Cup of coffee from a clean coffee maker with a smiley face

How often should I clean my coffee maker?

You might use your coffee maker every day, but do you clean it every day? If the answer to that question is no, then can you remember the last time you cleaned it? If not, this post is especially for you!

Every time you make yourself a pot of coffee, the residue from the beans and deposits from hard water and lime build-up. Those things can affect how your machine performs and can shorten its lifespan.

Some high-end models have an indicator that reminds you to clean it, though sadly, they don’t do the cleaning for you. If only they could! But if you’re reading this, you likely won’t have an indicator on your model. While you should always follow what the manufacturer of your coffee maker recommends for cleaning, it’s a good rule of thumb to do a quick cleaning daily and a deeper clean once a month.

You might know how to make your coffee, but do you know how to clean your coffee maker? That’s what you’re going to find out so you can have a coffee maker that lasts, tastier coffee, and even better health. Keep reading and you’ll soon know exactly what to do!

How Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?

Perhaps you rinse out the coffee carafe each day which is a good start. But you need to know how to clean your coffee maker properly. Doing so prolongs its years of faithful servitude brewing up your daily brew, plus it allows your coffee for the best possible taste.

If you think about it, coffee itself has a residue that builds up over time with every brewing session. On top of that, the water you use also leaves mineral deposits. These things can clog up the inner workings of your coffee machine leading to slower brew times and adding things you can’t see into your cup of coffee. Germs, mold, and other bits of debris all build up in there. No wonder your best coffee beans don’t taste fresh. It’s not the beans…it’s your coffee machine! Cleaning it routinely will ensure you have healthy and fresh coffee every time.

While the rule of thumb is to do a deep clean once a month, if you use your coffee maker every day, you should think about doing it every 2 weeks. When you do, you remove all that gunk that gets clogged up in there and the result is better-tasting coffee not to mention better health for you.  

You don’t have to scrub the whole machine clean after every use, though cleaning off the main parts (like the carafe and the basket for the grounds for example) is good for day-to-day maintenance. If you’re lucky, you have a coffee maker that has an indicator to alert you when you should clean it, but if not, make a habit of cleaning it once a month using the steps we’ll discuss below. You can set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget.

Additionally, the water you use makes all the difference. If you have soft water, you don’t have to clean it as often though to keep gross bacteria and mold away, you may want to do so regularly anyway.

Fortunately, cleaning your coffee maker is just about as easy as making coffee in it. If you can make coffee, you can clean your machine with ease. Make sure you do so on a weekend or at a time when you’re not in a hurry. You’ll basically be using a vinegar and water solution to brew through your machine and then rinsing it out. You can handle that, right?

It’s important that you run a couple of cycles after the vinegar rinse to get that vinegar taste out of there. While it effectively cleans, you don’t want the lingering aroma or flavor of vinegar in there.

But before you do any of this, we recommend you read the maintenance manual that came with your coffee maker to ensure that you follow exactly what the manufacturer specifies. Depending on the model of the coffee machine you have, you may have a few extra steps for effectively cleaning your machine. If you want to prolong the life of it for years to come, take a moment and dig out the manual.

Did you misplace your manual for your coffee maker? If you know the brand and model number, you can always look it up online!

So, are you ready to clean your coffee maker? Good! Keep reading and you’ll learn the basic steps to doing so and be that much closer to a fresher, tastier cup of coffee!

Step by step guide for cleaning your coffee maker

If you’ve never cleaned your coffee maker before, once you see how easy it is and how much better your coffee tastes, you’re never going to forget to do this simple task. If you’ve owned other coffee pots before and wondered why they didn’t last as long as you would have liked, perhaps you forget to do this crucial step in coffee maker maintenance.

Here’s what to do:

1. Grab vinegar and water

You’ll only need distilled white vinegar and water (filtered preferred). Then you’ll fill up the reservoir halfway with the vinegar and the other half up with water.

2. Turn your coffee maker on

Once the reservoir is filled with vinegar and water, turn your coffee machine on and set it to brew.

3. Hit pause

Next, allow the carafe to fill up with a few cups. Then shut off your machine and let it sit this way for about 45 minutes.

4. Start it up

After you’ve waited enough time, turn your coffee maker back on to let it finish brewing. Dump out the vinegar and water mixture afterward.

5. Rinse

To finish the cleaning process, run clean water through it to get rid of the vinegar smell. You should do this step twice for the best results.

And that’s it! It’s really that easy!

When should you clean your coffee maker?

As mentioned above, cleaning with some regularity should take place for the sake of your health and the quality of your coffee. After every use, you should rinse out the coffee carafe and the basket where the grounds go. Any part that can be removed should be cleaned daily.

It’s easy to handwash them in the sink. Use warm, soapy water, or you can put most of these parts in the dishwasher if you prefer. Just check the manual to be sure that’s OK for the coffee machine model you own.

Once monthly, follow the steps we mentioned above for cleaning your coffee maker. If you have really hard water, you may want to do this every 2 weeks. If you have soft water, you can do it every other month. But honestly, hard or soft water, you can still breed germs, bacteria, and mold in there so what’s the harm in cleaning it just to be sure you’re not getting a little extra something in your cup?

Something else you should do too is empty out any unused water from your coffee maker immediately after use. When you’re done with your coffee maker for the day, leave the lid open for the reservoir to help it dry out and keep germs from growing. You might not have time to completely clean your coffee maker before you jet off to work but by taking a few quick steps as you get ready to go each day, you’ll prevent unhealthy organisms from breeding in your machine and winding up in your body.

Reasons to Clean Your Coffee Maker

If you make coffee every day, you likely clean out the coffee carafe at the very least. But perhaps it escapes your attention that the other parts need cleaning too. This is where mold and bacteria can grow and thrive. You may be able to look inside and see it or depending on the design or color of your machine, you might not see it at all. Regardless though, you should be cleaning it. Here’s why!

– Better coffee flavor

Even coffee itself will leave residue on your coffee pot, not to mention your cup. Make sure you wash it daily. Some models can handle being washed in the dishwasher which makes it even easier. Just read the manual for your coffee maker so you will know if you can do that or not. That built-up coffee residue can make your coffee taste bitter so be sure you clean it daily for your best-tasting coffee.

– Clean gross buildup in your coffee maker

Over time, mineral deposits get caked on in the delicate inner parts of your coffee maker. This restricts water flow and will result in lower brewing temperatures. When that happens, the lower temperatures dilute the flavor of your coffee. Plus, it just takes longer to brew which means you wait longer for your necessary morning cup.

– Make your coffee maker last longer

As a rule of thumb, most coffee makers should be good for 5 years if you take good care of them. They can last even longer too. But if you neglect to clean them, the buildup inside can destroy the inner parts which means you’ll be replacing your machine sooner than you thought.

– Kills dangerous germs

Germs thrive in warm, damp environments. When you don’t clean out your coffee maker, you’re farming germs that get into your coffee. You’re then drinking those germs. Gross, right? End the cycle by giving your machine a thorough cleaning and keep up with throwing out those wet grounds after each brewing session. Leave the lid open after each use too to let it dry out inside which destroys the environment these gross microorganisms love.

– Be healthier

Coffee is good for you when you drink it right. Experts say it contains a bounty of antioxidants in it. For the best results, you should choose organic beans and refrain from adding cream or sugar. But even if you have to add extras to your coffee, what you don’t want is mold, yeast, or bacteria in there which could be making you sick.

NSF International conducted a study that revealed 50% of homes had these things growing in their coffee reservoirs. They can trigger allergies and make you feel ill. If you’ve been feeling fatigued and have other unsavory symptoms, it could be that your coffee maker is making you sick. You only need to clean it to avoid these problems and start feeling better and better.

– It will look nicer on your counter

If everything else in your kitchen is sparkling, what about your coffee pot? If it has stains inside, it makes your whole kitchen look unkempt. Imagine going to someone’s house for dinner and discovering their kitchen is disgusting. It’s basically the same premise here. For stubborn carafe stains, use baking soda and water mixed in equal parts to scrub them away. This works on your coffee mugs too so you can get them clean and bright. No more shame when serving guests coffee!

– You will get your coffee faster

Cleaning your coffee maker allows the water to flow through it easily. When calcium deposits build up, they restrict the flow in the heater pipes. So, clean your coffee machine regularly and you’ll have coffee that brews much more quickly.

– Keep the basket from overflowing

Another problem that arises is an overflowing basket. This happens when you don’t clean it and the water can’t move as it should. However, if this happens even when you clean it properly, you might be filling it with too many grounds or you could be using grounds that are too fine.

– It will keep the hot plate working right

The hot plate is essential for great coffee too. When you get spills on it, wipe them up immediately with a soft cloth. Leaving them to burn on the plate ruins the finish and can lead to rusting.

What happens when you don’t clean out your coffee maker?

We’ve talked about the benefits of cleaning your coffee maker, but what happens if you just don’t clean it? If you think about everything we mentioned, it’s not appealing is it? It really takes very little time to clean your coffee maker and the results are better coffee and your better health.

Leaving these things unchecked allows for the breeding of pathogenic organisms that you’re drinking and breathing in. And it’s not just you either…it’s all your loved ones. Even if you have kids that are too young for coffee, you’re allowing these germs into your home where they can make your children sick as well.

And if it’s just you, if you have gastrointestinal issues, you might be surprised to find that by cleaning your coffee maker, those issues disappear. Mold and bacteria exposure can make you sick in so many ways so be vigilant in your home and clean these things out of your coffee maker.

If you even think you’ve been exposed to mold, you should have a checkup at the doctor to be sure you’re OK. Then start keeping things cleaner, beginning with your coffee maker. Even in homes where everything else is pristine, we often forget about cleaning the coffee maker. Now that you know though, it’s time to make a change for the better!


Cleaning your coffee maker is an essential task you should be sure to do regularly. Failing to do so won’t just make your coffee taste blah, but it will also make you and your family very sick. You wouldn’t eat food from your fridge with mold on it, so why would you drink coffee from a machine you don’t clean out?

Take the steps above to clean your coffee machine and keep your health and your coffee in beautiful condition!


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