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Clean a Coffee Maker with Apple Cider Vinegar

If you drink coffee frequently, you probably need to know how to clean a coffee maker with apple cider vinegar or citric acid for optimal coffee machine upkeep. Although you may wash your coffee pot frequently, minerals in your water leave a residue inside the water compartment and coffee carafe each time you brew a cup.


  • Descaling your coffee maker refers to the process of reducing and eliminating the buildup of various minerals found in unfiltered water.
  • You clean your coffee maker with white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, citric acid, or a chemical compound for descaling.
  • Your coffee pot and coffee machine require about 30-90 minutes to descale because they have to soak in the mixture.

Depending on the “hardness” of your water, you occasionally descale your coffee maker to remove the aforementioned mineral deposits and coffee residues. This process should occur every three to six months for even the best coffee maker. If you dislike the smell of vinegar, which is used for its acetic acid, you may use citric acid to clean a coffee maker.

Cleaning Your Coffee Brewers

You should rinse your coffee machine with soapy water regularly, but deep cleaning is recommended every three to six months in areas with water that isn’t hard. If you don’t have hard water in your city, you could descale your coffee machine up to once a month, depending on how often you make coffee at home.

While you perform this deep clean, you may want to use the break while the vinegar’s acidic properties work on the buildup for washing the exterior of your machine or for other maintenance. For example, you could find out why the coffee machine’s steam wand is not working.

Insider Tip

If you can’t afford the expensive descaler created by brands, use a vinegar and water solution instead.

Steps for Descaling a Coffee Maker

  • Tools Needed
    • Vinegar
    • Tap water or filtered water. Can be hot water, tepid, or cold
    • 1 pitcher or another large container
    • 1 Spoon to mix the water and vinegar (optional)
  1. Pour out your coffee pot and rinse it. Some of the mineral buildups of limescale, calcium, and magnesium occurs inside of the carafe because it holds your coffee. So, you will need an empty pot to collect the cleaning solution of vinegar and water.
  2. Remove your coffee grounds and coffee filter from the compartment. You want the concentrate to pass through the empty grounds compartment, so it can cleanse the area and the pot itself.
  3. Pour vinegar into the empty water reservoir until it reaches halfway. Then, fill the rest with water. This process allows the vinegar and water to mix, diluting the vinegar some. You should not use undiluted vinegar because it affects the taste of your coffee.
  4. Brew for half of a cycle. Some devices have a feature called “half brew,” which results in the same type of cycle as half of a regular one. Let the liquid sit in your coffee pot for about a half hour to an hour. You need longer if your area has hard water or you haven’t descaled your coffee pot recently. By only brewing half of a cycle, you trap some of the liquid in the reservoir and carafe at the same time.
  5. Finish your brew cycle or select the “half brew” feature. The buildup of minerals loosens during the break in brewing. This second cycle allows the coffee pot to expel the minerals. After completing this step, dump out the liquid in the carafe.
  6. Refill the reservoir with clean water and brew for at least one more cycle. You may need several cycles to completely eliminate that vinegar smell and taste. If you can still smell vinegar, continue repeating this step. You don’t want any vinegar left in the coffee maker because it leaves a taste when you brew your morning cup of coffee.


Why do I pause the brewing cycle when I’m cleaning my coffee maker with apple cider vinegar?

When you pause the brewing, you help your coffee pot descale by letting the acidic content in the apple cider vinegar solution eat into the mineral deposits. Remember, the primary goal of this process is to keep your coffee maker clean.

Do I need to scrub the inside of my coffee pot when I clean it using apple cider vinegar?

You do not have to, but it may help remove the buildup. However, you should wear gloves to protect your hands if you do so.

How do you remove calcium deposits from a coffee maker?

Removing calcium deposits from a carafe occurs when you descale your coffee maker as described above. You may use a variety of descaling solutions including white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or citric acid. These mixtures also eliminate the buildup of magnesium and limestone.

STAT: The limescale can start to block the holes in your coffee pot—that’s what triggers the indicator light to turn on, if your machine has one. (source)


The smell or taste of vinegar may linger in your coffee maker, so run a few brew cycles to wash it out.

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