How to Clean a Coffee Maker For Better Tasting Brews (A Complete Guide)


Bryan Huynh

on December 02, 2023

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Those daily coffee runs can take a toll on your bank account. If a cup of coffee is necessary for you to make it through the day, it should be the best quality coffee possible! It might be a good idea to invest in a nice coffee maker for your household. Not only will you save time and a few bucks, you won’t have to leave your own house for a cup of coffee. Now if you know you are going to be using the coffee maker daily, coffee build up can occur resulting in yeast and mold in hidden places or the water reservoir.

If your coffee is starting to taste a bit funky, that is your sign to clean your coffee maker inside and out. A deep cleaning of this appliance is often underlooked. To avoid this, make it a routine to clean your coffee maker after 3 to 6 months or whenever you remember. You deserve a tasty cup of joe and your coffee machine deserves to last a long time. Continue reading below for a full guide on how to clean a coffee maker. Check out our Coffee Clubs page to compare and read more reviews of our favorite coffee clubs.

Why is it Important to Clean a Coffee Maker? 

It is quite necessary to clean your coffee maker, especially if you use it on a regular basis. Not only for the longevity of your equipment but also for maintaining the freshness of your daily brew. Coffee build-up can make your coffee taste sour, bitter, and acidic, and yeast and mold can hide in the reservoir.

Makes Your Coffee Taste Better

A clean coffee maker can produce rich and full coffee. If the machine has buildup, it can easily cause your coffee to be weak and bitter. 

Prevents Your Hot Plate from Burning

Wipe off your hot plate after using it if you see coffee has spilled. Spills on the plate can cause it to burn, ultimately deteriorating the paint finish and causing the coating to peel and the plate to corrode.

Shorter Brew Times

Hard water can cause calcium to deposit in the heater pipes. This buildup insulates them causing an increase in brew times. Eliminate buildup by thoroughly cleaning your coffee maker at least once a month.

Rid of All Germs

Germs such as yeast and mold can grow in a warm, moist environment. Be sure to discard the wet coffee grounds after each brew and keep the lid open after cleaning to allow the inside to dry out.

Increases the Life of Your Coffee Maker

The accumulation of buildup might weaken the system over time. Routine cleanings will remove buildup and ensure that your coffee maker functions efficiently longer.

Eliminates Build Up

Calcium and other mineral deposits in your coffee maker might block water flow and cause a reduction in brewing temps. Ultimately, this dilutes the coffee flavors and lengthens the brewing time.

How Does The Cleanliness Of a Coffee Maker Affect Taste?

Brewed coffee leaves residual coffee oils in your coffee maker, which can go sour causing your next brew to taste terrible. By washing the coffee maker, you are removing those coffee oils that cause it to taste that way. However, be sure to completely clean out the disinfecting solution you use before your next brew because the aromas could still be lingering. 

How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

  1. Add up to 4 cups of undiluted vinegar to the water reservoir.
  2. Allow it to stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Press the brew button on your coffee maker to run the vinegar through.
  4. Repeat these steps with fresh water two to three times or until the vinegar smell is gone.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Baking Soda

To clean your coffee maker with baking soda, you will need a cup of warm water and 4-6 tablespoons of baking soda.

  1. Measure out a cup of warm water and add the necessary amount of baking soda.
  2. Stir the baking soda into the water until it is fully dissolved, without any lumps.
  3. Pour this mixture into the tank of your automatic coffee maker.
  4. Turn on your coffee machine, and start a brewing cycle as you normally would.
  5. Running the cycle will allow the solution to flow through all the parts of the coffee maker, cleaning residue, gunk, and lingering odors.
  6. Allow the solution to drain into the carafe, coffee pot, or any other vessel.
  7. Empty the vessel and rinse it clean.
  8. Fill the tank with plain clean water and run another cycle to flush out the baking soda solution. This step may have to be repeated until the coffee maker dispenses plain water.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker without Vinegar

There are few different ways to clean without vinegar. Alternatively, you can use lemon juice, liquid dish soap, ice and saltwater, or hydrogen peroxide.

Lemon juice is a great option because it is acidic and has the similar properties as white vinegar. Some people prefer to clean with lemon juice rather than vinegar because it has a pleasant aroma and is also affordable. 

  1. As if you were cleaning with vinegar, pour the lemon juice into the coffee maker.
  2. To remove the lemon juice, run clean water through the device several times.

Dish soap is another affordable option that you should have in the house already!

  1. Take apart all housing and functioning components.
  2. Hand-wash these components with liquid dish soap and water.
  3. Before reassembling the coffee maker, properly rinse them.
  4. After reassembling the coffee maker, run new water through the machine to remove all the soap.

Combining ice and saltwater is prefect for descaling the buildup in the carafe and in other removable components. To do so:

  1. In the carafe, mix crushed ice and table salt.
  2. Rub the ice and salt against the inside of the carafe with a cloth or a big spoon.
  3. Rinse and wash the carafe and other pieces in the dishwasher.

Hydrogen peroxide's disinfectant qualities can also be applied to great effect.

  1. Combine two cups of water with one cup of hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Run the mixture through your coffee maker’s brewing cycle.
  3. After this cycle has finished, flush the equipment by brewing fresh water a few times.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker Hot Plate

Most drip coffee machines will include a hot plate that keeps the coffee heated after the brew has completed. To clean this plate, wait until this plate has fully cooled down and simply wipe away any spilt coffee. Scrub the plate with a moist sponge and some baking soda to remove those burnt coffee stains.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Citric Acid

Citric acid, which contains no added chemicals, is a natural, simple solution for descaling your coffee machine. You will need 1-2 tablespoons of powdered citric acid, 1 quart of tap water or filtered water, 1 pitcher or another large container, and a utensil to mix the water and citric acid

  1. Empty and rinse the coffee pot. The carafe collects the liquid after it passes through the coffee grounds during brewing, combining hot water and coffee grounds to create your cup of coffee causing build-up to happen.
  2. Throw out remaining coffee grounds.
  3. Fill the water reservoir with citric acid diluted with water. 
  4. Start a half brew cycle. If you do not have this mode on your products, you can run a regular brew cycle and stop it halfway through. 
  5. Begin a half-brew cycle. If your coffee maker does not have this option, you can start a full brew cycle and pause it halfway through.
  6. Refill the reservoir with clean water and begin a full brew cycle. If the scent of citric acid persists, repeat this step a few times until it is no longer present.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker with CLR (Calcium, Lime and Rust)

Cleaning a Coffee Maker with CLR

If you are trying to clean a 8-12 cup coffee machine with CLR, follow these steps: 

  1. Mix one cup of CLR to eight cups of water.
  2. As if preparing coffee, run through the coffee maker. 
  3. Once the mixture has been entirely processed by the maker, discard the solution, then fill the entire pot with clear, cold water and repeat the cycle twice. 

How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker 

How to Clean Your Keurig Brewer

Cleansing Rinse 

  1. Turn the brewer off and unplug it from the outlet.  
  2. Fill the water reservoir with the whole bottle of Keurig Descaling Solution. Then fill the empty bottle halfway with water and pour it into the reservoir.
  3. Turn the brewer back on.  
  4. Start a rinse brew: Lift and lower the brewer handle, then pick the maximum brew size. Activate the BREW function. Pour the contents of the cup into the sink.

Internal Tank Soak  

  1. Rinse the brew procedure again till the add water light glows. Allow the brewer to sit for 30 minutes while still turned on.
  2. After 30 minutes, remove any remaining solution and thoroughly clean the water reservoir.

Fresh Water Rinse 

  1. Fill the reservoir to the top with fresh water.
  2. Set the mug on the drip tray and make a rinse brew with the maximum brew capacity. Use a K-Cup pod instead. Fill the sink with the contents of the cup.
  3. Run at least 12 rinse brews using the maximum brew size. The water reservoir may need to be refilled.

How to Clean a Cuisinart Coffee Maker 

Cuisinart | How to clean your Cuisinart Coffeemaker!

You will need to gather a bowl, sponge, vinegar, and water. 

  1. To begin, take out the charcoal filter. The water filter, like your reservoir, becomes clogged with crud and mineral deposits.
  2. Mix together ⅓  parts white vinegar and ⅔ parts water to fill the entire water reservoir.
  3. Find the self-clean button and press it. The button should light up. Then, press the “On” button to begin the cleaning process. You will know that the cleaning cycle is over because you will five beeps, signaling that it is done.
  4. After the cleaning cycle finishes, fill the machine's water reservoir with cold water and run the cycle again with cold water to remove the vinegar and water solution. You should also clean off all of the components of the Cuisinart coffee maker to avoid getting some vinegar flavoring in your next batch of coffee.

How to Clean a Bunn Coffee Maker 

To deep clean a Bunn coffee maker, you will need a bunn spray head cleaning tool, a soft rag or cloth, mild detergent, distilled water, and some vinegar

  1. Before you begin cleaning the equipment, be sure it is turned off to avoid accidently turning it on during the cleaning process.
  2. Make a solution of light detergent or soap and warm water. This solution will be used to clean the machine's exterior.
  3. Soak a towel in the detergent solution and thoroughly clean the machine's exterior. Pay close attention to the region around the spray head to ensure you don't overlook any places.
  4. To remove the detergent, rinse the towel and wipe clean the machine one more time. It is imperative not to leave the detergent on the surface for too long. Even mild detergents can cause harm if they are left in touch with vulnerable surfaces for too long.
  5. Remove the machine's spray head. Remove any built-up coffee residue from the spray head holes with the spray head cleaning tool or another pointed instrument. Depending on the last time you cleaned the spray head, this process may take some time. Before moving on to the following step, take your time and make sure the spray head isn't clogged.
  6. While the spray head is still detached, use the long end of the spray head cleaning tool—or another similar tool—to clean inside the spray head housing. This is a common trouble area prone to mineral deposits and residue, so don't be surprised if there is a lot of buildup to remove.
  7. Reattach the spray head to the machine and enjoy your newly cleaned Bunn coffee maker.

How to Clean a Ninja Coffee Maker

  1. Pour the diluted descaling solution into the water reservoir. If you are using vinegar, fill it up until you hit the “16-ounce Travel Mug” line and then add water until the “Max Fill'' line.
  2. Put the empty carafe under the filter basket and press the “Full Carafe” brewing size.
  3. Press the “Clean” button clock and let the machine do its work. This can take up to around one hour. 
  4. Fill the water reservoir with water and replace the carafe. Then select the “Full Carafe Classic Brew” option.

How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker with Vinegar

  1. Begin by dumping any remaining water out of the reservoir.
  2. Wash and clean any detachable coffee maker components in the sink using warm water and soap. Some Keurig models even have dishwasher-safe parts.
  3. Use a tiny cleaning brush soaked in vinegar to clean around the base of the machine and where the pod/cup goes.
  4. To clean those reusable filters, soak it in a bowl of vinegar, and then use a small brush to loosen any granules and clean the fine mesh.
  5. Cleaning the inside of the coffee maker is as important as cleaning the exterior components. Reassemble your clean, dry reservoir, and fill it with 4 four cups of white vinegar and 2 cups of water.
  6. Run the machine a few times with no filter in place, essentially brewing cup after cup of hot vinegar. After a few cups have cycled, let the machine sit with the vinegar solution in it for a few hours, and then complete the rest of the cycles so that all of the solution has run its course through the machine. 
  7. Remove and clean the reservoir one more time, and this time fill it with water.
  8. Run several more cups of plain water through the reservoir to clean out any lingering vinegar.

How to Clean a Black and Decker Coffee Maker 

Black+Decker - How to Clean Your Coffeemaker - CM2036

Minerals and hard water can clog your coffee maker over time. Once a month, a thorough cleaning with vinegar is advised. After 60 brew cycles, the display will flash a "CL" symbol and flicker for 10 seconds to alert you that it is time for a thorough cleaning. 

  1. Fill the water reservoir with white vinegar until it reaches the 5-cup mark and 12-cup with cold water.
  2. Close the lid and insert a paper filter into the brew basket. Place the empty carafe on top of the carafe plate.
  3. To activate the Auto Clean function, press and hold the "Auto" button for 5 seconds. This will take 45-60 minutes.
  4. During the Auto Clean process, the coffee maker will:
  5. Once the process is complete, empty the carafe and discard the paper filter.
  6. Fill the reservoir with cold water to the 12-cup line: Put the empty carafe on the carafe plate and turn on the coffeemaker for a full brewing cycle to flush out the residual vinegar/water combination. This process might have to be repeated to entirely eliminate the vinegar odor and taste.
  7. Clean out the brew basket and carafe.

How to Clean a Mr. Coffee Coffee Maker 

  1. Put 4 cups white vinegar into the water reservoir
  2. Put in a filter
  3. Press select until goes to clean
  4. Process will take about an hour
  5. When done, throw out filter and vinegar
  6. Do one cycle with clean water to rinse

How to Clean a Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker

  1. Pour ½ cup plain white vinegar and ½ cup cold water into the water reservoir of a Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker to clean it.
  2. Select the “On” or “Brew” option. Press “Off” after 30 seconds to halt the brewing operation. Allow 30 minutes.
  3. Press ON again and finish the brewing process using the vinegar and water combination. When completed, press the “Off” button.
  4. Run 2-3 additional clean water-only brew cycles, allowing the equipment to cool between rounds.

How Often to Clean a Coffee Pot

It is recommended that you do a soft cleaning for your coffee maker after each use. To do so, take out the coffee grounds and clean the brew basket, lid, and carafe. However, it is recommended that you do a hard, thorough cleaning every three to six months to remove mineral deposit buildup. 

Hard water has an overabundance of calcium and magnesium, whereas soft water does not include these harsh elements that might harm your property and health. If you use hard water, or if you fill the water reservoir of your coffee maker from an unclean carafe, in your coffee machine, it can contribute to the buildup of debris and residue much faster. If hard water is all that you have access to, it is recommended that you do a monthly cleaning.

Nowadays, some coffee machines offer a feature that will audibly or visibility indicate that it is time for a cleaning. Sometimes, downtime is required after this. By being attentive with the machines upkeeping, you may avoid downtime. Other coffee makers use a cleaning cycle, which is normally described in the instructions. Make sure you clean according to the manufacturer's instruction pamphlet. If you seem to have misplaced or threw away this pamphlet, some machines have it posted online! 

Tips to Keep Your Coffee Maker Clean for a Longer Time

To maintain a clean coffee maker, be sure to use demineralized water if you can. If you use the carafe to fill the water reservoir, be sure to wash it with hot, soapy water following each use. And finally, never leave wet, used grounds in the coffee maker.

If you're an avid coffee drinker, a coffee maker is one of the most essential pieces of equipment in your kitchen. It works hard everyday to ensure that it is making the best tasting coffee for you. Don’t you want to return the favor? It is an appliance that is often neglected when it comes to cleaning. A deep cleaning can not only make your coffee taste better, clean coffee makers that are maintained can last longer than its estimated lifespan. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ratio of vinegar to water to clean a coffee maker?

Fill the coffee maker's water reservoir halfway with water and halfway with white vinegar. Vinegar is an excellent natural cleaner for a coffee machine.

How much white vinegar do I use to clean my Mr. Coffee coffee maker?

To clean your Mr. Coffee coffee maker, start by adding several cups of white vinegar into the water reservoir and proceed as if you were making a regular pot of coffee. Then, once the brewing process is through, leave the cleaner or vinegar in the carafe to continue cleaning.

How do I clean my Cuisinart 12 cup coffee maker?

Fill the water reservoir to capacity with a mixture of ⅓  white vinegar and ⅔  water. Select the Clean option. Turn on the coffeemaker by pushing the Brew/Off button when the Clean LED indicator lights. The Clean LED will glow continuously.

Can I put vinegar and baking soda in my coffee maker?

The answer is yes! Vinegar and baking soda are both great cleaning products 

How many cups of vinegar does it take to make a machine fresh and clean?

Add up to 4 cups of  vinegar to the reservoir of your coffee maker to deep clean it. Allow to stand for 30 minutes. Brew the vinegar for a few minutes. Repeat two to three times with clean water until the vinegar odor is gone.

Will my coffee taste like vinegar after cleaning?

Even though you clean your coffee maker, the vinegar aroma may remain. To get rid of that odor, use the machine to brew normal water rather than the vinegar. However, if you are bothered by the strong odor of white vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar as an alternative.

Which vinegar is best for descaling?

The two most common descaling solutions for removing limescale from your coffee maker are white vinegar and commercial descalers.

How often should you clean your coffee maker?

Depending on how frequently you put your coffee maker to use, you should clean it every three to six months. Coffee residue and yeast or mold accumulation can cause serious harm on your machine, diminishing the quality of your brew and potentially breaking down completely.

About the Author


Bryan Huynh

Product Tester & Writer

Bryan Huynh is a determined Product Tester & Writer. Being a coffee addict, it is only right that he mainly tests and reviews different coffee from around the world and coffee subscription services.

Bryan Huynh is a determined Product Tester & Writer. Being a coffee addict, it is only right that he mainly tests and reviews different coffee from around the world and coffee subscription services.