How to clean a coffee maker

How to clean a coffee maker
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Choosing from the very best coffee makers or simply maintaining the machine you already have is no mean feat. We’ve found all the handy hacks on how to clean a coffee maker so that it stays looking great, functioning well, and lasts for as long as possible. 

We’ll be including advice on how to descale a coffee maker, and whether or not using vinegar is a good idea - as well as answering questions on how often you should clean your coffee maker and importantly, how to actually do it.

Cleaning and maintaining your machine is key whether you’re an avid coffee drinker or just enjoy the odd cup of java here and there because these makers can get packed full of bacteria. If you live somewhere with hard water, limescale can also build-up inside the maker’s tubes decreasing functionality and also sitting inside any water tanks.

How you clean each coffee maker depends on which type you have, but we’ve included some tips for how to clean every element of any machine so that you can pick and choose what’s relevant for you. 

How often should you clean your coffee maker? 

You should clean your coffee maker each time you use it but when it comes to deep cleaning, aim to do this every one to two months. If you use your coffee maker several times a day, consider deep cleaning more than once a month so you can avoid any blockages in the parts. 

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How to clean a coffee maker water tank 

The water reservoir on your coffee maker might still look ok but it’s important to stay on top of cleaning this thoroughly as they can harbor germs and limescale. If you live in an area with hard water, this is particularly important and will help to rid the reservoir of that murky-colored staining it often gets. 

To give your water reservoir a deep clean, remove it from the maker itself and empty it out making sure there’s nothing inside. Next, half fill the reservoir with white vinegar and the other half with water - leave it to soak for an hour or so. This solution helps to loosen any limescale from the walls of the tank. If you don’t fancy using this vinegar solution, you can purchase descaler sachets, which are normally used in kettles, as these are also great at removing limescale with very little effort. 

If you’re using an espresso machine or a drip machine, let the vinegar solution run through the pipes and out of the maker. This will treat the limescale and any grime left in the tubes. Once that’s all done, rinse the water reservoir in warm soapy water and swill to make sure there are no lingering odors. Let the water tank fully dry before you place it back into the machine.

How to clean a coffee maker

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to clean a coffee maker steam arm 

The steam wand on a coffee maker should be wiped clean after every use so that milk doesn’t dry up and stick to it. Even with a good wipe each time, steam arms can get congested with dried milk overtime, so running the vinegar and water solution we mentioned earlier is a good place to start. 

Scrubbing at the steam arm alone isn’t enough for a deep clean, instead, we’d recommend making up the same vinegar and water solution in a milk steaming jug. Submerge your steam wand and let it soak until the dried-on milk is soft enough to gently wipe away. 

How to clean a coffee maker drip tray 

Not all coffee makers will have a drip tray, but if you use a bean-to-cup coffee machine or an espresso maker, there’s often a little tray that gets grubby. For pretty much all removable parts on your machine, including the drip tray, you can give them a good clean by soaking them in warm soapy water. Be sure not to use boiling water as this can crack any plastic coatings.

Cleaning the drip tray can throw up issues when you just can’t get all those tiny grains of ground coffee out. If you’ve already tried gently tipping it upside down and the grains still won’t budge, use a small attachment on your vacuum to suck up every last scrap of content - then give the drip tray a good soak in soapy water. 

How to clean a coffee maker

(Image credit: Getty)

How to clean the exterior of a coffee maker 

Keep the outside of your coffee maker looking great by giving it a thorough wipe down with a damp cloth that has been soaked in soapy water. Even if it’s tempting to use a scouring pad to scrape off any dried-on coffee or milk, don’t use anything abrasive as this will damage the coating on the machine. To prevent water marks, dry your machine with a clean towel.

Sophie Bird

Sophie writes about all things appliance-related and is currently the Home Editor at TechRadar's sister site, Top Ten Reviews. When she's not testing coffee machines and appliances, Sophie is thinking of eating delicious food, and asking people what they're having for dinner.