7 EASY Steps – How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

With more than 45% of Americans using drip coffee makers daily (1), it has never been more important to keep these devices sanitized. Although there are plenty of coffee maker cleaning solutions on the market, you don’t need to fall for their sales pitch.

Instead of shelling out money for “miracle cleaners,”we suggest trying our homemade recipe based ona vinegar solution. It’s effective, easy to use, and cheap. Thus, you can spend your money on coffee, not unnecessary chemical concoctions. This method should not be used for espresso machines.

1. Create Your Vinegar Solution Using our “Secret Recipe”

Putting together an effective vinegar solution is the first step. While the ratio of water and vinegar in the solution is a hotly debated topic, our experience shows that a one-part vinegar and two-part water solution should handle most of yourcleaning tasks. Depending on how often you clean your coffee maker, you might mix a more or less potent solution.

We know the recipe is not really a “secret,”but once you try it, you’ll know why big cleaning companies would rather us keep quiet.

2. Put a New Filter In

If your coffee maker has an old filter inside, make sure to replace it with a new one. Using an old, used filter will decrease the effectiveness of the cleaning solution.

3. Pour Your Vinegar Solution into Your Coffee Maker

Measure out the correct amount (the amount that fills the coffee pot of your maker) of the water-vinegar solution and pour it into your coffee maker.

Cleaning Coffee Maker

4. Turn Your Coffee Maker on to Brew

Turn on your coffee maker to “brew” and let it run through the whole water-vinegar solution, as it drips out into the coffee pot. Once the procedure is complete, empty the coffee pot and turn off the coffee maker and let it cool. Anything between 20 and 40 minutes should do the trick, depending on how much build-up you need to remove.

The reservoirs of coffee makers are a breeding ground for yeast and mold. An International Household Germ Study carried out by NSF International showed that nearly 50% of coffee makers tested positive for yeast and mold (2).

5. Run This Cycle 3x

It will take more than one run to complete the cleaning process and removeall of the build-up. We propose going through the whole process three times before moving on to other steps. Once the process is complete, make sure youtoss out the filter and remove the vinegar residue from the coffee maker.

Now you want to fill the coffee maker with pure, clean water (you can use distilled water if you prefer) and turn it on to “brew.” Repeat this two times, and your coffee will not have that funky vinegar aftertaste. Make sure youdry the reservoir and the insides of the coffee maker.

Lisa Yakas is a senior project manager with NSF International, theinstitution that carried out the aforementioned study in 2011. In a USA Today interview, she explained,

Some of these organisms like these moist and damp places, that’s where they like to grow. If you eliminate that moisture altogether… then you eliminate their conditions to grow (3).

6. Deep Clean Your Coffee Pot

With the insides of your coffee maker clean, it is time to move onto the coffee pot. Depending on how much residue was in the coffee pot, the vinegar-water solution should remove some of it. Still, your safest bet is to fill the entire pot with vinegar and let it sit for 3 to 4 hours.

This should kill most of the dangerous germs, yeast, and mold. All you have to do is rinse the coffee pot thoroughly with warm water and dish soap several times to remove the smell and taste of the vinegar. If your pot has some extra-stubborn residue, using a scrub sponge or steel wool is an option. Alternatively, you can add some rock salt to the mix.

7. Clean the Outside of Your Coffee Maker

Don’t forget the exterior of your coffee maker. Put some vinegar in a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the device and wipe it clean. For hard to reach places, you can use cotton swabs soaked in vinegar.

Final Thoughts

It’s as simple as that! Yet, the truth is that most of us fail to clean our coffeemakers as often as we should – and doing so would make great coffee beans taste even better! This cleaning solution is easy to make, and the process is quick, simple, and inexpensive. There is absolutely no reason to purchase any special chemical products for cleaning a coffee maker.

If all the data and studies did not convince you, maybe you will appreciate the fact that your coffee will taste much better after you clean your coffee maker. Give it a try and see for yourself.


  1. https://disturbmenot.co/coffee-statistics/
  2. https://www.nsf.org/newsroom_pdf/2011_NSF_Household_Germ_Study_exec-summary.pdf
  3. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/01/16/keurig-nespresso-mr-coffee-how-properly-clean-your-coffee-maker/4465580002/

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