Coffee tasting bitter lately? Give coffee buildup a big send-off with this quick, easy method for cleaning a coffeemaker and carafe with vinegar and water. You'll be enjoying a fresh, delicious cup of java before you know it.

By Jan Soults Walker
July 18, 2016

Oily sludge and mineral buildup eventually form on your coffeemaker and pot, creating stains, gumming up the brewing process, and ultimately producing bitter-tasting brew. But did you also know that at least one study shows that an unclean coffeemaker is a breeding ground for yeast, mold, and bacteria? Yuck. The good news is that you can learn how to clean a coffeepot to look sparkling and (nearly) new in just a few easy steps. Here's how to clean your classic drip-style coffeemaker with just vinegar and water. We’ll also show you how to descale a Keurig—it’s the same materials, just a slightly different process. No matter which kind of coffeemaker you have, you'll need to set aside a little time to allow the vinegar to work, so don’t do it right before hosting any coffee-loving guests.

What You Need

  • Coffeemaker
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Water
  • Coffee filter

Step 1: Mix Vinegar and Water

To clean your coffee maker, begin by filling the reservoir with a mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half water. You can increase the ratio of vinegar to water if your coffeemaker has a particularly nasty case of buildup. The vinegar not only sanitizes the coffeemaker and carafe, but it will also dissolve any accrued mineral deposits.

Step 2: Brew and Soak

Position a filter in the basket, and turn the brewer on. About halfway through brewing, turn the coffeemaker off, and allow the remaining vinegar solution to soak in the carafe and the reservoir for about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how much buildup you need to clear away.

Step 3: Finish Cycle and Clean

Turn the coffeemaker back on and allow it to complete the brewing cycle. Toss the paper filter, if there is one, and pour out the vinegar solution.

Now you can flush the vinegar scent and taste from the coffeemaker. Fill the reservoir with fresh water, put a filter in the basket, turn the coffeemaker on, and let it complete the brewing cycle. Remove the filter, pour out the water, and repeat with clean water for a second cycle. Wipe down your coffeemaker and coffeepot with a clean cloth.

How to Clean a Keurig Coffeemaker

Don’t worry; cleaning your Keurig coffeemaker isn’t any more complicated than a traditional drip-pot version. Just as with a standard coffeemaker, distilled white vinegar and water are your go-to Keurig cleaning solution.

What You Need

  • Keurig coffeemaker
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Water
  • Empty mug

Step 1: Run Vinegar Solution

Before you start cleaning a Keurig coffeemaker, make sure it has no pods in it. Place a large empty mug on the tray. Empty any water from the reservoir, remove the water filter if you have one, and turn off your machine. Refill the reservoir to the maximum line with a solution of distilled vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio. Turn it back on, select the largest cup setting, and allow the vinegar solution to run through the machine as many times as it takes for "More/Add Water" to come on. Dump out the hot liquid from the mug in a sink as needed.

Step 2: Let Sit and Rinse Reservoir

Let the Keurig coffeemaker sit on for at least 30 minutes. When time's up, take out the reservoir and rinse it with water to get rid of any vinegar residue. You may have to rinse a few times.

Step 3: Run with Water

Repeat Step 1 but with plain water to rinse out the vinegar from the machine. Again, place an empty mug on the drip tray. Pour water into the reservoir up to the maximum fill line. Use the largest cup setting and allow the water to run through the machine as many times as it takes for it to empty. Now you have a clean Keurig all ready to go for your next morning brew!

Step 4: Use a Descaling Solution (Optional)

If the mineral buildup in your coffeemaker is particularly heavy or taste doesn't improve, repeat the process with a manufacturer-approved descaling solution. Keurig recommends descaling every 3-6 months for best results.

Buy It: Keurig Descaling Solution, $10

Comments (2)

June 18, 2018
What process would you recommend for those of us with Keurig Coffee Makers?
July 27, 2018
I use white vinegar and filtered water to clean my Keurig in the same manner as described above.