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How to Clean Your Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

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Even the most straightforward coffee machine can have parts that are difficult to clean. You never want to let it sit neglected on the kitchen counter. If you don’t clean a coffee machine regularly, then it won’t last as long, and it will affect the taste of your coffee.

You may be wondering how you can thoroughly clean a coffee machine without damaging it.

Luckily there are a ton of ways to clean your coffee maker using simple and natural cleaners. Below we go over some of the most popular ways for you to clean your coffee maker.

Why It’s Important to Clean Your Coffee Maker

If you are a daily coffee drinker like me, then you have to be familiar with the way your coffee starts to taste different after a few weeks of making it in the same machine. This strange taste is commonly caused by just not cleaning your coffee machine properly. The worst part is this does just affect the taste of your coffee but can also reduce the life of your coffee machine. 

There are two main culprits that harm your coffee maker and ruin your good tasting coffee; Limescale and leftover coffee residue. Limescale is a residue that can build up in most home kitchens and bathrooms. It’s common in homes that have water with high mineral content. It’s created by that water evaporating and leaving behind calcium and magnesium deposits.

Cleaning is Also Good For Your Health

Not only do you run the risk of endangering your coffee maker, but your health as well. Coffee, just like any other edible substance, has a chance to grow bacteria. This bacteria can make you sick over time or even  upset your stomach, causing you to have a miserable day at work.

If you ever use hot chocolate in your coffee maker, then chances are even higher that harmful bacteria, or mold will start to grow.

We all know coffee is an acidic drink. It’s important you clean your coffee maker at least once a month if you use it daily to remove this acidic residue. If you let this or limescale build too much, it can strain your coffee machine and eventually lead to an early breakdown because of the chemicals slowly eating away at your appliance.

The Problem with Vinegar as a Coffee Maker Cleaner

A well-known method for cleaning your coffee machine is to run white vinegar through it several times. This is a great way to clean out your coffee maker since it can kill bacteria and mold inside, but it has some side effects that are aggravating.

That being said, if you are dealing with a coffee maker that hasn’t been cleaned in some time, then it may be best to use vinegar in your coffee maker to get rid of any nasty bacteria. 

Vinegar is very acidic, and it can be difficult to flush all of it out after using it to clean. It also has a very strong odor that a lot of people find unpleasant, myself included. Luckily there are plenty of other ways to clean your coffee machine without the use of vinegar. Ultimately the choice about using vinegar is up to you and how much you can stand the strong smell.

10 Ways to Clean Your Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

1) Cleaning Your Coffee Carafe with Salt and Ice

Let cover carafes before we go into more ways to clean your actual machine. The carafe requires some special attention but isn’t hard to clean at all. These are notorious for getting nasty looking coffee stains on the inside. Don’t panic, just grab some salt from the cabinet and some ice from the freezer. 

This is a surprisingly easy way to get rid of those stains. Use one tablespoon of water, four teaspoons of table salt, and one cup of crushed ice. If you mix this in your carafe, it is an amazing stain remover. Keep stirring it slowly until your carafe is fully clean. This is a great way to clean a coffee maker without using cleaning agents or strong ingredients like vinegar.

2) Cleaning Your Coffee Carafe with Rice

Another great way to get stains out of your carafe and have it shine like new is to use rice. Rice is a natural absorbent. You can mix a bit of rice in with dish soap and warm water as you are cleaning it. 

The rice will soak up the leftovers, just make sure not to rub too hard, or you could end up with a bigger mess. Rice is another natural and cheap way to clean a coffee maker, but getting the rice the right texture may take a few tries.

3) Baking Soda: A Cleaning Essential

Now back to getting that coffee machine clean. If you just can’t stand vinegar, then baking soda can be a great alternative. Baking soda has been used for years because of its ability to not only clean but deodorize. 

If you have a funny sour smell coming from your coffee maker, this will get rid of it for you. Just make sure you get regular unscented baking soda. There are scented versions of baking soda available that will make things worse instead of better. 

For the first round through the machine, you will want to mix ¼ of a cup of baking soda with about one cup of water. Run It through the coffee maker just like you normally would. After that is complete, run plain water through a few times to flush any remaining baking soda out. Simple and easy to do.

4) Surprising Method: Denture Cleaning Tablets

Denture tablets are primarily made of sodium bicarbonate, which is baking soda, and citric acid. This combines two of the best in home cleaning methods together, baking soda and lemon juice, and it’s completely safe. It’s easy to do, as well. 

Just drop a few in the reservoir full of water and run it through as you normally would. After, just run it for a few cycles with just water to flush it out. While I realize this is an unconventional option and not everyone has denture cleaning tablets on hand, it is still a viable and well-working solution.

5) Heavy-Duty Cleaning: Use Commercial Descalers

Commercial Descaler compounds are designed to clean in the same way vinegar would and are primarily made of citric acid. There are actually very few differences between the way they clean, so it all comes down to cost and obtainability. 

A good descaler compound will cost more than vinegar, but it is more reliable and doesn’t come with that awful smell. This can be a great way to clean your maker if you aren’t into trying home recipes. Just keep in mind that citric acid descalers can often be made at home for a fraction of the price.

6) How to Clean Your Coffee Maker with Bleach

If you are looking for a heavy-duty clean and other methods just aren’t cutting it, then it’s time to break out the next few cleaning methods. This first one is a good old fashion bleach. Bleach is a well-known household cleaner and is safe to use in your coffee machine in small amounts.

One important thing to keep in mind is not to pour the bleach directly into your reservoir. This can damage the inner workings of your machine, so make sure you dilute it in water first.

Mix about one cup of water with about three to four cups of bleach and run this through your coffee maker. Same as some of the other methods run a few cycles of plain water through after just to be safe.

7) How to Clean Coffee Maker with Hydrogen Peroxide

The next heavy-duty cleaning agent is hydrogen peroxide. It’s a common household disinfectant used for cuts and scrapes. This one you can put directly into your coffee maker without worrying about damaging the insides.

Use about one cup of hydrogen peroxide and then fill the rest of the reservoir up with water. It is safe to use as long as you make sure to flush out the machine after. Run this through your coffee machine and then run a few flush cycles, and it will knock any residue out in no time.

8) How to Clean a Coffee Pot with CLR

CLR or Calcium Lime and Rust remover is a substitute cleaner for acidic cleaners like lemon juice and vinegar. The use of it is pretty straight forward. You will have to run a cycle of water through the coffee machine first to rinse it out.

After that, mix about one cup of CLR in with eight cups of warm water and run that through a brew cycle. The CLR will remove any coffee residue or limescale as it passes through. Run a few cycles of warm water through to flush everything out, and you will be good to go.

9) Is Lemon Juice a Substitute For Vinegar?

When deciding between vinegar of lemon juice for cleaning out your coffee machine, it really just comes down to preference. Lemon juice is just citric acid, and vinegar is an acidic acid. Both of these acids are at the same level, are commonly available, and will clean just the same. I prefer lemon juice since I have an aversion to the scent of vinegar.

10) Cleaning Your Coffee Maker with Muriatic Acid

Muriatic acid is the heaviest cleaner if hydrogen peroxide or bleach just isn’t cutting it. Muriatic acid is another name for hydrochloric acid. This is a very powerful cleaner, so it should only be used on parts of your coffee machine that detach.

Never put muriatic acid inside your coffee maker. It is extremely corrosive, so make sure you wear glasses and gloves while handling it. Due to its corrosive nature, it’s very good at removing stubborn stains that you just can’t get out.

Is it Important to Clean the Outside of my Coffee Maker?

In the grand scheme of things, the outside of your coffee maker isn’t as important as the inside. If the outside looks bad, but you clean it regularly on the inside, you will still get a great cup of java out of it. It’s still a bit important to clean the outside, though.

Bacteria can still form on the outside and can be unhealthy for you and your family. You also don’t want your coffee machine to be covered in limescale and coffee stains when your friends come over for a cup of coffee. Just give it a once over with warm water and dish soap at least once a week.

Will my Coffee Taste Bad After Using any of the Above Methods?

Between the baking soda, lemon juice, and hydrogen peroxide, you have to be wondering if these cleaning agents are going to make your coffee taste horrible. If you just run the cleaning agent through and then make a cup of coffee, it will taste absolutely horrible.

Nobody wants coffee that tastes like vinegar. The short answer is yes; if you try to make coffee right afterward, it will probably taste off.

This is why it is so important to flush the system out after cleaning to make sure you never have to deal with that. Always run plain warm water through your system at least two or three times to make sure no baking soda or hydrogen peroxide is left in your system. If you still smell vinegar or lemon strongly after washing it out, then you may need to do a bit of extra cleaning.


As you can see, there are a ton of ways to keep your coffee machine completely clean. Most of these cleaning methods use common household items that are easily obtained.

Keeping your machine clean is one of the most important parts of making sure you are able to enjoy fresh coffee without worrying about having bacteria or mild hidden in your drink.

Make sure to clean your coffee maker regularly and if one of the methods above doesn’t work, try another as every machine is a bit different.

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