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How Does a Self-Cleaning Coffee Maker Work?

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Updated August 29, 2022

So, how does a self-cleaning coffee maker work? Pretty quickly, as it turns out. These appliances are a fantastic option for those looking to keep their machine clean even when life gets busy. You don’t need a few cups of vinegar. Around a cup in clean water will do to get your coffee drip and related parts thoroughly clean.


  • A clean light will indicate when to use the self-cleaning features, which you should do by flushing the system with a vinegar mixture.
  • Build-up comes from the filter basket leaking ground coffee beans, calcium buildup in the water tank, and other regular grime from making your morning cup of coffee.
  • You can also use a charcoal filter and flush the system with plain water after each brewing cycle with cold water to clear a buildup of materials.

The best coffee maker keeps your coffee warm with a heating plate, has self-cleaning properties, and only has a few simple steps for usage. Alternatively, if your machine is not performing optimally, you may be asking yourself, “How do I fix my coffee maker?”

What is a Self-Cleaning Function?

Coffee makers with a self-clean function can clean themselves within reason. They do this by flushing their system with a mixture of fresh water and a cleaning solution. An indicator light will pop up, letting you know it’s time. This “clean light” is your signal to create a vinegar solution to flush your water tank. You may also be wondering, “How often should you clean your coffee maker?”

Brewing parameters are complicated. This prompts questions such as how many cups of water to use, what type of filter basket is best, and whether you should use hot water or cold water. Another question to ask is, “How does the strong setting on a coffee maker work?

Insider Tip

Having coffee ground beforehand can speed up your morning routine.

How the Self-Cleaning Process Works

Cold water is acceptable to use for the self-clean cycle. For convenience, you may want a coffee machine with a water line connection, so you don’t have to fill the reservoir every time. Your automatic coffee maker will heat the water like it usually does. The trick is to clean out your coffee basket, built-in grinder, and any other residual mess from your previous cup of coffee. Flushing your favorite coffee maker with vinegar cleans most gunk out, including from the coffee drip.

Expensive coffee makers have perks far beyond our topic today, such as an auto-shutoff and auto-rinse feature. If you’re wondering, “How does my coffee maker auto shut off?” we have an article with all the answers.

Are Automatic Cleaning Programs Enough?

While the self-cleaning mode is a huge step forward, it cannot replace a manual clean cycle. From the filter basket to the actual pot of coffee, the build-up will always form. You need to regularly use warm water and a soapy sponge to keep your drip coffee maker running smoothly.

You can also run fresh water through the system if you don’t have time to make a mixture of vinegar. You should also use a charcoal filter if possible to help keep your drip coffee maker in top shape.

When to Use the Manual Cleaning Process

You’ll need to provide basic cleaning to all parts of your coffee maker, including the water reservoir. This should happen around once a week to once a month. Keep in mind this will depend on several factors, such as if the machine has a built-in grinder like the Cuisinart Next-Generation Burr Grind & Brew.

There are a few ways to provide regular cleaning to your coffee machine. You’ll need soapy water, clean water, and a couple of abrasive sponges. For a complete cleaning cycle, include a little white vinegar mixed with lots of hot water.


Don’t touch the glass on your coffee pot without hand protection if it’s keeping your coffee hot on a heating element.


How often do I need to change my Cuisinart coffee maker water filter?

You’ll need to change your water filter at least once every sixty days or every sixty uses. This is crucial to making sure that the water reservoir is working correctly.

How does the self-clean button on a Cuisinart coffee maker work?

To activate self-cleaning, just press the clean button. From there, you should be able just to wait while your coffee pot cleans itself.

Are built-in coffee grinders worth having?

There are a few ways to provide regular cleaning to your coffee machine. You’ll need soapy water, clean water, and a couple of abrasive sponges.

How often should I clean a Cuisinart coffee maker?

You should clean your Cuisinart coffee maker at least once a week. This will ensure complete sanitization. Deep cleaning should happen every month.

STAT: Cuisinart is an American home appliance brand owned by Conair Corporation. (source)

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