Can You Use Bleach to Clean the Coffee Maker? (And How to Do it)

If you’ve been skeptical about cleaning your coffee maker with bleach, this post is for you. While bleach is a powerful stain remover, using it to clean a coffee maker isn’t a good idea. It’s highly poisonous, posing a threat to your health safety.  

That said, bleach is one of the sought-after detergents. So should your coffee maker get grimy and moldy, bleach should be your last option. But not to worry, we’ll walk you through some of the safety measures to observe when using bleach.

Ready, let’s dive in: 

Can You Use Bleach to Clean the Coffee Maker?

You can use it but cleaning a coffee maker using bleach isn’t recommended. Bleach is harsh and highly toxic when consumed. Even adequately diluted bleach and water solutions used in commercial settings need to be air-dried for efficiency, which is impossible for a coffee maker.

Also, the brewing machines are at risk of damage when bleach is run on them. Fortunately, there are a few safer options you can resort to instead of using bleach.

What If I Already Used Bleach? 

Okay, we get it. You’re worried that you might end up disposing of your coffee maker now that the deed is done. The level of damage will vary depending on the amount of bleach you ran on it. If you diluted two teaspoons of bleach in 1 gallon of water, you could run water through the brewing cycle at intervals to flush the system. Leave it open and let it dry for effectiveness.  

If the bleach dilution was beyond two teaspoons to 1 gallon of water, flushing the system might not be necessary. Instead, look for bleach solution test strips and run water through the coffee maker to check for bleach. Do not use vinegar to get rid of the bleach, as this combination can be hazardous. 

How to Clean a Coffee Maker With Bleach? (Step-by-Step Process)

Again, do not use bleach to clean the coffee maker. But wait, isn’t this article supposed to enlighten me on how to clean a coffee maker with bleach, along with the safety measures? Yes, but it would help if you know why bleach isn’t the safest option for your coffee maker. 

While bleach is mostly preferred in commercial settings, they take much time and safety measures to ensure no bleach traces are retained in the resulting brew.  

However, you may want to follow the steps below if you feel that you must use bleach on your coffee maker. Just keep in mind that bleach is slow, toxic, and can leave residues behind if you don’t flush the system adequately.

Here are the steps to observe for complete effectiveness:

  • Dilute bleach with water
  • Run the coffee maker
  • Drain out the liquid from the coffee pot
  • Repeat the procedure until the bleach is exhausted
  • Use hot water to clean
  • Test for any traces of bleach by smelling
  • Air dry

Materials Needed

  • One tablespoon of bleach
  • 1 gallon of water for diluting the bleach
  • 5 gallons of clean water for rinsing out the bleach 
  • Drip coffee maker

Step 1: Mix Bleach and Water Together

Do not put bleach directly on the coffee maker. Always dilute it with water to avoid damaging the system. Into 1 gallon of water, add one teaspoon of bleach and mix. Meanwhile, make sure that you’re working in a well-ventilated area. The fumes from bleach can cause damage to your eyes, lungs, and skin. 

Step 2: Run a Full Cycle on the Coffee Maker 

Once you’ve diluted the mixture, pour the liquid down the reservoir and let it run on the coffee maker. Allow the solution to fill the coffee pot while cleaning it. 

Step 3: Pour Out the Liquid From the Coffee Pot

Once the coffee pot is full, switch off the coffee maker drain out the solution. Switching off the coffee maker will often minimize the bleach mixture that settles down the heating plate.

Step 4: Repeat Until All the Bleach Water Is Used Up

It’s essential to run the full gallon of solution through the system. This might take a couple of rounds depending on the model, but ensure that you run it all. Also, do not leave your coffee maker unattended for safety reasons.

Step 5: Clean With Hot Water 

Run one gallon of hot or warm water through the system to rinse off the bleach residues. And because this will take a while, you might want to run hot water instead to minimize the time spent in warming the water. 

Remember, the lesser the waiting time, the better. Do this until you’ve exhausted the 5 gallons mentioned earlier. But why 5 gallons? Isn’t that too much? Well, this is to ensure that your coffee maker is free from bleach residue.

Step 6: Smell the Final Batch of Water

The final batch of water should have no scent. Bleach has a unique smell, so you can quickly tell if there are traces of bleach inside the coffee pot. If you want to be more accurate, use a litmus paper to test the pH level. If it falls within safe, your coffee maker is safe to use. 

Step 7: Air Dry

Put the coffee maker facing upside down for at least 24 hours in the sun or a couple of days on the countertop to dry completely. You want to air dry to identify the final deposits of bleach that turn white after drying. Run clean water through the system if you observe this. 

Can You Clean the Coffee Maker With Baking Soda?

Yes. According to HealthGuidance, running ¼ cup of baking soda solution through the brew cycle will effectively clean your coffee maker. To prepare the solution, use warm water and stir thoroughly to obtain a smooth consistency. 

Can You Clean the Coffee Maker With Vinegar?

Yes, you can. It’s the most common method for cleaning coffee makers. You can run white vinegar through the system before rinsing it with clean water. While there are no restrictions, run it severally for efficiency. 

Vinegar contains acetic acid, which is a perfect remover for buildups and bacteria. The best part is that this method is highly effective and guarantees better value for money. If you’re planning to clean your coffee maker with vinegar or citrus juice, below are the steps:  

Step 1: Mix Ingredients

You can use either of the combinations to make a mixture:

  • Mix 1 part water, 1 part citrus juice, one tablespoon of salt
  • Mix 1 part water, 1 part white vinegar, one tablespoon of salt

A combination of acid and salt will exhibit antibacterial properties, which are enhanced with heat application. Doing two coffee pots is recommended. 

Step 2: Run 2 Cycles

Run both cycles, exhausting the acidic salty solution. Make sure to drain off the coffee pot after every cycle. Don’t worry about the mixture hitting up the heating plate. 

Step 3: Run 4 Cycles of Hot Water 

Once the acidic salty solution is used up, run four fresh warm or hot water cycles to rinse the brewer adequately. However, depending on your coffee model, three cycles might be enough. The reason you want to run four cycles is to ensure no residue on your next brew.  

Step 4: Air Dry

Similarly, you’ll want to air dry the coffee maker for at least 24 hours in the sun and a couple of days on the countertop for complete efficiency. Remember, this is a critical step and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Why Do You Need to Clean Coffee Makers?

Cleaning coffee markers is essential to enhance the taste of your beverages. Typically, coffee is composed of acid, which can interfere with the flavor of your brews. Also, your coffee maker is likely to fail due to the calcium carbonate that accumulates and deposits around your coffee maker’s pipes. Cleaning your coffee maker occasionally will also enhance its longevity, and you want to keep it running for as long as you can. 

How Often Should I Clean My Coffee Maker? 

It’s recommended to clean your coffee maker after every brew. Remove the ground and occasionally clean the coffee pot to prevent buildup. Deeper cleaning should be done after every three months of use. 

If you use your coffee maker daily, it would be best to give it a thorough cleaning once a month. Coffee grounds tend to settle beneath the brew basket, leaving behind stains and bacteria that accumulate in the brewing components. According to the National Science Foundation, even the coffee maker’s reservoir is a culprit of trapping bacteria.

Other Alternative Coffee Cleaner Options

1. Baking Soda Solution

Baking soda is an excellent natural abrasive and does not cause any damage to your coffee maker. For efficiency, add ¼ cup of baking soda into a full cup of warm water to make a solution. 

Stir the solution thoroughly to obtain a smooth consistency. After that, drain the mixture into the coffee pot and run the complete cycle. Once you’ve exhausted the brew cycle, use clean water to run three more processes, and you’re probably okay. 

You can also use the baking soda solution to clean your coffee maker’s external parts, such as coffee pots. 

2. Five Star PBW Cleanser

PBW Cleaner is an excellent substitute for Cafiza cleaner. It’s alkaline and non-caustic, making it an eco-friendly option for your coffee maker. 

If your coffee machine is too old, stained with coffee ground residues, then you should consider adding warm water to soak the PBW cleaner solution.  

Once the solution is set, use it to wash other parts of the machine using a soft abrasive. You may then rinse it with clean water, and you’re good to go.

3. OXO Brew Natural Descaling Solution

If you want to perform a thorough cleansing of your coffee maker, OXO Brew Descaling Solution will get the job done in no time. It is a natural descaling solution and works way better than vinegar solution.  

Unlike vinegar, this solution leaves no traces of smell. The best part is that it’s made from substances that are phosphate-free, non-toxic, and biodegradable. Here’s how you go about it:

Mix ⅓ of the descaling solution with warm water and run the complete brew cycle. After that, use clean water to run the process three more times. 

Meanwhile, you can resort to other options if you feel this product more expensive than previously mentioned. Duda Energy Citric Acid is an excellent alternative for Oxo Brew Cleaner. Even more, this product is highly acidic for stubborn stains. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

u003cstrongu003e1. Is It Safe to Use Undiluted Bleach to Clean a Coffee Maker?u003c/strongu003e

No. Undiluted bleach shouldn’t be used to clean any kitchen appliance. Bleaches are harsh, and as such, it will corrode your coffee maker, rendering it useless. Plus, it can be hazardous to your health safety. 

u003cstrongu003e2. Can a Dirty Coffee Maker Make You Sick?u003c/strongu003e

Yes, uncleaned coffee makers are vulnerable to mold and bacteria. Even if you can tolerate the weird flavor and smell, it’s never a good idea to consume anything brewed from a coffee maker with all sorts of buildup.

u003cstrongu003e3. How Often Does a Coffee Maker Need Descaling?u003c/strongu003e

Descaling should be done after every month if you often use the coffee maker. However, you can stretch it up to three months, depending on the quality of water in your home. If the water is hard, then descaling should be carried after every month.


Cleaning a coffee maker can be overwhelming, that you might consider replacing it with a new one. Bleach can be very useful, but it’s never the safest option for cleaning food-related items. If your machine has stubborn stains, and you feel you must use bleach, please follow the right procedure. Refrain from using undiluted bleach and often rinse adequately to ensure no bleach traces are left behind.