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How to Clean a Coffee Maker Like a Pro in Minutes

November 08, 2019

How to Clean a Coffee Maker Like a Pro in Minutes

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

For me, the smell of freshly brewed coffee is one of life’s little pleasures. To save any delay in getting that first cup of joe, I’ll even preset the coffee pot the night before.

Like any other tool in your kitchen, your coffee maker needs a bit of care and attention to keep it running its best and brewing fresh, rich coffee that tastes... well... like coffee.

If you’ve noticed your brew tastes a bit off or has a funny odor, your coffee maker is probably due for a deep clean. 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.

What’s lurking in my coffee maker? 

Do you really want to know? Whether you have a basic drip machine, pod coffee maker, or a more versatile model for crafting cappuccino, espresso, and specialty drinks, your coffee maker is likely brewing up something extra. Compartments that hold grinds and water are difficult to dry completely and don’t see good ventilation -- making them a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and yeast.

Television news outlets in three major U.S. cities recently partnered to uncover what’s growing in the average household coffee maker. They swabbed 29 different machines and sent their findings to a lab for analysis. More than half of the coffee makers had bacteria counts in the millions. Cleaning your coffee pot at least once a month can help prevent these unwanted additions to your morning joe.

Can a dirty coffee pot make you sick? 

In short, yes. Your coffee maker can make you sick. While certain levels of bacteria and fungi are manageable for the human body, excessive amounts can lead to health problems. A National Science Foundation study on household germs found coffee reservoirs to be among the top 10 “germiest” places in the home.

Mold and yeast were found on half of the coffee pots tested. Someone with a mold allergy might experience sneezing, runny nose, and a cough. Mold exposure is especially problematic for individuals with compromised immune systems or other underlying health conditions.

5 simple steps to clean a coffee maker 

Cleaning your coffee maker is a simple and satisfying task you can do once a month to ensure every cup tastes it’s very best.

To clean your coffee maker in five simple steps:

  1. Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water. Filtered water is good for not only cleaning your pot but for brewing coffee as well because it’s free from chlorine and other contaminants found in most tap water.
  2. Pour this solution into the reservoir where you usually pour water to brew coffee. Let it sit for 15 minutes to a half-hour. To cover as much surface area as possible, fill the solution to the top of the reservoir.
  3. Using a clean microfiber towel dipped in the water-vinegar solution, wipe down the heads that spray water onto the coffee grinds, the internal basket that holds the filter, and any other areas you can reach easily.
  4. Insert a filter to catch loose grinds and prevent leaks. Start the machine and brew once with the vinegar solution. Next, use only water for two to three more cycles. 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.
  5. Once the last brew cycle is complete, it’s now time to 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. 

The entire cleaning process takes around half an hour. Wash your carafe, filter basket, and other removable parts after each use. An OXO Dish Brush is a great tool for this job because it reaches into tight areas and doesn’t hold on to bacteria as a traditional sponge would.

Note: One more way to make great-tasting coffee is to use alkaline water. The minerals in alkaline water extract the oils from coffee beans without destroying them, resulting in full-bodied flavor without the bitterness. And with alkaline water you can achieve that rich flavor with fewer beans or grounds, so you’ll save money as well.

Regular maintenance for a clean machine

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

Immediately after every brew, rise your machine with a strong stream of warm water. Wipe down your machine weekly. Schedule a deep clean monthly using the steps above. 

Should I use soap in my coffee maker?

In short, no. While Puracy plant-based dish soap is completely safe for humans, if all of the inner filters and parts of your coffee maker are not rinsed thoroughly, any remaining solution can alter the taste of your coffee. Any coffee purist knows that just won’t do. 

That’s why we recommend using soap for the detachable parts and leaving the inner workings of your machine to vinegar and water. Loose pieces can be soaked in a solution of one ounce of Puracy Natural Dish Soap per three gallons of warm water. To save time, soak them while you’re cleaning the main unit. From there, rinse and dry completely. 

How to clean a french press

French press coffee maker

While french presses come with fewer pieces and parts to trap dirt and breed bacteria, they should also be deep cleaned on a regular basis. 

First, fill the press with water to loosen grounds from the bottom of the carafe. Pour grinds into a mesh sieve and discard or use them for composting. Next, fill the carafe with warm water and add a few drops of Puracy Natural Dish Soap

Insert the top into the carafe and move it up and down several times to dislodge tiny grinds from the filter and clean the inside of the carafe. Rinse and dry your press and you’re ready for a rich and delicious cup of coffee! 

How to remove coffee stains from your coffee pot 

If you are keeping up with regular cleanings, but your carafe still looks a bit dingy, try this easy tip for getting it crystal clear once again. Before cleaning, make sure your carafe is room temperature.

The best product we’ve found to dissolve stubborn coffee stains is Urnex Urn & Brewer Cleaner. Fill the carafe with warm water and add one packet of Urnex. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing with an OXO dish brush and rinsing. Dry completely with a microfiber cloth and your glass, plastic, or stainless steel carafe will look brand new!

Bonus: How to remove coffee stains from fabric

Coffee stains are notoriously hard to remove. But a spill doesn’t have to ruin your morning. To remove coffee from most natural and synthetic fabrics, begin by blotting up any excess liquid with a dry, clean microfiber cloth.

Next, spray the stain with plant-based, color-safe Puracy Natural Stain Remover. For mild stains, wait 15 minutes before laundering. For tougher stains, use a soft boar’s hair brush to gently massage stain remover into the affected area. Let soak for anywhere from a few hours to a few days for especially stubborn spots. From there, launder in the warmest water setting recommended per your fabric’s washing instructions.

For larger surfaces or fabrics that cannot be laundered, apply Puracy Natural Stain Remover and use a soft boar’s hair brush to agitate the affected area. Let the stain remover soak in for at least 15 minutes. The longer you wait, the better your results will be.

Next, fill a bowl with warm water and saturate a clean microfiber cloth in the water. Gently wring it out, then press it into the stain with light pressure. Rinse and wring your cloth as often as necessary, and switch to a clean cloth if needed. Keep using the wet cloth until you’ve gradually lifted the stain from the fabric.

Puracy is safe for any washable fabric, though silk and wool should not soak for more than an hour.

To learn more about how to remove odors and stains naturally using natural enzyme-based products, see our related posts:

Enzyme Cleaners 101: How to Quickly Eliminate Odors & Stains

How to Use Enzyme-Based Cleaners: A Step-by-Step Guide

In just a few simple steps, your coffee pot can always be clean and ready to brew fresh, rich, great-tasting coffee. Concentrated Puracy 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 just about any surface safe for a premium soap.