Clean Your Coffee Maker With Apple Cider Vinegar In 5 Simple Steps

Picture this, it’s a beautiful Saturday morning and you are laser-focused on finishing the task of cleaning your house. Now it’s time to clean your coffee maker of all that grime and sediment which has been occupying its pipes. 

You look in the cupboard and you are out of distilled white vinegar! The king of all-natural disinfectants. But hiding in the back you see a bottle of… apple cider vinegar? 

Can apple cider vinegar clean a coffee maker??

It’s murky, it has a stronger flavor, it has stuff floating inside it, clearly, it must not work. But you are in the zone! You can’t leave to go to the store and pick up regular vinegar.  

Keep reading.

apple cider vinegar

Can You Use Apple Cider Vinegar Instead Of White Vinegar To Clean Your Coffee Maker?

Short answer, yes you can. You can absolutely use apple cider vinegar instead of white distilled vinegar to clean your coffee maker. Here’s why.

That active component in vinegar is acetic acid which contributes to vinegar’s low pH. The acidity of apple cider vinegar is virtually the same as white vinegar so both kinds of vinegar will have the same cleaning and disinfecting effects.

The acetic acid in vinegar is an excellent cleaning agent that is commonly used as a natural home cleaner. It can break down the grime, limescale, mold, bacteria, and almost anything that typically accumulates in a dirty coffee maker. 

Really the only important difference between the two is the color and smell they leave. 

If you were cleaning your carpet I wouldn’t recommend using apple cider vinegar because it could stain. However, with a coffee maker, it doesn’t matter since it’s not made out of fabric. 

Apple cider vinegar can leave tannins behind creating a distinctive taste in your coffee maker. Remedy this by flushing out your coffee maker with more water than you would with white vinegar. 

Why Your Coffee Maker Needs To Be Cleaned

Really there are three reasons why you need to clean your coffee maker regularly.

1. Affects flavor

Over time, your coffee machine, which has been brewing lots of acidic coffee, will incorporate an old burnt odor that can easily affect the flavor of your coffee. 

2. Calcium Carbonate Buildup

Calcium carbonate, also known as limescale, is a white powdery substance that tends to form in hot pipes. Much like the little hot pipes in your coffee maker. It is important to clean out this substance as it can reduce the functionality of your coffee maker over time.

3. Ew. Germs. Gross

The mixture of heat, organic material (coffee), and water are a terrible combination when it comes to mold, germs, and bacteria.

Have you ever left coffee grounds in a drip coffee maker before leaving for a vacation? You come back and you can see mold growing in the pile of grounds. It’s gross and that can definitely occur in the inner chambers of your coffee maker. 

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Kill Bacteria And Mold In Your Coffee Maker?

Yes, it does! According to this scientific study on the antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against E. coli, S. aureus and C. albicans strains of bacteria, apple cider vinegar actually killed anywhere from 83% to 99% of these germs! 

You don’t want to be consuming bacteria, mold, or any kind of germ if it can be helped. Cleaning your coffee maker regularly with apple cider vinegar (Or any kind of vinegar) is very important.

Step By Step Guide On How To Clean Out A Coffee Maker With Apple Cider Vinegar

Follow these steps to get the perfect deep clean for your coffee maker.

By the way, if you are wondering how much apple cider vinegar you should use when cleaning your coffee maker, there really isn’t a specific amount. You just want to make sure you are using a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part of apple cider vinegar. 

how to clean your coffee maker with apple cider vinegar

Step 1  Mix Your Solution Of 2 Parts Water And 1 Part Apple Cider Vinegar

We recommend mixing enough to fill one full carafe in your coffee maker’s water reservoir.

Step 2 Run A Standard Brew Cycle And Stop Half Way

Start your coffee maker like you were brewing a pot of coffee. Let that apple cider vinegar/water solution filter through. 

About halfway through, pause the brewing. Let the vinegar/water solution sit inside all the inner components for at least 30 minutes to an hour. 

Step 3 Finish Brewing The Water/Apple Cider Vinegar Solution

Complete the cycle you paused earlier. If you haven’t cleaned your coffee maker in a long time, you may consider repeating steps 1 through 3 in order to run another cleaning solution. Remember, apple cider vinegar is perfectly fine to ingest, so there is no harm in cleaning the coffee maker too much!

Step 4 Discard Solution And Rinse Equipment

Make sure you thoroughly rinse out your carafe of any trace of apple cider vinegar as well as any other components like the coffee filter. 

Step 5 Run Brewing Cycles With Just Water

Now it’s time to remove all the apple cider vinegar that could be trapped in the coffee maker. Run 2 or 3 cycles of pure water through your coffee maker to rinse the machine out. I usually run water through until I can’t really smell vinegar in the carafe anymore. 

If you don’t get it all out, no problem! One of the benefits of cleaning with apple cider vinegar is that it’s totally fine to drink!

How Often Should You Clean Your Coffee Maker?

Of course, how often you should clean your coffee maker will depend on how much you use it. But for the average coffee drinker, it is recommended that you clean your coffee maker once per month. 

Cleaning your coffee maker consistently every month will extend its life.

Benefits of Using Apple Cider Vinegar (Or Any Kind Of Vinegar) To Clean Your Coffee Maker

The biggest benefit of using apple cider vinegar (Or distilled white vinegar) is that there is no harm if any of it is accidentally consumed. In fact, there are health benefits to drinking apple cider vinegar diluted in water! 


So ironically if you don’t rinse your machine out enough after you clean it with apple cider vinegar, it could be a good thing. Although mixing the taste of apple cider vinegar with coffee is just terrible. 

Another benefit is that apple cider vinegar is widely available and has many other uses as opposed to a coffee cleaner which has one purpose.  

Cons Of Using Apple Cider Vinegar (Or Any Kind Of Vinegar) To Clean Your Coffee Maker

Although great at cleaning, apple cider vinegar has a very potent odor, especially after it has been heated up.

I also briefly mentioned the sugar content in apple cider vinegar. Technically speaking sugar benefits the growth of bacteria. Although acetic acid is a much more powerful killing agent than growth-promoting sugar, it’s possible this makes apple cider vinegar slightly less effective than distilled white vinegar. 

Finally, apple cider vinegar is more expensive than white vinegar. But if all you have in the house is apple cider vinegar, then beggars can’t be choosers. 

How To Take Good Care Of Your Coffee Maker And Prevent Buildup

There are a couple of things you can do to keep your coffee maker as clean as possible and prevent build-up.

First of all, using filtered water, not straight from the tap, will prevent buildup. If you use distilled water this will prevent buildup the most and improve your coffee maker’s lifespan.

However, according to the world health organization (WHO) distilled water reduces essential mineral intake and tastes very bland. The result is bland-tasting coffee.

Trust me, it makes a difference. Instead, you can use filtered bottled water or a home filter system to eliminate some of the crude that comes in your cities tap water. 

water bottle

Additionally, most coffee makers come with a charcoal water filter. Replacing these regularly can reduce mineral buildup. 

Finally, make sure you are always dumping out the old grounds and cleaning as much of the coffee machine as you can between pots. 

No matter what you do, mineral build, mold growth, and bacteria growth will occur. As I mentioned earlier, coffee, water, and heat are not a good combination when it comes to germs .. 

Descale that coffee maker regularly with vinegar!

Cleaning Your French Press Coffee Maker With Apple Cider Vinegar

Side note, I know we were talking about your standard coffee machine, but cleaning your french press with vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, is very important too! 

cleaning your french press

The french press has that fine mesh to filter out the coffee. Sure we all throw that in the wash to clean, and that helps, but over time bacteria and mold particles can form in those teeny tiny holes in the mesh. 

I recommend using that 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar ratio to soak your french press parts for at least 30 minutes to an hour. 

Other Ways To Clean Your Coffee Maker

Okay so now that we are on the topic of unconventional ways to clean a coffee maker, how else can you clean it?

Baking Soda

cleaning coffee maker with baking soda

Surprisingly baking soda works great to clean and descale a coffee maker. In fact, the University of Minnesota made this everyday appliance fact sheet and listed baking soda as a natural way to clean an automatic coffee maker.

Using the same method as apple cider vinegar, mix baking soda with WARM water and dissolve it. Using warm water is important! We want all of the baking soda to dissolve. Then simply run through the same steps as above except with a baking soda/water solution instead of vinegar/water solution. 

Denature Tablets

Yup denature tablets work too. Simply drop 2 tablets into a full coffee reservoir and let them dissolve. Then run your coffee maker just like the apple cider vinegar method.

Hydrogen Peroxide 

Hydrogen peroxide is another method you could use to clean your coffee maker. Obviously, this does a great job of disinfecting the coffee maker.

Combine 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 2 cups of water and run it through the brew cycle. Make sure that afterwords you do multiple cycles of just water to really rinse out the system! You don’t want to ingest hydrogen peroxide if possible. 


No joke! Using liquor is a cleaning method for coffee makers. It’s the alcohol content, of course, that does the trick.

cleaning coffee maker with liquor

You want to fill your entire reservoir with 1 part liquor and 3 parts water. Any liquor will do but ideally vodka since it’s clear. Run the brewing cycle and then a cycle or 2 of just plain water. If it’s after 5 pm, you could skip the rinse cycle… Irish coffee anyone? 


Although a lot of us traditionally use distilled white vinegar to clean out our coffee makers, if you only have apple cider vinegar, that is completely fine! 

Rest assured that your coffee maker will be descaled and rid of germs after clearing it with apple cider vinegar.

If you value the longevity of your coffee maker and your health, don’t neglect cleaning your coffee maker! Overtime mold, bacterial, and mineral deposits will form, especially if you drink coffee daily. We can try to prevent the build-up using the finest water and constantly changing our coffee filters, but at the end of the day, there is no preventing the inevitable build-up! 

Happy cleaning guys. 

Leave a Comment