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How to Clean a Coffee Maker Like a Pro

March 17, 2020

How to Clean a Coffee Maker Like a Pro

Written by Stacey Kelleher. Reviewed by cleaning expert Sean Busch.


Like any other tool in your kitchen, your coffee maker needs a bit of care and attention to keep it running its best. 

If you’ve noticed an “off” flavor in your morning brew – or have never thoroughly cleaned your coffee maker – this blog will answer all of the questions you never thought to ask. With just a few simple tools you can easily remove dirt, residue, mold, and stains within minutes for a gleaming coffee maker that brews great-tasting coffee.

Can a Dirty Coffee Maker Make Me Sick? 

Because the compartments that hold grinds and water are poorly-ventilated and hard to dry out completely, your coffee maker is the ideal place for mold to reproduce. 

A few years ago, television news outlets in three major U.S. cities swabbed 29 different machines and discovered more than half of the coffee makers 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. This same study determined that 9% of brewing machines had coliform bacteria (the same family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli).

Possible Health Issues from Moldy Coffee 

Though you might only have one or two cups each day, moldy coffee can cause adverse health reactions, especially for individuals with allergies, compromised immune systems, or other underlying health conditions. Mold spores can trigger side effects like sneezing, sinus blockage, headache, and even chronic respiratory infections. Some people have even reported reactions like loose stools, bloating, and upset stomach. 

How Often Should I Clean My Coffee Maker? 

Many people assume you can simply use boiling water to clean a coffee maker, but 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.

Bottom line: the not-quite-boiling water that circulates through your coffee maker’s system each morning simply won’t kill mold and bacteria.

We recommend deep-cleaning your machine at least once every month, and ideally more often if your home has hard water. If you notice that your regular coffee changes in flavor, it’s likely related to gunky buildup, so be sure to clean it right away. 

best way to clean coffee machineClean Your Coffee Maker with Vinegar in Six Simple Steps:

  1. Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water. Filtered water is good for cleaning and brewing coffee because it’s free from chlorine and other chemicals found in most tap water.
  1. Pour this solution into the top of the water reservoir and let it sit for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Using a clean microfiber towel dipped in the water-vinegar solution, wipe down the heads that spray water onto coffee grounds, the internal filter basket, and any other areas you can reach easily.
  1. Insert a filter to catch loose grinds and prevent leaks. Start the machine and brew once with the vinegar solution. 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 detect no vinegar aroma.
  2. Clean your carafe and other attachments. Detach and soak all removable pieces in warm, soapy water. We recommend one ounce of Puracy plant-based dish soap to three gallons of warm water. We also advise using an OXO Dish Brush because it reaches into tight areas and doesn’t hold onto bacteria as a traditional sponge would. You can also load coffee machine attachments into the top rack of your dishwasher and run a regular cycle using Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs

Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent

Pro tip: Make sure each part is completely dry before reassembling your coffee maker.

Regular Maintenance for a Deeper Clean 

One of the easiest ways to ensure a cleaner coffee maker is by immediately tossing soggy coffee grounds in the garbage and drying any wet parts with a microfiber towel. 

If your unit includes a charcoal filter in the basin, replace it regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. To prevent trapping moisture that encourages bacteria growth, leave the basin cover and filter cover open after every brew. 

Should I Use Soap in My Coffee Machine? 

In short, no. Most manufacturers caution users to avoid using dish soap inside of their coffee makers as it can be difficult to entirely remove – even after multiple cycles. Even Puracy plant-based dish soap – which is completely safe for humans – may alter the taste of your coffee. Any coffee purist knows that just won’t do. 

For exterior cleaning of your coffee machine, however, a natural multi-surface cleaner and microfiber cloth should be perfectly fine. 

The Best Way to Clean a French Press

How to clean a French PressWhile french presses come with fewer pieces and parts to trap dirt and breed bacteria, they should also be deep-cleaned regularly. During the workweek, a simple rinse and light scrub should be enough to clean a French press. When the weekend comes, however, it’s time to take action.

Unscrew the bottom by turning the plunger counter-clockwise. Place all of your French press pieces in a larger bowl and sprinkle with one teaspoon of baking soda. Cover all of these parts with boiling water and let it sit for 1-2 hours. Scrub with an old toothbrush, rinse thoroughly, dry each part, and reassemble. 

How to Clean a Keurig Machine

How to clean a Keurig

Keurig coffee makers are a little different, since they take coffee pods rather than loose coffee grounds in a paper filter. You can use white vinegar, however, to “descale” your Keurig just like a regular coffee maker.

After unplugging the machine, take off the water chamber, lid, mug stand, and K-cup holder to wash them in warm, soapy water. Wipe down as much of the machine as you can get to with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. Fill the water chamber with a mixture of 50% white vinegar and 50% filtered water, run the machine without a coffee pod in the K-cup holder, and repeat until the water-vinegar solution is gone. 

Run one more cycle with just water and dry all of the detachable parts before replacing them. 

The Best Way to Clean a Stovetop Coffee Maker

How to clean your Moka Machine

Stovetop coffee makers, like Moka pots, require more daily diligence than automatic pots, but they’re also an excellent green option because they’re built to last forever...assuming you clean them correctly. 

The makers of the Moka pot state that you should never – under any circumstances – use soap, dishwashers, or harsh brushes to clean them. All of these can destroy them and will affect the flavor of your coffee by stripping away the “good” coffee oils that line the stainless steel. 

After each use, wait for your stovetop coffee maker to cool down. Next, take the machine apart and rinse under warm water. You can choose to use either a clean microfiber cloth or allow each part to dry thoroughly before reassembling. 

How Can I Remove Coffee Pot Stains?

Remove coffee pot stains

For Glass Coffee Pots

Rice is the secret recipe to a sparkling pot. Even if you clean your carafe every time, it can become dull after several uses. 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, create a paste from baking soda and water and let it sit for up to an hour. An old toothbrush or microfiber cloth (plus elbow grease) should take care of any remaining marks. 

For Stainless Steel Coffee Pots

Struggling to remove coffee stains from stainless steel? Remove any 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 stubborn carafe stains, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and ½ cup hydrogen peroxide to your coffee pot, then top with boiling water. Let it sit for 1-2 hours and stains should lift away.

Pro cleaning tip: If your coffee pot has a long spout, consider purchasing long-handled tube cleaners.

Puracy Natural Dish Soap: Powerful, Concentrated, Safe

In just a few simple steps, your coffee pot will be clean and ready to brew rich, great-tasting coffee. Puracy Concentrated Dish Soap – available in three natural scents – is the safe choice for cleaning and brightening your coffee carafe, as well as your dishes, glassware, utensils, pots, pans, and much more. 

Natural Dish Soap

Powerful & concentrated to do more cleaning with less. Safe & naturally-derived, leaving hands soft and dishes sparkling, no gloves required.

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Natural Dish Soap