The Best Way to Clean a Coffee Maker
You clean out your coffee pot every day, after you savor each drop of your cup of joe, and yet the bottom of your carafe still has some residual grime. What gives? Leslie Reichert, a green cleaning coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning ($14.95, amazon.com), says it's hard to prevent buildup on your coffee maker; the brown ring you see on the glass is essentially a combination of the minerals in the water and lime deposits. "You want to clean it to keep the buildup to a minimum and minerals out of your coffee, but mainly, to keep the taste of your coffee consistent," she adds.
The pot, however, isn't the only part of your coffee maker that you should clean consistently—you need to keep the inner workings of the machine debris- and germ-free, too. Below, discover expert-approved advice for cleaning a standard coffee maker and pot using chemical-free products—follow them to clean your machine and better your coffee experience. Before you get started, make sure you have lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar on hand. "Never use a cleaning product to clean a coffee maker or the coffee pot," warns Reichert. "I would only use food-grade items—you don't want toxic chemicals in your coffee."
Clean the inner workings of the coffee machine
This process takes about the time it would take to make two pots of coffee. In your coffee pot, mix one cup of distilled white vinegar and one tablespoon of lemon juice, and then fill the rest of the pot with water. Place the mixture into the water reserve of your coffee maker, and turn the coffee maker on to run it through the machine. Once the brew cycle is complete, dump out the mixture before filling the pot with clean, cold water and running it again. "This is the rinse cycle to remove the residue and any leftover vinegar or lemon juice," says Reichert. (Watch our tutorial to see this process in real time.) Depending on your coffee maker's make, it might have a light that pops on when it is time for an internal wash, but Reichert recommends a cadence of once per month.
Wash the pot
Once the internal parts of her coffee maker is clean, Reichert always does a complete wash of her pot, too. Use baking soda and a little water to make a scrub and then scour the coffee buildup off the glass. Rinse with warm water and make sure all the baking soda is removed. You can also place it in the dishwasher after scrubbing to get it completely rinsed and clean. If the inside of the glass carafe still has dark stains you can't seem to remove, grab a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ($3.69, target.com). "It's made of melamine foam, a micro-abrasive that scrapes away stains without the need for any chemicals, leaving zero residue behind," says Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer at MaidPro. "And it won't scratch the glass!" Dampen one and rub the dark mark vigorously until it disappears. Then wash and rinse the coffee pot as you normally would, and get brewing.