How to Clean a Coffee Maker

If you’re a coffee drinker, then your multi-cup or single-serve coffee maker probably sees daily use. But over time, these machines can get clogged by coffee grounds, oils and hard-water minerals that affect the taste of your daily cup and impact your appliance’s performance.

Even worse, the water reservoirs, tubes and other components can harbor yeast, mold and bacteria if your coffee maker isn’t cleaned regularly. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to keep this appliance in shape — all it takes is a small amount of time, a few simple tools and affresh® coffee maker cleaner.

How to clean and descale a coffee machine

You don’t need fancy tools to clean most coffee makers. In fact, most multi-cup and single-serve coffee makers can be cleaned with basics you probably have at home, such as white vinegar. Our guide will show you how to clean a coffee maker both with and without vinegar so you get great results.

A box of affresh coffee maker cleaner with assorted cleaning supplies.Coffee Machine Cleaning Supplies

Coffee Machine Cleaning Tools

  • A dishrag, towel, soft cloth or sponge
  • A small, soft brush (such as a toothbrush)
  • A coffee mug

Affresh® coffee maker cleaner is formulated to work with most coffee makers, so we recommend it for cleaning the inside parts of your appliance that you can’t reach, such as tubes, pumps and nozzles. Since every appliance is different, we recommend checking your user guide for the best way to clean your coffee maker or espresso machine.

1. Remove Coffee Grounds

Both multi-cup and single-serve coffee makers feature a basket that houses the coffee grounds and a paper or reusable filter. Before cleaning your coffee maker, be sure to remove these items from the machine. Coffee grounds can be added to your compost bin or buried in a garden bed, along with paper filters. Single-serve coffee pods cannot be recycled and should be thrown into your regular trash.

A photo highlighting the removable components of a coffee maker.2. Remove the filter basket, coffee carafe and other removable parts

As with anything that comes in contact with food or beverages, these items should be cleaned after every use. Each coffee maker is different, but in general, you can remove both the glass coffee carafe and the coffee filter basket from multi-cup coffee makers. Single-serve coffee makers don’t feature a carafe, but you should still remove any baskets or reusable filters from the machine.

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3. Clean reusable parts in warm, soapy water

Soak the glass carafe, filter basket and other removable items in warm, soapy water, then clean them with a soft cloth or sponge. Reusable filters can be gently cleaned with a soft brush to remove grounds or buildup.

Tip: Have you ever wondered why your coffee maker’s glass carafe can get dingy over time? It’s often due to tannins, the same compounds in coffee and tea that can stain the inside of your favorite mug. To remove these marks, fill the carafe with warm, soapy water and some plain, dry white rice. Swirling this mixture around in the carafe can help gently loosen stains without using harsh chemicals. Clean lingering stains in the coffee pot with baking soda or a gentle abrasive pad, then rinse and dry.

4. Wipe down your coffee maker’s exterior

Once you’ve cleaned the carafe and filter basket, turn your attention to the machine itself. Make sure that your coffee maker is turned off and completely cool, then wipe it down with a soft, damp cloth, paying particular attention to the control panel and warming plate. Perform this step frequently — either once per day or after each use.

If you have a single-serve coffee maker, you should also use this opportunity to clean the area around the water reservoir, as well as the area around the pod receptacle. Use distilled white vinegar and a toothbrush to clean in and around this area so you can remove coffee grounds, stains and buildup.

A person pours water into a coffee maker reservoir.5. Fill your coffee maker’s reservoir

After cleaning the areas of the coffee maker that you can reach, it’s time to clean the internal components that help your coffee maker run. Add enough water to fill your coffee machine’s water reservoir to the maximum fill line. If you’re using affresh® coffee maker cleaner, drop one tablet into the reservoir, then run a brew cycle like you would when making coffee. Don’t have coffee maker cleaner on hand? Fill the reservoir with equal parts water and distilled white vinegar, then let it sit for 30 – 60 minutes.

Tip: If you haven’t cleaned your coffee maker in a while and don’t have coffee maker cleaner, you may want to use straight white vinegar rather than a water/vinegar mix. Each coffee maker is different, so be sure to check your user guide to see if white vinegar is recommended for cleaning.

6. Run a clean or brew cycle

If your coffee maker has a cleaning cycle, select it and let it run. If not, run a brew cycle. (For single-serve coffee makers, run two brew cycles at the largest cup setting.) Your affresh® coffee maker cleaner tablet will help dissolve build-up as this cycle runs. Place your glass carafe or a large mug under the dispenser to collect the wash water. Discard the wash water once the clean or brew cycle is complete.

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7. Refill the water reservoir

After running your cleaning or brew cycle(s), you’ll need to rinse out the machine to flush away any lingering buildup. Fill the water reservoir to the max level, then place your glass carafe or coffee mug under the dispenser.

8. Run a brew cycle to rinse

Once again, run a brew cycle (or two, for single-serve machines) to rinse out your machine. When the cycle is complete, discard the rinse water and clean out your glass carafe or mug. Conduct this cleaning monthly to keep your coffee maker clean and clear of buildup.

Tip: Mold and bacteria thrive in warm, dark environments. To keep these elements at bay, allow your coffee maker to air out after brewing is complete.

Keep your hardworking appliances clean with affresh® appliance care

Affresh products lined up next to each other on a kitchen countertop.

Whether your to-do list includes washing towels, cleaning dishes or wiping down your refrigerator, affresh® appliance cleaners can help you clean the appliances that work hard for you every day. Our collection of laundry cleaners and kitchen cleaners include solutions like disposal cleaner, dishwasher cleaner, stainless steel cleaning spray, washing machine cleaner and more. All of our cleaning solutions will work with all brands of major appliances. Ready to get started? Explore our kitchen and laundry appliance cleaning options today.