Let’s face it, most of us don’t actually clean our coffee machines. And if you happen to be an avid coffee drinker and lover, this frequently used appliance can become a breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and mineral buildup.

A filthy coffee maker can negatively impact the outcome of your coffee and the machine’s longevity. The filth and mineral buildup could alter the bold flavor of your coffee and the coffee maker’s brewing speed. 

Even worse, with all the moisture and warmth that filters through the coffee maker, the coffee pot could eventually make you sick if not cleaned regularly due to the potential buildup of mold, bacteria, and yeast. 

So if you are looking for more consistency in your coffee brewing and want to avoid replacing your coffee machine sooner, follow this quick and easy way to clean your coffee maker with vinegar.

coffee maker mr coffee

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Why use vinegar to clean coffee makers? 

Vinegar is a very powerful cleaning agent. It is safe, non-toxic, and chemical-free, making it the perfect cleaning solution for households that prefer a more organic cleaning approach. With its high acidity, and ability to kill germs and disinfect, it is the perfect cleaning agent for the coffee maker to help cut through some of the deepest stains, mineral deposit buildup, and bacteria.

Since vinegar is readily available in most households, it makes the perfect cleaner for a coffee machine, microwave, and other kitchen appliances. This natural cleaning solution is strong enough to kill any form of bacteria that may form in your coffee maker. 

Supplies Needed

How to Clean Coffee Maker with Vinegar

Step 1 – Clean the Coffee Maker Parts

The first step is to remove any coffee grounds and old coffee left behind with your last brew of coffee. Take apart the removable parts of the coffee maker, including the brew basket and coffee pot.

Wipe down the surfaces of the coffee machine with a damp cloth or wet paper towel and vinegar, including the sides, in the areas where the coffee pot sits, the filter area, and the spout. Take your time to meticulously clean these areas to remove any form of dirt or coffee buildup that may be visibly present on their surfaces. 

wiping down coffee maker

Wash the pot and filter basket with hot soapy water and a sponge, similar to how you would wash a dish. This will remove coffee stains and dirt buildup. Pat them dry with a paper towel or dishcloth. Put all the parts back in place except for the coffee pot. 

washing coffee pot with sponge
washing coffee pot

Step 2 – Add Vinegar

Fill the coffee pot with two cups of vinegar and two cups of water. You can easily measure the amount of vinegar using the coffee pot’s measurement line.

filling coffee pot

If you have a larger coffee maker, then add an additional cup of vinegar and water for the best results. Your goal is to fill the coffee pot a third of the way. 

Step 3 – Fill the water reservoir

filling coffee reservoir

Make sure the appliance is plugged in. Begin to pour the water and vinegar solution into the coffee machine’s water reservoir as if you were making a pot of coffee. As you pour, you will hear the coffee maker making its usual sound when it is ready to brew. 

Step 4 – Place an empty coffee filter

empty coffee filter

Place an empty paper filter into the coffee maker’s basket, turn the spout, and run a brewing cycle. The type of cycle you choose will not matter as long as you give the water reservoir time to empty its contents through the filter. 

Step 5 – Filter the vinegar solution

As the coffee machine brews, you will begin to see the light brown-colored filtered water filling the pot. This water will prove that the cleaning solution is doing its job. Allow it to brew halfway, then pause it or turn it off.

coffee filter brewing water and vinegar

Let the brewed vinegar and water solution sit in the coffee pot for 15 -20 minutes. The half brew cycle should help clean and disinfect the coffee machine’s interior and give the vinegar enough time to break down bacteria and mineral deposit buildup. 

Once the time has passed, let the coffee machine finish its brew.

Step 6 – Run another brew cycle

Empty the vinegar solution in the sink and re-fill the coffee pot to its maximum capacity with clean water. Run another brewing cycle with fresh water to remove the vinegar residue, taste, and smell. This will flush out the remaining vinegar and bring it back to a place it can be used again. 

Pro Tip – Feel free to run the water cycle for a second if you feel that the smell and taste of vinegar are still present. However, one cycle should be enough to eliminate the vinegar cleaning mixture. 

This simple brewing process with vinegar should be all you need to deep clean your coffee maker. Deep cleaning your coffee maker is an important part of the health of the coffee machine and maintaining a consistent taste of your coffee. 

Signs that Your Coffee Machine Needs Cleaning

There are a few signs to pay attention to determine when your coffee machine needs cleaning. Signs include:

  • Visible dirt and residue  – when you see visible coffee residue and dirt on the machine, this is a clear sign that it should be cleaned. 
  • Slow to brew – if your drip coffee maker is brewing slower than usual, it is likely due to a clog or blockage caused by dirt or debris. 
  • An unusual smell is coming from the coffee maker. This can be a musty or tart smell.
  • Half-way brew – If the coffee pot only fills halfway, even though you made a whole pot of coffee.
  • Coffee grounds are present in your cup of coffee. 
  • There’s a not-so-great distinctive coffee taste to your usual cup of coffee. 
  • A stained coffee pot indicates that the coffee machine should be cleaned.
  • Excessive steam or spattering inside your coffee maker could indicate a clogged spout or water lines requiring cleaning.

How often should I clean my coffee maker?

If you use your coffee maker daily and want to keep bacteria, mold, and mineral buildup at bay, then it is recommended that you clean your coffee maker at least once a month. The coffee pot should be rinsed with water after every use. Consider using Dawn dish soap to wash the coffee pot after a few uses. 

How much vinegar is used to clean the coffee maker?

For every cup of vinegar, equal amounts of water should be added to the coffee maker’s water reservoir. You can add anywhere from 2-4 cups of vinegar to clean the coffee machine. 

Can I use apple cider vinegar to clean my coffee machine?

If you don’t have white vinegar to clean the coffee machine, apple cider vinegar will also work. Apple cider vinegar has a slightly lower acidic concentration than vinegar but is just as powerful. It is also safe and natural to use and can effectively break down bacteria and mineral deposits in the coffee machine. 

The best way to clean a coffee maker with apple cider vinegar is by following the same steps you would take when using white vinegar. 

How to clean a coffee machine without vinegar?

If you are not a fan of regular cleaning with vinegar, an alternative way to clean a coffee machine without vinegar is to substitute vinegar for lemon juice. Lemon juice is the best way to clean a coffee machine without vinegar.

It works just as well and will leave behind a wonderful citrusy aroma. Cleaning with lemon juice will require the same steps used in the vinegar method; instead, substitute the vinegar with lemon juice. 

coffee maker next to vinegar

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Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.

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