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How Your Coffee Maker Can Be Dangerous

One of the appliances frequently used in our kitchens is the coffee maker. Its daily use, especially for several times, render the device(s) prone to bacteria and other contaminants. Coffee grinds are the main ingredients that result in contaminations, which make the quality and taste of coffee worse. Dirty and unclean coffee makers can even harm your health. That’s why it is important to know how to clean your coffee maker.

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) finds that half of the coffee makers in the world contained mold and bacteria. What is more annoying is that the level of mold and bacteria in them were higher than those found in toilets and bathrooms! So, this is about how to clean a coffee maker without vinegar.

Why Some People Avoid Cleaning with Vinegar

1- Vinegar produces a very powerful odor that kills all the excitement in considering it to clean your coffee maker. As a result, repeated rinsing is necessary and this takes a lot of time, effort and water to complete.

2- Vinegar may cause scratches that affect the longevity of your device.

3- Organic commercial cleaners are found to be more effective in killing more bacteria three and a half times faster than when using vinegar.

4- Also, vinegar is not as effective in removing grease in machines. Repeated attempts are necessary to break down and ultimately remove grease but as mentioned, commercial descaling products are available which can do the same task much more quickly.

Easy Ways on How to Clean your Coffee Maker without Vinegar

DIY Natural Cleaning Substances

Aside from commercial cleaners, there are also natural cleaning juices we can use in cleaning a coffee maker. You can use either fresh juice squeezed from the fruit or use the grocery store packaged juice. They aren’t loaded with extra sugars and the acid in the juice is strong enough to kill bacteria and loosen up mineral deposits.

If roughly 5-8% of lemon juice is citric acid and that acid kills bacteria, mold, and mildew while also helping to remove calcium, lime, rust deposits from hard water it’s safe to say that lemons are probably the best way to clean your coffee machines, Keurig, Nespresso, and espresso machines save for vinegar or dedicated machine cleaners.

Unfortunately, lemon juice is more pricey than the other options, that’s why most people just clean with plain white vinegar, which is not really a good practice in the long run. Anyway, we have provided a few steps if you’d like to create your DIY cleaning solution.

Using Lemon Juice

LemonLemon juice contains the same degree of acidity as vinegar but doesn’t leave so much of itself behind in the machine. It’s a great substitute as far as performance goes, the problem is that you’ll need an awful lot of lemons to get the job done. If you’re hand squeezing you’ll need dozens of lemons, if you’re buying prepared lemon juice it’s down to the cost.

As lemon juice is a straight vinegar substitute, the cleaning method is the same.

Allow the coffee pot to cool before cleaning. Make sure your coffee pot isn’t hot when you place in the ice. Placing ice in hot glassware can cause the glass to break. Rinse with water after each use. Clean at least monthly, preferably weekly using these instructions:

Step 1 – Add Lemon, Salt, Ice, and Water

Cut a lemon into several slices. Squeeze the lemon into the cooled coffeepot, and drop in the lemon rinds as well. If limes are all you have left, drop them in, but lemons are generally cheaper. Pre-squeezed lemon juice will do, but the fresher, the better. Then, add about 3 tablespoons of rock salt or table salt, 2 cups of ice, and a cup or so of water.

Step 2 – Mix the Ingredients by swirling the pot

Hold the coffee pot by the handle, then swirl it gently in a clockwise direction for several times. Next, reverse directions and swirl counterclockwise for several times, again. Repeat the above procedures until the stains are removed. If there is a nasty, crusty layer of burnt coffee on the bottom, you may want to let the solution sit in the coffee pot for an hour after swirling several times.

Step 3 – Rinse your Coffee Pot

Rinse thoroughly so that you won’t have a salty or sour cup of coffee. The coffee pot should be sparkling clean and look new; otherwise, leave in the solution longer, sometimes even overnight. After waking up to a clean coffee pot, rinse it with cold water.

Step 4 – Wipe the Coffee Pot Dry

Using a towel, set your coffee pot upside down on the towel allowing the water to drain and and the coffee pot to air dry. Cleaning without soap is less labor-intensive and will keep your pot looking brand new! Fill your usual water container with a lemon juice solution made up of one third to a half with lemon juice. Then run your machine through a brew cycle without putting any coffee in it and there you have it. You might want to rinse the machine with another brew cycle with only water to get rid of the taste of lemons, but you might like the flavor.

Using Baking Soda

Baking SodaBaking soda is another cleaning ingredient that some people use, but while it is excellent for getting stains off the outside of the coffee maker, if you’re running a machine that needs to be descaled then adding any powder may well cause you problems.

Baking soda won’t entirely dissolve in the water, and the small particles that remain can be left behind in your machine, adding to your problems rather than solving them.

Baking soda is commonly used to clean basic coffee equipment, it is very effective at this too. The problem is when you already have a build–up of residue inside and you’re adding to it significantly by using baking soda solution. So, in order to avoid this while using baking soda, use it for the following cleaning procedures.

For drip coffee makers:

drip coffe maker

  1. Empty out the coffee pot.
  2. Dump out grounds and the old filter.
  3. Do a quick run over with a washcloth to remove any stray grounds.
  4. Fill the machine full with water. You might also try adding vinegar to the water. Read more about that in the next section.
  5. Run a water-only brew.
  6. Repeat this twice.

For French press:

French Press

Cleaning a French press is pretty straight forward although the filter on the plunger can be tricky. Wash out the cylindrical chamber with warm, soapy water and a sponge as you would any other dish (dump out the grounds first!). For the plunger, first check if it’s dishwasher safe. If so, problem solved. If not:

  1. Disassemble the different parts: lid, plunger, filter.
  2. Submerge in hot soapy water. You can use the baking soda instead of soap.
  3. Scrub the parts with a small brush or sponge.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Let dry before reassembling.

For a Pour Over Carafe

Pour Over Carafe

For a pour over carafe with a reusable filter, follow these steps if it isn’t dishwasher safe:

  1. Fill the carafe with hot soapy water (or water with baking soda).
  2. Let that soak for a bit.
  3. Submerge the filter in hot soapy water.
  4. Scrub the inside of the carafe with a long handle brush or sponge. The brush should be soft enough that it doesn’t scratch up the glass. It just needs to remove the oils.
  5. Scrub your filter.
  6. Rinse both thoroughly and let them dry.

Recommended Organic Commercial Cleaners

Since vinegar may not be the best cleaning agent for coffee makers and that is why we put together a list of commercial cleaners that contain safe ingredients and enable you to clean your coffee maker thoroughly. Each cleaner has its set of instructions for you to follow upon having them bought.

Brew Rite Cleaner

Brew rite coffe cleaner

One of the best solutions in cleaning your coffee maker regularly is by trying out the Brew Rite Cleaner. It can be used for Automatic Drip Coffee and Espresso Machines. It cleans and removes hidden mineral deposits, improves brewing time, and is FDA approved (meaning that it is non–acidic and non–toxic).

Cleancaf Coffee Maker Cleaner

cleancaf coffe maker cleaner

Another organic commercial cleaning agent is the Cleancaf Coffee Maker Cleaner. It eliminates residual coffee oils and buildup that can turn rancid to prevent bitter tasting coffee. It is made in America, is odorless and non–toxic (meaning FDA approved). It contains 3 single-use treatments (3–month supply). It gently removes lime scale and oil residue buildup in automatic coffee makers and espresso machines. This would help the coffee maker brew faster, resulting in better–tasting coffee.

If you are in a bind however and don’t have any of that on hand then read on, there are a few ways to do a little dry cleaning.

Urnex Liquid Coffee Pot Cleaner

Urnex Liquid Coffee Pot Cleaner

For the Urnex Liquid Coffee Pot Cleaner, it is important to use coffee-specific cleaning agents. It is considered the industry standard in cleaning espresso machines that undergo frequent daily uses while increasing environmental consciousness and sustainability. Using the Urnex cleaner is as easy as draining and rinsing the urn or brewer reservoir. Pour in contents of packet, add a quarter to half full with very hot water. Simply scrub sides of vessel, drain and repeat until noticeable coffee stains are removed. The cleaning agents are petroleum free. With more than 80 years of experience, it can also serve as a cleaner for tea brewers.

TriNova Descaling Solution

Trinova descaling solution

A cleaner for brewing systems for home and commercial use, the TriNova Descaling Solution frees their machines from buildup and is tasteless. It leaves no odor or smell behind. It is not limited to coffee makers and can also be used for other machines and appliances. It is even excellent for leather interiors of cars. So, it can win you over to its side. It has the ability to bring cleanliness to your coffee creation.

Java Clean Universal Coffee Cleaner

java clean

This organic cleaner provides a color feedback so you visually know when the brewer descaling process has been fully completed. The change from yellow to clear tells that you it is done descaling! This feature is an excellent indication that is ideal for those who can’t process cleaning over long periods of time. It is a unique feature that saves time and energy. It also saves your coffee maker from dirt and bacteria build-up.

K3 Brand Pure Perk Coffee Machine Cleaner

Pure Perk Coffee Machine Cleaner

Aside from being able to clean your coffee maker, it also extends the life of your home brewers. Its ingredients work hard to preserve your brewing equipment and lengthen times between cleaning sessions. It can also improve coffee taste. It is reliable, odorless, and helpful when you’re forgetful in cleaning your brewer. It uses an organic base that can bring no harm to your health or to the environment..

Essential Values Descaling Solution

Braun descaling solution

This descaling solution is good in fighting against the buildup of molds, dirt and bacteria. This coffee cleaner fends off limescale leftovers from the any type of coffee maker and is effective in cleaning residue from any brewing processes. Its effectiveness in cleaning is so powerful that is has been used to resolve other types of machines like your Aeropress or French press, where water stains and minerals can build up.

Durgol Swiss Espresso Decalcifier

Durgol Swiss Espresso Decalcifier

This cleaner works with fully or semi–automatic machines, manual machines, coffee pod or capsule machines, filter machines, even electric water heaters. Whatever you can throw at it. This is a powerful cleaner which works on the spot. That’s likely ten times faster than other decalcification pro. They deal with fine particles and can easily create mess even under the most scrutinous of barista. This solution extends the life span of machine and helps deliver an espresso product you can be proud of which is perfect for cleaning your coffee maker as well.

De’Longhi EcoDecalk Machine Descaler

De'Longhi EcoDecalk Machine Descaler

The De’Longhi EcoDecalk machine descaler is a liquid treatment made from natural ingredients (comprised solely of lactic acid) and is without harsh chemicals (meaning, it is non-toxic and FDA approved). It significantly reduces the build-up of minerals and off-flavors that water can impart over time. Cleaning your complex brewer increases the energy efficiency, and improves the flavor and crema. It is suitable for all coffee machines.


In summary, knowing how to clean a coffee maker without vinegar or using alternatives would be a better option. Since coffee is one of the most common beverages that we drink almost every day of our lives, it is important that the coffee makers we use are clean; else, we risk ourselves of being sick due to bacteria and salmonella. Lemon juice and baking soda are also great for cleaning although it may take a lot of effort on your part when using them. Even though it looks complicated, cleaning your coffee maker is easy when you use the right cleaning agent.

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