How Much Vinegar Does It Take To Clean A Coffee Maker? | Top Off My Coffee Please (2023)

How Much Vinegar Does It Take To Clean A Coffee Maker? | Top Off My Coffee Please (1)I’m getting ready to do a series of posts on cleaning a coffee maker and it occurred to me that the average person probably doesn’t know how much vinegar it takes to clean a coffee machine (or coffee pot).

Vinegar is widely accepted to be one of the best natural acidic cleaners for hard water stains and mineral deposits. Unlike harsh chemicals vinegar leaves behind a perfectly safe residue and odor that can easily be rinsed away with plain cold water.

If you use apple cider vinegar to clean then the flavor may linger a bit longer however.

If you live in areas with hard water you are going to need to use more vinegar to clean your coffee pot than people who live with soft water. Spring water or well water users may also need to use more vinegar due to higher amounts of minerals in the water.

In fact, high minerals in the water can make it hard for vinegar to fully decalcify water lines so you may need to use more than you might first expect. See this post for more info on how much vinegar will clean out your coffee maker.

If you are into using alternative products I’ve got a full list of standard options and alternative cleaners here for you to browse.

Avid coffee drinkers are also going to need to use a bit more vinegar than occasional drinkers will. This is because they are more likely to care about an untainted flavor and because they are using their machines more often and therefore making the insides of the machine dirtier faster.

If you have a 12 cup coffee pot then you will want to use 4-6 cups of white vinegar to 6-8 cups of plain water. If you haven’t descaled or cleaned your pot in a long time (think years if ever) then just use a bit more and repeat the cleaning process to help loosen up the gunky buildup.

Make sure to see my full guide to cleaning any coffee machine here for in depth video instruction.

If you are ambitious it’s good to lightly clean your pot every month or so but you can certainly do it less frequently than that. If you do intend on cleaning your machine monthly then you should be able to get away with doing a 1-2 mixture of vinegar to water ratio and maybe even 1-3 in places with soft water.

In any event cleaning your coffee machine is very simple and the cost of white vinegar is negligible so it’s worth doing more frequently than every couple years.

I recommend seeing this post about cleaning your coffee maker without using vinegar too for more ideas.

In future posts I’ll be breaking down more questions people have about cleaning coffee pots and then eventually posting a big guide on the topic.

In the mean time feel free to keep reading for elaboration on this topic.

You Have to Use Enough Vinegar to Clean Your Coffee Maker – Don’t Skimp

Imagine this: You woke to a good day. You had your day planned out. Everything seemed to be working your way. It’s time for a good cup of coffee to jumpstart your exciting day ahead. You prepared your coffee maker and got in going to brew. You went for a shower, got dressed. Now, you sat down for a quick breakfast with your much-awaited morning drink.

After a sip, you took a hard look at your cup. Something is definitely not right.

You took a second sip. Definitely, there’s something wrong. Your coffee taste bitter, odd.

When was the last time you cleaned your coffee maker?

Did you even use enough the last time you tried?

It takes a lot of vinegar to kill bacteria and decalcify tubing inside your machine.

When cleaning an Aeropress or soaking a travel mug it’s easy to see and smell when your equipment is clean, not so with drip coffee makers.

It’s Time to Clean your Coffee Maker

When you have been using your coffee maker for quite some time, you know the quality of the coffee that it can produce. If you notice that there’s a sharp change in the taste of your everyday morning cup of Joe, it’s a warning. You need to act fast.

Foul tasting coffee is actually a sign that you have a lot of germs built up inside your machine and it may be getting a bit unsanitary inside. At this point a deep cleaning can help to remove hard water deposits, prevent staining, and clean out rancid coffee oils that typically get left behind after brew cycles.

I like to deep clean my coffee making equipment once a month or so but there are good reasons to do it more often. See this post for more on how often you should deep clean your equipment.

How Did the Coffee Maker Become Dirty Anyway?

Any and all equipment requires cleaning. That’s a fact.

Coffee makers requires more attention because they make edible drinks and are in a near constant state of warm moisture on the inside.

If you carefully look into the process and mechanism of coffee maker, you will begin to imagine that several parts of the coffee maker can be home to molds and bacteria.

  • It’s always wet. Water is the second important ingredient of coffee brewing. This means the coffee maker is always wet. A moist environment is the birthing pod of bacteria and molds. If this gets into your cup of coffee, you will end up sick. The idea alone is enough to make one gag.
  • Calcification can occur. Water carries minerals. Over time, these minerals can build up and form scales inside the coffee maker. This will make your coffee sour.
  • Coffee drippings will stain the hot plate. Once you remove the carafe, there will be drippings from the filter and it will stain your hot plate. This will leave ugly, blackened spots on the plates.
  • The carafe itself will have stain. Coffee has a strong color that can stain any surface if constantly exposed to this liquid.

There are dedicated cleaners designed to be used on coffee makers like Dezcal and many people use lemon juice or vinegar to disinfect and decalcify but when used carefully baking soda can clean a coffee maker that uses soft water. It will disinfect just fine so long as you don’t use too much and so long as you make sure it all dissolves before using it.

I use baking soda from time to time after removing grounds from my French press and only once in a blue moon on my drip coffee maker. Even still you can see my guide to using baking soda here if you want to give it a try.

Luckily we can Cheaply Use Vinegar to Clean our Coffee Equipment

Using a vinegar is one of the easiest and quickest way to clean a coffee maker. Here is a simple step-by-step guide to use vinegar when cleaning your coffee maker. Also note how much vinegar is needed to clean your coffee maker.

Here are the items you will need:

  • Coffee maker
  • Water
  • White Vinegar – 4 cups, or just enough to fill half of the carafe
  • Hot soapy water
  • Sponge
  • Damp dish towel
  • Dry dish towel

How to prepare:

  1. Empty the carafe. Remove all contents of the carafe and rinse it with water. Make sure to dump out any coffee ground left in the filter.
  2. Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar. As a rule of thumb, fill half of the carafe with white vinegar and add water to make it full.
  3. Run a half brew cycle. Start a brew cycle. When halfway through, turn off the coffee maker. Let the solution set for an hour. This will soften any build up and stain in your coffee maker.
  4. Complete the brew cycle. After an hour, turn on the coffee maker and finish brewing.
  5. Discard the water-vinegar solution. Make sure to discard all of the water-vinegar solution.
  6. Run a fresh water cycle. Fill the water chamber with fresh water and run a full cycle. Let the coffee maker cool for a few minutes. Run another full water cycle. It will take about 2 to 3 full water cycles to remove the vinegar smell.
  7. Wash the carafe and filter basket. Prepare a hot soapy water and wash the carafe and filter. This will remove stain from the surfaces.
  8. Reassemble. Put all the parts together and enjoy a fresh, great tasting coffee again.

Tips to Better Care for Your Coffee Maker

Cleaning your coffee maker regular will prolong its quality. Here are three simple reminders to keep your coffee maker in tiptop shape.

  1. Always wash removable parts after use. Discard coffee grounds after you brew. Don’t let it sit on the filter for hours because it will be a breeding ground for molds.
  2. Remove minerals build up every month. These calcium build up affects the speed of coffee drip and it will turn your coffee into a sour drink.
  3. Make the carafe shine bright as new. You can rinse it with water after usage. But if you want to deep clean it, fill the carafe with hot water, add some mild detergent and a little rice.

Additional tip: If you don’t want to use vinegar, you can choose a healthier alternative – lemon juice. Lemon juice has a natural cleaning agent that helps manage stains.

After this thorough cleaning process, it’s time to check on your coffee maker. Brew a fresh cup of coffee. If the uninviting taste occur, maybe it’s a good time to change your equipment.


How much vinegar do I use to clean a 12 cup coffee maker? ›

How Much Vinegar To Use To Clean a Coffee Maker. A 12-cup coffee pot makes 12, 5-ounce cups of coffee, or 60 ounces total. You'll need 30 ounces of vinegar and 30 ounces of water to deep clean it.

What is the ratio of vinegar to water to clean a coffee maker? ›

Fill the water tank of the coffee maker with a mixture of one-half water and one-half white vinegar. Vinegar is an effective natural solution for cleaning a coffee maker.

Does vinegar damage coffee maker? ›

Some coffee machine owners find that vinegar cleans the limescale from the machine, but it is proven that vinegar makes irreversible damage in the machine other parts.

How do you clean a 12 cup coffee maker? ›

Empty the coffee carafe and clean out the filter. Then add white vinegar and water to the coffee maker. You want to use around half as much vinegar as you have water. If your coffee maker has a clean function, use this function to run the most effective clean cycle.

How many times should I run water through coffee maker after vinegar? ›

Run the vinegar through a brewing cycle. Follow with two to three cycles of fresh water until the vinegar smell is gone.

Is vinegar or baking soda better for cleaning coffee maker? ›

Run two more cycles with fresh water to remove any last residue. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the bottom of your coffee pot before running a cleaning cycle with vinegar or lemon juice. The reaction between the soda and the acid will create even more amazing cleaning power!

What ratio do you mix vinegar and water? ›

Vinegar/Water Ratios

As a general rule, most natural cleaning experts suggest mixing one part vinegar to one part water.

What is the correct mixture of cleaning the coffee maker? ›

To clean your coffee maker, begin by filling the reservoir with a 50-50 mixture of white distilled vinegar and water. You can increase the ratio of vinegar to water if your coffee maker has a particularly nasty case of buildup.

Will my coffee taste like vinegar after cleaning? ›

Vinegar is a common and cost-effective way to clean and descale coffee machines. However, once the coffee has been descaled, it may develop an acrid and unpleasant odor, causing it to taste bad.

Can you run Dawn dish soap through a coffee maker? ›

Don't use dish soap inside the machine.

While it might be tempting to clean a coffee machine with grease-fighting dish soap to remove the oily residue that coffee leaves behind, don't give in to that temptation.

What happens if you don't clean your coffee maker? ›

If your machine is left alone without cleaning, that residue will have a few undesirable effects on your coffee: Your coffee will begin to taste bitter. Your coffee and coffee machine will produce an acrid smell. Coffee residue can cause clogging and blockages that can render a machine unusable.

How do I clean my Mr Coffee coffee maker with vinegar? ›

Add several cups of white vinegar to the water reservoir in your Mr. Coffee® Simple Brew 5-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker and run it like you would for a normal pot of coffee. Then, once the brew process is complete, let the cleaner or vinegar sit in the carafe where it will continue cleaning.

How much vinegar do I use to clean? ›

For use around the home, combine vinegar with water in a 1:1 solution to clean and freshen many surfaces. Use this solution on glass, windows, walls, cupboards, floors, sinks, stovetops and coffee makers.

What is the difference between cleaning vinegar and regular vinegar? ›

The only difference between cleaning vinegar and the distilled white vinegar is their levels of acidity. White vinegar is usually 95 percent water and 5 percent acid. By contrast, cleaning vinegar contains up to six percent acid and is around 20 percent stronger than regular white vinegar.

Can you run vinegar through coffee maker twice? ›

The general practice is to run vinegar through your coffee maker once, followed by two rinse cycles with water. But if you have stubborn scale or residue, you can repeat the vinegar steps prior to the water rinses. Fill the water chamber with plain water, and run it through the system for a full brew cycle.

How long should vinegar sit to descale? ›

Fill the water chamber halfway with white vinegar, and then top it off with water. Set the carafe in place and start a brew cycle. Halfway through, turn off the coffee maker and let it sit for one hour. (If you descale your coffee maker regularly, you may be able to skip the rest period.)

How many times should you rinse coffee machine after descaling? ›

Once the descaling solution has gone through the machine, discard it, rinse your carafe with clean water, fill the reservoir, and run two more cycles like this. This rinsing process not only removes the solution so it doesn't taint your next brew, it also acts as a way to flush any remaining scale.

How long do you let vinegar sit in Keurig? ›

The vinegar solution can stay in the machine for about 30 minutes, but don't let it sit for more than 3 hours. Turn on the machine, place your cup in position, and run through the brew cycle until the reservoir is empty. Rise out your reservoir with clean water as you let the vinegar really tackle that mineral buildup.

How do I clean my coffee cup with vinegar? ›

Vinegar Soak
  1. Fill the mug half full with boiling or very hot water from the tap.
  2. Top off the mug with white vinegar. Let the mixture soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Dump the vinegar water down the sink and scrub the freshly emptied mug with an abrasive sponge.
  4. Rinse with clean water, and you're all set!

How much vinegar do I mix to clean? ›

The most common vinegar cleaning solution contains one cup of vinegar mixed with one cup of warm water. Warm water helps to dissolve grease and hard water spots more quickly.

How much vinegar is needed to descale? ›

Fill the water chamber halfway with white vinegar, and then top it off with water. Set the carafe in place and start a brew cycle. Halfway through, turn off the coffee maker and let it sit for one hour. (If you descale your coffee maker regularly, you may be able to skip the rest period.)

How do I get the vinegar taste out of my Keurig after descaling? ›

How do I get the vinegar taste out of my Keurig? Clean that mug, then refill the reservoir with 10 ounces of only water and repeat, letting the Keurig sit for 30 minutes when complete. (Some people opt for a tablespoon of baking soda, just to make sure it's extra clean.)

How do I get the white vinegar taste out of my Keurig? ›

If you have stubborn vinegar residue on the glass or metal sides of your carafe, rinse it with soap and water. To remove the bitter taste, add a pinch of salt or baking soda to your Keurig coffee, and adjust the amount of coffee and water you use.

How much vinegar do you run through Keurig to clean it? ›

Cleaning the inside of the coffee maker is as important as cleaning the exterior components. Reassemble your clean, dry reservoir, and fill it with 4 cups of white vinegar and 2 cups of water. 6. Run the machine a few times with no filter in place, essentially brewing cup after cup of hot vinegar.

How much white vinegar do I use to clean my Mr Coffee coffee maker? ›

Add several cups of white vinegar to the water reservoir in your Mr. Coffee® Simple Brew 5-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker and run it like you would for a normal pot of coffee. Then, once the brew process is complete, let the cleaner or vinegar sit in the carafe where it will continue cleaning.

Does white vinegar remove coffee stains? ›

Dried coffee stains on clothing often require a soak in a cleaning solution to completely lift out the spot. A solution of distilled white vinegar, liquid detergent, and water can effectively loosen coffee stains after a few minutes.

Can you remove coffee stains from teeth? ›

There are many ways to remove coffee stains from your teeth, including whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, and professional whitening treatments. You may need more than one treatment to completely remove coffee stains from your teeth.

Do you have to rinse after cleaning with vinegar? ›

Do You Have to Rinse after Cleaning with Vinegar? Rinsing is not necessary! If you're simply using a vinegar and water solution to wipe and disinfect, you won't need to rinse. However, if there's also plenty of dirt and grime you're wiping away, you may also want to rinse with some extra water.

What is the disadvantage of vinegar in cleaning? ›

Vinegar doesn't sanitize or disinfect

When you're cleaning to eliminate the germs that cause colds, flus & viruses, you'll want to shelve your vinegar mix. The reason is that vinegar is not an EPA registered disinfectant or sanitizer, which means you can't count on vinegar to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.

Is distilled vinegar the same as white vinegar? ›

White vinegar, also known as distilled vinegar or spirit vinegar, is made by fermenting grain alcohol (ethanol) which then turns into acetic acid. Water is then added to the vinegar, so white vinegar is made of five to ten percent acetic acid and ninety to ninety-five percent water.


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