Just as with other items you have and use in your kitchen, your coffee maker also needs regular cleaning. Old coffee residue and limescale build-up occur if regular cleanings are not done. This will damage your machine over time and affect the taste of your cup of coffee.
So, how often should you clean your coffee maker? How much use your coffee maker gets and what type of water you are using will determine how often you should clean it. On average, you should give it a thorough cleaning every month and descale it every two months.
There’s much more to discuss about keeping your coffee maker clean and in tip-top shape. We’ll also share how best to clean various coffee brewing devices.
How Often Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?
No one likes to think about the number of bacteria that can be growing inside your coffee maker. But unfortunately, most people do not clean it near as often as they should. What do we recommend?
Daily cleaning should include rinsing your coffee pot with warm water and dumping and rinsing the used coffee grounds from the basket. Try to do this promptly after brewing, keeping it from sitting there for hours or overnight.
Here at Taste the Latte, our coffee enthusiasts suggest a quick wipedown of your coffee machine each week. This is to eliminate the left-over coffee grounds inside the basket. These grounds can not only make their way into your next pot of coffee, but they support the growth of bacteria and mold.
These weekly wipe-downs can save you time in the long run and keep whichever machine you use in great working condition. To clean, grab a damp cloth and wipe the entire machine. Pay extra attention to where your filter is placed.
Monthly cleanings will be your more extensive cleanings and are crucial to your machine’s longevity and your health. The brew basket and water reservoir can grow mold, yeast, and bacteria. When cleaning is not done often, these things can and will end up in your cup of coffee. Gross, right?!
Every month, remove any baskets or filters and wash with warm soapy water. If you want to bypass the soap, make a mixture of warm water and cleaning vinegar. Place the items into the water/vinegar mixture and let sit for a couple of hours. Rinse the vinegar off and place back into the coffee machine.
To clean the machine parts you can’t necessarily get to, run a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water through it. (You can use pure vinegar as well) To do so, fill the water reservoir with about 3 to 4 cups of vinegar and water.
Let sit for about thirty minutes, then run the machine through a brewing cycle. Next, fill the reservoir with fresh water and run through a brew cycle 2-3 times to get rid of the vinegar.
If your machine has a coffee pot, it also needs a good cleaning monthly. There are a few different ways to do this.
Every Two to Three Months
Descaling your coffee machine should be done every 2-3 months if used daily. If the machine is not getting that much use, you can extend the descaling process to every 3-5 months.
Descaling is done by using a descaler solution. The solution removes limescale that builds up on your brewing devices over time. We mention our top products to use for this later in this article.
How to Clean Your Coffee Pot
1. Warm Soapy Water
Just as you would clean any other glass or stainless steel appliance, gently scrub sides with a soft brush or dish towel. Rinse well and let air dry.
2. Cleaning 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; you shouldn’t smell any vinegar nor have a vinegary flavor in your next pot of coffee.
3. Commercial Cleaner
Two popular commercial cleaners are Cleancraf and Dezcal.
Cleancraf is a monthly coffee machine cleaner that comes in packets. Each packet includes 1/3 ounce or 28 grams of cleaner. Mix one Cleancaf packet with one liter of lukewarm water. Pour the water and cleaner mixture into the water reservoir, and run the brew cycle. Next, simply watch.
Cleancaf is blue, so you can see it working. When your coffeemaker has finished its brewing cycle, flush the machine with clean water two or three times.
Urnex also makes Dezcal, so it shares many traits with its other products, such as Cleancaf. Both cleaners are nontoxic. Even more, it is biodegradable. Unlike Cleancaf, which is a coffeemaker cleaner, Dezcal is a descaler. This means it will actively remove scale from your coffee machine. Killing two birds with one stone!
Click the link for more information on How To Clean Your Coffee Pot.
How Often Should You Clean Your Keurig?
If using a Keurig, you have to worry about the inside of your machine getting dirty and the water reservoir. Think about it. Any water just sitting in a container for days without cleaning will start growing unpleasant things. If not washed regularly, the water reservoir is often one of the dirtiest parts of your kitchen.
If you use your Keurig daily, we recommend cleaning the water reservoir every week. To clean, remove the reservoir from device and take off lid. With warm soapy water, gently clean the inside and outside. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after to ensure no soap remains.
To clean the drip tray, separate pieces from machine and again wash with warm soapy water. Keurig does not recommend placing it in the dishwasher, but I’ve cleaned mine in it for years and have never had an issue. So, it is up to you.
To clean the pod holder, carefully remove it from the device (you don’t want to get poked by the needle that punctures the K-cup). Wash with only warm water. Either air dry or place it back into the machine.
Lastly, we have descaling. This is an essential upkeep for your Keurig. Descaling removes mineral build-up and limescale that decreases brewing performance and coffee taste. This should be done every 2 to 3 months depending on how much use your machine is getting.
To see how to descale your specific Keurig model, click here.
How to Clean a French Press?
Cleaning a French press is relatively simple and should be washed after every use. First thing first, get rid of the coffee grounds. I like to fill my French press up halfway with water and then pour the water and grounds into a strainer over the sink.
You can either dump the grounds in the trash or put them in your compost for later.
Next, fill the French press halfway up with warm water a second time. This time add a bit of dish soap to it. Now, put the plunger into the carafe, and move it up and down a handful of times. Dump out the soapy water and rinse well with clean, warm water.
Either gently towel dry or air dry, and your French press is ready to use again.
Alternatively, if you wish to forgo the soapy water, you can also use cleaning vinegar here. Soak the carafe and plunger in warm water and vinegar for an hour or two. Rinse well with warm water and dry. Viola! All clean.
How To Clean Your Espresso?
If you’re using an espresso machine, we recommend Puly Caff Plus Espresso Machine Cleaner, Urnex Biocaf Cleancaf Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder, Cafetto Espresso Clean Tablets, or CleanEspresso Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets.
Once you choose which cleaning product you want to use, read the directions carefully.
When cleaning an espresso, you want to backflush the machine. To do this, first, remove the portafilter and clean the screen. Using a cleaning brush, scrub the base of the screen on the espresso. You can also take off the screen to get an extra good cleaning.
Now, instead of the typical basket in the portafilter, you want to use one with no holes. Put your solid portafilter in and run water for about 5 seconds, and then dump it out. Do this a few times to give a thorough clean.
Finally, take the cleaning solution of your choice and put a small amount into the portafilter. Place back in the espresso machine and run the water for about five seconds. Lastly, take a damp towel and wipe away any left-behind cleaning solution.
Check out the video below for a visual tutorial.
How Do You Know If Your Coffee Maker Has Mold?
Mold loves to grow where there is moisture present. So, the combination of water and leftover coffee grounds in your machine is ideal for mold to grow. If regular cleanings aren’t occurring, the coffee maker is likely growing mold.
Mycotoxins are then produced by this mold and making your coffee taste extra bitter. Milder health symptoms of consuming mold include brain fog, stomach issues, headaches, and tiredness. More severe symptoms include kidney disease, brain damage, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, and cancer.
For more information on determining if your coffee maker has mold, click here.
Water Type Affects How Often Cleaning is Needed
If using hard water in your coffee machine, regardless of which device it is, then cleaning more often is recommended due to scale building up faster. If you have a water softener, reverse osmosis system, or filtration system, then cleaning won’t be needed as often.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America or SCAA, the water that goes into coffee should be fresh, clean, and odor-free. A simple water filter should remove most harmful minerals and contaminants but still have enough not to damage your coffee machine.
When determining the best water for your coffee, there are three things to consider: hardness, PH, and TDS.
- Hardness: Hard water contains more calcium ions than soft water. Other minerals found in hard water are sulfates, chlorides, bicarbonates, and magnesium carbonates. The target calcium hardness level in water is 68 milligrams per liter or 4 grains. Up to 5 grains and 85 milligrams per liter of calcium hardness is acceptable.
- PH: The PH scale measures whether something is more acidic or basic, aka alkaline. The target goal for water is to have a pH of 7.0, which is perfectly neutral. That said, if the water is slightly more acidic at 6.5 or a little basic at 7.5, that’s okay too.
- Total Dissolved Solid (TDS): Total dissolved solids refer to the salts, organic materials, metals, and minerals that dissolve in water. The lower the TDS measurement, the purer the water is, and thus the higher its quality. The SCAA has a target goal for water used for coffee to contain only 150 milligrams per liter of TDS. Up to 250 milligrams per liter is okay.
Click the link for further reading on “What type of water you should use in your coffee maker.”
Regular cleanings are necessary for your coffee machines regardless of what you have in your kitchen. Between daily, weekly, and monthly cleanings, you’ll keep your coffee machine running great and brewing that perfect cup of coffee every time.