With all the time we’ve been spending at home this year, it’s no surprise that our coffee pots have been working overtime. But when was the last time you thoroughly de-funked that oft-used appliance? Or just brushed up on how to clean a coffee maker? Or how often you should?
Even if your coffee pot seems to be pretty spotless, there could be some icky things hanging around. For example, a study from 2011 ranked these kitchen staples among the 10 most common places sneaky germs like to hide. The researchers swabbed coffee machines found in 22 volunteer family homes and exactly half of them had yeast and mold in the water reservoir. Not exactly what you want to sip up with your daily cup of joe.
Being consistent with upkeep will not only help you avoid germ-spiked java, but produce a much tastier brew by getting rid of mineral build-up from the water. (Psst: Alton Brown’s simple trick for fixing bitter coffee can help in-between cleanings, too).
So, how often should you clean a coffee maker? Most manufacturers recommend giving them a good scrub at least once a month. The frequency and best cleaning method might vary based on the specific type of machine you own, so be sure to check the manual that came with yours.
If you own a Keurig, you can click here for our breakdown of the best ways to get those clean. For those with regular drip coffee makers, keep scrolling for some easy methods to make them sparkle!
How to Clean a Coffee Maker With Vinegar
This is the most popular method you’ll find for cleaning a coffee maker. Most people use white vinegar to get the job done, but apple cider vinegar can work well, too. You just need to fill the reservoir with a one-to-one mixture of vinegar and water, then hit brew.
The cleaning experts at Bob Vila recommend stopping the brewing process halfway through to let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes. “This wait time will give the vinegar a chance to do its job, which is cleaning and disinfecting the insides of the appliance,” they explain. After that, let it finish the brewing process and then cool down before pouring out. You can then either do a few more cycles of brewing the vinegar-water mixture if you want to make sure you’re really getting it good and clean.
Of course, no one wants their coffee to taste like vinegar, either. Don’t worry, a few brews with just plain water (no grounds) will fix that. Once it’s rinsed out, you can wipe the pot down — inside and out – with regular dish soap, water, and sponge. Go ahead and wipe down the outside of the appliance, too. Then you’re done! Not too bad, right?
How to Clean a Coffee Maker Without Vinegar
If you’re worried about even the slightest chance of lingering vinegar messing with the flavor of your coffee, you can use that exact same process with lemon juice instead. The same one-to-one ratio with water (you’ll need quite a few lemons), same brew cycle, the whole shebang. The acid in the juice will work just as well at de-gunking the appliance without any risk of an off-putting after taste. Rinsing plenty of times should get rid of any leftover lemony-ness, but if some does manage to stick around, it will probably be a more palatable than vinegar.
For stubborn coffee buildup on pot, Leslie Reichert, author of The Joy of Green Cleaning (Buy on Amazon, $14.95), recommends making a paste with a little bit of water and baking soda. Just give it a good scrub and be sure to thoroughly rinse (or put the pot through through the dishwasher) to get rid of all the baking soda before brewing.
Whichever method you choose, the hardest part will be remembering to do it on a monthly basis. Maybe set up a calendar alert if you’re the forgetful type. Trust us, you’ll be glad while enjoying delicious (and germ-free) coffee!
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