How to Clean a Coffee Maker

Cleaning experts know the secret to perking up any coffee maker: Good, old-fashioned white vinegar.

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Your daily caffeine fix takes its toll on your coffee maker. Calcium and lime scale (from your water) can clog up the works and make your coffee taste stale or slightly metallic. Cleaning experts know the secret to perking up any coffee maker: Good, old-fashioned white vinegar.

How Much Vinegar Do You Use to Clean a Coffee Maker?

Pour in enough full-strength white vinegar to complete a typical brew cycle and then run the cycle as usual. Let the vinegar sit in the pot for 30 minutes before pouring it out. Follow with a couple plain-water brew cycles, to rid your coffee maker of the vinegar-y smell and taste.

Coffee tasting weak? You probably need to unclog the plastic plate that sits above the basket. A toothpick should do the trick.

19 more can’t-fail vinegar cleaning tips.

Discover 25 smart uses for toothpicks at home.

Deep Clean Your Coffee Maker Carafe

To clean burned-on stains inside the carafe, sprinkle the interior with baking soda and warm water. Allow it to soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, scrub well and wash thoroughly. Some coffee drinkers have reported great success with detergent dishwasher pods. They recommend putting one pod in your tannin-stained carafe, fill it with hot water and allow to soak. Follow with a thorough wash.

14 surprising everyday uses for baking soda.

Stain still there? Try a Magic Eraser or a commercial product such as Whink Coffee Maker Cleaner. Whink cleaner is made with sulfamic acid and hydroxyacetic acids (much stronger than vinegar’s acetic acid). Fill the carafe with hot water and Whink, soak for a few hours and then wash with dish soap and hot water.

Have a Keurig? Read our guide to perking up a coffee-pod coffee maker.

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Alyssa Ford
Alyssa Ford is a long-time freelance journalist in Minneapolis. Her published credits include the Star Tribune, Utne Reader, Crain's,, Minnesota Monthly, Midwest Home, Experience Life, Artful Living, Momentum, Minnesota, and many others. She is a past president of the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists.