Does your cup of coffee taste bitter lately? Or do you feel your machine doesn’t brew as smoothly as it used to?
It’s probably time to clean your coffee maker. Although it’s hard to believe, our coffee makers are one of the germiest places in our homes. A public health study found that half of the reservoirs tested contained yeast and mold! 
Not only is general hygiene a concern, but you should also watch out for mineral buildup. This is bad news for the longevity and functionality of your machine as well as for the coffee taste itself.
The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep your coffee machine looking sparkling clean. Read on to find out how.
Signs You Need to Clean Your Coffee Maker
Firstly, let’s address the dead giveaways telling you to clean your coffee maker ASAP. Look out for the following signs:
- Coffee tastes strange
- Coffee maker struggles to brew
- Machine takes longer to brew
- Coffee maker is louder than normal or makes odd noises
- Coffee maker spews coffee all over the place
After Every Use
Optimally, you’ll want to clean your coffee maker after every use. This ensures a long and healthy life of the machine and helps remove grinds, coffee, and oil left behind. Also, it prevents the buildup of germs and bacteria.
First, ditch the paper filter or clean out your reusable filter. Wash all removable parts of your coffee machine with dish soap and warm water. Make sure to use fragrance-free soap and a dish sponge or non-abrasive scrubber.
Also, wipe down the outside parts of the machine and clean the warming plate. Finally, dry everything with a damp cloth. Once you’re done, leave the reservoir lid open so it can dry out completely.
Deep Clean With Vinegar Every Month
White vinegar is a very powerful natural cleaning agent, helping your machine get back that initial shine. It effectively dissolves mineral and grease deposits and at the same time disinfects the interior of your machine.
Some machines come with a light or button to remind you to clean them. However, it’s best to do it on a schedule. I recommend deep cleaning it every month. If you’re not a regular coffee drinker, every three months will probably suffice.
Before you get started, make sure you have the following items handy:
- your coffee maker
- white distilled vinegar
- coffee filters
- microfiber cloth
1. Empty the Coffee Maker
Dump the remaining grounds in the filter and throw away the used filter.
2. Fill the Reservoir With Water and Vinegar
Fill the reservoir with a 50-50 mixture of white distilled vinegar and water. Some machines recommend different ratios of vinegar to water, so be sure to check your machine’s manual.
If there is a very strong buildup in your machine, feel free to increase the amount of vinegar.
3. Let it Brew
Place a paper filter in the basket and turn on the brewer. Allow the cycle to brew halfway, then turn off the machine. Let the solution sit in the carafe and reservoir for around 30-60 minutes.
Then, turn the machine back on again and allow the brew cycle to be completed. Dump the cleaning solution and the filter.
4. Run Another Cycle With Water and Repeat
Refill the tank with fresh water and run another cycle. This time, let the whole cycle be finished. Dump out the water and remove the filter.
Repeat the process once or twice more. This will ensure that all the vinegar is out of the machine.
5. Clean Removable Parts
Detach all removable parts and give them a good clean with warm water and liquid soap. It’s also time to wipe the machine’s exterior with a damp cloth. Finally, let everything dry.
Alternatives to Vinegar
If you can’t stand the smell of vinegar or don’t have it handy, there are a few alternatives you can opt for.
- Lemon juice: Instead of the vinegar solution, use around ½ cup lemon juice. Add enough hot water to fill the reservoir and follow the remaining steps described above.
- Baking soda: Similarly, use ¼ cup of baking soda. Then follow the same steps.
- Borax: This powdery white substance also gets the job done. Add two tablespoons to make the hot watery solution.
Tips on How to Keep Your Coffee Maker -Clean
There are a few things that help to keep your machine in better shape in the long run.
- Hard water is usually the culprit for scale buildup. Consider using demineralized water to prevent that from happening.
- Don’t leave used grounds in the coffee maker for too long. They are the ideal breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and other nasty things.
- Clean the carafe with warm, soapy water after every use.
- Always leave the lid open after brewing and cleaning. Let your coffee maker dry out properly.
The Bottom Line
So then, how do you clean your coffee maker? We hope that our guide could enlighten you and that your next monthly clean will be a breeze. Remember our tips, and your coffee maker will live a long and happy life. For more information about everything coffee-related, check out our guides and tips.