How To Clean a French Press

published Sep 16, 2017
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When my husband and I were first married, we used a coffee maker I’d bought shortly after college for about $9. The thing constantly clogged and overflowed and made generally mediocre coffee. As we’ve gotten older and more sophisticated, and especially since becoming parents, really good coffee is more and more important — like, extremely important at 6:15 a.m. on a Saturday.

So we splurged on a lovely French press. We dutifully did our online research to make sure we were making the coffee right, but when I consulted the manual for how to clean the thing, it literally says “disassemble and wash.” And let me tell you, when I’ve got a kitchen timer to measure exactly one minute past boiling and another one to help me pour the brewed coffee out exactly four minutes later, that’s not enough info.

After even more research and my own trial and error, here’s the best way I’ve learned to clean a French press.

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Finish your coffee: Drink your coffee and let the French press cool (I have learned this the hard way — ouch!). (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How To Clean a French Press


  • Spatula
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Sponge and/or bottle brush
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Vinegar (optional)


  1. Finish your coffee: Drink your coffee and let the French press cool (I have learned this the hard way — ouch!).
  2. Empty the grounds: Dig out the grounds with your hands or a spatula (no metal spoons here — you risk breaking the glass) and dump them in the compost or garbage. Not the sink! It’s okay if a few grounds get into the sink, but too many will clog it over time.
  3. Add soap and water: For a quick, daily clean, add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the carafe with some water, then plunge the plunger up and down until it gets nice and bubbly.
  4. Rinse, scrub, and rinse again: Dump out the soapy water, rinse and plunge again, then scrub the plunger and the inside of the carafe with the soft part of your sponge or bottle brush; rinse until the water runs clean.
  5. Disassemble for a deeper clean: For a deeper, weekly clean, do the above steps and then disassemble the plunger.
  6. Clean with baking soda: Clean each piece individually with a mix of baking soda and water (add just enough water to make the baking soda slightly pasty). Use your sponge or bottle brush to scrub the pieces with the paste and rinse thoroughly.
  7. Clean with a mix of vinegar and water: If you get hard water buildup, Make a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water, then use that to scrub the interior and exterior of the carafe and disassembled components; rinse thoroughly.
  8. Reassemble: When dry, put the pieces back together so you can make coffee again.


  • While you are supposed to disassemble the French press every time you clean it, I find it tedious and unnecessary as long as you don’t let the grounds sit in there too long.)
  • You’ll know if you have hard water build-up because you’ll see a chalky white residue.