One of the major aspects that determine the quality of coffee you get is the state of the equipment that it’s brewed in. Clean coffee makers tend to bring out better tasting, and smelling coffee than those which aren’t cleaned frequently.
This makes regular cleaning of the machines very important, and also knowing the correct methods of cleaning. Different coffee makers operate differently, because they are built differently.
Cleaning your coffee maker is very important. In fact, it’s one of the most important things you will ever learn about making coffee at home. But many people don’t realize they are supposed to clean their coffee machines.
When you use your coffee maker, buildup will happen over time. This buildup in the machine can make your coffee taste bitter and in some extreme cases, you may even start to have mold growing inside the parts of the machine.
So, what can you do about it? The simplest and easiest solution is to clean your coffee maker regularly. You can work this into part of your routine and always keep your machine working like brand new. Let’s explore.
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Signs Your Coffee Maker Needs Cleaning
While it’s always a good idea to get ahead of the problem and keep your coffee maker clean, many people simply don’t realize this. If you’re just now learning you need to clean your machine, there are some signs that will let you know you have a dirty coffee maker.
- Your coffee tastes more bitter
- There’s mineral buildup on the machine
- There’s oily sludge on the machine
- Buildup forms on the coffee pot or carafe
- The brewing process is gummed up
- Debris falls into your coffee from the machine
All of that sounds pretty gross itself, but the real problem lies in the germs and bacteria you cannot see with the naked eye.
Even if you already know you’re supposed to clean your coffee maker, it’s easy to get caught up with life, get busy, or just forget to do it. If you start seeing any of these signs above, you’re past due on needing a cleaning.
What’s Lurking in Your Coffee Maker
You might be surprised to know about the hidden germs and bacteria hiding in your coffee maker. An independent public health organization, NSF International, performed a study that found coffee machines to be the fifth germiest place in the average home. Half of the reservoirs they tested were found to have mold and yeast, both of which causes allergic reaction and infection.
In short, if you don’t clean your coffee maker, it can make you sick.
The good news is, it’s very easy to clean your coffee machine. You just need to learn how. And it won’t take a lot of time, effort, or special items. You just need to know the right way to do it and then make it part of your routine.
How to Clean Your Drip-Style Coffee Maker
A classic drip-style coffee maker can be easily cleaned with some simple items you likely have in your pantry already. If you use your coffee maker every day or nearly every day, you should plan to clean it at least once a month.
If you don’t use it that often, you can go to every six weeks or so, if you want. If you only make coffee at home very occasionally, then you may need to clean it only every three to six months. However, if you’re seeing the buildup or the signs that we mentioned above, go ahead and clean it.
All you need for cleaning your coffee machine is:
- White distilled vinegar
- Coffee filters
- Cleaning cloth
Gather your materials and we will walk you through the process.
First, make sure any old coffee or filter with used grounds has been removed from the coffee machine and the carafe. You’re then going to make a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water and pour this into the reservoir.
If there’s an excessive amount of build up in your machine, you can increase the amount of vinegar in your mixture, but you may need an extra water rinse to ensure you get it all out after you’re done. The vinegar helps to dissolve the mineral deposits and build up in the machine, and it’s also a great way to sanitize the machine and the carafe.
Place a filter in the coffee maker but no coffee grounds. After you’ve added your mixture, turn the machine on and brew like you would if you were making coffee. After halfway through the brewing process, stop the machine and allow it to soak.
There’s no magical time to let it soak but 30-60 minutes will usually do the trick. Once this time has passed, turn it back on and let it finish the brew. Once it has completed the cycle, toss the filter if you used one, and then pour out the vinegar solution.
Next you are going to flush the vinegar scent from your coffee maker, so you don’t get the taste in your next pot of coffee. Fill the reservoir with water and a fresh filter, turn the coffee maker on, and allow the machine to go through a full brewing cycle with just the water in it. Now you’re done!
At the end, you can wipe down the whole machine with a cleaning cloth on the exterior and other parts.
How to Clean Your Keurig Coffee Maker
If you have a Keurig or single-cup style coffee maker, it’s equally important to clean it. However, the way you clean it will be a little different. While you can use the very same materials, there’s a bit of a different process to it. Let’s take a look.
Again, you’re going to need:
- White distilled vinegar
- A cleaning cloth
You can also benefit from using:
- Liquid dish detergent
- A toothbrush
- A towel (that won’t matter if it gets stained)
- All-purpose cleaner
- An empty mug
Once you have your materials ready, you can begin by wiping down the exterior of the single-cup coffee maker. Check the reservoir, the drip tray and the cover for it, as well as the holder and funnel. Some of these parts can be washed in the dishwasher if you wanted to do that regularly to make it easier.
You can also just soak them in a sink filled with hot water and dish detergent and then wipe them down and towel dry.
Cleaning the interior of your single-cup coffee maker is similar to cleaning your drip-style coffee machine. While the other parts are soaking or going through the dishwasher cycle, you can use a toothbrush to remove any stuck coffee grounds or build up from the holder.
From there, you can run a vinegar solution through your single-cup coffee maker the same as you would in the traditional style coffee machine. Create a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water and then fill the reservoir to the max line, place your coffee cup below, and turn on the machine to run a cycle.
Then, dump out the liquid and do another cycle, which will be your rinse cycle. Use plain water instead of the vinegar solution. If it still feels like there is vinegar in the machine, you will need to run a plain rinse cycle a couple of times.
That’s all there is to it! No matter which style of coffee maker you have, it’s easy to keep it properly cleaned once you learn how.
How to Clean Your French Press Coffee Machines
The first step is removing all of the parts, and placing them separately. You should then soak the different parts in soapy or salty water, depending on the type of machine you have.
Glass machines do well in soapy water, while plastic ones clean well in baking soda water. Leave them in the water for about 15 minutes, then gently scrub them, using a washcloth.
Rinse thoroughly until no soap or baking soda residue is left. Allow the parts to air dry before putting them back together. Ensure that each part dries off completely.
How to Clean Your Espresso Coffee Makers
Start by removing the handle, and rinse it properly with warm water. Pour in your cleaning detergent and replace the handle, as if you’re ready to brew.
Brew for a few seconds, then turn it off for a short period. Continue alternating the on/off procedure for a few minutes, then remove the handle again.
Turn the machine, without the handle, in order to clean properly. Rinse with clean water and use the machine brush to scrub around the groove.
Cleaning Coffee Equipment With A Dishwasher
Cleaning a coffee maker with a dishwasher is another convenient way of keeping your machines clean, but it isn’t always recommended.
To use this option, place your coffee machine on the upper rack of the washer. It’s also important to read the manual of the coffee machine, and follow the recommended mode of cleaning.
Cleaning a coffee maker should be done weekly. Remember to clean with a mixture of vinegar and water, or baking soda and clean water.
Using soap only isn’t recommended, since it could lead to a mixture of soap and leftover oil. This can, in turn, lead to a different taste when the machine is used to make coffee.
Vinegar is recommended for the first cleaning after a long time, since it’s stronger. Baking soda, on the other hand, is mild enough to clean properly, without leaving any unwanted taste. Always clean the filters in baking soda, while scrubbing gently.