How to Clean Your Coffee Maker

Learn how white vinegar is the all-natural secret to perkier-tasting coffee.

Is your brew a little blah? Perhaps your coffee maker is due for a cleaning.

We tend not to clean our coffee makers as often as we should, which can lead to some major ick factor and less-than-awesome-tasting coffee. NSF International, a public health and safety organization, found the coffee machine water reservoir is the fifth germiest place in most homes, with even more germs than a bathroom faucet. And mineral deposits and other buildup over time can slow down your machine and lead to some less-than-optimal coffee.

So let's get cleaning! Maintain your coffee machine by washing the baskets, filters, and carafes in warm, soapy water daily, by hand or via dishwasher. (Most thermal carafes require handwashing.) If you have a Keurig coffee maker, wash the removable components (K-cup holder, mug tray, and water reservoir) with warm, soapy water every week.

To reduce mineral buildup and keep mold and germs from taking up residence, give your coffee maker a deeper cleaning and descaling every month .

Fortunately, you probably already have the ultimate all-natural cleaner to take care of oily residue or impurities muddying up the flavor of your cup of joe: distilled white vinegar. You'll be amazed at how much better your coffee tastes after your deep-clean is done.

black coffeemaker on yellow background

What You Need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water

How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

  1. Pour equal parts distilled white vinegar and water into your coffee maker's water chamber.
  2. Hit the switch to brew.
  3. When half the liquid has brewed, turn off the coffee maker and let the solution sit for about an hour.
  4. Turn it on again to finish the cycle.
  5. Discard the solution and run several cycles with clean water until the smell of vinegar is gone.

How to Descale a Keurig Coffee Maker

You should descale your Keurig every two months, or whenever the descale light goes on. While there are specialty Keurig descaling products, a 1:1 mixture of distilled white vinegar and water does the trick.

  1. Put 2 cups each, water and distilled vinegar, into your Keurig's water chamber.
  2. Start the brew cycle without a K-cup in the water chamber. (Put your mug underneath to catch the vinegar water.)
  3. Keep running brew cycles until the "add water" indicator lights up.
  4. Empty and rinse the reservoir, and then refill it with fresh water.
  5. Run several brew cycles until you no longer smell the vinegar.
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