleaning instructions above to clean a coffee maker.
Any other tips for how to clean coffee maker?
These are tips that we at My Kitchen Sensei use:
- Any removable parts that can be washed in the dishwasher… we’ll clean them that way! (read your coffee manufacturer’s instructions to be safe, but for example: the brew basket of a drip coffee machine is usually dishwasher safe)
- If the parts are not dishwasher safe, then use dish soap and hand wash them with hot, soapy water. (We would hand wash a glass coffee pot.)
Your coffee maker provides a moist environment that allows germs to grow fast.
When germs and coffee residue build up in your coffee maker, you risk bad tasting coffee and even getting sick!
So every day – make sure to rinse out your brew basket and coffee pot with warm water.
If you have time, use a damp rag or clean cloth to wipe down surfaces. Use dish soap to clean any removable parts.
Clean and disinfect your coffee maker every month. Make coffee maker cleaner by mixing hot water with one of these: white vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice.
So on average, just a few minutes per day will prevent bacteria build up and keep you safe. Your cup of coffee and coffee maker depends on this!
By day, Bryan is a software engineer with experience at startups and top software companies. By night, he runs and writes for My Kitchen Sensei. Bryan is especially proud of his cheap excursions to cheap Michelin rated restaurants throughout Asia and in Hong Kong during his exchange there. His favorites include nitro-cold brew coffee and steak.