Updated December 13th, 2018 – Those of us that like a nice cup of coffee in the morning, another at mid-morning, a thermos at lunch, and a pre-commute pick-me-up in the afternoon (OK, you get the picture), will soon end up with a coffee pot the same color as a coal miner’s work clothes. While this hue does impart a certain aura of experience, it can also harbor germs and bacteria that will not flinch at the sub-boiling temperatures your coffee machine will produce.
How do I clean a coffee maker?
If you live in an area that has particularly hard water with a lot of dissolved calcium carbonate, there will inevitably be build-up. Such deposits can lead to a coffee that tastes a little acrid. Residents of hot and humid states might also notice mildew growth in the reservoir.
It is advisable to clean your coffee maker at least once a month in its entirety. This can be done in a number of different ways. If you can, wash removable components in the dishwasher once a week. Do not leave coffee grounds in the machine. Instead, remove the grounds once you’ve finished with them, and leave the lid open so the machine can air out.
One of the most common ways to clean a coffee maker is to use vinegar. If you choose to go this particular route, be sure to use a full-strength white vinegar and not some namby-pamby white wine version. Fill the water chamber with neat vinegar and turn the machine on.
You could put in some coffee and make a hilarious joke out of it, but I tried this once with my wife and the results were not quite as amusing as I thought they were going to be.
Baking soda is another cheap and effective option for deep cleaning your coffee maker. Simply make a mixture of about a quarter cup baking soda to a quarter gallon of warm water. Fill the pot and the heating chamber. After an hour or so, turn on the machine and scrub the pot with a kitchen pad.
Try to stay away from Brillo pads or any other scouring pads. These will leave scratches in the pot that will not only look bad, but also serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and other microbial nasties. This is of particular importance if you are guilty of leaving your coffee maker on all day. Even worse is that pot of coffee that’s been sitting cold for a day or two in a warm environment, when you don’t have the time to do a proper deep clean prior to jumping in the shower before work.
Once that coffee maker is all cleaned up, keep the coffee you make with it HOT with these mugs.
Bleach is hard to beat when it come to cleaning, owing to its sterilizing properties, but it can be quite harsh and abrasive. Do take care when cleaning your coffee maker with this product. The pots themselves can stand up to a little more exposure than the internal system, so be sure to dilute the bleach—add only a couple of tablespoons when running the solution through the cycle.
Run three or four pots of water through the coffee maker before using it to brew anything. This will ensure you remove any remaining cleaning product.
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Which brand of bleach should I use?
When it comes to a product like bleach, it’s not not really a case of which one has a better flavor profile or which will impart subtle nuances to your brew. In fact, please exercise caution and rinse your coffee pot thoroughly.
Bleach is pretty much bleach, and Clorox is as good as it gets for your dollar.
Clorox is very versatile and can be used to clean anything from your coffee pot to your drains—though be sure to use the correct dilution ratio. Follow all instructions listed by the manufacturer whenever you clean with bleach, and never mix bleach with ammonia.
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The germs in your coffee pot won’t know what hit them when Clorox makes an unannounced appearance! For more great cleaning tips, see my posts on the best oven cleaners, eco-friendly paper towels that help reduce waste, and the best garbage disposals for septic systems.
Thinking of upgrading that coffee pot? Then check out this article for my recommendation on the best single cup coffee maker!
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Need course ground coffee? I found the best grinders for the job.