When Is The Last Time You Cleaned Your Coffee Maker?
The holidays are here. The time of year when we spend more time with friends and family in gatherings and get-togethers. To prepare for visitors we tend to dust, vacuum, and scrub so everything sparkles and shines—the perfect backdrop for dinners, cocktail parties, or just a hot cup of coffee with friends.
While you are cleaning all the visible areas of your home, consider spending a little time on the tool you use to brew up those fabulous cups of CoffeeAM coffee you and your loved ones enjoy lingering over as you chat and catch up on each other’s lives. A dirty coffeemaker can affect the flavor of your coffee, may work harder than it needs to, or even make you sick. Depending on the water you use to make your coffee as well as how often you make coffee, you should be cleaning your coffee maker every 3 to 6 months (though after reading some of the stories out there, you may want to clean it more often.)
Most coffee makers come with instructions for cleaning the machine properly. Follow those instructions as the manufacturer knows best how to clean their machines. If you no longer have those instructions, here are some basics for cleaning a few different kinds of coffee makers to ensure you are serving the best cup of coffee.
Drip Coffee MakerDrip coffee makers not only have the pot and the basket which can both be taken off the machine to be cleaned, they also have a water reservoir that may have a buildup of limescale or even bacteria. Here’s how to clean everything.
- Empty the coffee maker of any leftover coffee, water, and used grounds
- Using a mix of 1:2 ratio of white vinegar and water, fill the water reservoir
- Turn on and hit the brew button
- After completion of the brew cycle, let the vinegar solution sit for 15 minutes
- Empty the used vinegar solution and run two water-only cycles to remove the vinegar flavor
- Unplug the coffee maker
- If possible, remove the grounds basket and wash with dish detergent and warm water; rinse well (if you can’t remove the basket, wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth)
- Wash the coffee pot with hot soapy water (if able, run through dishwasher)
- With a soft, clean, damp cloth, wipe down the outside of the coffee maker
- Put the coffee maker back together
- Plugin the machine and you’re ready to go
Before using this method, make sure your coffee maker is not adversely affected by the vinegar and water solution. Some machines are made with plastic inside which cannot handle the vinegar. For these machines, you can find a solution at a store like Bed, Bath, And Beyond to clean your machine.
PercolatorIf your favorite coffee making machine is an electric percolator, here’s how to clean it.
- Empty used grounds from the basket
- Fill percolator with water and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda or 2 to 3 teaspoons of cream of tartar
- Run the percolator as usual
- Let cool
- Unplug the machine and empty out the water
- Scrub with a plastic or nylon scrubber to remove coffee stains from inside machine
- Use a narrow bottle brush to clean the inside of the spout
- Wipe the outside of the machine with a clean, damp cloth
- Fill with fresh water and run another cycle to rinse
- Now you’re ready for the next pot
Single Serve MachinesWhether you prefer a Keurig or a Nespresso or any of the numerous brands of compatible machines, keeping the system clean is important. Both companies have their own brands of descaling solution and needle cleaning pods to make cleaning your machine easy. If you prefer not to use these items, here is how to clean your machine with regular household ingredients.
- Unplug machine
- With warm, soapy water, clean all the removable parts
- Reservoir and lid
- Drip catcher and grate
- Pod holder (be careful of the sharp needle)
- Wipe down all surfaces with a clean, damp cloth (don’t forget the pod holder area!)
- Fill reservoir with a solution of 1:2 white vinegar and water (if you have a filter, be sure you remove it first)
- Run a brew cycle without a pod; Repeat until reservoir is empty
- Refill reservoir with fresh water; Run a brew cycle without a pod; Repeat until reservoir is empty
- Put everything back together and you’re ready for your next cup
Stovetop Espresso PercolatorFortunately, stovetop espresso percolators are pretty easy to clean. Just make sure you take them apart completely and use gentle tools (no steel wool).
- Take apart the espresso part, removing the filter basket and stem from the bottom as well as the plate and gasket from the top
- Make a solution of 1:2 baking soda and warm water
- Using a soft sponge, clean the inside of both chambers and the filter basket and stem with the baking soda solution
- Use a narrow bottle brush to clean the inside of the stem
- Rinse with clean water and air dry
- Reassemble and brew up your next espresso
- Fill the bottom of your clean percolator to the fill line or the bottom of the safety valve
- Add two teaspoons of baking soda or the juice of a lemon, or a commercial descaler
- Assemble the entire percolator and brew the solution over low heat
- Remove from heat when all the solution is in the top of the pot
- Rinse well and air dry
- Reassemble and you’re ready for your next espresso
French PressIf you have a French press, the easiest thing to do is take the whole thing apart (pay attention to how you do this, so you can put it all back together properly) and wash it in the dishwasher. You may want to do this once a week. For a quick rinse in between washings, use hot soapy water or hot water with a teaspoon of baking soda in it and allow all the parts to soak for a little bit. Rinse well and get pressing.
ChemexYes, you can run your Chemex through the dishwasher, but if you notice a film on the inside that won’t come off, consider this simple way to clean it.
- Fill Chemex so the bottom is half full of ice
- Pour in two to three tablespoons of salt
- Swirl the ice and salt mixture in the Chemex for three to five minutes
- Pour the ice and salt mixture out of the Chemex and let it come to room temperature
- Rinse the inside and you’re done
As you swirl the ice and salt mixture, a layer of ice will form on the outside of the glass. This is normal. Make sure you don’t pour hot water into the Chemex while it is still frozen or very cold as this could crack or shatter your Chemex.
Whether you use a pour-over style filter or a screen mesh filter these can be run through the dishwasher. Sometimes, however, they will become clogged. If this is the case, you can wash them by hand with warm soapy water and a soft brush (like a toothbrush). This will remove any particles or buildup in the holes of the screen. Another solution is to soak the filter for a few hours in a solution of 1:2 white vinegar and water.