How to Clean Coffee Makers Without Vinegar: 6 Easy Ways

by | Jan 3, 2022

How to Clean Coffee Makers Without Vinegar: 6 Easy Ways

For coffee lovers, a perfect cuppa Joe every morning is the perfect way to jumpstart your day. Every coffee enthusiast also knows that the secret to the best brew is well-kept equipment. Hence, the cleanliness of coffee-making devices like coffee makers or grinders is of utmost importance.

Though most people simply hand wash or put coffee makers in the dishwasher for daily cleaning, coffee makers also need deep cleaning occasionally, especially pertinent to some particular components. A common way to deep clean coffee makers is to use vinegar, but there can be some flaws with this technique.

So, here are a few methods on how to clean coffee makers without vinegar. These methods are highly effective, affordable, and utilize products you already have in your home. At a glance, they are:

  • Lemon juice
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Alcohol
  • Baking soda
  • Salt and ice
  • Dishwash

Find out six easy methods on how to clean coffee makers without vinegar.

Why Do You Need to Clean Coffee Makers? 

On a day-to-day basis, cleaning coffee makers with either the dishwasher or by hand is sufficient for hygienic use on the next day. 

That being said, roasting coffee beans actually leaves a residue of mineral deposits. This can be natural oil from the coffee beans, which accumulates over time. The repetition of boiling coffee in the mineral deposits over and over can affect the quality of coffee. Ever had a very bitter and acidic brew? The culprit is the mineral deposits.

Not to mention, the accumulation of this residue is usually on pipes and hoses, which is not easy to clean in a dishwasher cycle or even by hand. These hard-to-reach places can create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, grease, and mold. You definitely do not want to consume those. 

Hence, to reduce the build-up, one should deep clean their coffee makers one every month or every two months. 

In fact, as a best practice, most industry baristas actually clean their espresso machines at the end of every shift with a deep chemical cleanse. Although your coffee makers do not go through as heavy use as cafes, it is still good to pick up this practice to create cleaner brews.

Problems with Vinegar 

You may have heard that running white vinegar through the coffee maker a few times is a cheap, effective, and straightforward way to deep clean your coffee maker. Although this is true due to the acidic nature of white vinegar, there are also a couple of downsides to it. 

Firstly, white vinegar often leaves behind a strong taste that can lead to a couple of initial weird tasting brews. It is very difficult to rinse out the vinegar completely after the first rinse too, so there’s no saying how long it will last. 

Besides that, white vinegar also is quite acidic. It is in the first few brews that can quite leave a strong effect on your body. 

Lastly, the smell of vinegar can be unpleasant to some. You can expect your coffee maker and kitchen to have a relatively strong vinegar scent after a while. 

With all things considered, it might be preferable to use other methods of deep cleaning your coffee maker without vinegar.

How to Clean Coffee Makers Without Vinegar: Key Differences

There are a few home-based methods you can use to clean your coffee makers. It can be noted that most of these methods are rather acidic and alkaline (strong pH) in nature, so take caution when you are using these methods, like 

  • Reducing the formula’s contact with your skin
  • Wash your hands before and after cleaning the coffee maker
  • Washing out the solution under running water immediately if it gets in your eyes.  
  • Preparing your countertop by covering them ( the mixtures might stain the countertops) 
  • Clean your countertops after cleaning the coffee maker
 ScentPrice Where to AddHow to Clean
LemonLemon/ No ScentMediumWater Reservoir Half Brew, then a Full Brew
Hydrogen PeroxideNo ScentMediumWater Reservoir Half Brew, then a Full Brew
Alcohol No ScentHighWater Reservoir Half Brew, then a Full Brew
Baking SodaNo ScentLowWater Reservoir Half Brew, then a Full Brew
Salt and IceNo ScentLow CarafeDishwasher
Dish Soap No ScentLowAs needed in hand washHand wash

1. Lemon Juice 

How to clean coffee makers without vinegar: using lemon.

Lemon juice is an alternative, natural and acidic method to clear out your coffee maker. The smell of this citrusy fruit also can be preferable to white vinegar. In fact, many people prefer this method to white vinegar. 

However, keep in mind that this method can be more pricey than white vinegar. If you plan to use squeezed lemons, this can take up a lot of time as you might have to squeeze at least a dozen lemons.  

You could also use citric acid, which is the active component in lemon juice that does the cleaning for the coffee maker. It is cheaper than lemons or lemon juice but has the same cleaning properties. 

Consequently, it would be best to also have other purposes in mind for citric acid, as you could end up with a big bag of citric acid without much usage for it in the future. If you plan to use citric acid, the ratio for the cleaning mixture is one teaspoon of citric acid per 1 gallon of water, so only use this if you have a big coffee machine to clean. 

  1. Squeeze a dozen lemons to acquire its juice (skip the first two steps if you are using bottled lemon juice) 
  2. Drain the lemon juice to rid it of pulp 
  3. Mix half of the lemon juice with half water
  4. Pour the mixture into the water reservoir
  5. Once the coffee maker has heated the mixture, switch off the machine 
  6. Wait thirty minutes for the mixture to clean the interior of the machine
  7. Switch on the machine, and wait for it to be ready to pour 
  8. Place the carafe and let the machine finish the brew cycle
  9. Pour out the carafe contents  
  10. Rinse out the coffee maker with water for one or two cycles to clean out the lemon juice 

2. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a strong disinfectant, so it is pretty unsurprising that it can be used to clean coffee machines effectively. 

  1. Combine 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 2 parts water 
  2. Pour the mixture into the water reservoir of the coffee maker 
  3. Run the coffee maker through one brew cycle (allow the coffee maker to drip immediately into the carafe once the mixture is heated) 
  4. Once the mixture has brewed, flush the coffee maker with one or two brew cycles with water 

3. Alcohol 

how to clean coffee makers with alcohol

Alcohol is a strong cleaning disinfectant with various cleaning purposes around your home. It is also an effective way to clean your coffee makers too. Vodka is preferable as it is tasteless and odorless, but any hard alcohol works just as fine. However, alcohol is also quite expensive, so we recommend using it as a last resort. 

  1. Mix 1 part vodka or alcohol with three parts water.  
  2. Pour the mixture into the water reservoir of the coffee maker 
  3. Once the coffee maker has heated the mixture, switch off the machine 
  4. Wait thirty minutes for the mixture to clean the interior of the machine
  5. Switch on the machine, and wait for it to be ready to pour 
  6. Place the carafe and let the machine finish the brew cycle
  7. Pour out the carafe contents  
  8. Rinse out the coffee maker with water for one or two cycles to rinse out the remaining alcohol 

4. Baking Soda

how to clean coffee makers with baking soda

Baking powder, or sodium bicarbonate, is a relatively strong alkaline cleaner that is cheap and affordable. It also does not leave behind any scent, which is a plus. 

However, note that baking powder fizzes when it comes into contact with hot water. This causes gas build-up and may damage your machine if there is no outlet for it to go. Besides that, baking soda may leave behind residues as it does not dissolve completely in water. 

Hence this method should be used sparingly and as a default. 

  1. Remove the filter basket and wipe it. Ensure there are no stray coffee grounds.
  2. Mix one cup of water with a quarter cup of baking soda until it has dissolved
  3. Pour the mixture into the water reservoir
  4. Run the formula through a single cycle in the coffee maker
  5. Rinse out the coffee maker with water for one or two cycles 

5. Salt and Ice 

how to clean coffee makers with salt and ice.

Salt and ice is a good method to descale the build-up in the components of the coffee maker, mainly the carafe. It only deep cleans the carafe, though, so you might neglect other areas of the coffee maker that need more detailed cleaning, like pipes. 

  1. Combine crushed ice and salt in the carafe 
  2. Use a cloth or large spoon to rub the solution into the crevices 
  3. Put the components of the coffee maker into the dishwasher for a rinse and wash as usual

6. Dish Soap and Hand Washing

Good old dish soap is an excellent method for really getting into all the nooks and crannies of the various components of the coffee maker. 

Keep in mind that this requires detailed disassembling and reassembling of all the tiny components of the coffee maker. Besides that, you might not even manage to clean all the components like pipes thoroughly. So consider running mixtures through the coffee maker for more intensive cleaning. 

  1. Disassemble the coffee maker (all housing and functional components) 
  2. Wash all the components by hand well 
  3. Rinse thoroughly before reassembling the coffee maker 
  4. Run the coffee maker through one cycle to ensure no more soap is left in the machine. 

Key Takeaways 

As for how to clean coffee makers without vinegar, there are six methods. These methods vary in effectiveness and cost but are generally cheap, so it won’t hurt to try them. Vinegar can be a cheap and effective method of deep cleaning your coffee makers, but it often leaves behind rather unpleasant residues.

The next best methods for cleaning coffee makers are either lemon juice or coffee descalers, which most coffee maker companies recommend to clean coffee machines. Regardless, keep in mind that cleaning should be a regular practice for the sake of the longevity of your coffee maker. 

Jason Beischel is a Remodeler by profession and is always ready for the challenge and surprise that the next remodeling job throws at him. And given his extensive knowledge in real estate, contracting, and interior design, he provides actionable DIY tips online and has consolidated extensive excerpts with details on how to go about the various home repair activities. Enthusiasts will also access information on the best products that they can use in the process. Jason leads a team of renovators, he loves traveling and does not shy away from challenging opportunities that present away from familiar ground. According to Jason, every human deserves a comfortable home from where they can build their future.

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