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Coffee Maker Cleaner Vs Vinegar: What’s Better For Cleaning

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Coffee makers have always been very popular but even more so with every new model that companies are creating. While you can get a basic coffee pot, there are so many different features that come on even the simplest coffee makers. The more features, the more you can expect to pay. When you pay a decent amount for a coffeemaker, you will need to know how to take care of it.

Generally, you can use both coffee maker cleaners and regular household vinegar to clean your coffee maker. While cleaning your coffee maker can be many different ways, it is important to do so as it will extend the life of your machine.

There are many reasons that you should clean your coffee maker. The most important reason is to keep it running smoothly. There are so many ways to clean a coffee maker you may find yourself wondering what’s the difference between them. Read on to find out how each cleaner works to keep your coffee maker running like new and more.

What Is the Difference – Coffee Maker Cleaner and Vinegar?

The biggest difference between the two is that one is made up of different cleaning agents, and the other is an edible household cleaner. Some say it’s it is much safer to use vinegar than a harsh cleaner as you may not be able to flush all of the cleaner’s chemicals out. 

Vinegar will not only help to clean out your coffee maker, but it can also help to descale it, which is very useful to keep your coffee maker running properly. Each cleaner is different, so it’s important to read the labels fully to make sure you know what will be going into your coffee maker. Some have harsh chemicals that will need to be rinsed out much more thoroughly than vinegar.

Vinegar is safe to drink or use in food, so if you were to leave some behind when rinsing, the only thing you will be left with is a tart cup of coffee. Vinegar is also far less expensive than buying coffee maker cleaners. Vinegar, however, will not be able to fight off existing mold. 

When choosing between the two cleaning options, you need to decide if you want just a simple cleaning or if you’re cleaning to remove debris. Next, let’s look at how to tell when your coffee maker needs a decent cleaning compared to light upkeep.

How Do I Check My Coffee Maker to See How Dirty It Is?

If a coffee maker is not cleaned regularly, it will grow some form of mold or bacteria. This is a certainty. The warm and steamy environment makes a great breeding ground for both. If you would like to see just how dirty your coffee maker potentially is, you can try a few steps:

  • Brew water into a white mug or cup. This will show you if any debris is making its way through your coffee maker. 
  • Open the parts that are meant to be open and wipe them with a white cloth. If there is any type of sludge or mold, it needs to be cleaned

If there is debris in your cup or any on your towel, it is a very good idea to clean the coffee maker. You may even need to clean the coffee maker a few times to make sure it removes all of the debris. If you have never cleaned your coffee maker, you should clean it immediately and stop using it until you do.

How to Clean Your Coffee Maker With Cleaner Designed for It

Now let’s look at just how you clean your coffee maker with the cleaners made specifically for your machine. Each cleaner is different, so it’s best to check how yours should be used. Some use the whole bottle each time the coffee maker needs to be cleaned. Others use a small amount of the solution mixed with water.

Many solutions will require you to pour the contents of the bottle into the water reservoir. Then you simply let the coffee maker run its normal setting, and the product will work its magic. It’s that simple and needs to be done roughly once a month to keep your machine running like new.

How to Clean Your Coffee Maker With Vinegar

When cleaning your coffee maker, you can either use just vinegar or vinegar with a small amount of dish soap. If you want to only use the vinegar, you follow these simple steps to clean your coffee maker.

  • Fill the water reservoir with a mixture of half vinegar and half water. If there is a lot of buildup, you can up the vinegar amount. Some people even use straight vinegar.
  • Turn your coffee maker on and let it brew halfway. After this, shut off the machine and let it sit for around an hour. 
  • Turn the coffee maker back on and let the mixture flow through completely.
  • Fill the water reservoir with clean water and let it brew like normal. This will flush out any vinegar residue.

It is as simple as that. If you want, you can add a couple of drops of plain dish soap to the mixture. If you do this, you may need to run clean water through the machine a couple of times, dumping it after each time. You can also take this time to use a toothbrush to get the nooks and crannies free of debris.

If you want to stay with the more natural route, you can also use lemon and baking soda mixture to clean the debris and leave your coffee maker smelling lemony fresh. It also is not a harsh chemical and can be rinsed out quite easily.

How to Descale Your Coffee Maker With Solution 

Descaling your coffee maker is a little different than simply cleaning the machine. Descaling requires a solution made for that purpose. Just like many cleaners out there, the descaling solution needs to be dumped into the water reservoir. Some even want you to fill that up with bottled water and dump that in also.

Then you simply turn the machine on and brew a pot/cup. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Afterward, you will need to rinse the coffee maker a lot. If it is a single cup type of coffee maker, you will need to run the machine at least ten times. If you are using a coffee maker with a pot, you will need to run it through at least two times to make sure to clear all out of the leftover descalers.

Can a Dirty Coffee Maker Make You Ill?

A dirty coffee maker is more than just a poor-tasting cup of coffee. It has the risk of making you very ill. Studies have shown that coffee makers can have more bacteria than your kitchen or, even worse, your bathroom. Yeah. Gross!

The combination of heat and moisture creates a perfect environment. Then throw in the fact that every surface of a coffee maker is typically always wet because it can’t dry properly, and you are asking for trouble. You could suffer from an upset stomach or even become very ill. A simple bacteria could infect your whole family and leave you feeling miserable.

If you use your coffee maker daily, it is a good idea to open the top and even wipe it with a towel to dry it as much as possible. This will help to keep mold and mildew at bay. This is also why you should clean your coffee maker often. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?

If you are using bottled water in your coffee maker, buildup will be slower, but it will still need to be cleaned at least once a month. This will help stop any potential buildup and germs. If you are using tap water, it is likely there will be build-up much faster and need more frequent cleaning.

There are many great reasons why you should clean your coffee maker often, such as:

  • Stop to kill bacteria
  • Make your drink taste better
  • Keep your coffee maker operating efficiently

All are very important to keep your coffee maker running for years. This will also make for a much better cup of coffee. Monthly cleanings or more will be enough to make your machine run smoothly. 

Can Any Type of Water Be Used in a Coffee Maker?

Certain types of water will work better in your coffee maker than others. Waters that have added minerals make the best cup of coffee, but they also cause buildup quicker than water without minerals. It is a good idea to use water with minerals and clean the coffee maker often.

It may seem a little counterintuitive to fill your coffee maker with the same ingredient that will clog or coat your machine with buildup. Mineral-filled water just makes a better and less bitter cup of coffee. The minerals in the water help the coffee to extract correctly. Bottled water is typically better than tap water.

If you live in an area with very clean tap water, it may also work. For those that have well water or city water filled with all types of chemicals, it is better to use bottled water. It won’t have any added flavoring, and you will be able to taste the true flavor of your coffee.

The Difference – Descaling and Cleaning a Coffee Maker

There is a difference between simply cleaning a coffee maker and descaling it. Cleaning means you are cleaning out or preventing mold or bacteria from growing. This can also help remove coffee grounds that become stuck in the machine. 

A descaling solution is not meant to clean or sanitize your coffee maker. A descaling is to remove any buildup that comes over time from the use of water with certain minerals in it. As you know, water with minerals does much better as far as the taste of your coffee, but it will create a buildup in the coffee maker.

Some cleaning products can help to descale your coffee maker, but not all are created equally. Be sure to read the label before using the product so you will use it for the right issue. Vinegar can help to sanitize while also descaling your coffee maker.

It is recommended to use a descaling solution every few months depending on the water that is being used in the machine. If you are using water that is low in minerals and you do not see any buildup, you can also just do your regular cleaning and forgo descaling more often.

Pros and Cons of Using Coffee Maker Cleaner

There are a few great reasons why you should use a cleaner that is made for cleaning your coffee maker, but there are also some cons to using it.

Will clean the coffee maker very wellCan be made with harsh chemicals
Can help prevent mold and mildewCan be hard to rinse out
Can remove mold and mildewMore expensive and needs to be bought often

It is up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons for you. Some coffee maker cleaners are not as harsh and more like vinegar. One good point is if they clean the same as vinegar but are twice to triple the cost. It makes you wonder why you would waste the money. 

Pros and Cons of Using Vinegar as a Cleaner

Vinegar can be used for several things around the house and has been around for a very long time, so it’s no wonder many use it as a coffee maker cleaning agent.

NaturalMay not be as good at removing mold and mildew
Inexpensive to buyIt does not work as well as more expensive cleaners
Edible means no harsh chemicals
Sanitizes without harsh chemicals

It is easy to see that while vinegar may not clean as well as some of the harsh chemical-filled cleaners, it is an all-around decent choice for regular cleanings. It won’t break the bank, and you will not need to worry about what you are putting into your coffee maker. 

Coffee Maker Cleaner Is Much Different Then Vinegar

It doesn’t matter which cleaner you choose to keep your coffee maker in like-new condition because both types will work well. It is up to you if you would rather spend the extra money on a cleaner meant for coffee makers. If you would like to stick to the classic cleaner vinegar, it will also clean and sanitize your coffee maker.

Learn about cleaning your dryer vent here, or how to clean your dishwasher’s filter next.


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