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How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

Updated on February 1, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

image via Morguefile
image via Morguefile

The best way to make sure your coffee tastes great every time is knowing how to clean a coffee maker with vinegar. There are other types of cleaners on the market but vinegar is a natural cleaner and is gentle on your coffee maker.

Coffee beans contain natural oils that can build up and cause bitterness or an off taste to the coffee. In addition, water contains minerals that can also build up. Pretty soon your coffee begins to taste flat, stale, and bitter.

You should plan to clean your coffee maker every six to eight weeks. This is not a large investment of time; you will only need about one hour to thoroughly clean the machine. Keeping your coffee maker clean on a schedule will keep minerals from building up and will ensure that your coffee tastes fresh and delicious.

Removing these mineral deposits, or scale, will also keep your coffee maker running at peak efficiency and help it to last longer.

Process for Cleaning a Coffee Maker with Vinegar

You will need the following items:

  • Rag
  • White vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Water


  1. Mix vinegar and water in a ratio of one part vinegar to three parts water. For a twelve cup coffee maker this means three cups of white vinegar to nine cups of water. Use the carafe to mix the vinegar and water.
  2. Pour the mixture into the water reservoir of the coffee maker. Replace the carafe on the warming plate. Turn the coffee maker on and let it run through a brewing cycle, as if you were brewing coffee.
  3. Allow the vinegar and water solution to cool.
  4. Pour the solution back through the coffee maker.
  5. Now, pour out the vinegar solution. It will make your garbage disposal smell great. Run a full carafe of clean, cold water through the coffee maker. Pour out and repeat with another carafe of cold water.
  6. If you have a permanent filter this is a great time to clean the filter and the carafe as well. Wash the filter out thoroughly and then soak it in a solution of one part of white vinegar to three parts of water, just like you used for the coffee maker. Leave it soak while you are working on the coffee maker and then rinse thoroughly. Wash both the carafe and filter in hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry
  7. Wash the appliance off with hot soapy water, paying special attention to cracks, designs, or anywhere that could harbor dirt. Wipe off the cord.

Just Like New

At this point your coffee maker is just like new. In order to keep it that way you can try this little trick. Drop a marble in the water reservoir of your coffeemaker. Leave it in there for the month. It will attract the minerals and other deposits and keep these things from building up between cleanings. Once a week remove the marble, wash it thoroughly and replace it.

Usng vinegar to clean your coffee pot will save you money both in the cleaning and by lengthening the life of your coffee maker.


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    • HakSpeak profile image

      Hasan A. Hakim 5 years ago

      Thx 4 that info...(Cleaning Coffee Maker)

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 5 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      i love the fact that simple things often work as well or better than commercial ones.

    • hobbitinspiration profile image

      hobbitinspiration 5 years ago from Monmouth, OR

      Love the information! I first found out about this in the magazine Real Simple but they didn't mention the marble trick...I'm going to have to try that!

    • profile image

      Alexandra Leon 6 years ago

      Im cleaning my coffee maker just know after almost five months of use... I hope this works. Thanks for the tip

    • profile image

      Just James 6 years ago

      Oh, and about the marble trick: At least with my coffee maker, it is not worth the trouble. Seems every time it rolls right into the spout in the reservoir, so no water comes out. Doesn't matter how many times I move it or wedge it into a corner.

    • profile image

      tlc 6 years ago

      james i think it means to run it through again, i just did it it works great reminds me of coloring easter eggs tho peee u.

    • profile image

      JustJames 6 years ago

      Does number 4 mean running it through another brewing cycle with the vinegar/water, or just pouring it into the reservoir and pouring it out of there?

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 6 years ago from Northeastern United States

      I am so glad that I read this. I've tried the vinegar thing but wasn't using nearly enough! I love good tasting coffee and can't wait to try this!

    • profile image

      marie 6 years ago

      awesome advice, i guess i'm the youngest of the bunch as a coffee drinker,bought this coffeemaker 5 yrs. ago when my mother passed away,i guess this was a way to keep her memories around after years of making coffee for her,i bought a new one today, thinking the old one has seen its last days,well what do u know, it still works,and better after cleaning it. thank you very much

    • profile image

      Russell 6 years ago

      Hahaha....mine is cleaning now, too! I didn't have much vinegar left, so I just used what I could. I guess it will have to do till next time. Thanks!

    • profile image

      JenZel 6 years ago

      Thank you very much....mine is cleaning right now. Yay

    • profile image

      bwhyers 6 years ago

      can you clean with bleach?

    • profile image

      ignugent17 6 years ago

      I will try to clean our coffee maker with the vinegar today. Thanks for the tip.

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 6 years ago from India

      One quarter water, three quarters vinegar for the first pot. Just keep pouring cold clean water (maybe about 5-6 more pots) until the vinegar smell leaves.

    • profile image

      Maya 6 years ago

      I've been using the vinegar solution above for a while now, but the smell is just overwhelming! Just discovered this new product at William-Sonoma and thought I'd share. It's called Full Circle. Totally odor-free, works super fast and is biodegradable. You might want to check it out as an alternative!

    • aleida_77 profile image

      aleida_77 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Great tips. I love reading about the use of natural products at home. There's always so much to learn.

    • profile image

      Brian 7 years ago

      Thanks a lot. I got my great aunt's percolator the kind with the silver insert. Makes good tea once you figure out what your strength color you need to make it.

    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 7 years ago from Texas

      This works so well! The first time I was nervous the vinegar would damage the coffee maker, but it does a great job.

    • profile image

      Bob Oracle 7 years ago

      hey, i couldn't agree more that vinegar is the best thing to clean with. alternative chemical cleaners leave chemical residues which end up in the coffee and then you so best to leave these well alone.


    • profile image

      Mike Chronos 8 years ago

      Yes! I love the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to remove coffee stains. We purchase those by the case. Nice tips to clean the coffeemaker at home. Using vinegar is a great way to get your pot clean.

    • Frugal Fanny profile image

      Frugal Fanny 8 years ago from BC

      What I do is fill the reservoir to the max with a half and half mix of water and vinegar and let it run on a normal brew cycle. After that is done, run it again using only clean water. I do this in conjunction with the marble method, and it keeps my coffee tasting great. Also, a Mr Clean Magic Eraser works wonders at getting a coffee stain off your pot and cups.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 8 years ago

      Nice tip. Let's see this particular coffee maker is about 2 years old and never been cleaned. No wonder people say I make a horrible cup of coffee? What am I doing to my guests?!!?

    • profile image

      Marelisa 8 years ago

      I knew you could clean a coffee maker with vinegar, but I didn't know the exact procedure to follow. Now I do, thank you. :-)

    • e-bookssite profile image

      e-bookssite 8 years ago from Lehigh Acres, Fl.

      Thank you for tip. As an avid coffee drinker, I probably need to do this once every two weeks. I'm going to have try that marble trick. I live in Fl. and we're on well water. Thanks again.

    • DRG Da Real Grinc profile image

      Felix J Hernandez 8 years ago from All over the USA

      Thanks for this tip, my coffee maker did need a good cleaning...1