Don't you just hate washing your coffee pot? Or does the smell of vinegar make you want to stop drinking coffee altogether? Well, we've made a list of alternative cleaning agents that get just as good results, if not better.
Why Is It Important to Regularly Clean Your Coffee Maker?
As you go along using your coffee maker to start your day with a delicious cup of coffee, mineral deposits and remains will build up. So even if you clean your coffee maker with each use and remove most of it, you will still need to give it a thorough clean now and then to ensure you get the best-tasting coffee you can.
Not only that, but the buildup of an old coffee can make your machine stop working, and the bacteria that can build up can be unhealthy. As your coffee maker is usually warm and humid, it's heaven for bacteria, mold, and yeast. When mineral deposits start growing, they offer additional protection and make it even more suitable for these organisms to grow.
As we already mentioned, the build-up of mineral deposits can break your coffee maker or at least get it to stop making coffee temporarily. However, even if it doesn't stop functioning, you should still consider cleaning it if your water is hard. Some coffee makers have a removable water reservoir, which makes it easier to clean, but some parts will still be hard to reach and will remain covered in mineral deposits.
There are a few widely spread ways to clean your coffee maker: a Moka pot, espresso machine, or anything else. Most of them include using descaling products or vinegar, but there are a few good reasons you wouldn't want to use either.
Why You Should Avoid Cleaning Your Coffee Machine with Vinegar?
Even though vinegar is considered the go-to cleaning solution in many homes, there are a few reasons why you might not want to use it to clean your coffee maker. First, even though vinegar does actually clean most surfaces reasonably well, it doesn't kill all the bacteria. Therefore, if you clean your coffee maker with vinegar you can't be sure if all the bacteria is gone.
On top of the fact that vinegar is not that good of a cleaning agent, it is very acidic. This high acidity makes it somewhat suitable when you want to clean something and is also what may make it harmful to your health.
The third major disadvantage of vinegar over other cleaning solutions is its potent smell. While this is annoying even when you're washing your coffee maker, it's even worse when you start making coffee afterward. It will have an acidic and sour taste, making it undrinkable.
The only thing you can do to get rid of that strong smell of vinegar from your coffee maker is rinse it with water. However, you can already see why this is not a good option, as it's a massive waste and will take a lot of time.
What Are the Best Ways to Clean Your Coffee Maker Without Vinegar?
You can already see why you should consider avoiding using vinegar to clean your coffee maker. Let's look at what other options you have for cleaning your coffee maker without leaving an unpleasant smell behind and how to prepare it for cleaning.
How Do You Prepare Your Coffee Pot to Clean It?
You might want to take a handful of simple steps to make sure your coffee maker is left shining clean, and you don't risk harming yourself. These are true for any sort of coffee maker, from a Moka pot to a complicated espresso machine.
- Wear protective gear. This includes gloves and a face mask. You might want to do this to stop any acidic drops from damaging your skin or inhaling anything unpleasant.
- Make sure your coffee maker is turned off, empty, and disconnected from electricity. You might want to rinse it under running water to get the best results.
- Remove the filter and place it in hot water for around 15 minutes.
- Take apart all the detachable parts. This will make it easier to clean them thoroughly.
Lemon juice is also very acidic, but it's citric acid. It's widely used in the kitchen, so we often forget that you can also use it as a cleaning method.The lemon juice acid has similar qualities to white vinegar, but it's not as dangerous for you and doesn't have such a strong smell.
You can clean your coffee machine with lemon juice by preparing a diluted solution. It's a way to ensure that the acid isn't too strong for your hands or your coffee maker.
Once you have your lemon juice solution, you should go through a regular brew cycle if you are making coffee. You might want to do this twice if you have put in too little lemon juice. When you're done with that, rinse the coffee pot with clean water to eliminate all remaining lemon juice on the inside.
Like lemon juice and vinegar, baking soda has been used as a cleaning agent for a long time. It's probably even better in some cases as it's slightly better at mineral buildup removal, and it's easier to obtain.
Baking soda is better at cleaning anything, including a coffee maker because of its alkaline properties. The alkaline (or basic) compounds have stronger dissolving abilities than most acids, and this is what you're looking for if you want to have a clean coffee machine.
How you clean your coffee maker with baking soda is almost the same as with vinegar or lemon juice. First, you make a solution of a quarter cup of baking soda and a cup of water. Then, when you make sure there are no lumps and the liquid is smooth, you run it through the machine. If you're not satisfied, you can repeat it.
After finishing, you should go through a brew cycle with just water to ensure no soda is left behind.
Water and Dish Soap
If you don't like cleaning your coffee maker with any previously mentioned methods, you can resort to the good old dish soap. However, you should know that if your coffee pot is aluminum, you need to be very careful and not use this method.
As most dish detergents are powerful, they will eliminate almost all stains from your coffee maker's carafe, filter, and every other part you wash. However, as we already mentioned, you shouldn't use them with an aluminum Moka pot (or any other aluminum coffee maker) as they will ruin the surface of the metal.
Another problem you might face with using water and dish soap is having to disassemble your coffee maker completely. If you're using a Keurig coffee maker or an espresso machine, you will know that this can take a long time, and it might be hard to put it back together.
Once you've taken your coffee machine apart, you need to wash all the parts just like you'd wash anything else. It's best to use warm water to quickly remove all the dirt built up on the first cleaning cycle. If there are any stubborn bits, you might want to give them a good scrub, but that shouldn't usually happen.
Once you're done, wash all the parts of the machine with warm water and let them dry. Once they're completely dry, you're ready for the next brew cycle.
Hydrogen peroxide, also known as H2O2, is one of the most common household cleaning agents. It also works very well for cleaning your coffee maker as it removes limescale and kills germs and bacteria. All you need is a bit of warm water and hydrogen peroxide.
You start cleaning your coffee maker by filling the carafe with a cup of the cleaning solution and water. If you own a Moka pot, you should pour less, depending on its size. Next, add water and run a coffee cycle once you have the hydrogen peroxide in the coffee maker. When done, you should run another brew cycle with just water as the peroxide is very strong, and there might be some left, and you don't want that.
If you know what cleaning method works best for your coffee maker, but there's still mineral buildup, you might want to use a descaling product. These are very easy to find, and there's a wide variety.
How Do You Descale Your Coffee Maker?
As we already mentioned, there are a lot of descaling agents out there, and they're usually not too expensive. Manufacturers also recommend using a descaler over vinegar as they work better, and the process only takes four steps to complete.
There are all sorts of descaling agents. They come in liquid powder and tablet form, so you have the freedom of choice. How much water you use depends on what option you went for but generally, you don't need too much. Make sure to read the instructions on the packaging to get it right on the first try.
You should also know that if you have marble or granite countertops, a descaling agent might ruin them. That's why you will probably want to pick a milder product.
Let's look into the descaling process:
- Empty the machine. Make sure the filter, the reservoir, and the carafe are empty.
- Mix the descaler and water. Depending on the descaling agent you choose, the amounts might vary, but in general, you need to mix a packet of descaler with around 32 oz (one liter) of warm water. You want to do this in the coffee maker itself, as you will more readily see if you need to make any adjustments to the amounts.
- Brew a cycle. When you have the mix in the coffee maker, switch on the machine and go through a brew cycle as if you were making coffee. The cleaning solution will run through the machine and clean it on the way. Once it's finished, throw out all the remaining solution from the reservoir.
- Go through a brew cycle with fresh water. Then, fill the water reservoir with water and run another cycle without coffee. If you're unsure that one was enough, run another one.
Final Thoughts on Vinegar and Coffee Makers
Cleaning your coffee maker is a tedious task, but it's just as important. First, you should wash it with each coffee cup you make, so you don't have to give it a thorough cleaning too often. Even if you wash it after each use, you will still need to use an additional cleaning agent now and then. If you don't want to use vinegar, you can use lemon juice, baking soda, dish soap, or hydrogen peroxide.It's imperative that you buy a coffee maker that's easy to clean. This way, you will need less time to go through the entire process, and it won't be as tedious. A great coffee maker that only has a few parts and makes delicious coffee is a Moka pot. A significant advantage of a high-quality stainless steel Moka pot is that you can even throw it in the dishwasher, and it'll be fine. Get yours from our store now!