Regular cleaning of your coffee maker is essential to prevent the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria. Ingesting these things can have harmful effects on your body, and adversely affect your coffee’s taste. Unfortunately, most people don’t clean their brewing devices nearly as often as they should.
As mentioned in another article, vinegar is a common way to clean the components of your coffee machine including the coffee carafe, brew basket, and water tank. It does a decent job too. But what if you don’t want to use vinegar? The smell may be too strong for you.
How can you clean your coffee maker without vinegar?
There are several coffee maker cleaning methods that don’t involve vinegar. They include the following.
- Coffee Maker Cleaning Solution
- Warm water and dish soap
- Salt and cold water
- Baking soda
- Borax Household Cleaner
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Lemon Juice
- Cream of Tartar
White Vinegar to Clean Coffee Maker
Vinegar is a great way to clean your coffee maker that doesn’t break the bank. It contains an organic compound called acetic acid, a low-key acid that dissolves mold, bacteria, and mineral deposits.
Although a useful option for cleaning, many people don’t like the smell it leaves behind. Fortunately, there are other options to consider. Let’s dig into each one to see if you want to try it.
How Often Should Your Coffee Maker be Cleaned?
Before we delve into the options available to clean with, let’s quickly touch on how often washing should be done. While some components of your machine should be cleaned daily, other items need only be cleaned every 3 to 5 months.
- Daily cleanings should include dumping old coffee grounds and rinsing your coffee pot and basket with warm water to remove coffee residue. Best practice is to do this promptly after brewing and keep it from sitting overnight.
- Weekly cleanings should include a quick wipe-down of your coffee machine to eliminate residual coffee grounds in and around the basket.
- Monthly cleanings include removing baskets and filters and washing thoroughly.
- 3 to 5 Month cleanings are when you should be descaling your machine.
For more in-depth information on how often and how to clean your particular brewing device, check out our article, “How Often Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?”
There we discuss how to properly clean your Keurig, French Press, and Espresso machines.
If your coffee maker is not cleaned properly, mold, yeast, and bacteria will begin to grow. Click the link to learn “How to Know if my Coffee Maker Has Mold?”
1. Coffee Maker Cleaning Solution
Mineral buildup from hard water in your coffee machine can impact how well it brews, not to mention how good your coffee tastes. There are cleaning solutions on the market that will help you keep your device in tip-top shape. The two main ones we recommend are Urnex Cleancraf and Dezcal.
First, we have Urnex Cleancaf. Urnex produces espresso and coffee equipment cleaners. Cleancaf is not a descaler, just a coffee machine cleaner. It will prevent scale accumulation if you use it often enough. Still, it might not be the most effective at treating the mineral buildups that are gunking up the inside of your coffeemaker.
According to the manufacturer, Cleancaf has no smell and is also non-toxic. You should get at least three packets measuring 1/3 ounce each in a box. The packets are intended for one-time use. You’re supposed to use Cleancaf every month, so you get a three-month supply in one box.
Next, we have Dezcal, which is made by Urnex as well. Unlike Cleancaf, a coffeemaker cleaner, Dezcal is a descaler, which means it will actively remove scale and calcium deposits from your coffee maker. Like Cleancaf, Dezcal is nontoxic, but even better, it’s biodegradable.
You can use Dezcal on coffee machines and specialty machines such as traditional espresso makers, super automatics machines, drip coffeemakers, and single-serve machines, like Keurig coffee makers.
For more in-depth information about these two cleaning solutions, check out our article, “Cleancaf vs. Dezcal: Which One is More Effective?”
2. Warm Water & Liquid Dish Soap
When all else fails, warm water and dish soap will get the job done. Whichever device you may have in your home, you’ll need to take apart as many of the pieces possible, such as the basket, water reservoir, drip tray, coffee pot, and any other removable parts.
With warm soapy water and a clean towel, gently scrub all pieces. We sure to thoroughly rinse all parts with water to remove all soap suds. Reassemble all parts and run one cycle of fresh water through the machine to ensure no soap remains.
3. Salt and Cold Water
Although salt might seem like an unlikely ingredient for cleaning a coffee pot, it’s very effective. How exactly do you use salt to clean your coffee maker?
- Pour a thorough amount of table salt into the bottom of the coffee pot
- Toss four ice cubes into the pot
- Stir the two ingredients
- When the ice melts, stop stirring
- Dump the pot, rinse, and repeat if necessary
Click here for more in-depth information on how to use salt and cold water to clean your coffee maker.
4. Baking Soda Solution
Baking soda has long been known as a natural cleaning agent that is chemical-free and also acts as a deodorizer. Well, you can also use this great product on your coffee machine. Even though baking soda won’t necessarily help with descaling your device, it does great for regular cleanings.
How do you clean your coffee maker with baking soda?
- First, get a cup of warm water so the baking soda will dissolve
- Next, add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the water.
- Stir until baking soda is dissolved. There should be no solid lumps to avoid clogging the machine.
- Run the mixture through the machine.
- Last, run fresh water through the machine to remove any leftover baking soda.
TIP: For a better clean, add some vinegar to your solution.
5. Borax Household Cleaner
Borax household cleaner is another great alternative to vinegar when cleaning your coffee maker. Borax, sodium borate, is a colorless powder that will dissolve when mixed with warm water.
People use borax to clean many items around the house, including all brewing devices. When dissolved in warm water, it eliminates mold and mineral buildup without leaving any chemical residue behind.
How do you use it to clean?
- Warm up enough water to fill the water reservoir of your machine.
- Measure out about 2 to 3 tablespoons of borax and add to warm water
- Stir well to dissolve ALL borax completely
- Run solution through machine 3 to 4 times
- Rinse the water reservoir with clean water and fill it with clean water.
- Run through one last time to ensure all the borax solution is gone.
TIP: You can also use borax to make slime with your kids!
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
Most people have a container of hydrogen peroxide in their medicine cabinet to clean and disinfect wounds if/when needed. Many do not know that it can also be used to clean kitchen appliances, including your coffee maker.
The same disinfectant properties to clean wounds can kill growing bacteria and help eliminate foul odors.
How do you use Hydrogen Peroxide to clean your brewing device?
- Measure 2 cups of water (it doesn’t need to warm since Hydrogen Peroxide is liquid)
- Combine water with 1 Cup of Hydrogen Peroxide
- Mix them together and run through machine
- Dump the mixture and run fresh water through the coffee maker
TIP: If your coffee machine hasn’t been cleaned regularly, we suggest running the solution through a couple of times.
7. Lemon Juice
Likely the most natural way to clean your coffee maker is lemon juice. Due to its high acidity levels, the citric acid works the same way as vinegar does without the harsh smell.
You can either buy lemons and juice them yourself or purchase pure lemon juice to clean with.
How do you clean your coffee maker with lemon juice?
- Combine 1 cup of lemon juice with 1 cup of water.
- Pour mixture into the water reservoir
- Run through brew cycle 1 to 2 times
- Fill the reservoir with fresh water and run through one last time to remove the lemon juice.
8. Cream of Tartar
Our last alternative to vinegar on our list is cream of tartar. This natural ingredient contains acid to help clean and remove stains and mineral buildup but gives off no harsh smells, either.
A mixture of water and cream of tartar creates a mildly abrasive texture that is great at scraping away that limescale and other mineral buildups.
How to clean your coffee maker with cream of tartar?
- Fill coffee pot with hot water
- Add 3 TBS. of cream of tartar to water
- Stir until mixed
- Pour mixture into the water reservoir
- Run through the brew cycle
- Fill the reservoir with fresh water and run through it one last time.
Final Thoughts on Cleaning a Coffee Maker Without Vinegar
Although vinegar is a great and effective way to get that coffee maker spic and span, there are other fantastic alternatives that won’t smell so strong. Some are more natural than others, so choose what would work best for you and start cleaning!