If you love coffee, it's best to love your coffee maker by giving it a good cleaning. After all, the interior of your coffee maker collects oily residue from brewing, and hard-water deposits accumulate inside the coffee maker's water reservoir and throughout its channels over time. As a result, your coffee can taste "off," if not downright unpleasant. Plus, mineral deposit buildup can shorten the lifespan of your machine.
Here are the easy steps to cleaning the inside of your coffee maker, leaving it clean and free of deposits and dark spots, and your coffee tasting delicious:
1) Fill your clean coffee carafe (the handled pot you slide in to "catch" your brewed coffee) with a mixture of one part distilled white vinegar to two parts fresh, filtered water.
2) Insert your clean coffee filter basket into the machine so that it and the slide-out filter holder will get a good cleaning, as well.
3) Pour the vinegar-water mixture into the reservoir of your coffee maker.
4) Turn on the coffee maker, and allow the vinegar-water mixture to cycle through the machine completely.
5) Turn off your coffee maker, and allow the full pot of hot vinegar-water mixture to cool for about 20 minutes.
6) Pour the cooled vinegar-water mixture down the drain.
7) Look inside the reservoir; if it still has a residue and needs another treatment -- which may be the case if you haven't cleaned the coffee maker in quite a while -- repeat steps 1 through 6, being sure your coffee carafe is completely cool before the next cycle. Adding cold water to a hot pot can cause it to shatter.
8) Fill your carafe again with fresh, filtered water, and run it through your coffee maker's cycle again to rinse away any remaining vinegar aroma or taste; repeat this one more time for a thorough cleaning of your machine and your coffee carafe.
9) If you wish, you may either rinse the coffee carafe or run it through your dishwasher (if your machine's operating manual says it's OK to put it in the dishwasher).
Using vinegar and water is often all the cleaning power you need, and the all-natural ingredients ensure that you're not pouring dangerous chemicals (such as bleach) into a machine that makes a beverage you'll drink.
Even homemaking doyenne Martha Stewart advises, "A monthly cleaning will help ensure a great-tasting cup of coffee." She suggests a slightly different method of turning on your machine long enough to "let several cups of the vinegar-water solution run through, then turn it off and let it sit for an hour. Start the machine again to complete the cycle."
This method allows the heated-up cleaning mixture to work longer through contact and steam, giving your machine a thorough, extended cleaning.