Best Way to Clean a Drip Coffee Maker?

TL: DR - Need best way to clean a drip coffee maker.

After doing far too many searches, and finding a lot of conflicting information (YES baking soda! NO baking soda! YES bleach! NEVER bleach!), I figured I’d ask the experts here:

What’s the best - and safest - way to clean a basic drip coffee maker? It’s a cheap one, the base Mr. Coffee model, and it’s used for about three pots a day.

We have hard water, to the point where we need to soak our showerhead about once a month to keep the holes open. As you might imagine, we get a lot of crud built up in our coffee maker, too. At this point it takes about 35 minutes to brew a full pot (when the machine is new, it takes about 10 minutes).

We’re not coffee snobs (even buy pre-ground!) and aren’t in the buying-water-expressly-for-coffee bracket. And we’re not really in the keep-buying-new-coffee-makers bracket, either.

So…how do you clean your drip coffee maker?

Vinegar dissolves the minerals whose scaling is probably slowing your machine. Fill the resevoir at least halfway with vinegar; turn on the machine until it starts to brew; turn off the machine and let it sit for an hour with the heated liquid in the coil. Then run the machine a couple times with vinegar and another couple times with water to rinse.


It works, but since I dislike the smell of hot vinegar permeating the house, I buy the powdered coffee-maker cleaner that’s sold in supermarkets/hardware stores.


Citric acid solution is recommended by many baristas. It’s easy and cheap to mix up your own.


Thank you! Any idea if the vinegar would also work with a metal tea kettle - using the same approach?

Looks like that’s what’s in the product(s) @greygarious linked to. Definitely on the same approach :slight_smile:

Yes, I’m not thrilled with the idea, either - especially not in this heat, when scents appear to be much stronger (I’m sure that’s a skewed perception).

I should mention that citric acid solution has the advantage of being odorless, so it won’t smell up the kitchen.


plug it in outside or stick it outside a window :slight_smile:

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White vinegar as many have suggested is a good way, it will take several pots of water once used to run through the system to get that bitter vinegar taste out of the machine.

Or you can use something like this product as well.

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I also buy a descaler. Works great.

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Thank you for the detailed instructions, @BoneAppetite: I followed them last night and they worked. Of course, it was also 113 outside and we don’t have central air, so a good part of the house is still well-scented. On the other hand, today’s multiple pots all brewed very fast.

I have, though, ordered one of the descaler mixes: don’t know how much hot vinegar I can handle smelling!

Question: would the vinegar or the descaler also work in a metal tea kettle?

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By the way, I used to carry a glass-lined thermos of coffee to work. I could see that scum built up inside it, but a bottle brush didn’t get it off. A coworker told me to use powdered dishwasher detergent with very hot water, shaking the thermos well, the letting it sit for at least 10 minutes. Works a treat - all the gunk dissolves without scrubbing. If you have the powder on hand, it’s worth trying it on the kettle.

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I’d never put non-natural chemicals in my coffeemaker or kettle.


For removing scale, citric acid is tops. Food grade and safe. Products like Cleancaf use descalers and other ingredients that clean. Maybe surfactants

I use Cleancaf but also have a large container of citric acid in the pantry

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We’re actually renting an old house - no dishwasher here (also no central AC - which is much more unpleasant); but the next time I go visit friends who have a dishwasher I’ll cop some powdered detergent.

Btw, the day after I did the vinegar thing, our coffee maker died. I think it was a complete coincidence. Luckily, we had a backup in the basement, so I was able to unbox and press that into service.

Yup. I also make up a 6% solution and put it in a plastic spray bottle as a general household cleaner for removing hard water scale. Amazingly effective!

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Great one! And what if to use professional help like this one? They are professionals in cleaning of everything. Why not ask to do so?