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Home » How to Clean a Cuisinart Coffee Maker (Easy-to-Follow Guide)

How to Clean a Cuisinart Coffee Maker (Easy-to-Follow Guide)

Your Cuisinart coffee maker works tirelessly with every use to provide you with great-tasting coffee. If you want to continue getting that perfect cup every morning, give some love back to your coffee maker by keeping it clean. Your brew will thank you.

In this article, we walk you through an easy-to-follow guide on how to clean a Cuisinart coffee maker to keep your machine and your coffee high quality.

  • A Cuisinart coffee maker
  • Water
  • White vinegar (amount varies by machine)
  • A nonabrasive dishcloth
  • Dish soap

At A Glance


1 hour


1 clean coffee maker

Extra Notes:

  • If you have a self-clean Cuisinart coffee maker, a self-clean light will begin to flash at the front of your machine to let you know when internal cleaning is required. If you do not have a self-clean button, operate under the assumption that you need to descale your coffee maker every 4-6 months.
  • For the single-serve K-cup coffee makers, all the lights will flash in sequence upon being turned on to indicate that descaling is necessary.
  • If you drink several coffees a day, you will need to clean your machine more regularly than if you only make coffee once a day or even less frequently.
  • How often you need to descale will also depend on the hardness of the brewing water. Using filtered water means much less frequent descaling.

6 Steps: How To Clean Cuisinart Coffee Maker

How to clean a cuisinart coffee maker

Ensuring your coffee maker is clean internally and externally is vital for the long-term maintenance of your machine. Caring for your coffee maker is the first step to brewing high-quality coffee. It starts with an initial cleaning procedure before making your first cup and continues with regular descaling (1).

Before cleaning your Cuisinart coffee maker, always turn off your appliance and unplug it from the electrical outlet.

This process of cleaning a coffee maker applies to all Cuisinart models on the market. If you are interested, look at some of the best Cuisinart coffee makers available. There will only be slight modifications to the procedure depending on whether you are using a 4-to-14-cup Cuisinart coffee maker with a coffee pot, a single-serve K-cup Cuisinart coffee maker, or a two-in-one Cuisinart dual coffee maker.

1. Initial Cleaning of a Cuisinart Coffee Maker

The initial cleaning you perform when setting up your coffee machine is different from every following cleaning. Within this step are seven mini ones to help set you up before your first-ever cup of coffee. Go ahead and skip this section if your Cuisinart is already up and running.

Step 1: Insert The Charcoal Water Filter

All Cuisinart coffee machines include a charcoal water filter. Insert it into the water tank.

Step 2: Fill The Water Reservoir

For the 4-to-14-cup coffee machines, keep the water reservoir in place and pour water into it until it is full. For the single-serve K-cup coffee machines, remove the water reservoir to fill it with water and replace it when full.

Step 3: Plug In The Coffee Maker And Switch It On

The power button is on the side of the machine. If you are using a 4-to-14-cup coffee machine, set the carafe in place.

Step 4: Begin The First Brew

For the 4-to-14-cup coffee machines, turn the knob function to the brew setting and press brew. For the single-serve K-cup coffee machines, open and close the brew head without a K-cup coffee pod and place a mug on the drip tray. Press the 10 oz. setting to see a flashing light come on. Both processes yield a stream of running hot water.

Step 5: Discard The Resulting Hot Water

You are now ready to use your brewer.

Let’s dive into how cleaning changes after that first brew.

2. Disassemble Your Machine

Disassemble your machine by taking apart all the removable parts: the charcoal filter, the filter basket, and the carafe, if there is one. Removing the filters is important to prevent damage and lingering odours from the descaling process.

The charcoal filter is crucial to keep clean. Otherwise, mineral deposits and other mineral buildup accumulate with use and cause it to clog. The same thing happens with the water reservoir, so keep a close eye out for any built-up gunk with frequent long-term use.

The filter basket lifts or slides out of most Cuisinart coffee machines. Empty any residual coffee within the carafe and dispose of any coffee grounds, paper filters from the basket, or K-cup coffee pods.

3. Create A Vinegar Mixture To Decalcify The Water Reservoir

Cleaning a coffee machine with a vinegar solution may be surprising, but it prevents you from making odd brews. Create a vinegar mixture to decalcify the water reservoir of your coffee machine with two parts fresh water and one part white vinegar.

There should be enough vinegar solution to fill the water reservoir completely. For instance, a standard 12-cup Cuisinart coffee machine will need 4 cups of vinegar and 8 cups of water to fill the water reservoir and effectively remove any built-up calcium deposits (1). This homemade vinegar mixture keeps the same ratio for both the 4-to-14-cup and single-serve K-cup coffee makers.

Pro Tip: Calcium deposits are not toxic, but they impact the flavour of your coffee and your coffee maker’s performance in the long run. The amount of deposit that develops depends on the mineral content of the brewing water (2). This affects how much discolouration, staining, and spotting happens on your machine, which is normal over time. 

4. Press Clean To Run The Machine

To descale a single-serve K-cup coffee machine, place a cup on the drip tray. Press and hold both the 6 oz. and the 8 oz. buttons for two seconds to initiate the descaling process.

If these buttons continue to flash at any point together during this process, your coffee maker has overheated. This will require cleaning the piercing needle before continuing use.

Discard the contents of the cup and repeat this process three times with a fresh mixture in the water reservoir each time. The add water light will be on if there is insufficient tap water. All of the LED lights will remain on throughout the descaling process.

When you are done with this step, it is safe to pour the remnants of the diluted white vinegar mixture down the sink.

For the 4-to-14-cup machines, press and hold the Cuisinart coffee maker clean button, releasing when the clean button light starts flashing. After the completed Cuisinart coffee maker clean cycle, it will emit five beeps before automatically shutting off. Wait for the clean button light to stop blinking before proceeding. If the clean button turns on again, you may have to repeat this step twice.

Pro Tip: The cleaning procedure specific to a single-serve K-cup Cuisinart coffee maker works best if interrupted halfway. For a deeper clean, shut down the machine while it is descaling for about an hour before turning it back on and allowing the cleaning cycle to complete. Do not open the filter basket without shutting down the machine first, or you may burn yourself with hot water. This tip is not applicable for 4-to-14-cup coffee makers.

5. Let The Machine Cool And Wash

Unplug the electric coffee maker and let it cool after one or two cycles have been completed. It should be safe to touch the machine about half an hour after it is unplugged.

For the single-serve K-cup coffee machines, use warm soapy water with dish soap and a soft, damp sponge or cloth to wipe down the drip tray and the plate. Keep them both level when moving so as not to spill leftover fluid. Avoid harsh cleaning liquids.

Pull the capsule holder out by opening the brewing chamber, and wash it by hand. Twist and pull out the funnel from the capsule holder. Use a paperclip to clean out the exit needle, which is located inside the capsule holder’s base, and do the same for the piercing needle. Use warm soapy water and a soft, damp cloth to hand wash the funnel, filter, and filter cup.

For the 4-to-14-cup machines, hand wash the filter, filter cup, and filter basket in soapy water, and wash the carafe and lid. Wipe under the filter basket and base unit with a soft, damp cloth to remove any remaining smudges or fingerprints. However, do not use a cloth to wipe the water tank or you risk getting lint remnants from the cloth stuck in the water tank.

Never submerge the base unit or the coffee maker in liquid, and don’t use tough, abrasive cleaners like steel wool or cloths on the heating plate as this will cause damage.

6. Allow Everything To Dry And Reassemble The Rest

Allow everything to air dry, or gently wipe the machine and its parts with a soft cloth. Reassemble all of the components when they are ready. Refill the water in the water reservoir at the end, and return the charcoal filter to its proper place to successfully complete the regular cleaning process for your Cuisinart coffee machine!

The steps detailed here are similar to the ones involved when cleaning any generic coffee maker.

For a nice summary, check out this YouTube video:

Pro Tip: Everything mentioned here to be cleaned by hand with soapy water is also dishwasher safe on the top rack.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning a Cuisinart coffee machine is easy with five simple steps: disassemble your machine, create a vinegar solution, descale internally, let your machine cool before washing externally, and let everything dry before reassembling your machine.

The initial cleaning process must be done once in your machine’s lifetime. It entails five steps as well: insert the charcoal water filter, fill the water reservoir, start your machine with the first brew, and discard the resulting hot water. Clean, brew, enjoy!

We hope you found this article helpful! If you have any questions, leave a comment below or contact Cuisinart support.


To get the faint taste of vinegar out of your coffee maker, clean it with more than one cleaning cycle. Run the cleaning cycle at least three times, with the last cleaning cycle or two using just a plain water solution without vinegar (1).

Use a mixture of three parts warm water and one part baking soda in a brewing cycle to clean Cuisinart coffee makers. Ideally, you want about a quarter cup of baking soda. Cuisinart coffee makers benefit from a single brewing cycle of this mixture followed by its self-clean process using warm water twice to cleanse the machine fully. (1)

You can descale with store-bought or homemade lemon juice if you don’t have vinegar. Lemon juice from concentrate is just as effective as fresh. Use equal parts lemon juice and cold water in place of the vinegar solution mix (3).

  1. Cuisinart Canada. (n.d.). Cuisinart Instruction Booklet. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://www.cuisinart.ca/on/demandware.static/-/Sites-ca-cuisinart-Library/en_CA/dw8d999d86/Instruction%20Booklet/SS-15C_en.pdf
  2. Carefoot, H. (2021, June 10). Hard Water: What is it, and what can you do about it? Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/hard-water-what-to-do/2021/06/08/ae952b34-b81b-11eb-96b9-e949d5397de9_story.html
  3. Food Network Magazine. (n.d.). When Should You Clean It? Retrieved September 1, 2022, from https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/the-kitchen/articles/when-should-you-clean-it
Dasha Toptygina
I am a writer who delves into all manner of things related to coffee, cats, and characters. I started drinking coffee daily in university and now my entire work, life, and personality all revolve around procuring the perfect brew. I start every morning with yoga, French Press coffee, and some special creative time devoted to working on a magical cat café story... but, more on that later.

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