How To Clean Your Coffee Maker

Can you taste it, the strange flavors seeping into your cup, nestling themselves into your sensitive taste buds?

Your coffee maker used to produce the perfect cup, but now something has happened and your once trustworthy coffee maker is acting strange.

Did she find out that you used to see Starbucks before you found her? Is she making coffee for someone else now, maybe even your roommate? Where did this funky (tasting) attitude come from?

As hard as it is to say, the truth needs to be told: you haven’t been treating your beloved (coffee maker) right, and she’s now close to breaking down.

Fortunately, all your failing relationship needs is a good cleaning to get things back to how they once were.

So today, for her sake, I am going to show you how to clean your coffee maker - the easy way.

Note: this method is NOT recommended for fixing your actual human relationships.

What You Will Need

For this “how to” we will just be focusing on automatic drip coffee makers, which are notoriously hard to clean.

Number one on the list is knowledge, because nothing ever gets done (at least not in my house) without knowing why it should be done.

According to the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), the reservoir of your coffee maker is the fifth germiest spot in your home, ranking higher than even your dog’s favorite chew toy.

Although I am no supporter of an overly Lysoled home — after all, everyone needs at least a few germs in their life — I do strive for a liveable cleanliness.

By cleaning out all the nasty germies propagating like bunnies, you will vastly decrease your risk unwittingly poisoning yourself (just think of how awful an obituary that would be).

No matter what sort of advanced gadgetry you use, it won’t matter one bit if your coffee maker isn’t clean.

To clean out your coffee maker, here is what you will need:

  • Water
  • Coffee maker - duh
  • White vinegar (enough to fill your coffee makers carafe)
  • Warm soapy water
  • A sponge
  • Paper filters
  • Paper towels or dishclothes
  • Uncooked white rice

Before we jump into the “how to,” just let me make one quick note: Many coffee makers claim to be dishwasher safe (and they typically are), but a dishwasher won’t get rid of all the bacteria festering in your brewer.

Furthermore, a dishwasher will often leave a fine layer of soap film on your coffee maker’s parts, which will only contribute to the funky taste fund you’ve been investing in for far too long.

Cleaning Your Coffee Maker

Now that we’ve got all of our equipment, it’s time to dive in and get our hands dirty!

Step #1 — Dump And Rinse

First things first, dump out any old grounds still sitting in your brew basket and any old coffee still in the carafe. Don’t worry about scrubbing just yet, we will get to that later.

While you’re at the sink, go ahead and give your carafe a light rinse as well, washing away any last drips of yesterday’s brew still pooling at the bottom.

Step #2 — Water And Vinegar

Fill your coffee maker’s reservoir to its full capacity with equal parts water and white vinegar.

Although it is not necessary to be completely precise, you can use your carafe to make sure you are at least close to the right measurements.

Next, place a clean filter into the machine’s brew basket and set the carafe in position.

This should feel just like everyday brewing, just without any coffee grounds, and with half white vinegar and water (on second thought, this feels nothing like everyday brewing).

Step #3 — Half Brew

Go ahead and start your coffee maker’s brew cycle and let it run only half way through. Once you get half way shut it off and let it sit for no less than 30 minutes, but no more than an hour.

This step will give the warmed up solution plenty of time to cleanse your coffee maker of all the harder to kill bacteria, which have escaped your washing machine’s careless cleaning.

Step # 4 — Finish The Brew

Once the 30 minutes are up, turn your coffee maker back on and let it finish its brew cycle. When the machine is finished, dump out the carafe and refill the reservoir with fresh water.

Now, let your coffee maker run through its brew cycle again, and repeat once more after that brew is finished. Doing this will rinse out any remnants of the solution still clinging to the walls and tubes of your coffee maker.

Step #5 — Clean The Carafe

Use damp paper towels to wipe down the outside of your coffee maker, removing any dust or coffee stains, and then quickly dry it off with dry paper towels so spots don’t form.

Next, pour some warm, soapy water into the carafe, and toss in about a handful of rice. Swish it around for a couple of minutes to let the rice’s abrasiveness scrub off any gunk still sticking to the inside, and then pour it out into the sink.

Now use the sponge to wipe down the inside of your carafe, and then set it out to dry.

Pro Tip: You should do this final step after every other brew, to keep your carafe clean of any old, lingering flavors from past brews. 

Et voilà!

You are now back on track to a happy and healthy relationship with your beloved (and much relied on) coffee maker.

Your daily coffee is the last place you’d want (or expect) to be infested with strange, self-replicating microbes, which is why it is immensely important to know how to clean your coffee maker.

If not for your health, do it for your coffee’s flavor. Properly cleaning out the gunk from past brews will ensure that coffee tastes just the way it should, and not like a sour cup of long-ago joe.

What did you think of this tutorial? Share your thoughts and cleaning experiences in the comments below, and don’t forget to share with your friends!


Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Eric Williamsone - July 12, 2017

A good alternative to vinegar which is mainly acetic acid is citric acid. It works pretty much the same way and doesn’t have the same funky odor. You can get powdered, food-grade citric acid at most supermarkets. Thanks for sharing this.


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