How To Clean a Chemex

updated Dec 31, 2020
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Coffee aficionados love a Chemex for brewing for a group. It makes exquisite coffee and looks design-y, to boot! While I’ll admit I don’t have one myself (we keep a Moka pot and a French press at home), it’s on my aspirational list. For when I grow up.

My concern with the Chemex is that it can be tricky to clean. The cool beaker-like design is great to look at, but it can be hard to access the inner workings to scrub them. Day to day, unscented dish soap and warm water will get your Chemex clean (you can even put it into the dishwasher if you remove the wooden handle), but over time, oily coffee residue and mineral deposits from your water can start to build up and affect the flavor of the coffee, so you may want to give it a deep-clean once or twice a year, or whenever the inside starts to get cloudy.

I reached out to the brand to get their advice, and while they have their own cleaning solution and brush that they sell exactly for this purpose, they said many of their users find a vinegar solution to be easy, effective, and economical.

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Empty and let cool: Finish the coffee, dump the grounds, and make sure the Chemex is cool. (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How To Clean a Chemex

What You’ll Need

  • Warm water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Long-handled bottle brush (make sure it has a wood or plastic handle so you don’t damage the carafe; Chemex has its own great-looking version)
  • Unscented dish soap


  1. Empty and let cool: Finish the coffee, dump the grounds, and make sure the Chemex is cool.
  2. Remove the wooden handle: You may think it’s not designed to come off, but it is. Just untie the leather cord.
  3. Clean the outside: Scrub the outside of the carafe — especially where the wooden handle has just been — with dish soap and water. If you have stains or mineral deposits that don’t come off, adjust the next step.
  4. Add vinegar and water: Pour equal amounts of distilled white vinegar and warm water into the carafe and fill it to the brim. (If the exterior of your Chemex needs a deep clean, submerge the entire thing in the mixture using a washtub, bucket, or your kitchen sink). Wait a few hours or overnight to loosen the coffee oils or mineral build-up.
  5. Rinse and scrub: Dump out the vinegar-water. Run warm water into the carafe as you scrub the insides with the bottle brush.
  6. Wash it one more time: Once the glass is clean, wash it one more time with dish soap and water to remove any remaining vinegar-y tastes. Let dry.
  7. Enjoy! Your Chemex is ready for another use.