How To Clean A Coffee Maker With Bleach (Quickly & Easily!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

A good ol’ cup of coffee is just the thing to start your day, but coffee is only good to drink if it comes from a clean coffee pot. Sometimes, neglect can get so bad, you actually may need a hardcore cleaning agent in order to fully sanitize your coffee maker. Thankfully, doing this is fairly easy and won’t take too long.

To clean your coffee maker, mix two teaspoons of bleach to a gallon of water. Fill the coffee reservoir with the solution and let it run its course. Once the bleach solution has made its way through the coffee machine, flush the machine by adding water to the reservoir at least four times. Let your machine air dry prior to use.

Because bleach can be potentially lethal in the wrong hands, it’s important to know a little bit about this cleaning method before you use it. This guide will give you the truth about why this cleaning method is controversial.

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Is It Safe to Clean A Coffee Maker With Bleach?

The answer to this one is mixed, to say the least. Your coffee maker is a food prep thing, and bleach is toxic for ingestion. Bleach is also remarkably caustic, which means that some coffee makers may not be able to work with this method without sustaining damage. So, there are a lot of problems with this cleaning method, to say the least.

With that said, bleach kills germs like few other things can. So if you want to use it to kill off lots of fungi and bacteria, it will be effective. The bottom line is that you need to use this method carefully, dilute your bleach heavily, and that you need to know how to flush out your bleach from the coffee machine.

Generally speaking, most coffee makers will be able to handle bleach. Unfortunately, this is not something that is always going to work out for more delicate coffee makers or espresso machines. If you want to make sure that you don’t accidentally destroy your coffee machine, check the user manual before you start cleaning it.

Most user manuals will tell you whether or not bleach can be used to clean your machine. If you do not have your owner’s manual (okay, we forgive you!) the best thing you can do is avoid using bleach on machines that are known for having sensitive controls.

Can You Flush A Coffee Machine Out With Vinegar Instead Of Water?

This all depends on the state of the coffee maker, as well as whether you just ran a bleach solution through it. If you haven’t cleaned it with bleach, then vinegar might be a better option. If you just ran bleach through the coffee’s system, do not add vinegar to the reservoir under any circumstances.

Bleach, when mixed with vinegar, turns into a poisonous gas. This is why you should not try to flush bleach out with vinegar. It can literally kill you. Stick to water, and make sure that you have flushed out all the bleach before you fix a cup of coffee.

Should You Clean A Coffee Maker With Bleach?

In most cases, there is no good reason why you would need to clean a coffee maker with bleach. There are safer methods you can use and frankly, bleach is best left to cleaning mold off walls or deodorizing a garbage disposal. The only time it’s really warranted is if you are cleaning a coffee maker that has been heavily neglected or has mold that ran amok.

Even with cases where mold has gone a little crazy, you still might want to keep bleach as a last resort. The best way to explain this is that it’s better used as a restoration attempt than it is a regular cleaning option. It will take longer to clean a coffee machine with bleach than it would to clean it with white distilled vinegar.

How Much Bleach Can You Safely Use In A Coffee Maker?

Honestly, the most you should use when getting your coffee maker cleaned is two teaspoons to a gallon of water. Any more, and you will be dealing with serious bleach residue that could harm your body as well as the machine in question. If you are chemically sensitive or only need light cleaning, use a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water, max.

Or, better yet, you should consider cleaning your coffee machine with vinegar instead. Vinegar is a far safer option and also will not harm your coffee machine.

What Should You Do If You Added Too Much Bleach To Your Coffee Machine?

Did you add a teaspoon too much or add tablespoons of bleach rather than teaspoons? Mistakes happen, unfortunately, there are not many solutions that you can rely on to make your coffee maker safe again. Bleach is difficult like that! If you want to give it a try, then consider flushing your coffee maker with water until bleach testing strips show no remains.

If you cannot effectively flush your system or if you want to stay on the safe side, do not bother trying to flush out the coffee machine. Even with test strips, there’s a small chance that you won’t get all the bleach out. Rather than try to fuss over your machine, just get a new coffee maker. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Bleach

While bleach is commonly used to clean coffee makers in industrial and commercial settings, it is not the safest cleaning method when it comes to your home drip style coffee maker. In commercial settings, sufficient time and safety precautions are taken to ensure that no lingering bleach residue ends up in the next brew.

Though, if you still feel that you must use bleach on your coffee maker, make sure to adhere to the following steps carefully.

  • Combine bleach and water. Never put the bleach directly into the coffee maker. Instead, mix it with water first. Add about a tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water. Make sure that while you’re doing this you are inn a well-ventilated space and your skin, lungs, and eyes are protected.
  • Run a full cycle on the coffee maker. Pour the bleach mixture into the water reservoir and let it run through the coffee maker. Allow the mixture to completely fill up the coffee pot as well.
  • Pour out the liquid in the coffee pot. Once the pot fills, turn of the coffee maker immediately and pour of the mixture. Turning off the coffee maker immediately will help minimize the amount of bleach mixture that comes in contact with the heating plate.
  • Repeat the above steps until you’ve used all of the bleach mixture. The goal is to run a full gallon of water through the system. This will, of course, take multiple runs through the coffee pot.
  • Clean with hot water. Then, run a clean gallon of hot or warm water through the coffee machine. Hot water helps minimize the time spent warming the water in the brew cycle, as running another gallon through the machine is going to take a while.
  • Smell the final batch. Check to see if the final batch of water has any lingering bleach scent. There should be no odors present by the end. Another reliable option is to test the pH level. If the water’s pH level is 7, then you’re fine!
  • Air dry the machine. Air dry the pot and machine upside down for at least a day in the sun or several days on your kitchen countertop. This is important, as any final deposits of bleach will turn solid white as it dries. If you see any solid white specs, you know that you need to run another batch of clean water through the system.

The best advice we can give you for cleaning your coffee maker is to simply not let it get so bad that you’re considering using bleach in the first place. To do this, immediately remove the filter and allow the reservoir to dry fully between each brew.

Are There Safer Alternatives to Clean a Coffee Maker?

In the past, cleaning a coffee machine with bleach would have been fairly common. However, this is no longer the case because of the dangers it poses. While you can clean your coffee maker with bleach, there are easier, safer, and smarter choices out there.

  • Vinegar. Vinegar is a popular food-safe cleaning solution for coffee pots and basically everything else. It’s gentle, doesn’t corrode your coffee pot, and can be used to clean tea kettles too.
  • Dish Soap. While it’s not ideal, dish soap is often a better option than anything that has to do with bleach.
  • Baking Soda. Baking soda, when diluted with water, can make for an effective way to remove buildup and sanitize your coffee machine.
  • Descaling Solution. Though this isn’t always as food-safe as other options on this list, this is usually a good choice for hard water buildup in your machine. It’s an option.

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Related Questions

How often should you clean a coffee maker?

Coffee makers will need to have their filters changed daily, ideally after each time the coffee machine is used. However, that’s not all they will need in order to remain functional. Once every two to three months, your coffee maker should be given a deep cleaning along with a descaling treatment using bleach, vinegar, or baking soda.If the coffee maker in question is heavily used (for example, an office machine), then you may need to clean it on a monthly basis. It’s best to use your judgment while you’re looking at the coffee maker’s sanitation levels.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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