How To Clean A Coffee Maker With Bleach

A coffee maker has a tough job. Summoning zombies back to life, one cup after another. Brewing that potent human fuel all day, even if it leaves behind just mess and grime.

But there is someone with an even tougher job..

It‘s the person who has to clean the coffee maker.

The stubborn mess inside your coffee machine may fail your dishwashing liquid. What might work is something tougher – like bleach. The question is, How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Bleach?

Dilute 3 tablespoon of bleach in a cup of water. Pour the mixture in the machine through the filter. Now, pour some more water and run a drip cycle. Let the mixture cool down and then thoroughly rinse with plain water until there is no trace of bleach.

You will see some of the stains coming out the instant you pour in the mixture. For tougher stains, you can scrub with a sponge. However, to avoid such stubborn stains in the first place, you should clean your coffee maker more frequently.

You owe it that much!

Without cleaning, there may be several health risks brewing in there. Bleach, however, may have its own hazards as well. While explaining the right method to clean a coffee maker with bleach, it is important to talk about possible risks and necessary precautions.

So, let’s start with why cleaning your coffee maker is so important that you might have to resort to using bleach for it.

Bleach Sanitizes Coffee Makers

The Dark Side

What do you think is that dark, grimy shadow in your coffee maker?

You think its coffee stains and residues, but it may very well be a colony of bacteria. That could be more germs than there are on your bathroom doorknobs. These facts come from an actual study of coffee reservoirs in American homes. Many coffee makers even had mold in it while some were infested with roaches.

 Hard water further contributes to the cause, and now you have mineral build up to deal with. That’s what makes cleaning even trickier.

Mold and mineral buildup isn’t something that can be easily cleaned by a detergent and hot water. You need a cleaner harsh enough for that stubborn buildup, especially when you have allowed it to sit there for a while.

That’s where bleach comes in.

Bleach is tough enough to get rid of buildup that is too stubborn for your dishwashing liquid. As we said, however, bleach has its own downsides and dangers. You need to be careful about two things: how often you use bleach to clean your coffee maker, and how you use it.

The Right Time to Clean Your Coffee Maker

Unfortunately, many people wait for the weird acidic taste in their coffee to signal a cleaning day. Sorry to break it to you, that weird taste actually means you are already quite late.

That taste comes from the debris and buildup that may already have become a breeding ground of bacteria. There may even be mildew by that time. Let it all sit for a bit longer and your machine will clog up and die.

 A regular cleaning schedule can prevent all of it.

Experts believe that the case with cleaning your coffee machine is similar to that of flossing. You need to do it more often than you already are.

 The frequency of thorough cleaning should depend on how much you use your coffee machine, but you need to do some cleaning after every use and also every day.

Here is what you can do to make sure your coffee machine isn’t slowly turning into a horrifying world of grime:

  • Every Use: Throw out the dirty filter and grounds after every use. Use a damp cloth to wipe the basket and reservoir. Leave it to air dry before next use.
  • Every Day: Wash all the detachable components with hot water and dishwashing liquid every night. Wipe with dry cloth and allow to air dry for the next day.  
  • Every Month: Go for an internal cleanses to decalcify all components. You can get a decalcifying solution for this purpose, but there are several alternatives.

Bleach is one of those alternative.

Safely Use Bleach to Clean a Coffee Maker

Truth be told, despite its sanitizing properties, bleach isn’t the safest option for anything that touches your food, or drink for that matter. If not rinsed properly, it can leave residues that can be extremely harmful.

If you are unable to properly clean your machine with regular detergent and really want to give bleach a try, make sure you follow these instruction to the t:

  1. Never run bleach directly into your coffee machine. Mix a small amount (2 to3 tablespoon) into a lot of water (1 cup).  
  2. Do not let the solution sit in the pot for too long, but wait till it’s cold before rinsing.
  3. Run clean water through the machine at l
  4. east 5 times to remove all traces of bleach.
  5. Let all the components properly air dry before the next use.

If you have accidently used more bleach or just want to make sure there are no traces left, you can get bleach solution food handling test strips and test the water you’ve run through the coffee maker. The strip will indicate if there is any bleach in the brew.

A Safer Alternative

We will say it again, bleach isn’t the safest chemical to clean your coffee machine with.

People prefer bleach because its easily available. It saves you from spending money on decalcifying solutions or commercial coffee maker cleaners.

But do you know there is an alternative that is equally common and cheap?

It’s white vinegar.

White vinegar is an amazing cleaning agent. It doesn’t just clean the surface; it can also break down the sediment buildup and calcium deposits caused by hard water.

What’s better: the process of cleaning a coffee maker with vinegar is just as easy as cleaning it with bleach:

  • Take equal parts water and white vinegar.
  • Fill the reservoir with the solution and run the longest brew cycle.
  • Now pour plain water and run another cycle.
  • Repeat the last step until you can’t smell vinegar.

For better results, you can let this mixture sit in the reservoir and the carefe for around 15 to 30 minutes.

Other safer alternatives include lemon juice and baking soda. These safe remedies work just as good as bleach, unless you have left the mess sit around your coffee maker for way too long.

Clean Your Coffee Maker in 3 Easy Steps | Consumer Reports

Even in that case, we highly recommend buying a commercial coffee maker cleaner instead.

Related Questions

Is it safe to use undiluted bleach to clean a coffee maker?

Undiluted bleach shouldn’t be used to clean anything that has to do with food. Not only is it a health hazard, it will also corrode several parts of the machine and render it useless. Plus, you will never be able to completely remove it.

Can a dirty coffee maker make you sick?

Yes, a dirty coffee maker may be home to mold, yeast, buildup and all kinds of bacteria. If you can put up with the weird taste and smell, it is still never a good idea to drink a brew of buildup and mildew.

How often does a coffee maker need descaling?

Descaling is meant to remove the mineral buildup, which depends on the quality of water in your home. If you have hard water, you should descale your coffee machine every month. Otherwise, you can stretch it to two or three months.

What happens when you ingest bleach?

Bleach is an extremely dangerous substance to ingest. While household bleach isn’t concentrated enough to cause a fatal damage, it can cause permanent damage to your gastrointestinal tract and other organs.


Cleaning a coffee maker can be so tough that you might consider buying a new machine. Bleach may be a very effective way to clean your coffee maker but it is in no way the safest option. Yet, if your machine is too dirty for anything milder, make sure you follow the right instructions to clean your coffee maker with bleach. Never use undiluted bleach and always rinse thoroughly to make sure there are no traces left.

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