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How to Clean a Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

Updated on March 25, 2012

Why do You Need to Clean Your Coffee Maker

If you are anything like me, you count on your trusted coffee maker to give you that fresh cup of Joe to get your morning started just right.

Many of us clean the carafe and may even clean the coffee reservoir, but forgot about the inside of the coffee maker.

Sediment, lime, calcium and mold can build up in your coffee maker, preventing you from having a truly great cup of coffee!

If you have a white coffee maker you may see some of this build up, but it can go completely unnoticed in a black one. The only thing that you may start to notice is a bitter tasting cup of coffee.

A good cleaning can remove this build up and bring your coffee maker back up to its peak performance.

Your coffee maker should be cleaned monthly to be free of sediment and oils to provide you with the best cup of coffee possible.


Harsh Chemicals and Vinegar to Clean Your Coffee Maker

Most recommendations for cleaning your coffee maker are to use vinegar or a solution such as CLR, which will get your coffee maker clean.

The downside to these cleaners are that both solutions have a very strong and unpleasant odor.

I recently just bought a new coffee maker because I used CLR to clean my old one and I could not get rid of that smell! I made several cups of coffee and it tasted horrible! I had to give in and buy a brand new coffee maker.

Now that I have a fresh start I wanted to find a solution to cleaning up the sediment without using vinegar.


Cleaning Your Coffee Maker with Lemon Juice

The citrus smell of lemons is prevalent in many of the cleaners that you can buy in the store. Lemons provide a refreshing and invigorating smell that is welcomed in most homes.

Did you know that you can make your own cleaners with lemons and save yourself money and the exposure to harsh chemicals?

Lemons are acidic and can provide some antibacterial and antiseptic properties for cleaning. That acid is just the thing that is needed for getting rid of the build up in your coffee maker!

Lemon juice is a fresh, convenient and inexpensive cleaner.

You can either use fresh lemon juice or you can easily find lemon juice concentrate at the grocery store.

I prefer buying a large bag at of lemons and always having them handy. I use them for skin care, cleaning and of course eating!

Step by Step Instructions for Cleaning with Lemon Juice

  • Make sure your coffee maker is free of any coffee grounds and run your machine through a water only cycle once. Make sure you have an empty filter in place so that it runs properly.
  • Mix a solution of 1/2 parts lemon juice and 1/2 parts water.
  • Discard the water from the carafe and turn off the coffee maker.
  • Pour your solution into the coffee maker (turned off) and allow your solution to sit for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. This will give the lemon juice time to really break up the oils.
  • Turn the coffee maker on and allow the solution to run through (again make sure you have an empty filter in).
  • If it has been an extremely long time since you have cleaned your coffee maker you may want to repeat the process. Please beware to NOT put the HOT solution back through, this may ruin your coffee maker. Make a fresh solution to pour into the pot or let the original solution cool completely and run it back through.
  • When the cleaning is complete run a clean water cycle through the coffee maker one or two more times to get rid of any lemon smell or taste.
  • Remove any removable parts (the carafe, coffee reservoir, etc.) and wash them with the same lemon solution to remove any oils that remain. Then re-wash these parts with dish soap and water to remove any lemon taste.

Now you have a beautiful, clean coffee maker and can enjoy your coffee, knowing that it is free of bacteria and foul tasting build up! The best part is that your house won't smell like vinegar until Easter comes ;-)


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    • profile image

      James 23 months ago

      Thank you! Great tip.

      I hate vinegar flavored coffee!

    • profile image

      Jason 2 years ago

      When I worked at Pizza Hut we used to clean the coffee pots with lemons, ice and salt. Worked every time.

    • profile image

      LYNN 2 years ago


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      Cathy 3 years ago

      This is great! I just found out that I am allergic to penicillen and have to avoid foods with high histamines right now because it will 'accentuate' the allergen One food that is high in histamine is vinegar. Some fruits i need to avoid too, but lemons is not one of them. Thank yo for this idea!

    • profile image

      teya 3 years ago

      Never use soap on your coffee pot or the carafe it sticks to the oils left from the coffee and makes your coffee taste like soap and the taste is almost impossible to het out

    • profile image

      jake 3 years ago

      how about oranges?

    • Brooke profile image

      Brooke 5 years ago from Oregon

      I've never tried limes, but I would imagine it could...if you try it let me know!

    • profile image

      Andrea 5 years ago

      Would using limes give the same outcome??

    • Brooke profile image

      Brooke 5 years ago from Oregon

      Thanks everyone. I am right there with you with the vinegar smell, YUCK! I don't see why it wouldn't work with a Keurig? If you try it out, let us know how it works.

    • profile image

      good,d 5 years ago

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      Belew34 5 years ago

      I wonder if it works with keurig? The stuff they suggest is a chemical and we are trying to go green and the vineger is horrific as it takes way to long to clean all of it out thanks for the tip :)

    • frogpetals profile image

      frogpetals 5 years ago from Christiansburg, VA

      My coffee maker is my best friend!! But I hate the vinegar smell and the taste (that never comes out) when I clean it. Thanks so much for this tip!!!! My coffee maker also thanks you!! :)

    • profile image

      jennilynne 5 years ago

      Wow, Ive heard of cleaning the carafe with lemons if you birn coffee to the bottom, but Ive never heard of using it to actually clean the ickyness that clogs up the actual coffee maker. Im trying it now, so Ill let ya know if it works as good as it sounds.. Thanks for the advice

    • Global-Chica profile image

      Anna 5 years ago from New York, NY

      Wow, what a fabulous and eco-friendly solution to cleaning coffee makers! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm going to try this out.

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a fantastic idea. I will try this technique on my coffee maker. It is due to be cleaned!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I had no idea you could clean your coffee maker with lemons! My parents always use vinegar and you can always taste it afterward. I'll pass this along to them! Thanks!