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How to Clean Your Drip Coffee Maker or Keurig

A woman preparing fresh expresso with her coffee maker.
Nataliia Zhekova/Shutterstock.com

That little ole coffee maker sitting on the counter might be one of your most treasured kitchen appliances. You use it every morning, but how often do you give it a good scrub?

We’re delving into everything there is to know about cleaning a coffee machine, so you can keep your java tasting delicious every single day.

How Often Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?

A clean carafe is a happy carafe, and we’ll tell you why! Ever notice how your glass coffee carafe (aka, the coffee pot) starts to get a brownish hue inside? Don’t feel bad—this happens to all coffee pots. It’s caused by the buildup of oils from the coffee.

The longer you go without cleaning your coffee pot, the more difficult it will become to get those stubborn stains out. Avoid this trouble by giving your coffee pot a good scrub with dish soap and hot water after each use, or at the very least, every few days.

The carafe isn’t the only important piece to the puzzle, though, and there are other parts of your machine that deserve a good cleaning too.

The reservoir (which holds your water), as well as the filter basket (which holds your grinds), are both culprits for trapping bacteria. It’s not a bad idea to wash the removable parts every now and then, and a proper descaling session is typically needed a few times a year, too.

You’ll know it’s time to descale (or remove mineral build-up) when you notice a white chalky residue starts to form within the reservoir.

Many homes have what’s considered “hard water,” which means your water has high levels of minerals. If you have hard water you might need to descale a bit more often. If you only use your coffee maker every now and then, you’ll likely only need to descale once a year.

What You’ll Need

A bottle of vinegar next to a bowl of baking soda and a sponge.
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Whether you use a traditional coffee machine fitted with a glass carafe and all of its plastic components or prefer the single-serve convenience of a Keurig, the cleaning instructions are pretty similar.

First, however, you’ll want to make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need to remove any pesky stains or icky residues on your coffee machine:

Vinegar: When it’s time to descale your coffee machine, you need a solution that will fight through that tough mineral buildup.

Dish soap: All removable parts, including the glass carafe, will need a good handwash, and nothing beats the powerful suds you get with Dawn Platinum.

A sponge: Some of those pesky stains will need a tougher scrub. However, you don’t want to use anything too abrasive, or you’ll end dup with scratches on the surface of your machine. The Scotch Brite non-scratch sponge wil do the trick.

Now that you have everything you need to clean your drip coffee maker, it’s time to get down to business.

How to Clean a Standard Drip Coffee Maker

Coffee machine parts in a sink.

From oily stains inside the carafe to scorched drips on the hot plate, there’s a tried-and-true method for cleaning your coffee machine. Here are some helpful instructions for cleaning each section:

  • The carafe: Using a sponge, dish soap, and warm water, scrub the inside and outside of your carafe, working to remove the brown stains. Do this every day or at least every few days to avoid stubborn stains within the glass. For really tough stains, mix a little baking soda with a few tablespoons of water. They form a paste you can dip your sponge in, and then scrub until the stains disappear.
  • Removable parts: The filter basket and all removable parts can be washed by hand, using dish soap, water, and a handy-dandy sponge. If your coffee maker’s instructions market the removal pieces as dishwasher-safe, feel free to go that route. If you aren’t sure, stick to handwashing.
  • The hot plate: Make sure your coffee maker is off and the hot plate has cooled. Using a damp sponge or dish towel and warm soapy water, scrub the plate to remove all the burnt and spilled coffee stains. You might have to wash out your sponge and work to clean through layers if it has been a while.
  • The inside: Also known as the reservoir, the inside of the machine tends to turn white due to mineral buildup from water. To remove these stains, you’ll need to descale the machine. Just add equal parts water and vinegar in the reservoir, and then run it through as if you were making a pot of coffee. Let the hot solution sit in the carafe for at least an hour if you have stubborn stains. Then, run some clean water through a few more cycles before making a new pot of coffee to avoid a vinegar-flavored brew.
  • The outside: Using warm soapy water, wipe down the exterior of the coffee maker to remove any fingerprints, stains, or dust build-up.

Your coffee will taste amazing, and your machine will shine with just a bit of elbow grease and a good cleaning.

Have a Keurig? We’ll walk you through cleaning that next.

How to Clean a Keurig

Someone placing a k-cup into a Keurig single serve coffee maker.
Rob Hainer/Shutterstock.com

If your Keurig or single-serve coffee maker isn’t working quite up to par, is starting to smell a bit off, or you’ve noticed grounds in your cup, it’s time to give it a good cleaning.

Just like a drip coffee maker, your Keurig’s water chamber is prone to mineral buildup and will need a good wash now and then. Cleaning a Keurig is just as easy as cleaning any drip coffee maker. Using the same three things (vinegar, dish soap, and a sponge), you’ll have it shined up in no time.

Follow these steps:

  1. Start with the removable components: Empty the water from the reservoir and take all other removable parts (aside from the entire machine) to the sink. Using soap, water, and a sponge, scrub each part clean.
  2. Scrub the k-cup holder: Using the corner of your sponge or a damp towel, work to remove the trapped grounds and stains. The small crevasses make this a bit difficult if the holder is not removable, but continue wiping until you’ve removed all grounds.
  3. Descale the machine: Once you’ve put all the parts of your machine back together, descale your Keurig by adding equal parts vinegar and water to the reservoir. Run the machine through at least four or five times, then let the rest of the solution sit in the reservoir for at least a few hours.
  4. Rewash the reservoir: Once your water chamber has had time to sit with the solution, rewash it using soap and water.
  5. Run the machine: To avoid vinegar-flavored coffee, you’ll want to run your machine several times with water.
  6. Wipe down the outside: If you want your Keurig to shine, don’t forget to wipe it down with a damp dishtowel and some warm soapy water.

You don’t have to clean your single-serve coffee maker every day, but giving it a good wash every now and then will ensure your brews always taste good and strong.

Whether you keep it simple with a traditional drip coffee maker or have started using the pour-over method, brewing coffee is an essential part of many people’s morning routine. If you give your machine a good cleaning on the regular, your morning cuppa will always be sure to satisfy.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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