Written by Stacey Kelleher. Reviewed by cleaning expert Sean Busch.
Have you noticed an “off” flavor in your morning brew? Have you never thought to deep-clean your coffee maker before?
No one wants to start their morning with a moldy cup of joe, and it only takes a few minutes to thoroughly clean your Keurig, Moka pot, or French press.
Fun Fact: Dirty Coffee Makers Can Actually Make You Sick
Because the compartments that hold grounds and water are poorly-ventilated. And because they’re hard to completely dry out, your coffee maker is the ideal place for mold to reproduce.
Television news outlets in three major US cities swabbed 29 different machines and discovered more than half of them had bacteria counts in the millions. Meanwhile, another study reported that coffee reservoirs are one of the top 10 most germ-laden places in your home – and 9% contained coliform bacteria (the same family of bacteria that includes salmonella and E. coli).
What Can Happen If I Drink Moldy Coffee?
Though you might only have 1-2 cups each day, moldy coffee can cause adverse health reactions. This is especially true for people with allergies, compromised immune systems, and other underlying health conditions. Mold spores can trigger side effects like sneezing, sinus blockage, headache, chronic respiratory infections, loose stools, bloating, and upset stomach.
How Often Should I Clean My Coffee Maker?
We recommend cleaning your coffee maker at least once every month, ideally more often if your home has hard water.
While you might assume that boiling water is enough to clean a coffee maker, that’s not enough to take care of internal buildup. These machines aren’t designed to reach a boiling point – and boiling water only kills germs after a full minute of continuous exposure.
The bottom line? Not-quite-boiling water circulating through your coffee maker’s system just won’t kill mold and bacteria.
Frequent Care Is Easy Care
Keep your coffee maker at optimal cleanliness by immediately tossing soggy coffee grounds in the garbage and drying any wet parts with a microfiber towel. To prevent trapping moisture (that encourages bacteria growth), leave the basin and filter cover open after every brew.
If your device contains a charcoal filter in the basin, replace it regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Can You Run Dish Soap Through a Coffee Maker?
In short, no. Most manufacturers caution users to avoid using dish soap inside of their coffee makers because it’s difficult to entirely remove, even after multiple cycles. It doesn’t take a coffee expert to know that soapy coffee doesn’t work.
How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Vinegar
Cleaning experts agree that white vinegar is an effective, food-safe way to do the job. Not only is it effective, but most people have a jug laying around their kitchen. Win-win!
1. Mix 1:2 parts white vinegar to water. Filtered water is ideal for cleaning and brewing coffee because it’s free from chlorine and other chemicals found in most tap water (which can cause scaling).
2. Pour this solution into the water reservoir and let it sit for 15-30 minutes.
3. Dip a clean microfiber towel in the water-vinegar solution and wipe down the heads that spray water onto coffee grounds, the internal filter basket, and any other areas you can easily reach.
4. Insert a filter to catch any loose grinds and leaks. Brew once with the vinegar solution.
5. Run 2-3 more cycles using only filtered water. When complete, turn off your coffee maker and let it cool completely. You’ll know the unit is completely flushed out when you no longer detect the scent of vinegar.
6a. Clean your carafe and other removable attachments by soaking them in warm, soapy water. A squirt of Puracy Dish Soap and OXO Dish Brush are your best weapons to reach tight areas.
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6b. Load coffee machine attachments into the top rack of your dishwasher and run a regular cycle using Puracy Dishwasher Detergent Packs.
7. Dry each part completely before reassembling your coffee maker.
8. Wipe down the exterior with a microfiber cloth and a natural multi-surface cleaner.
The Best Way to Clean a French Press
While they come with fewer pieces and parts to trap dirt and bacteria, French presses really should be deep-cleaned regularly. During the workweek, a simple rinse and light scrub should be enough. When the weekend comes, take action with the following steps:
1. Unscrew the bottom by turning the plunger counter-clockwise.
2. Place all of the pieces in a large bowl.
3. Sprinkle with one teaspoon of baking soda and cover with boiling water.
4. Let it sit for 1-2 hours.
5. Scrub with an old toothbrush.
6. Rinse thoroughly, air dry, and reassemble.
How to Clean a Keurig Machine
Keurig coffee makers are a little different, since they use coffee pods instead of loose coffee grounds in paper filters. You can still use white vinegar to “descale” your Keurig just like any regular coffee maker.
1. Unplug the machine.
2. Take off the water chamber, lid, mug stand, and K-cup holder to wash them in warm, soapy water.
3. Wipe down the machine with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
4. Fill the water chamber with a mixture of 50% white vinegar and 50% filtered water.
5. Run the machine with an empty K-cup holder until you no longer smell vinegar.
6. Run a final cycle with only filtered water.
7. Dry all of the detachable parts before replacing them.
The Best Way to Clean a Moka Pot
Stovetop coffee makers like moka pots require more daily diligence than automatic pots. However, these green options are built to last forever...assuming you clean them correctly.
The Moka pot should never – under any circumstances – be cleaned with soap, harsh brushes, or dishwashers. These can strip away the “good” coffee oils that line the stainless steel which will also affect the flavor of your coffee.
1. After each use, wait for your stovetop coffee maker to cool down.
2. Take the machine apart and rinse under warm water.
3. Either use a clean microfiber cloth or allow each part to air dry before reassembling.
How Can I Remove Coffee Pot Stains?
Coffee stains can be some of the hardest to remove, but our tips and tricks should zap them without too much elbow grease.
Note: If your coffee pot has a long spout, consider purchasing long-handled tube cleaners.
For Glass Coffee Pots
Rice is the surprising secret weapon here. Fill the coffee pot with warm water, a squirt of gentle dish soap, and a bit of rice. Give it a good swirl, and scrub it to unlock any grime before rinsing well with clean water.
For more stubborn stains, apply a paste of baking soda and water and let it sit for up to an hour. An old toothbrush or microfiber cloth should take care of any remaining marks.
For Stainless Steel Coffee Pots
To remove minor coffee stains from stainless steel, chuck out remaining coffee debris, sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and fill the rest of your carafe or percolator with boiling water. Let it sit overnight, rinse thoroughly with clean water, and use as normal.
For extra-stubborn carafe stains, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and ½ cup hydrogen peroxide to your coffee pot. Top with boiling water, wait 1-2 hours, and the stains should lift away without too much struggle.
Puracy Natural Dish Soap: Powerful, Concentrated, Safe
In just a few simple steps – and Puracy Dish Soap – you’ll have a clean machine that’s ready to brew rich, great-tasting coffee. Plant-based, 99.96% natural, and super concentrated, this is a safe choice for tackling stains on all of your dishes, utensils, glassware, pots, pans, and much more.