How to Clean Coffee Maker with Vinegar: Simple Steps for a Fresh Brew

Learn the straightforward steps to safely and effectively clean your coffee maker with vinegar, ensuring your machine stays in optimal condition for the perfect cup of coffee.

What You’ll Need

what youll need

Gather the following items to ensure a thorough cleaning process:

  • White distilled vinegar: Vinegar is a natural descaling agent that effectively breaks down mineral buildup without the use of harsh chemicals.
  • Water: You’ll need fresh water to both dilute the vinegar for the cleaning solution and to rinse the coffee maker after the cleaning cycle.
  • A clean, dry cloth: This will be used to wipe down the exterior of the coffee maker and any components after they have been cleaned.
  • A sponge or brush: In case there are any stubborn stains or residue, a sponge or a soft-bristle brush can help remove them without scratching surfaces.

Ensure the vinegar and water are at room temperature to avoid temperature shock to your coffee maker’s components, which could potentially cause damage. Use white distilled vinegar for its high acidity and lack of coloring, which could stain or damage the coffee maker. It’s also best to select a cloth that’s lint-free to prevent leaving any particles behind that could clog the machine.


Begin by filling the coffee maker’s reservoir with equal parts water and white vinegar. This mixture is effective for dissolving mineral build-up and cleaning internal components.

Proceed to place a filter into the machine’s basket. This serves to catch any debris loosened by the vinegar solution during the cleaning process.

Ensure the carafe is in its position on the warming plate. The carafe will collect the cleaning solution as it cycles through, so it should be empty before you start.

Next, start the coffee maker. Initiate the brew cycle to allow the vinegar solution to flow through the machine, cleaning it as it goes.

After several minutes into the cycle, turn off the coffee maker. Halting the cycle midway lets the vinegar solution sit in the water channels and reservoir, which helps break down the limescale and buildup more effectively.

Run Half of a Drip Cycle

Begin by filling the coffee maker’s reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water. Turn the machine on and allow it to start the brewing process. As the solution begins to flow through, it will start dissolving mineral buildup and cleansing the internal components.

Once about half the reservoir is emptied, turn off the coffee maker. Allow the hot vinegar solution to sit for 30 to 60 minutes. This pause gives the acidic solution ample time to work on the deposits and any residual oils from the coffee.

During this time, avoid the temptation to complete the cycle or intervene. The standing period is crucial for thorough descaling and cleaning. The hot vinegar solution penetrates and loosens scale effectively during this time.

Run a Cycle With Water Twice

After the vinegar solution has done its work, it’s crucial to thoroughly rinse out the machine to prevent any lingering vinegar taste. Begin by refilling the reservoir with fresh, cold water — the same amount you’d use to make coffee. Start a new brew cycle and let it complete. Discard the hot water from the pot.

Repeat this process one more time with fresh water to ensure all vinegar residues are gone. The goal is to have water that smells fresh, with no trace of vinegar odor. Taste-testing the water after the second cycle isn’t necessary, but it can provide additional reassurance of a vinegar-free coffee maker, ready for your next brew. Remember, two full cycles with clean water should be adequate for a thorough rinse.

How Often to Clean a Coffee Pot

Daily cleaning with dish soap and water is essential to remove coffee oils and residue. For a deeper clean with vinegar, aim to decalcify your coffee maker once a month. In areas with hard water, increase the frequency to every two weeks to prevent mineral buildup. Regular maintenance not only improves flavor but also extends the lifespan of your machine. If your coffee starts to taste off or your machine runs slowly, it’s a clear sign that a cleaning is overdue. Always consult your machine’s manual for specific recommendations, as manufacturer guidelines may vary.