How To Clean Any Coffee Maker

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When you’re sleepy and under-caffeinated, the last thing you probably care about is how clean your device happens to be. (At the very least, it’s not the single most important thing you’re thinking about.) You just want coffee — or tea! — and you want it five minutes ago! You’d drink out of a shoe if you had to.

Once you’re caffeinated and feeling better, that’s the time to clean your coffee maker. Do it while you’re perky and then the machine will be ready and waiting for you the next time you need a pick-me-up.

Here’s how to clean any sort of device. Hint: The key is mostly just lots of distilled white vinegar.

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It’s time to clean the coffee maker! (Image credit: Gina Eykemans)

1. A Drip Coffee Maker

If the coffee you brew starts to taste bitter and funky, it’s time to give your coffee machine a little extra love. A simple cleaning will help maintain freshness, remove hard water spots from the carafe, and prevent staining. It will also clean out the coffee oils that get left behind and turn rancid.

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Unplug the machine: It’s a simple but important step. (Image credit: Erika Tracy)

2. A Keurig

Single-serve machines getting a lot of daily use can develop clogs that can cause the system to quit completely. Here’s a quick cleaning routine to keep your machine running well.

Get the instructions:
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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)

3. A French Press

When cleaning a French press, the biggest thing you need to worry about is the grounds. Those things have to go in the trash can — not down your sink’s drain, as they can clog the pipes. Here’s how to clean them out, plus some things you can do on a daily basis — and once in a while — to keep the gadget in tip-top shape.

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Mix the solution: Combine equal parts vinegar and water in a measuring cup. (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

4. An Electric Kettle

Even though your kettle only ever has water in it, you’ll still have to clean it once in a while because mineral deposits (from the water) can build up. Do this once a month or so, depending on how often you use your kettle.

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Dump the grounds: Allow your moka pot to cool completely, then open it up to dump the used grounds out of the basket. (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

5. A Moka Pot

Cleaning a moka pot is both easier and harder than you’d think. Easier, because it requires very few tools; harder, because it’s all about diligently doing the maintenance. A few rules of thumb: Never use soap and definitely do not put it in the dishwasher.

See the steps: How To Clean a Moka Pot

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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)

6. A Chemex

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. Here’s how to do it.

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Empty your coffee maker: Make sure the carafe is empty and clean, and that the grounds have been cleaned out of the chamber. (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Bonus: Descaling a Coffee Maker

If you’ve heard of having to descale a coffee maker and always wondered what it was, we can explain. In a nutshell: Your water leaves mineral deposits behind and descaling the machine just flushes those minerals away. The process is included in our instructions for cleaning a drip coffee maker, but we have a separate post just on descaling if you want to read more about that.