We all know how important a cup of coffee is to most working and early morning folks. That first batch of coffee helps get coffee lovers moving in the mornings and feeling more alert. But, here’s a question: when’s the last time you cleaned out your dirty coffee maker?
If you just winced at your answer, then don’t worry. You don’t need to get any special cleaner or do anything difficult to clean your coffee brewer.
Regular vinegar is a common cleaning agent for coffee makers; distilled white vinegar works best. However, in a pinch, apple cider vinegar is an effective and low-cost solution that will work just as well as distilled vinegar to keep your coffee machine clean!
Why Should I Use Apple Cider Vinegar?
Every type of vinegar shares one ingredient: acetic acid. This acidic content is what gives vinegar its sour taste and strong smell. Some household cleaners have pure acetic acid in them to act as a disinfectant and descaler.
Acetic acid can dissolve greases, fats, mineral buildup, and many other kitchen messes. That’s why vinegar is so widely used to clean things up! Here are some facts about using vinegar as a versatile cleaning agent:
- Vinegar can be used as a natural disinfect, killing about 90% of harmful germs on surfaces.
- Vinegar is a safe household cleaner because it is nontoxic.
- Vinegar is more cost-efficient than harder detergents or cleaners you might otherwise use to eliminate common coffee maker build-up.
However, not every coffee maker owner keeps the pure form of vinegar, distilled white vinegar, at home. That’s where apple cider vinegar comes in: many households cook with apple cider vinegar.
Since you most likely have this vinegar already, that means that it’s available to use on your coffee maker right now!
Your Guide to Cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar
The cleaning process with apple cider vinegar is different from using distilled white vinegar. There are some steps you should follow to ensure that you clean your coffee maker the right way.
First, make sure you have everything you need to clean out the coffee maker:
- Bottle of apple cider vinegar big enough to fill half of the coffee maker’s reservoir or carafe.
- Hot, soapy water
- A sponge
- Dry and wet kitchen towels
Keep these items close. It is imperative to measure out the apple cider vinegar since you need at least half of the amount the coffee maker can hold to get a good, deep clean.
Step 1: Empty out Everything in the Coffee Maker
Every part of the coffee maker needs to be empty to get a good clean. Remove the water from the reservoir and clear out any coffee grounds if your coffee maker can hold them. Water will dilute your apple cider vinegar, making it less effective at cleaning.
If you need to, wipe out the reservoir and other wet parts of the coffee maker.
Step 2: Make a Mixture of Apple Cider Vinegar and Water
To make your apple cider vinegar solution, mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and clean water once you know how much your reservoir or carafe can hold. So, if your reservoir can hold eight cups of water, you’d use four cups of apple cider vinegar and four cups of water.
If you want a deeper cleaning, then a 2:1 mixture of vinegar and water will work. It’s not usually needed and will make your cleanup more difficult later on, but it could help if part of your coffee maker is gummed up by coffee oils.
Step 3: Run Through a Half Brew Cycle
With the cleaning solution mixed up, add it into the coffee maker, hit the brew button, and run a half brew cycle. It won’t do much to clean the coffee maker. But, it will allow the coffee maker heating elements to heat the solution and also spread it through the coffee maker.
Once the half brew cycle goes through, turn off the coffee maker and let everything sit for an hour. This will dissolve any calcified mineral deposits and any other dirty spots.
Step 4: Run Through a Full Brew Cycle
After an hour has passed, turn the coffee maker back on and run a full brew cycle. As the process runs through, your coffee maker will move the cleaning solution through everything. Calcified spots will dissolve and be removed along with any other spots that need to be cleaned.
Let the full cycle run through and collect the cleaning mixture in the carafe.
Step 5: Get Rid of the Vinegar and Water Mixture
Collect the cleaning mixture in the coffee carafe for disposal once the brew cycle completes. Let the mixture sit in the coffee pot for a while to remove any mineral deposits or dirty spots.
Once you’ve finished cleaning, you can safely dispose of the mixture down the kitchen sink.
Step 6: Run 4-5 Hot Water Cycles
With all the cleaning finished, you’ll want to add filtered water to the reservoir and run several coffee cycles. The pure water will help clear out any apple cider vinegar left in the coffee maker, eliminating the weird smell and taste the vinegar leaves behind.
Apple cider vinegar takes more effort to clear out than other kinds of vinegar. You’ll want to refill the water reservoir and run a fresh water cycle four or five times. That way, you can make sure you clear out as much of the vinegar as possible.
Step 7: Clean and Wash Everything
With the inside parts of the coffee maker fresh and clean, you can clean up the external components. Wash the reservoir and the carafe with hot, soapy water to get rid of coffee residues and water lines, especially in the carafe.
Make sure you scrub well and get as much vinegar out as possible to get rid of the vinegar smell and avoid ruining the coffee flavor of your next brew.
If you have other things to do, leaving the reservoir and dirty coffee pot to soak for an hour can help eliminate the smell without requiring as much scrubbing on your part.
Use the wet kitchen towel to wipe down the external surfaces and follow up with the dry kitchen towel to prevent water streaks from forming.
While it’s not as easy to use as plain vinegar, apple cider vinegar, though not recommended, is still an effective method to clean a coffee maker just as well in a pinch.
Still, if you’re looking to keep your coffee maker clean with what you have on hand, then apple cider vinegar works just as well as any other kind of vinegar! Then you can continue to make pots of delightful coffee to enjoy all day long.