How To Clean A Coffee Maker Without Vinegar – BaristaHQ

Having an at-home coffee maker is extremely convenient, especially if you’re a regular coffee drinker. Coffee makers allow you to have a robust cup of coffee in your hands within a matter of minutes, and brewing coffee at home can save you a lot of money in the long run.  

But what many people don’t realize is that regular cleaning of a coffee maker’s components is essential. By failing to clean the appliance, not only are you unlikely to get a great-tasting cup of coffee, but you’re promoting the spread of germs and bacteria that can be harmful to you and your family.  

Many sources will tell you that vinegar is an ideal ingredient for cleaning, and some people even swear by cleaning their coffee makers with vinegar.

Unfortunately, this runs the risk of giving your coffee beverages an unpleasant aftertaste, so if you want to avoid that, check out this guide on how to clean a coffee maker without vinegar. 

You might be surprised by how many people never clean their coffee makers, and you might even be one of them! This is a common mistake, but luckily, it’s one that can be easily remedied. But the question still remains - why is it important to regularly clean your coffee machine? 

The first reason has to do with the taste of your coffee. When coffee grounds are filtered through a coffee machine, they leave behind natural oils that can eventually form a residue. Allowing this residue to build up can lead to bitter-tasting coffee, which isn’t something that most people enjoy.  

More importantly, though, failing to clean your coffee maker can cause dozens of different bacteria strains to thrive in your kitchen and within the machine’s components. While some of these strains aren’t harmful to the human body, some of them are, and they can ultimately cause harm to your health, such as an upset stomach or bacterial infection.  

How To Clean A Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using Vinegar For Coffee Maker Cleaning? 

Vinegar is one of the most common natural cleaners used to disinfect and kill germs. White vinegar in particular is high in acidity, so it’s great for killing some common strains of household bacteria, dissolving hard-water deposits, and cutting through residue.

Best of all, it’s an affordable solution for cleaning around the home. However, there are some disadvantages to cleaning your coffee maker with vinegar.  

2020 Consumer Reports post states that while “the plastic and glass surfaces on most small kitchen appliances, such as blenders, coffee makers, and toasters, are safe to clean with vinegar, you want to avoid any rubber parts or metal that vinegar can corrode.

This includes stainless steel.” Although it may not be visible to the naked eye, there might be components within your coffee maker that can be damaged by the high levels of acid in vinegar.  

Another big disadvantage of using vinegar as your coffee machine cleaning solution is that it can be difficult to rinse all of the vinegar out of the coffee maker after cleaning. This can result in strange-tasting coffee, and the leftover vinegar can even be hard on your stomach. 

vinegar for cleaning coffee machine

How To Clean Your Coffee Maker Without Vinegar (Best Alternative Cleaners) 

At this point, you’re probably wondering what to use to clean a coffee maker without vinegar. Well, there are a few different options, and many of them are just as natural, eco-friendly, and affordable as vinegar.  

Here are the best alternative coffee maker cleaners: 

Lemon Juice 

Just like vinegar, lemon juice is well-known for its high acidity, so it’s great to clean with lemon juice. The acidity level is just as high in lemon juice as in vinegar, but it won't leave behind the same bitter aftertaste or strong odor. 

The steps for cleaning your coffee maker with lemon juice are simple. Start by running a brewing cycle with fresh water only, and turn off the cycle when the reservoir is still half-filled with water.

Then, mix equal parts lemon juice and water (1/2 cup for each works well) and pour this mixture into the machine’s reservoir. Allow the contents to steep for about 15 minutes, then finish the brewing cycle.  

Liquid Dish Soap

Using a mild dishwashing soap is probably the easiest way to give your coffee maker a thorough cleaning. All you have to do for this method is remove the machine’s detachable parts and soak them in soapy water. Replace the parts once they have been rinsed and dried - that’s it!

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another all-natural cleaning agent that’s mild yet effective. Start by removing the filter from the coffee maker and setting it aside. Then, fill the pot with 1 cup of warm water, and add about ¼ cup baking soda to the pot, swirling it around to let it dissolve.  

From there, pour the solution into the machine’s water reservoir, set the pot in its place, and activate the brewing cycle. The solution will work to clean the components of the coffee maker, removing residue and grime along the way. Once the brewing cycle is complete, brew fresh water to remove any leftover baking soda. 

baking soda for cleaning coffee machine


Sodium borate, or borax for short, is a white powdery substance often used as a household cleaner or laundry detergent booster. It can also be used to clean your coffee maker. 

The process for using borax as your go-to cleaning agent is very similar to using baking soda, but the ratios of borax to water are slightly different. For every full carafe of water, add about 2 tablespoons of borax before allowing the solution to run through a brewing cycle.  

Hydrogen Peroxide Or Alcohol

If you’re looking for a natural cleaning solution, hydrogen peroxide may not be for you, but this is a great ingredient to use if you want a deep clean. Hydrogen peroxide is a cleaning chemical that's ultra-powerful but also extremely cheap (a large bottle will cost you no more than $2).  

You can add a full cup of hydrogen peroxide to the coffee pot, then fill it to the top with fresh water and pour it into the reservoir. Allow the mixture to run through a brewing cycle, then finish up by brewing a few pots of fresh water to eliminate any cleaner that’s left in the coffee maker.  

The same method can be used with isopropyl alcohol or even food-grade alcohol like vodka. 

Cream of Tartar

Cream of Tartar is often used for cooking, but it also serves as a coffee maker cleaner! Similar to lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda, there is acid present in this ingredient, so it’s capable of disinfecting while also removing limescale build-up.  

To use Cream of Tartar, fill the coffee pot with water and add about 3 tablespoons of the powder. Mix it up, add the solution to the reservoir, and activate the brewing cycle. Once the pot has cooled down, you can dump the brewed water/Cream of Tartar solution and scrub the pot clean; you should be able to get rid of any residue and build-up.  

For each of these cleaning methods, make sure to run the brewing cycle once or twice to get rid of any residual cleaning agents. It’s also a good idea to wash all of the detachable parts with warm, soapy water and rinse them well before putting the machine back together.  

Common Coffee Cleaning Without Vinegar Questions

Can you run soapy water through a coffee maker? 

Yes, one of the recommended cleaning ingredients is liquid dish soap. If you do choose to run soapy water through the coffee’s filtering system, just make sure to disassemble all of the parts afterward and rinse them well. Before putting the machine back together, ensure that no suds or soap are left behind.  

How do you deep clean a coffee maker? 

You’ve got a few options for deep cleaning your coffee maker. There are some commercial coffee maker cleaners available, but if you prefer a DIY method, you can use any of the alternative cleaners listed above.  

For example, if you choose to use baking soda, start by filling the water reservoir of the machine with a baking soda/water solution. Then, activate the coffee maker's brew cycle and allow the cycle to brew halfway through. Then, stop brewing and let the rest of the mixture steep in the reservoir for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then, finish the brewing cycle.  

Whatever cleaner you choose, just make sure to brew clean water once or twice afterward to eliminate any residual cleaning agents.  

Does descaler work better than vinegar? 

“is an important part of cleaning… This process removes calcium deposits, or scale, that can build up inside a coffee maker over time. Calcium and scale are non-toxic but left unattended, they can hinder your brewer's performance. Descaling should take place every 3 to 6 months or, for select brewers, when the descale light comes on.”

While many people choose to use vinegar for descaling since it’s all-natural and affordable, descaling solutions are specifically formulated for removing build-up, and they’re extremely effective for keeping your coffee making running reliably.  

How long do coffee makers last? 

It depends on how often you use them and how well you maintain them. A well cared for and regularly cleaned machine can last as long as 10 years.  


There are several ways to clean a coffee maker without vinegar. If you want to avoid an acidic aftertaste in your fresh-brewed coffee, use lemon juice, baking soda, alcohol, or another alternative listed in this guide.  

Whatever method you decide is the best way to clean a coffee maker without vinegar, the main thing to remember is to keep your coffee maker clean. Not only will this lead to great-tasting coffee, but it will minimize common strains of bacteria that are harmful to our health.