Even the best coffee maker needs a deep cleaning every so often, and it’s imperative that you use the best coffee maker cleaner you can to do the job. Because you’re dealing with an appliance that produces a drink that you’ll ingest, you want a coffee maker cleaner that is non-toxic, biodegradable, and fast-acting. It should effectively remove any residue and mineral buildup in your machine in a single brew cycle.
As water cycles through the internal mechanisms, bacteria, mold, and mineral deposits from hard water can leave it pretty gross. Over time, this buildup will affect the flavor of your cup of coffee, and not for the better. So, for the best flavor and to keep your machine in tip-top condition, it’s important to use a coffee maker cleaner in your brewer once every few months.
Keep reading our buying guide to learn more about choosing the best coffee maker cleaner for your coffee pot.
Top Coffee Maker Cleaners
#1 Impresa Descaler Coffee Maker Cleaner
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This cleaning liquid has a custom formulation made to impress. It preserves a brewing system’s longevity, so you don’t have to worry about your appliance wearing out. It’s suitable for multiple models.
- Has a custom formulation
- Preserves model longevity
- Suitable for multiple models
- Directions are a little confusing
This highly effective option is perfect for blasting through tough mineral deposits. Even though it’s a powerful formula, it’s still gentle on your appliance. This helps improve longevity alongside enhancing the taste of your morning cup. It’s an environmentally safe option, as well. Unfortunately, consumers have reported that the directions can be a little misleading. This can cause confusion for some people and might be a dealbreaker.
You’ll enjoy that this is a universal formula that will work with any coffee-making appliance that you have. It’s ideal for usage with brands like Nespresso, Keurig, Delonghi, Hamilton Beach, Braun, Krups, and more. This is an excellent formula because of its high level of versatility. Beyond this, it’s made to help prevent corrosion. That means that it’ll extend the lifespan of your appliance even further. It also enhances the taste of your coffee.
#2 Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll enjoy the fact that this product is a full descaling option that will fight hard water deposits in your brewing system. Unlike similar solutions, they do not leave behind the smell of vinegar.
- Offers full descaling
- Fights hard water deposits
- Doesn’t smell like vinegar
- Still has an acidic odor
If you’re looking for a highly convenient descaling solution, this formula was made for you. It comes in a tablet form, instead of messy powder or liquid like the competitors. This means you just pop a tab into some water, and you’re all set. You don’t need to measure anything. Even though these tablets won’t leave behind the same smell that vinegar does, they have an acidic odor. If you’re sensitive to smells, this might not be the right option for you.
You’ll be able to enjoy a better-tasting brew if you use these tablets as regularly as directed. They’ll help to clean out any residual coffee oils or grounds, which means the taste of your coffee won’t be tampered with as it brews. Even better, it doesn’t leave behind a sour or acidic scent as vinegar does. You can use this versatile recipe with both single-serve and traditional drip coffee machines.
#3 Urnex Coffee Maker Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR RESIDUAL BUILDUP
WHY WE LIKE IT: This limescale-busting formula will definitely impress. Unlike many competitors, this option is odorless. That means that, unlike vinegar, this formula won’t leave an acidic smell behind.
- Multiple treatments included
- Totally odorless formula
- Removes limescale
- Might not be a thorough treatment
This formula is an excellent option if you avoid having coffee oils go rancid in your appliance. In fact, it’s built to help clean out the trace amounts of coffee left behind every time you brew yourself a cup. However, some consumers have noted there were still trace amounts of build-up or staining left after they used this treatment. This might be a dealbreaker if you want a more complete clean.
This formula will also ensure that your coffee maker won’t start brewing the sour, bitter coffee that is a sure sign it’s time to deep-clean. It gently removes all sorts of residue, including minerals, limescale, and more. You’ll enjoy a quicker brew time since this treatment can help make your coffee maker more efficient. This will cut down on brew time and ensure that you can get your cup of coffee that much quicker.
#4 Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR RUN TIME IMPROVEMENT
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll enjoy the fact that this option will improve the overall time for running your appliance. Beyond this, it also has a non-acidic formula that is much gentler than other formulas. This option works for espresso machines, too.
- Improves overall run times
- Has a non-acidic formula
- Works for espresso machines
- Should be used with an activator
The versatility of this formula makes it perfect for almost any household. This is because it works across the board, from single-serve machines to traditional drip options. It will even work on espresso machines if that is what you have. Unfortunately, the chemical composition of this cleaning solution requires the usage of an “activator.” This means you’ll have to use something like hydrogen peroxide for an optimal outcome.
Hidden mineral deposits are no match for this powerful cleaning solution. It’s able to blast through them effortlessly so that you know your appliance is completely clean. Beyond this, you’ll be able to enjoy a quicker brew time. That’s because build-up can make your appliance work harder, which extends the brewing process. When you clean your machine with this solution, you will significantly improve the overall efficiency.
#5 Lime-A-Way Dip-It Coffee Maker Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR LIMESCALE
WHY WE LIKE IT: This option will be extra tough on limescale, which is great news since this is a typical deposit. It comes as a ready-to-use formula. That makes it an incredibly convenient cleaner to have around.
- Extra tough on limescale
- Ready-to-use formula
- Seven ounces of product
- Might be a messy solution
You’ll be able to savor each and every cup that much more when you use this cleaning solution in your coffee maker. This is because it is formulated to ensure better-tasting coffee. This is because it cuts through mineral deposits, allowing your coffee maker to deliver better flavor. Unfortunately, this is a liquid cleaning solution. That means that spills or dripping can happen, resulting in a messy product.
It also removes calcium build-up, which can be highly detrimental to the longevity of your coffee-making appliance. This will help you improve the longevity of the machine. Finally, limestone is another key target for this cleaning solution. It is fantastic for cutting through tough lime build-up that can ruin your coffee maker. This option comes as a ready-to-use liquid solution that you can easily use in around four steps.
#6 Caffenu Coffee Maker Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR SINGLE-SERVE MODELS
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll love that this option can clear out old beverage residue. This is a great feature that helps extend the longevity of your appliance. Beyond this, it uses gentle cleansing agents, like biodegradable foam.
- Clears out beverage residue
- Biodegradable foaming agent
- Increases appliance longevity
- Not for traditional carafes
Unfortunately, having a single-serve coffee maker means running the risk of significant build-up that you can’t readily see. Fortunately, this formula is specifically designed to clean out your single-serve models, so they run like new. You can use it with any coffee maker that can use K-cups. However, this is an option specially formulated just for single-serve coffee makers. That means they won’t make sense as an option for those with traditional drip coffee models.
If your coffee has tasted bitter or burned lately, this is a great product to freshen things back up. It will clean out any residual oils built up in your coffee brewer’s system. It will also remove build-up from minerals in your water. This is especially important for those that have hard water at home. Limescale and other mineral deposits can wreak havoc on a brewing system, so removing them is crucial to extending the longevity of your appliance.
Beginner’s Guide to Coffee Maker Cleaners
What are Coffee Maker Cleaners
Simply put, a coffee maker cleaner is a substance that cleans your coffee maker. Many are made of simple, non-toxic household ingredients like vinegar or citric acid, while others are manufactured descaling solutions containing acetic acid and lactic acid. They may also come in various forms, such as pourable liquids or dissolving tablets.
Coffee Maker Cleaners vs Standard Household Cleaners
There are a wide variety of standard household cleaners that you probably use every day to clean your appliances, kitchen counters, and floors. In fact, many natural products can be used for all types of cleaning, but not all of them will be suitable for use inside your coffee pot. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for the best coffee for a moka pot or you use traditional grounds in your drip coffee maker.
Many household cleaning products are unsafe for use in a coffee pot. For example, while a solution of chlorine bleach diluted with water is great for disinfecting your kitchen cupboards and bathroom surfaces, it is not suitable for use inside your coffee maker. Bleach is too harsh a cleanser and isn’t safe for consumption.
In contrast, those that you can use in your coffee maker are non-toxic and rinse away easily with clean water. The ingredients included in coffee maker cleaners consist of vinegar, citric acid, and other non-toxic, food-safe ingredients that clean effectively and won’t harm you if ingested. If you already use vinegar to wipe down countertops or lemon wedges in your garbage disposal, it’s the same idea.
These are very effective cleaning agents that are safe for contact with the internal parts of your coffee pot, clear up any gunk, and then wash away with water. Unlike harsh chemicals and many other household cleaners, a coffee maker cleaner won’t harm you, even if a little bit of it gets left behind during cleaning.
If you’re cleaning the external parts of your coffee machine, you can use fresh water and liquid dish soap to soak them, or you can wipe them down with a diluted lemon juice solution or vinegar. This will eliminate coffee residue, coffee oils, and calcification to keep your machine clean.
How Coffee Maker Cleaners Work
The easiest method is to use a simple 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Simply pour this in your water reservoir and run a brew cycle. The acid in the vinegar will break down the organic deposits in your coffee maker’s internal parts. Once the brewing cycle is complete, the solution can be poured down the sink, after which you’ll run two more cycles using plain, clean water to flush out any remaining vinegar and residue.
If you purchase a coffee maker cleaner, you’ll find a variety of tablets and granules. These are meant to be dissolved in water and brewed through 1 to 3 cycles, depending on the individual product’s instructions. Some must be mixed with warm water prior to brewing, while others can simply be dissolved in the water reservoir as you begin the brewing cycle.
The instructions may also indicate to turn your coffee pot off mid-cycle and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, allowing the cleaner to make prolonged contact with any bacterial growth or mineral deposits on the inside, making your cleaning cycle more effective. If you have hard tap water, you can also run your water through a water filter first before putting it in the water tank. You can also look into the best coffee maker for hard water to make it easier to clean.
Why should you buy a coffee maker cleaner?
If you notice that your morning brew has taken on a strange taste, you probably have excess bacterial growth, as well as oily residue, mold, and mineral deposits, growing inside your maker’s internal parts. Whether you use the white vinegar in your pantry or you buy a coffee maker cleaner specifically designed for your coffee pot, you absolutely must use it every 2 to 3 months for better-tasting coffee.
Is a Coffee Maker Cleaner Worth Buying?
- They’re effective: A coffee maker cleaner will thoroughly clean out the inside of your coffee pot. Once done, you’ll find you enjoy your coffee’s taste much more.
- They’re convenient: It’s insanely easy to use a coffee maker cleaner. You mix it up, push the button, and let your coffee pot do what it does best. You can even step away while it works and come back to rinse it later. It’s an essential part of maintenance.
- They can keep you healthy: There are many unpleasant things that can grow inside your coffee maker. A coffee maker cleaner will not only prolong the life of your coffee maker, but it’ll also prevent you from ingesting any number of harmful substances that could be lurking where you can’t see.
- They are affordable: There’s simply no reason why you wouldn’t use a coffee maker cleaner. They’re not expensive, and they can save you from having to buy a new coffee pot prematurely by keeping yours clean and in proper working order.
Why a Coffee Maker Cleaner May Not Be For You
- You already have vinegar on hand: Vinegar is a very effective kitchen cleaner, so if you already have plenty of vinegar on hand, you don’t need to buy a premixed coffee maker cleaning solution. Vinegar is affordable and versatile, so it can be used for more than just your coffee pot.
- You don’t want to spend the money: While coffee maker cleaners aren’t incredibly pricey and most are non-toxic, some people prefer to use a natural method that they already have at home.
How Long Will a Coffee Maker Cleaner Last?
Coffee maker cleaners come in a variety of package sizes, so how long it lasts for you will depend on how large of a package you buy and how often you use it. If you use your coffee pot daily, you should be cleaning it every 2 to 3 months, which means your cleaner should last quite a long time.
If you only use your coffee pot a few times a week or month, you can get away with cleaning it less frequently. However, if you plan to put your coffee pot back in storage and only bring it out when you have company, you’ll want to make sure you clean it before storing it and then again before using it.
How to Choose a Coffee Maker Cleaner
Before deciding on a coffee maker cleaner, there are a number of key factors to consider. It’s important to think about how they work and the ingredients they contain.
Coffee Maker Cleaner Key Factors
How much time do you have?
This will influence your decision in terms of what kind of cleaner you choose. You need to decide how you want to mix your cleaner and how many rinses you want to run. Most cleaners call for between one and three rinse cycles after you use it, which means you need to fill up the water reservoir at least that many times to get it flushed out. It can be time consuming if you have to run more rinses.
Some cleaners require that you rinse the machine with warm water before you run the cleaner through the machine, which adds time to the beginning of your process and is more difficult than just dropping a tab in the reservoir or mixing water with vinegar. While none of these methods are particularly time consuming, you still have to decide how you want to mix your cleaner upfront and how many rinse cycles you want to run at the end.
What kind of cleaning agents do you prefer?
The ingredients for coffee maker cleaners largely consist of vinegar or citric acid. However, some tablets and granules have additives that aid in processing including sodium bisulfite, sodium carbonate, sodium gluconate, sodium acetate, and polyethylene glycol. While all of these are water soluble and not necessarily harmful, many people hesitate to put these things through their coffee maker because they’re not all organic.
Speaking of cleaners, be sure to wash the coffee creamer dispenser hose thoroughly, or you’ll pick up the taste of the cleaner. Alternatively, if you need to clean and sanitize a steel coffee maker, we have a guide for that, too.
Some other descalers include aluminum salts, which control bacteria naturally. Combined with citric acid, these are very effective cleaners. However, these may also contain sulfamic acid, which is effective at removing limescale buildup and rust but maybe an irritant if ingested in large quantities. While you’re not likely to ingest it in large quantities, many people still don’t want to use it. If you plan on using a descaling mixture, you’ll want to learn how to descale a Keurig.
The most natural form of cleaner is vinegar, which is effective but isn’t odorless. While the odor can be unpleasant, it normally doesn’t last very long. If not flushed out thoroughly, it can give a bad taste to your coffee for the first few pots after cleaning, so it’s important to flush your machine thoroughly afterward.
Do you want a universal cleaner?
Universal cleaners are useful because they can be used with any type of machine. These cleaners work for anything from drip coffee makers to espresso machines as well as affordable brands like Keurig to premium manufacturers like DeLonghi. That said, you’ll want to browse our list of the leading Keurig coffee makers. Keep in mind that some cleaners are specifically designed for individual brands or types of coffee makers, which means they are formulated to work better with that specific brand.
How many uses can you get from a container?
How much cleaner you have to use is based on the concentration of the product itself. All of them need to be mixed with water, but the amounts differ. So, how many uses you’ll be able to get out of a container will depend on which type and brand you choose. You’ll also need to pay particular attention to how much of the product you need to use each time to determine how long it will last.