Want better-tasting morning brew? Try cleaning your coffee maker

We've got the solution for de-gunking your favorite kitchen appliance

Published February 5, 2021 10:05AM (EST)

 (Rocky Luten / Food52)
(Rocky Luten / Food52)

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For most people, the coffee maker is a sacred appliance tasked with providing the day's critical caffeine supply. And while the coffee maker gets a ton of use for this reason, it doesn't actually receive as much care as it should. If you clean your coffee maker regularly, we stand corrected — but we'd be willing to bet you don't. You're not alone, though. Until we did our research, we weren't maintaining our coffee makers properly, either. But once you know, you'll never go back to your old ways.

According to an NSF International study, the reservoir of a coffee maker is the fifth germiest place in the home. Yeast and mold were found in half of the makers tested, which really shouldn't come as a surprise. The warm, moist environment of most reservoirs is ideal for such microbes, as well as other germs and bacteria, to grow. We can all agree this is pretty off-putting, but it can also be harmful, especially to those with allergies and asthma.

On top of the yucky, potentially dangerous consequences of neglecting your coffee maker, failing to clean it can also negatively affect the functioning of the machine and the flavor of the coffee itself. (Nooooo!) A buildup of hard water minerals can result in clogging, while buildup of coffee oils left behind by brewed coffee can become rancid and cause even a fresh pot to taste bitter. These can both easily be avoided, however, by regularly removing the residue.

And that's why we're here, to show you exactly how to properly maintain your coffee maker. With a commitment to a combination of a daily quick-clean and deeper monthly cleaning, you'll be sipping cups of safe, delicious joe in perpetuity.

Your Daily Routine

Step 1: Accept that you must clean your coffee maker every single day. 
Step 2: Dump out all your coffee grounds. 
Step 3: Wash all the removable parts of your coffee maker with warm, soapy water. That means the lid, filter basket, and carafe should all get a once-over. A sponge is highly recommended. 
Step 4: Once all the items are sparkling, either towel dry them or leave them out to air-dry. 
Step 5: Wipe down the exterior of the coffee maker with a damp paper towel. 
Step 6: Reassemble the coffee maker for tomorrow's very necessary brew.

Your Monthly Deep Clean

Step 1: Force yourself to perform a deep clean, knowing your future self will thank you. 
Step 2: Fill the reservoir with equal parts white distilled vinegar and water. If your maker is extra icky, you can increase the amount of vinegar. Vinegar has natural sanitizing properties that will dissolve mineral deposits, cut through grime, and overall deodorize. 
Step 3: Place a filter into the machine's empty basket, position the carafe in place, and brew the solution halfway. 
Step 4: Turn off the coffee maker and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes. 
Step 5: Turn the coffee maker back on and complete the brewing. 
Step 6: Dump out the pot of vinegar water. 
Step 7: Flush the vinegar scent out of the coffee maker by brewing a pot of fresh water. 
Step 8: Brew a second pot of fresh water and feel happy that you don't have to complete this process again for another month.

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By Morgan Goldberg

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