Haven’t cleaned your coffee maker in awhile? It’s time. Much like cleaning your laundry vents and polishing hardwood floors, maintaining your small kitchen appliances is essential to their well being. So take good care of your coffee maker: It is, after all, your lifeline to a productive morning.

Emily Fazio, 2016

The convenience of single serve coffee makers is unmatched, but unlike a traditional coffee maker, many models retain water in a reservoir for long periods of time leading to mold and mineral deposits. Whether you operate a Keurig, De'Longhi, Lavazzo, or one of the many other brands available, signs that it may be time to clean your coffee maker include:

  • Longer than usual time to brew a cup of joe
  • When you expect a full cup of coffee but the brewed batch only fills half of your cup
  • Extra grounds or granules in your brewed cup
  • Any unexpected, moldy or mildew-y smells
  • Mineral build-up on visible parts of the machine

Mineral deposits associated with hard water buildup, whether visible to the eye or not, are responsible for many of these problems associated with a single serve coffee maker. If you have hard water, you may notice a need to descale (or delime) the inside of your machine more often.

Begin by emptying any water from inside the reservoir. 

Wash and clean any removable components of the coffee maker in the sink with warm, soapy water. Some models even have dishwasher-safe components (for example, the entire reservoir on my Keurig is safe to go in the dishwasher). If your coffee maker also excels at espresso and has a milk steamer attachment, use this opportunity to disassemble and clean those pieces too.

While the coffee maker is partially disassembled, use a small cleaning brush dipped in vinegar to clean around the base of the machine where the reservoir is, and in the area surrounding where the pod/cup goes (I’m not the only one with lots of grounds trapped in there, am I?). On some models, that plastic area that the pod sits in is also removable.

Emily Fazio, 2016

Reusable filters need a good scrub now and again too, because the grounds will become congested in the mesh. I’ve found that a trip through the dishwasher isn’t quite as effective for the reusable pods, but if you soak it in a cup of vinegar, and then use a small brush to loosen any granules and clean the fine mesh, you can get it pretty clean. 

Emily Fazio, 2016

Cleaning the inside of the coffee maker is as important as cleaning the exterior components. 

Reassemble your clean, dry reservoir, and fill it with 4 cups of white vinegar and 2 cups of water.

Run the machine a few times with no filter in place, essentially brewing cup after cup of hot vinegar. After a few cups have cycled, let the machine sit with the vinegar solution in it for a few hours, and then complete the rest of the cycles so that all of the solution has run its course through the machine. 

Emily Fazio, 2016

I think you'll be surprised about how dirty that vinegar water will be. You'll be sorry you didn't do this sooner.

Emily Fazio, 2016

Remove and clean the reservoir one more time, and this time fill it with water.

Run several more cups of plain water through the reservoir to clean out any lingering vinegar (though keep in mind that vinegar is non-toxic, and you probably wouldn’t even notice if there were still a few drops of it in your coffee).

All set! Test it out with some fresh grounds, and have a great start to your day.

A few tips for easy on-going maintenance? 

  • If you’re brewing cups of cocoa, tea or mixtures like soup, run an extra cup of plain water into a mug afterwards. This will help rinse any residual sugars from the filter area and cleanse it before the next use.
  • If you do have hard water, or your machine is requiring cleanings more often than you might expect necessary, consider using filtered water in the reservoir instead of water straight from the tap.
  • If you’re going on vacation or not planning on using the coffee maker for an extended period, empty the reservoir and turn off the machine.
  • Cleaning a glass coffee pot? Stick to completely all-natural cleansers, such as vinegar and a few tablespoons of salt. The salt will work like a scrub against any burnt on coffee stains and spots on the interior.