Until recently, you ordered your daily coffee at a nearby café. Once you realized how expensive that habit was, you resolved to brew coffee at home using a coffee pot. You’ve heard from some friends that you should clean your coffee pot every day, while others say it’s monthly. Which is it?
You need to at least clean the carafe and remove the filtered coffee grounds from your coffee pot every day. Every month, you should deep clean the coffee pot using a cleaning solution. Once every three months, you should descale the pot to prevent limescale buildup.
If you’re not quite sure what descaling is or how to clean your carafe, don’t worry, as we’ll have all that information ahead. By the time you’re done reading, you can establish a coffee pot cleanliness routine that’s easy to follow!
Here’s How Often to Clean Your Coffee Pot
Do This Every Day or Every Time You Use the Coffee Pot
If you’re like most people, then you start each weekday morning by dragging yourself out of bed, trudging over to the kitchen, pouring water and some grounds into the coffeemaker, and clumsily hitting the brew button.
It’s only once you taste that first sweet, caffeinated sip of coffee that you come to life.
Once you’ve emptied your coffee cup of every last drop, it’s time to begin the cleanup routine. Ideally, before you leave for work, you should clean the coffee pot components. Anything that can detach from the coffee pot is eligible for cleaning, especially the carafe.
You don’t need any special cleaning products for this, only dishwashing detergent, warm water, and a cleaning sponge. Like you would with most other dishes, put the carafe in the sink and rinse it out with hot water.
Then squirt the detergent on the sponge and clean the carafe inside and out. You’re scouring any coffee residue as well as the remaining coffee oils; germs and microbes also don’t stand a chance. Make sure you get into tight corners as well as nooks and crannies.
If it’s easier, use a scrub brush on the carafe, but be gentle. Many carafes are made of glass, so applying too much pressure could cause yours to shatter.
Can you put your carafe in the dishwasher? Possibly, but not always. We recommend checking the bottom or side of the carafe to check the dishwasher safety information. If your carafe has no print on it, then visit the coffee pot manufacturer’s website.
If you can dishwash your carafe, then put it on the top rack, not the bottom.
You only need to clean your coffee pot carafe and other detachable components as often as you brew coffee. If that’s every single day, then you’ll have to clean them every day. If you brew coffee every other day, then it’s every other day.
If you can’t clean the carafe until later in the day once you’re home from work, that’s okay too. Just don’t go to bed without cleaning it and expect to brew a nice-tasting cup of coffee in the morning. Your caffeinated beverage will taste stale and probably a little funky.
Another thing you have to do as often as you use your coffee pot is empty the brew basket. Take the used coffee filter out and dispose of it. If your filter is reusable, then put it in the sink and hand-wash it or place it in the dishwasher (if it’s dishwasher-safe).
Rinse off the plastic brew basket too. If there’s stubborn coffee ground residue on the basket, a bit of dish soap and a sponge will clean the residue right off. You can towel-dry or air-dry the brew basket, but don’t put it back into your coffee pot while it’s still wet.
Coffee grounds that are left in the brew basket for too long can start to develop mold, which is not a sight you want to be greeted by first thing in the morning!
Do This Every Month
Even if you’ve cleaned your coffee carafe every single day for the past month, there are other elements of your coffeemaker that can use some cleaning too. Monthly, you’ll want to turn your attention to these parts and give the entire machine a deep cleaning.
You have plenty of cleaning agents you can use for this job, some of which are available in your pantry (probably right now) and others you’ll have to order ahead of time. Let’s talk about your options.
If you have some table salt handy, you can give your coffee machine the deep cleaning it’s craved. We wrote about how to do it here, so we’ll recap that post for you now.
First, if you’ve recently used your coffee pot, you want to let all the components cool down to room temperature or below. Next, add enough salt to cover the entire bottom of the coffee pot.
From your freezer, fetch some ice cubes. If yours is a smaller coffee pot, then two to three ice cubes are recommended. For larger coffee pots, four or more ice cubes will do. You don’t want so many ice cubes in the coffee machine that you can’t move them around. That will prevent you from doing the next step.
That is, you want to stir the salt and ice cubes using a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the ice melts. This will happen sooner than usual thanks to the inclusion of the table salt.
Once you have nothing but a puddle of salty water at the bottom of the coffee pot, stop stirring and slowly dump the contents down the sink. Turn your tap on while you dump so the water from the faucet will guide the salt to the drain.
You don’t want all that salt gunking up your drain, so don’t rush this part!
Using salt to clean your coffeemaker can treat rust and make stains disappear, but it sometimes takes repeating the above steps two or three times before you see noticeable results.
Here’s another common pantry ingredient that also doubles as a coffee pot cleaner: vinegar.
Open your coffeemaker’s reservoir and pour in four cups of vinegar. The undiluted stuff will work best at cleaning your coffee pot. Then, let the vinegar do its job for 30 minutes.
When the time has elapsed, turn on your coffee machine and run it through a usual brew cycle. Once the pot is done brewing, flush the coffeemaker with water and brew again. Repeat this step one more time and you shouldn’t smell any vinegar nor have a vinegary flavor in your next pot of coffee.
Your third option is to use the variety of commercial coffee pot cleaners on the market. We’ve discussed many of these products on the blog, including Urnex Cleancaf.
Cleancaf is a monthly coffee machine cleaner that comes in packets. Each packet includes 1/3 ounces or 28 grams of cleaner. Mix one Cleancaf packet with a liter of water. The water should be lukewarm.
Pour the water into the water reservoir of your coffee machine, run the brew cycle, and then watch. Cleancaf is blue, so you can clearly see it’s working.
When your coffeemaker has finished its brewing cycle, flush the machine with clean water at least twice, running the brew cycle that many times.
Per this article on our blog, you might also try a variety of other products to get your coffee pot shining and sparkly clean. If your is an espresso machine, then we recommend Puly Caff Plus Espresso Machine Cleaner, Urnex Biocaf Cleancaf Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder, Joe Glo Espresso Machine Backflush Detergent, Cafetto Espresso Clean Tablets, or CleanEspresso Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets.
For all other types of coffee machines, you can always rely on Urnex Full Circle Coffee Machine Cleaner and Urnex Tabz Coffee Brewer Cleaning Tablets.
Do This Every Three Months
The last component of keeping your coffee pot clean is descaling it.
Scale is short for limescale, which is a type of calcium-based mineral deposit that can occur in coffee pots and other appliances in which water heats up internally to operate. When the water is warmed to such a degree that it becomes steam, the molecules within the calcium split from the water.
The hot water exits from your coffee pot, but the calcium molecules do not. Instead, they become calcium carbonate, which is a white-ish, hard deposit.
Using hard water is one such cause of limescale since hard water contains minerals like calcium anyway. By switching to filtered water when brewing coffee, you might be able to prevent limescale.
The reason limescale is such an issue is that if it accumulates in large enough quantities, the residue can block up parts of your coffee machine. In very severe cases, the machine can fail.
Using a descaler can treat active limescale and potentially prevent new calcium deposits as well. You only have to use a descaler once every three months, so it’s not a regular occurrence. That said, make sure you don’t forget.
Durgol is one of the most renowned descaling products. You pour Durgol into your coffee machine where it gets right to work treating limescale in areas of your coffeemaker that you could never reach on your own.
Urnex Dezcal could be the most popular descaling agent. It doesn’t work quite the same as Durgol, as Dezcal comes in powder form. You get four packets in a box; each packet is 28 grams.
By dissolving the Dezcal with a liter of lukewarm water and then adding the water to your coffee machine, you can begin combatting limescale. You’ll have to run the brew cycle once with the descaler, then two more times with water.
3 Reasons to Follow a Coffee Pot Cleaning Routine
Taking the time to clean your coffee pot on top of that pile of dirty dishes can be annoying, but it’s worthwhile. Here are three reasons why prioritizing a clean coffee pot is so beneficial.
Maintain Coffee Flavor
You’re a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to your coffee, and so you hold your coffee pot to high brewing standards.
The coffee pot can only brew coffee as well as you take care of it. By reusing a dirty carafe, old coffee oils cling to the carafe walls. The oils will certainly alter the flavor of your coffee, especially the longer they’ve been in there.
Limescale can interrupt coffee flavor too, making it taste strange. Besides that, if limescale prevents the water from getting warm enough during brewing, the lukewarm water will also make your coffee unappealing to drink.
Keep Your Coffee Machine Running Well
You relied on the same café to give you delicious coffee day in and day out until you realized how much money you were wasting. Your coffee pot at home can be just as reliable if you take the time to care for it. You could have two to four years of delicious coffee to look forward to every single day!
It’s not just coffee oils that linger in a filthy carafe, but microbes as well. Just as you wouldn’t use the same dishes, bowls, or cups more than once in a row, the same should be true for your coffee pot. You’ll be healthier as a result!
Your coffee pot’s carafe should be cleaned with soap and water at least as often as you use your coffee pot, which could mean every single day or every other day. Monthly, you should use vinegar, salt, or commercial cleaner to deeply clean the coffee machine. Don’t forget to descale every three months too!