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How Often Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?

Barista pouring coffee from coffee pot into blue mug

There’s nothing like that first cup of coffee in the morning. It wakes us up, helps to get our day started, and tastes great. But did you know having an unclean coffee maker can actually affect the taste and quality of your coffee? Build up of minerals and organics in the coffee maker can also cause some serious problems for your machine. Quality aside, you could be consuming bacteria that has built up over time in the machine if you’re not cleaning it regularly. If you want the best tasting cup of coffee possible, keep reading to find out how often you should be cleaning your coffee maker, and just what you’ll need to do it. 

Why you need to clean your coffee maker

It’s crucial to regularly deep clean any appliances that come in contact with food and drink, especially if they exist in a humid environment. If you neglect your coffee maker, oil build-up can cause a bitter-tasting cup of coffee, and mineral build-up can cause problems to your machine. Not only that, coffee residue or coffee grinds left in your machine in combination with a humid environment can become a breeding ground for bacteria, as well as mildew and mold caused by moisture. The water reservoir, in particular, is one of the most problematic areas. The water trap can easily grow bacteria, mold, and even yeast. In fact, a study conducted by NSF International “found that 50% of the sampled reservoirs in coffee makers had mold or yeast”[3]. Consuming foodborne yeast, mold and bacteria can cause stomach issues and even severe symptoms if you are allergic to mold. To keep your coffee tasting its best, and your stomach feeling its best, it’s important to clean your coffee maker often

Related: How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Machine

How often you should clean your coffee maker

Stainless steel drip coffee maker on white background

Drip coffee maker:

You should wash the coffee pot of your coffee maker after every use. Rinse out any coffee residue, and wash the pot with hot soapy water. From the filter, compost your coffee grinds and the paper filter, and then rinse the filter basket with warm water. You can wipe down the exterior as well, making sure to wipe beneath the basket where the coffee pours out from, and the hot tray where coffee can drip and burn to cause a burning smell. A deep clean of your coffee maker will be required less frequently than every use. 

You should deep clean your drip coffee maker every three to six months, or more depending on your coffee maker manual instructions. If your manual doesn’t make this clear, or you’ve lost your manual, a good rule of thumb is to do a deep clean every three to six months. To do a deep clean, wipe down the exterior, hot tray, and bottom of the filter basket with a damp soapy dishrag. Wash the coffee pot including the lid with hot soapy water. Remove the filter basket and wash it with hot soapy water to remove any oils from the coffee which can cause a bitter taste[1]. The water reservoir should also be deep cleaned as this area can grow harmful bacteria and mold. Your water reservoir should be able to be removed and should be washed with hot soapy water and fully dried before reassembling. Check your coffee maker manual to learn if your water reservoir is dishwasher safe.

To remove mineral deposits that can affect the taste, and cause damage to your machine you will need to descale your machine every three to six months[1]. To descale your coffee machine you will need to run a mixture of water and vinegar through your machine. Simply put a mixture of water and vinegar in the water reservoir and brew a pot, with no grinds of course. Once the vinegar cycle is done, run a few more plain water brews to get rid of any vinegar after taste. 

Mueller French Press Double Insulated 304 Stainless Steel Coffee Maker 4 Level Filtration System, No Coffee Grounds, Rust-Free, Dishwasher Safe

French press and other specialty coffee makers: 

French press, Aeropress, pour-over, or other specialty coffee makers should be cleaned with hot soapy water after every use to remove any coffee oil build-up which can cause poor tasting coffee, and to kill any bacteria caused by stagnant organics in a humid environment. If your coffee maker has multiple components, you should separate them, wash them and allow them to fully dry individually before reassembling. This will ensure that all areas f your coffee maker is clean and dry to prevent bacteria and mildew build-up. 

Espresso machine:

Cleaning an espresso machine is a bit more complicated. If you have an espresso machine in your home you should thoroughly refer to your machine’s manual for cleaning instructions. Improper cleaning can affect the pour of your espresso, as well as cause damage to your machine. Typically, you should clean your espresso baskets after every use, by rinsing them with hot water, and wiping down the head where the water pours from with a damp rag. You can wipe down the exterior of your espresso machine with a damp soapy rag, a stainless steel cleaning product, or a glass cleaning product depending on the material. You should clean the drip tray every day to remove any stagnant water and coffee residue, to prevent bacteria and mildew build-up. To deep clean the portafilters and basket heads you will require a cleaning solution specifically for espresso machines. Generally, this should be done about once a week if you use your espresso machine casually. 

What you will need to clean your coffee maker

Cleaning a stander coffee maker, Aeropress, french press, pour-over, or other specialty coffee makers is just like cleaning any other dish. When we move into the territory of espresso machines, it can get a bit more complicated. For the materials needed to clean your espresso machine, you should refer to your espresso machine’s manual. To clean a standard coffee maker, you will just need a few simple ingredients, which are all non-toxic and food safe:

Mrs. Meyer's Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Cruelty Free Formula, Lemon Verbena Scent, 16 oz - Pack of 3

Dish soap: 

Simple dish soap, warm water, and a dish sponge can be used to clean your coffee pot. You can also use a damp sponge with dish soap to clean the exterior of your coffee maker to remove any visible finger marks, grime, or grease. If you have a stainless steel coffee maker, you can use a microfiber cloth damp with clean water, or a combination of water and vinegar to clean the exterior or a stainless steel cleaning product. 

Lucy's Family Owned - Natural Distilled White Vinegar, 32 oz. bottle (Pack of 2) - 5% Acidity


Vinegar can be used to deep clean the inside of your coffee machine. Vinegar is non-toxic, making it a safe option to clean appliances that come in contact with food or drink. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which gives it its powerful cleaning ability. Vinegar “can dissolve mineral deposits, dirt, grease, and grime”[2] and even kill bacteria. You can also use a mix of vinegar and water to clean the exterior of your stainless steel coffee maker. 

Natural Sponge 12 Pack - Biodegradable Sponges - Eco Friendly Sponges for Dishes - Compostable Cellulose and Coconut Scrubber Sponge- Non Scratch-Odor Free

Kitchen sponge, or dish towel:

The last thing you will need to clean your coffee maker is something you likely have in the home. You can use a sponge, dish towel, or dish brush to clean the pot, and internal components of your coffee maker, like the filter tray. You can use a microfiber towel, sponge, or dish towel to clean the exterior as well. To keep your cleaning routine as green as possible, use a biodegradable sponge to save on cleaning waste. 

Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer, with 12-cup Glass Carafe, Black and Stainless Steel Finish

Having a clean coffee maker means better-tasting coffee

The build-up of oils from coffee grinds can create a bitter-tasting cup of coffee, which can certainly throw a wrench in your morning. Additionally, minerals from water can begin to build up in your machine, which can affect the taste of your coffee, but also cause problems with your coffee machine. The water reservoir, filter, and basket of your coffee machine can also, if neglected, harbor bacteria from organics in combination with humidity, and even grow mold and yeast, which can cause some serious problems with your health. To protect your health, as well as get the best tasting cup of coffee possible, clean your coffee pot and filter after every use, and deep clean and descale your coffee maker every three to six months


Article Sources:

  1. Consumer Reports. “How To Clean Your Coffee Maker
  2. Healthline. “Vinegar: The Multipurpose, Chemical-Free Household Cleaner You Should Know About
  3. USA Today. “Most coffee makers are crawling with germs and growing mold, experts say. Here’s why