Cleaned moka pot is put beside a ceramic cup

How to Clean a Coffee Maker Without Vinegar?

Audrey Harrison
Home brewer

Does your coffee get sour after cleaning with vinegar? The residue buildup can be the reason.

For a clean and flavorful coffee cup, a coffee maker must be maintained well. A coffee maker is the unknown hero behind a consistently delicious cup of coffee.

Most people choose vinegar for cleaning due to its acidity. But its pungent odor and the remaining aftertaste can make it sour-tasting. And there comes the need for an alternative that can give similar results without affecting the aroma and taste.

So today I will share with you some alternatives to clean your coffee machine without using vinegar, ensuring a clean machine and flavorful coffee.

Is vinegar good for cleaning a coffee maker?

Yes, vinegar is one of the best things that you can use to clean your coffee maker. Vinegar's natural acidity makes it a top choice. It aids by dissolving unnecessary mineral buildup and removing hard stains from your coffee maker.

However, using vinegar for cleaning purposes has several disadvantages too. It has an intense odor and its residue taste in your coffee can spoil the overall taste profile of your coffee.

Disadvantage of using vinegar for cleaning

1) Pungent odor

The pungent smell of vinegar can be a major turn-off, and what's worse, it can linger in your coffee maker even after thorough rinsing. This residual odor can negatively affect the aroma of your coffee, making it less appealing.

2) Residual taste

Even after a meticulous rinse, vinegar residues can leave a sour taste in your coffee. This unpleasant aftertaste may persist even after multiple brewing cycles with clean water, significantly affecting the overall taste of your brew.

3) Damage to rubber parts

The acidity of vinegar can lead to the degradation of the rubber components in your coffee maker over time. This can result in wear and tear, reducing the machine's longevity and making maintenance a challenging task.

4) Risk of corrosion

The acidic nature of vinegar poses a risk of corrosion, especially to metal parts of your coffee maker. Over time, this corrosion can damage various components, affecting the appliance's functionality and lifespan.

5) Incompatibility with some materials

Coffee makers made with aluminum materials are not compatible with vinegar. The acid can react with aluminum, leading to potential damage to the machine's parts and adversely affecting the taste of your coffee.

6) Time-consuming rinsing process

Eliminating the vinegar taste and odor requires several rounds of thorough rinsing with clean water. This process can be quite time-consuming and potentially frustrating, especially when you're eagerly waiting for your morning coffee

7) Ineffective on stubborn stains

While vinegar can help with general cleaning and descaling, it may not be as effective in removing stubborn coffee stains and residue that accumulate over time. This can lead to a less-than-pristine coffee maker, affecting the taste of your coffee.

8) Not suitable for all coffee makers

Vinegar is not universally compatible with all types of coffee makers. For instance, using vinegar in a Keurig or single-serve coffee machine can be problematic, as it can be difficult to thoroughly clean the internal components and avoid vinegar residue build-up.

How to clean a coffee maker without vinegar?

1) Make use of baking soda solution

You can use baking soda as it has effective natural cleaning properties. Most coffee lovers consider it a feasible option. To clean with baking soda all you require is a 1/4 cup of baking soda and some warm water.

  • Start by mixing baking soda with water.
  • Once done, pour this mixture into your coffee maker's reservoir to brush off any stains.
  • Then start the brewer without coffee grounds.
  • Keep repeating this for a while with clean water for thorough rinsing.

2) Tartar solution can ease your cleaning process

If you require another alternative you can go for the cream of tartar as it is another natural cleaning agent. For cleaning with it you require 1 spoon of tartar cream and some water.

  • Mix cream of tartar and water to form a consistent paste.
  • Apply this paste on tough stains or buildup in the coffee maker.
  • Once done, wait for a few minutes and then gently scrub it out.
  • Then wash it with clean water.

3) Try hydrogen peroxide solution

Hydrogen peroxide works by disinfecting and removing tough stains. For it, you have to dilute hydrogen peroxide with water in a 1:1 ratio.

  • Create a mixture by dissolving equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water.
  • Once done pour this solution into your coffee maker's reservoir and run a brew cycle.
  • Lastly, run a brew cycle using plain water to ensure that there is no residue left.

4) Use a lemon juice mixture

Lemon juice is another alternative best known for cleaning as it contains citric acid. Citric acid removes any mineral deposits. For this alternative, you need 1/4 lemon juice and 1/4 cup water.

  • Combine both water and lemon juice.
  • Add this solution to the water reservoir.
  • Start a  cycle. The citric acid will aid in descaling the coffee maker. 
  • Lastly, add some clean cold water and run a cycle for a thorough cleaning.

5) Dissolve Denture tablets

Most commonly used for cleaning retainers or mouthguards, these denture tablets can do wonders for your coffee makers. It kills the bacteria, prevents mineral build-ups, and also removes any hard stains. Its use is pretty simple.

  • Add one tablet to your coffee maker’s water tank.
  • Once it's completely dissolved, run a cleaning cycle.
  • Then rinse the machine with one or two freshwater cycles

By using these alternatives of vinegar, you can keep your coffee maker clean and free from any residues, resulting in a clean and flavorful cup of coffee.

6) Try using borax

Borax is known for its wide usage in products like mouthwash, toothpaste, and cleaning products. But it also works for cleaning coffee machines.

It can make your coffee maker free from stains or bacteria as effectively as vinegar or a regular cleaning solution.

  • For this, you will need a few scoops of borax and water.
  • Mix borax to the water and run a cleaning cycle.
  • Make sure you rinse the coffee maker well before brewing to remove any borax sediments. 
  • Run 2-3 cycles with clean water.

7) Using soap with warm water is handy and quick

Dish soap is easily found in every kitchen. It can easily wash off greasy and sticky food leftovers. So, it can surely work for your coffee machine.

When combined with hot water, the results are even better.

  • All you have to do is add a few drops of dish soap to the coffee maker’s water tank filled with water. 
  • The coffee maker will automatically do the rest.
  • Lastly, rinse the coffee maker properly.
  • Keep repeating the brewing cycle with clean water as long as you see the sediments of soap.

Wrapping up

You can easily clean your coffee maker without vinegar. It is both feasible and beneficial. Also, it ensures your coffee maker operates properly and maintains the amazing flavor without affecting its aroma and taste. I hope these alternative cleaning methods will assist you in brewing amazing coffee.


1) How to get rid of the vinegar smell after cleaning a coffee maker?

After cleaning you can add clean water and brew multiple cycles until the vinegar smell is completely removed. You can also use baking soda, lemon juice, or citric acid solution to get rid of the strong odor. For a pleasant smell, it is advised to run a brew cycle with fresh coffee grounds.

2) How often should you clean your coffee machine?

Cleaning after every brew is a great practice and should surely be followed. It helps to maintain your coffee maker.

3) Why should you clean your coffee maker regularly?

Regular cleaning is essential as it prevents mineral buildup and mold growth, and saves your coffee from getting sour. Also, it extends your coffee maker's life, ensuring longevity and effective performance for years.


Audrey Harrison

Team TAB
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I am a coffee aficionado based in Seattle. I have devoted my passion and expertise to perfecting the art of home coffee brewing. I became known for my exquisite pour-over and espresso creations. I source coffee beans from local roasters and explores ...