Coffee is an integral part of many people’s lives. Some simply can’t imagine starting a morning without a steaming cup of it first, while for others coffee is a way of making a living for themselves and their family, for example by owning a coffee shop or working in one. Whether you belong to the first or the second group, there’s one thing that both of them have in common – at one point or another, they will have to clean their coffee maker.
In this article, you will find everything you need to know about cleaning your coffee maker – starting with what are the signs that you waited too long to do it, what you need to make your coffee maker clean again, some alternative cleaning methods, and more. So, let’s just get started!
When and Why Do You Need to Clean a Coffee Maker?
You might be thinking – why would I even need to clean a coffee maker? Well, the answer is very simple – for your own health. It is not uncommon for mold to grow inside coffee makers. After all, it seems like a perfect environment for it – warm and damp. What more could it need? Nothing.
Another reason is mineral deposits that accumulate in the coffee maker. As you probably know, water contains several minerals, and while they are definitely beneficial to the human body, the residue they leave can be harmful to your coffee maker.
That’s precisely why you need to clean your coffee maker at least every once in a while. However, that raises another question – How often do you need to clean a coffee maker for it to work properly?
Generally speaking, coffee makers should be cleaned daily and deep cleaned at least once every three to six months. However, sometimes keeping track of that can be difficult. That’s why you should keep an eye on your coffee maker – trust us, it will tell you when it needs a deep cleaning.
It is needed to deep clean a coffee maker if:
- the coffee has an odd taste
- the brewing takes longer than usual
- the coffee maker makes noises as if it works but there’s no coffee
- the coffee maker is noisier than usual
- the coffee maker spews coffee all over the place when brewing
Cleaning Your Coffee Maker – Daily Cleaning
Let’s start with everyday cleaning. It’s actually really simple and quick, as it requires you to wash all the removable parts of your coffee maker, such as the coffee pot, the brew basket, carafe, the reservoir lid and so on. You can use hot water and dish soap for that. If your hand is too big to clean the coffee pot, you can always use a baby bottle brush.
How to Clean a Coffee Maker – A Step-by-Step Guide
Here it is – the reason why you are reading this article. Below, you will find a step-by-step guide that will tell you how to deep clean your coffee maker.
Step 1: Prepare All the Necessary Items
Before you start cleaning, you have to prepare the items you will need so that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Prepare:
- your coffee maker
- coffee paper filters (depending on the coffee maker type)
- dish towel
- white distilled vinegar
Once you have all of those in your vicinity, start with emptying the filter basket, to make sure that there’s no coffee residue, such as coffee grounds.
Step 2: Prepare the Vinegar Solution
The preparation of the vinegar cleaning solution is very simple – you just need to fill the water reservoir of your coffee maker with vinegar and water – the rule of thumb here is that the proportions should be 50:50. However, if your coffee maker has a lot of build up, then you can add more vinegar. The vinegar solution will not only clean the machine but also dissolve any mineral deposits.
Step 3: Start the Brew Cycle
The next step is running the machine as you would if you wanted to make coffee – including placing a filter if your coffee maker requires them. Now, you can either wait until the brewing cycle is complete, or you can turn the coffee maker off in the middle of it, and let the solution soak in both the reservoir and the carafe for anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes – the more coffee residue and build up you need to get rid of, the longer you should let the cleaning solution soak. Restart the brew cycle, and once it is finished, repeat.
Now that the cleaning is complete, you can throw away the paper filter and pour out the vinegar and water solution. Remove the coffee pot and the basket, and wash them in hot water with a bit of dish soap. If you need to, use an old toothbrush to clean, for example, any leftover coffee grounds that didn’t get removed during the first step or another coffee residue.
Step 4: Flush with Water
The second to last step is getting rid of the vinegar scent and taste from the coffee maker – unless you want your coffee tasting like it. To do that, you need to fill the reservoir with water, let it run a brew cycle, remove the paper filter from the filter basket, pour out the water, and repeat the whole process. During the second brew cycle add a little bit of baking soda to the water. Baking soda will tell you whether there’s still some vinegar left – if it fizzes, you know there is, if it doesn’t, it means that the vinegar is completely gone and that’s probably what you’re aiming for.
Step 5: Finish the Cleaning
Once the final brew cycle is complete, wipe down the coffee maker and the coffee pot with a dish towel in a little bit of vinegar – it will remove the water spots. Repeat with clear water and dry with a cloth. And voila! That’s how you clean a coffee maker.
Alternative Methods to Deep Clean Your Coffee Maker
If for some reason you don’t have vinegar in your house or you simply don’t like using it when cleaning, you’ll probably be glad to know that there are a few other cleaning methods that don’t require it.
Here are a few of them:
- Lemon juice – you can use either fresh juice or a bottled one. The steps are exactly the same as above – the only difference is that instead of filling the coffee maker with vinegar and water you use lemon juice and water.
- Baking soda – add 1/4 of a cup of baking soda to the water reservoir and fill it with hot water. Follow steps 3-5.
- Hydrogen peroxide – the first aid kit probably isn’t a place where you expect to find something to clean your coffee maker with, but here we are. Instead of vinegar, add one cup of hydrogen peroxide and fill the rest of the water chamber with hot water. Follow steps 3-5.
How to Prevent the Build Up
The last thing we will be talking about in this article is how to prevent the build up from happening. Here are a few things that might be worth adding to your routine:
- Before making coffee, let the water run through a water filter. Hard water can leave scales on your coffee maker, so if you drink a lot of coffee, you should really consider using filtered water instead of tap one.
- After you’re finished with making coffee, don’t close the lid – as we already mentioned, bacteria love the warmth and moisture, so providing air circulation to your coffee maker allows it to dry faster and become less inviting to unwanted guests. If you wish, you can also use paper towels or a dish towel for that.
- In case you aren’t able to clean your coffee maker right after you use it, you should still at least empty the brew basket and throw away the used coffee grounds (or you can place them somewhere else to reuse them later).
The Bottom Line
Whether you are a coffee lover with a coffee maker or a business owner with a coffee shop and several coffee machines, at one point or another all of them will need cleaning, so it’s important to learn how to do it properly – something that you now know, thanks to our article above.
Remember that everyday cleaning is just as crucial in keeping your coffee maker as deep cleaning. Take care of all the elements of your coffee maker, be it a brew basket, carafe, or something as seemingly unimportant as a lid, and you’ll have a properly working coffee maker for years to come. Good luck!
Barry Konkin is the founder of HotShot Coffee Sleeves. With over 30 years experience in commercial offset printing, Barry utilized his diverse printing background and creativity in developing new coffee sleeve designs that were granted Patents in both the USA and Canada. Barry’s goal is to assist businesses with brand promotion through the use of high quality custom printed cup sleeves. With an understanding of your marketing and operational objectives, Barry can recommend the ideal coffee sleeve solution for you.