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How to Clean a Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

by Yaya Maria |

Clean a Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

Today we’re going to talk about how you can clean a coffee-maker the natural way without using vinegar – and on the flip side, we’re also going to look at cleaning agents you should absolutely never use inside a coffee maker.

Let’s dive right in!

Clean Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

Baking soda

If you want to clean a coffee maker without vinegar, baking soda is your friend.

Here’s why.

A study testing the cleaning power of baking soda revealed how effective it is.

Researchers discovered that applying baking soda for only 5 minutes was sufficient to kill harmful bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and E. coli.

And the really nice part?

Since baking soda is edible, you never have to worry about the cleaning process leaving behind a dangerous residue inside your coffee maker.

Here’s how to clean a coffee maker using baking soda:

1. Disassemble the coffee maker.

2. Thoroughly wash each individual part with natural dish soap.

Why natural?

Check out the video:


Take a look right here.

3. Reassemble the coffee maker.

4. Mix one cup of warm water with one-quarter cup baking soda (we recommend this one) and stir well to ensure there are no clumps.

5. Pour the concoction into the coffee maker’s water chamber.

6. Start the brewing cycle, and –importantly– stop it as soon as you see first drips coming out.

7. Wait for 5 minutes, then resume the cycle.

8. When the cycle is complete, discard the mixture and run a full cycle with clean water to rinse the machine’s interior.

Done! That’s how you clean a coffee maker without vinegar, using baking soda instead.

Natural dish soap

Another way to clean a coffee maker without vinegar is to use dish soap.

But not just any kind of dish soap.

When your delicious morning brew flows through your coffee maker, you don’t want any soap residue to come along for the ride.

You need a dish soap that rinses off entirely and that doesn’t include any harsh chemicals.

And that’s not easy to find.

In fact, virtually all dish soaps are packed with toxins such as SLS, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and synthetic fragrances and colors.

None of that belongs inside your coffee.

So what can you do?

Yaya Maria’s natural dish soap is made from only 6 ingredients so simple that even your grandmother would recognize them.

It received the EWG’s highest rating for non-toxicity. It’s also certified cruelty-free, and comes with free shipping.

You can learn more about it here.

Verdict: awesome!

Things you shouldn’t use to clean a coffee maker

While (as you’ve seen) there are some very natural, safe, and effective methods available for cleaning a coffee maker, there is also a lot of very bad advice floating around online.

Below are some ingredients we suggest that you NOT use to clean your coffee maker.

Just think about what would happen if someone accidentally made coffee, not know you filled up the water tank of your coffee maker with one of these cleaners?

1. Hydrogen peroxide

This is one of the safer options for cleaning household surface areas. More than likely, the trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide that might stick around inside your coffee maker after you’ve cleaned and rinsed it probably won’t hurt you.

However, hydrogen peroxide is not meant for human consumption.

Researchers at the UK’s National Poisons Information Service published a paper on hydrogen peroxide toxicity, warning that it may cause tissue damage.

Why risk it, when safer options are available?

2. Chemical coffee-machine cleaners

Of course, you could choose to spend your hard-earned cash on cleaners specifically designed for your coffee maker (like this one).

But why?

They don’t work any better than natural methods described above (like baking soda and vinegar).

Also, ready-made coffee-machine cleaners may not be all that safe.

You can never know for sure, because the manufacturers of those cleaners don’t state their ingredients on the packaging.

This makes it impossible to know what kind of chemicals it might leave behind inside your coffee maker.

Verdict: Don’t risk it. Stick with natural ingredients you know are safe.

3. Lemon juice or citric acid

While you may stumble across posts on other blogs suggesting that you clean your coffee maker with lemon juice. The active cleaning agent in lemon juice is actually citric acid (see here).

We love and appreciate the fact that citric acid and lemon juice are safe enough to eat, meaning that they don’t pose a danger of leaving behind chemical residue.

But how well does citric acid clean?

A Croatian study revealed that citric acid was effective at killing microbes. However, a Brazilian group of researchers discovered the benefit to be very short-term. Within 48 hours, the microbial colonies returned.

Because of that fact, we don’t recommend you clean your coffee maker with citric acid.

4. Denture cleansers

If you’ve been using dental cleansers for household cleaning because you thought they were safe to use, we’ve got news for you.

One of the ingredients in those products is persulfate, a harsh inorganic chemical known to create free radicals that can be fatal in large enough doses.

Since the exact amount of persulfates inside dental cleaners isn’t clearly stated on the packaging, we don’t know how big or small of a risk it poses.

But for the sake of you health, we recommend that you not use denture-cleaning tablets in your coffee maker.

5. Alcohol

We’ve seen other bloggers recommend cleaning your coffee maker with alcohol. We’ve got nothing against mixing coffee hour with happy hour. But cleaning your coffee maker with rubbing alcohol is a different story.

Here’s why.

Most rubbing alcohol is made from isopropyl alcohol, which is highly harmful.

The National Research Council’s Committee on Toxicology stated that isopropyl alcohol is poisonous if ingested.

Inhaling isopropyl alcohol fumes can lead to nausea, vomiting, weakness, and abdominal pain.

Exposure to isopropyl alcohol for just 3-5 minutes is harmful enough to cause eyes, nose, and throat irritation.

Verdict: isopropyl alcohol is not what you should be using to clean your coffee maker.

6. Calcium, Lime, & Rust Remover (CLR)

While CLR works great for removing stains on hard-wearing kitchen and bathroom surfaces, you should never use it to clean the inside of your coffee maker.

Why? Because of the danger of it leaving behind a residue that would get in your coffee.

CLR’s manufacturer clearly states on the product’s spec sheet that CLR shouldn’t be ingested, and that the cleaner is harmful to your lungs when inhaled and can irritate your eyes.

CLR furthermore contains an ingredient called FD&C Yellow 5. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), FD&C Yellow 5 may cause cancer, affect the health of your organs, poison aquatic life, and cause developmental, endocrine, and reproductive health issues.

If you feel that you need to use CLR to clean your kitchen and bathroom surfaces, be very careful with it. But definitely don’t use it inside your coffee maker.

7. Muriatic (hydrochloric) acid

Muriatic acid, also called hydrochloric acid, is a chemical often used to regulate the pH of water in swimming pools.

Unfortunately, we have seen some bloggers recommend using muriatic acid to clean a coffee maker. So here’s a piece of advice.

Muriatic (hydrochloric) acid is strongly acidic – in fact, it is one of the strongest acids there is. That means it is highly corrosive and if it gets inside your gastrointestinal tract, it will cause serious damage.

Researchers at a hospital in Barcelona, Spain reported that 48% of the people who came to the emergency room after accidentally swallowing muriatic (hydrochloric) acid died as a result.

Even if you might be using a low concentration and flush your coffee maker with water afterward, why mess around with such a dangerous chemical when much safer options are available?

The verdict: don’t ever use muriatic/hydrochloric acid inside your coffee maker.

8. Borax

Many green cleaning recipes include borax – but we don’t recommend using it in your coffee maker.

Borax is a short-term irritant and comes with a whole list of dangerous effects: it can irritate your skin, eyes, lungs, and cause havoc if ingested.

Borax can also disrupt your hormones and harm the reproductive system.

You certainly don’t want trace amounts of it ending up in your cup of joe.

Verdict: don’t use it.

9. Bleach

We thought we’d save the worst for last.

Bleach is very, very power stuff that kills all kinds of microbes, but at a steep price to your health.

A recent Harvard study revealed that cleaning with bleach just once a week increases the danger of contracting a lung disease by 32%.

It’s also super dangerous for your eyes. If you are cleaning your coffee maker with bleach, and as little as a drop splashes into your eyes, you’re looking at weeks of treatment with antibiotic eye drops and follow-up visits to the doctor.

And then there’s the chemical residue it leaves behind.

Once bleach gets inside the human body, it’s highly toxic and may trigger vomiting and diarrhea.

Clearly not a suitable alternative to vinegar.

Verdict: keep bleach away from your coffee maker.

Should you use vinegar for cleaning a coffee maker?

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that really works.

Researchers from London found that vinegar is effective at killing bacteria that are often found in kitchens such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans.

A different study discovered that if an item is soaked in a solution of one part water and one part vinegar, after 30 minutes, all microbes are dead.

But even though vinegar is a great option for cleaning a coffee maker, it has a strong odor that could linger for a while.

And you don’t want anything coming between you and the flavor of those coffee beans.

So if you were wondering how to clean a coffee maker without vinegar, now you know: baking soda and all-natural dish soap are the way to go.

Importance of cleaning your coffee maker

You already know that your coffee maker needs cleaning; that’s why you’re here.

And it’s so smart of you to do.

A CBS news team sent their coffee makers to a lab, and learned that they contained up to 4.6 million colonies of bacteria and mold.

Those microbes weren’t killed by the heat of the coffee-making process. Instead, some of them end up in the coffee itself.

Luckily, the above list of natural cleaners can help you keep bacteria out of your coffee without endangering your health with risky chemicals.

How to prevent mineral buildup in a coffee maker

Microbes aren’t the only reason why your coffee maker might need cleaning; mineral buildup can also get in the way.

So before we let you go, here’s some advice for keeping your coffee maker sanitary and sparkling clean.

1. Once a day, wash all of the easily-removable parts with toxin-free natural dish soap to remove any leftover grime before it has a chance to dry and harden.

2. After you’ve washed the parts, don’t use a towel to dry them. Let them air dry instead. Towels harbor microbes that could get rubbed onto the coffee maker parts and make a home there, which is counterproductive to your task of cleaning. Air drying, on the other hand, prevents microbial growth.

Keep this post handy. Avoid the risky cleaners we’ve warned against, choose one of the natural cleaners that we recommend, and use it to clean your coffee maker regularly.

No reason for letting bacteria and grime to thrive inside your coffee makers. Now you know how to claim back that territory, with or without vinegar!

(When you make a purchase from links in this post we might receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)


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