Can you start your day without coffee? For many Americans, the answer is, "heck no!"
We can all sing the Folgers theme song, and we all agree that it's one of the best parts of our morning routine... Unless your coffee tastes like an ashtray. If your coffee tastes "off," it's probably not the beans.
It means it time to clean your disgusting coffee maker.
Over time, calcium deposits can form inside your coffee maker. These deposits can become breeding grounds for bacteria, leading to bad coffee.
Cleaning the coffee pot is never at the top of anyone’s to-do list, but it’s essential. Not only to improve the taste of your coffee, but to keep you from being exposed to harmful germs.
Here is how you can clean your coffee maker (and pot) so every cup tastes just like it should.
Decalcifying a Traditional Coffee Maker With Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is an all-natural cleaning agent and a decalcifier. It removes both the calcium buildup and the bacteria and mold that can grow inside the machine.
Most regular drip coffee makers recommend decalcifying with white vinegar every three to six months.
It is the easiest and safest way to clean your machine. Here's how to do it:
- Remove all coffee from the carafe. Drink up if there is any left in there you caffeine addict!
- Remove the filter and discard all the grounds. Rinse the filter basket and the carafe and make sure there are no grounds stuck in anything.
- Fill your carafe halfway with distilled white vinegar and the rest of the way with water. Pour it into the water reservoir. It should fill to capacity.
- Start a brew cycle. Midway through the brew cycle, turn off the coffee maker and let it sit for an hour or so. Then turn the coffee maker back on and let the brew cycle finish.
- Water will become discolored and gross. This is good, that means the vinegar is working. Discard the old cruddy water and rinse out the carafe.
- Now, with plain freshwater, run three more complete brew cycles. Allow it to cool slightly between cycles before refilling the water chamber to avoid an accidental steam facial. Rinse the carafe and refill with fresh water each time.
- Wash the carafe and basket in hot soapy water and wipe everything down. Leave the parts out to dry thoroughly.
What if You Have a Keurig?
Keurigs are convenient, but as with anything, there is always a trade-off.
They have significantly more inner workings than traditional coffee makers. Which means, they can harbor more germs and bacteria.
Don’t let that scare you. It just means you need to clean it more often!
Once a week, wash the mug tray and K-cup holder in warm soapy water. Remove the water filter. Wipe everything down, rinse and let dry before you put it all back together.
Replace the filter cartridge every two months and follow the instructions on the new cartridge to ensure you are doing it properly.
Descale your machine every three months. Keurig recommends a detailed descaling technique. It is very similar to your standard coffee pot. Turn the machine off, empty the water, add the cleaning solution and run through the brew cycle until clean. Then let sit for a bit and rinse thoroughly.
Do Commercial Coffee Cleaners Really Work?
The simple answer is yes, commercial coffee cleaners work.
Most coffee makers recommend using vinegar to decalcify your coffee maker, but if the smell of vinegar wafting through your kitchen makes your stomach churn, there are odor-less options.
We like Affresh pods for single-use machines. If using an all-natural solution is important to you, be sure to read the ingredients carefully.
Can You Use Bleach to Clean Your Coffee Maker?
No! Do not use bleach to clean the inside of your coffee maker!
No coffee machine makers recommend bleach — not one. Only kamikazes with a death wish would ever recommend this.
Common sense will tell you this is not a good idea. Bleach is highly corrosive and can do damage to the inside of your coffee maker, not to mention the damage it can do your body if any residue remains in the pot.
Just as bleach is not recommended to clean the inside of stainless steel dishwashers, it is not recommended to clean coffee makers.
Do you really want to drink out of something that had bleach flowing through it anyway?
Daily Tips for Keeping Your Coffee Maker Clean
- Leave the water reservoir cover open when not in use – this way, it can try out completely between uses and will eliminate the chance of growing mold.
- Wash removable parts (carafe, basket, gold filter) after each use with soap, or even better put them in the dishwasher.
- If you ever see grounds in your filter basket, remove them and wash the basket. Grounds that get stuck in the machine can affect its performance.
- If you notice grounds in your K-cup holder, remove them with a sponge. If normal brewing is still causing you troubles, there might be coffee grounds stuck in the needles. Grounds can block the water from flowing through correctly. Make sure to unplug the machine and gently use a paperclip to get rid of the grounds causing the clogging. Once unclogged, rinse and begin using your Keurig normally.
Never Skip the Morning Brew Again
The next time you notice your coffee tasting funky, don’t worry.
You’re well equipped to get it tasting delicious again. Keep your coffee machine clean and happy, and you can give the local barista a run for their money. You'll be humming that Folger’s tune again in no time!