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How to Clean a Coffee Maker

by Yaya Maria |

How to Clean a Coffee Maker in 9 Easy Steps

Today you’re going to learn how to clean a coffee maker with natural ingredients you may already have at home.

But before we get started...

How to clean a coffee maker

Why clean your coffee maker?

It’s easy to neglect cleaning your coffee maker as long as the machine continues to work.

But recent research has revealed why it’s important to clean it on a regular basis.

A group of scientists realized that the coffee makers on passenger airplanes are rarely (if ever) cleaned because they are in constant us. They decided to study how clean those coffee makers really are.

They discovered that coffee makers bore up to 37 bacteria species that commonly end up in passengers’ cups.

Unfortunately, airplane coffee-makers aren’t the only dirty ones. A CBS news team replicated the study on the coffee makers in their news rooms, as well as on the coffee makers in some of their viewers’ homes.

The lab results amazed them. Some of the coffee makers in their sample hosted up to 4.6 million colonies of bacteria.

When you think about it, it makes sense. Coffee makers are inherently moist, which certainly contributes to the fast growth of bacteria. But that’s not all.

Researchers at Oregon State University found that, just like humans get energized and invigorated by caffeine, so do bacteria.

Their study revealed that adding coffee grounds to your compost bins significantly speeds up the time it takes for bacteria to turn organic matter into compost.

That explains why bacteria thrive so well inside a coffee maker – and why you should take the time to clean your coffee maker regularly.

Use natural cleaners to clean your coffee maker

While many different chemicals are able to do the job of killing the bacteria inside your coffee maker, not all of them are safe for that purpose.

Remember: anything you put inside your coffee maker will leave a residue that hang around and seeps into your next few pots of coffee.

That’s why we recommend you stick to substances that are both effective and truly safe.

First, let’s talk about the cleaners to avoid:

1. Bleach. You will find well-meaning blog posts online that advise you to clean your coffee maker with bleach, but please never try that. Bleach is the worst thing you could use for this purpose (learn more here). It can harm your eyes, lungs, and skin, and cause vomiting and diarrhea once it makes its way into your cup of coffee.

2. Conventional dish soaps. Most dish detergents include carcinogenic toxins such as SLS, synthetic colors and fragrances, dipropylene glycol, and many more harsh ingredients. (You can learn more about toxins in dish soap here). Instead, always use natural dish soap made from safe ingredients that wouldn’t harm you even if you accidentally don’t wash them off entirely.

Learn more in this video:


Check out the most natural option right here.

3. Other harsh chemicals. We’ve found well-meaning blog posts online advising people to clean their coffee makers with rubbing alcohol, denture cleaners, swimming-pool chemicals, and more. (You may wish to read a post about that). Please let us emphasize that these things are anything but safe to use to clean a coffee maker.

There are much better (safer) effective methods that you can use instead.

How to clean a coffee maker (the right way)

Vinegar has amazing cleaning properties, thanks to acetic acid, which gives it a pH value of about 2.5.

Its acidity leaves microbes little chance of survival. A study published in the journal of Environmental Health found that vinegar kills 98.6% of all microbes inside dish sponges within just 5 minutes.

That’s remarkable because dish sponges are the packed with more microbes than any other item or area in your home.

Another study discovered that vinegar kills salmonella and E. coli after just 5 minutes of exposure.

And yet another research team discovered that sanitizing a surface with vinegar (leaving it on for 30 minutes before washing it off) is so effective that it can even kill the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

Way to go, vinegar!

So how can you harness the natural cleaning power of vinegar inside your coffee maker?

Just make sure you have some all-natural white vinegar free of synthetic preservatives (like the one right here) and follow these steps:

1. Get rid of any coffee grounds (ideally, into the compost bin).

2. Disassemble your coffee maker and wash all individual parts with natural dish soap first. This will loosen any big-time dirt so that your cleaning solution will be able to finish the job.

3. Mix your cleaning solution: add a half cup of vinegar to half a cup of water.

4. Pour the cleaning solution into your coffee maker’s water chamber.

5. Start the cycle, but stop it as soon as the first drips appear inside the pot.

6. Now wait for 30 minutes to let the vinegar work its magic.

7. After the 30 minutes are up, start the cycle again.

8. Once the cycle is done, dump out the vinegar solution. 

9. Run a cycle with clean water to remove any vinegar odor.


That’s how you clean a coffee maker.

How to keep your coffee maker clean

Now that you have the cleanest, most sanitary coffee maker in the whole neighborhood, here’s how to keep it that way.

1. Make it a habit to wash your coffee maker after every usage. It’s actually not that hard to take off the individual parts to wash them, once you make a habit of it. Just make sure you always use natural dish soap to avoid harsh chemicals to cling onto the inside of your coffee maker and end up inside your cup. (Some of the ingredients in conventional dish soap are carcinogenic and leave behind a chemical film that’s hard to remove with water.)

2. Never dry the individual parts with a dish towel. Those towels are often constantly moist, meaning that they harbor bacteria that will happily spread onto any freshly-washed surfaces to colonize them. It is best to let the clean parts of your coffee maker air-dry. Leaving them to dry also frees you up to do something more fun than drying dishes.

3. Repeat the steps in this post once or twice a month. Nothing spoils a nice cup of coffee like the thought of how many microbes you’re having per cup. With just a little bit of elbow grease, you can enjoy your coffee with greater peace of mind.

Now you know how to clean a coffee maker!

To learn how to clean your coffee paraphernalia without drowning them in the chemicals contained in most dish soaps, check out this all-natural alternative.

(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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