How To Clean Your Coffee Maker, A Breeding Ground For Mold And Germs

Your drip coffee maker is one of the grossest objects in the house. Here's how (and how often) to wash it.
Image by Marie LaFauci via Getty Images

The best part of waking up is certainly not mold in your coffee cup. But if you’re not properly cleaning your drip coffee maker, there’s a good chance that mold is what you’re going to get. If not mold, then at least germs and other unwanted lurkers.

Coffee makers are among the germiest objects in the house, according to a 2011 study by the National Sanitation Foundation. That’s because coffee reservoirs are warm, moist environments, which makes them an ideal breeding ground for mold and yeast.

Want to enjoy that cup of coffee with peace of mind? Here’s the best way to clean your coffee maker, according to an expert.

How to wash a drip coffee maker

After making a pot of coffee, Portland, Oregon-based barista and Califia Farms partner Morgan Eckroth told HuffPost that it’s a good idea to hand wash your carafe, especially if it’s made of stainless steel.

“Most coffee carafes for drip coffee makers are double-walled, so if you put them in the dishwasher, that can end up damaging the insulation ― so I always recommend hand washing,” Eckroth said.

She advises using hot water and a nonscented soap to get it extra clean. “I prefer nonscented just because I don’t want any leftover flavors, even though I’m doing a good job rinsing. I don’t want to risk any lavender coffee when I don’t want it.”

Remove the coffee grounds and wash the basket.

Each time you use your coffee maker, hand wash the basket with lots of hot, soapy water, Eckroth said. “Generally, the coffee baskets on most home machines are going to be some sort of hard plastic, which can ultimately over time start to hold onto some flavor as coffee ends up sticking to it. So, use lots of hot soapy water. Having some sort of sponge or even some sort of scrubber is also super helpful because sometimes grime can build up if it goes for too long without a wash.”

If your grounds basket is made of metal, make sure you thoroughly dry it. “I’ve definitely had rust buildup happen when I forgot about them and did not dry them off,” Eckroth said.

Do a soft clean every 10 days.

People should do “soft cleans” of their coffee makers every 10 days or so. This entails using a product like Urnex cleaning powder, which helps to remove coffee oils and residues. “I will put some of the cleaning grounds into my coffee basket, like it were ground coffee, and then I’ll run a water cycle through it,” Eckroth said. “That way, all of that cleaning fluid is getting pushed through the pot. It’s getting pushed through the basket and you end up with a really nice clean machine overall.”

Descale your coffee maker every 1-2 months.

Finally, don’t forget to descale your coffee maker. What you see when you make coffee is delicious hot java with an inviting aroma. What you don’t see, though, is the accumulation of minerals like calcium and magnesium that pass through your coffee maker’s heating element. According to Urnex, this buildup of mineral scale can prevent water from reaching its optimal brewing temperature, which can block water flow and also prevent your coffee from heating properly. “Generally, descaling is recommended every one to two months,” Eckroth said.

The process of descaling is a bit time consuming — plan on running water through your coffee maker three times to fully flush it out — but it’s worth it for a clean cup of coffee.

You can make your own solution with white vinegar, but Eckroth finds that it’s easier to buy one. “There’s a decent enough range of products, and usually if you look at the brand of your coffee maker they’ll have a recommendation,” she said.

Descalers to try

One descaler to consider is Urnex Dezcal, which retails for $15.35. Urnex is the brand that a lot of industry professionals use, so it stands to reason that it would be great for home coffee makers, too. At-home coffee drinkers like the De’Longhi EcoDeCalk ($16.75) as a green option. Another to consider is this descaler by Impresa ($14.99).

HuffPost may receive a share from Urnex purchases made via the link above.

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