PerfectBrew Logo Blue

How to Clean Your Percolator Coffee Pot

Table of Contents

No one wants to be scrubbing the coffee pot after enjoying a hot Java cup while reading a favorite book.

But the truth is, you don’t necessarily have to be scrubbing if you know a simple maintenance trick and an easy cleanup for when the system manages to get clogged up. If you own a percolator and love using it, then this article is a must-read for you.

What Is a Percolator Anyways?

A percolator – as lost and forgotten as this word may seem – is a stovetop coffee maker that was popular in the first part of the 20th century until its electric version cast a shadow over it in the 50s.

This old-fashioned coffee maker resembles a tall kettle, but it is equipped with a water reservoir at the bottom, a tube that runs to the coffee basket, and a vacuum environment that allows brewing.

It starts by saturating the coffee grounds before they are even filtered. The maker then creates a solvent, drawing hot water from the bottom up to the basket, through the coffee grounds. This looks like this: the water heats and rises through the etal tube. It then sprays the ground of coffee, passes through, and then goes back to the bottom chamber.

This process is repeated 6-8 times to create stronger and bitter-tasting coffee. At least that’s how the old-fashioned percolators work. The modern ones today, come with temperature controls, so they don’t use boiling water for brewing.

How to Make Stovetop Percolator Coffee

To make coffee with this maker, just follow these steps:

  1. Start by measuring your desired amount of coffee. If using whole beans, grind it before brewing. It is recommended that you use 15 grams of coffee per cup of water.
  2. Next, fill up the water reservoir.
  3. Put the funnel on top, and add the coffee to the filter basket. Attach and close the percolator.
  4. Place it over medium heat. When the first bubbles appear, leave it on for 8-10 minutes, but no more.
  5. Remove the coffee, pour, and enjoy!

How to Clean Your Stovetop Percolator Coffee Pot

The trick is not to let it dry. Immediately after brewing, rinse everything under warm water to get rid of any coffee residue. This small step goes a long way, as it will considerably lower the need for frequent deep cleaning.

To clean it thoroughly, though, all you need are water and some white vinegar:

  1. Combine equal parts of water and white vinegar inside the percolator, and place over medium heat. If using an electric percolator, just turn it on.
  2. Let it run a full brewing cycle (about 10 minutes), then remove from heat (or turn off), and let it cool.
  3. Discard the vinegar solution, and fill it up with water.
  4. Run a full brewing cycle again to get rid of the vinegary scent.

If there are persistent stains, you can repeat the vinegar-solution brewing twice, or you can sprinkle some baking soda before applying vinegar. The mixture will start to bubble. All you have to do is simply scrub with a brush, and that’s it.

How to Clean Your Percolator Basket

For simple cleaning, all you have to do is to regularly rinse and wipe your filter basket.

  1. So, start by unplugging the percolator if using an electric one. Make sure to discard any leftover coffee, and let the maker cool down.
  2. Grab a bowl and fill it up with about 1 quart of hot water. Add about 2 tablespoons of detergent, and mix to combine well.
  3. Remove the lid, and take out the filter basket. If there are any coffee grounds, discard them.
  4. Place the filter basket inside the bowl with soapy water, and let sit for a few minutes. Grab a washcloth and gently wipe it clean.
  5. Rinse under clean water to get rid of the soap, and let air dry.

If you cannot remove any persistent stains or gunk, try soaking it in a vinegary solution. Combine equal parts of water and white vinegar, and let your basket soak overnight. You can also use baking soda and spray some vinegar over, wait for bubbles to form, and then simply scrub the gunk off. Finish by cleaning with soapy water and rinsing it clean. Let air dry.

Can I use Apple Cider Vinegar to Clean My Coffee Pot

As you’ve noticed, we recommended white vinegar in the previous cleaning tips, and there is good reason for it. White vinegar doesn’t break the bank, it is acidic enough to penetrate hard stains, and most importantly, it doesn’t have a strong vinegary smell that cannot be removed.

If you’re wondering whether you can substitute it with Apple Cider Vinegar, the answer is – of course. Apple cider vinegar is just an effective cleaning agent and can maybe be better at getting rid of germs and bacteria, as it is high in antibiotic actions.

The only problem with apple cider vinegar would be the price and the smell. This acid is more expensive and leaves a strong and lingering smell. BUt of course, if you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks and rinsing for a couple more rounds, be our guest. Cleaning-wise, you shouldn’t have a problem. Quite the contrary!

Why Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?

Okay, you working bees, we’re sure you already know that the answer to this question is clear as day. But for the lazy coffee drinkers out there, here is an explanation:

Your coffee maker is one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment in your kitchen, and as such, it is a breeding ground for bacteria. But that is not the only reason. When water and coffee bind together, they encourage the development of mold. The longer the pot stays uncleaned, the more germs on the surface.

Cleaning up with vinegar will help you get rid of built-up stains, but also of coffee gunk, oils, and all sorts of disgusting stuff that you don’t like to end up in your cup. If you don’t want to be sipping on that, cleaning it thoroughly is a definite must.


Now that you know the easiest and most effective way to clean your percolator, you can count on your favorite coffee maker to stay spick and span at all times. Just remember, the first step to a clean coffee pot lies in maintenance, so make sure to rinse after every rinse. Happy clean brewing!

Share This Article