What is the Best Natural Way to Clean Your Coffee Machine?

Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by Barry Gray

I find that we have a tendency today to throw everything in the dishwasher and move on to our next task. While that clearly has its benefits, it’s not always the best thing to do, and I feel that cleaning your coffee machine in this way is one of those times. 

Fortunately, several natural products can be used to effectively clean your coffee machine. From baking soda to vinegar and even lemon juice, there are ways to get your coffee machine sparkling without worrying about any dishwasher residue.

I do admit that I’ve tried a number of different methods to get my coffee machine to at least feel as if it’s sparkling and hygienic.

There’s nothing worse than discovering old coffee granules stuck in your machine that you know will be stale and changing the taste experience.

Also, having some of those old granules mixed in with your new drink cannot be good for your health.

But I do get asked which option I think is best, but before I dive into it, let me take you through why I feel a dishwasher is not always the right option when cleaning your coffee machine.

But Why Listen to Me?

cleaning coffee machine

I love coffee. I’ve owned various machines over the years and spent time really getting to know what makes a good coffee, in my opinion, and also what to look out for when it comes to getting that perfect cup of coffee at home.

However, I also know coffee machines can be expensive, so maintenance is a big deal in my eyes, and part of that maintenance is cleaning.

I see my coffee machines as precious, so I never want to use something that could damage them. So, I admit I prefer cleaning them with more natural products wherever possible as I feel they still get the job done.

Still, I do so in a way that I feel happy with when it comes to making a drink.

Can You Use a Dishwasher to Clean Your Coffee Machine?

dishwasher for cleaning coffee machine

Some people love throwing different components of their coffee machine into the dishwasher and allowing the machine to do the work.

However, I do need to point out that not every coffee machine on the market actually allows you to put components in the dishwasher in the first place.

So, my first piece of advice is to check what your particular machine says in the instructions. If it only tells you to wash by hand, stick to that instruction.

It’s there for a reason, and I don’t think you should go against those instructions just because you think it will all work out well in the end.

But there’s another issue I’ve found when it comes to using a dishwasher to clean your coffee machine: residue. 

Some dishwasher tablets or liquids have the ability to leave a nasty aftertaste. While you may not notice it on plates or bowls, it makes a difference when dealing with a drink with subtle flavor nuances like coffee.

I think that is a huge reason you should not bother throwing things in a dishwasher because who wants to potentially ruin the taste of a good coffee?

But I’m still not finished with this point regarding using a dishwasher, and it’s all about the internal workings of your coffee machine.

You see, most coffee machines will come with different internal pipes and mechanisms, and you can hardly rip those out and throw them in the dishwasher. However, they too deserve to be cleaned.

The only way to clean those areas is to pull some type of cleaning liquid through the machine and dispense it like you make coffee.

It may not make it brand new, but it will certainly help keep your coffee machine functioning closer to how it should work.

The Best Natural Cleaning Products For Your Coffee Machine

cleaning coffee machine with vinegar

I’ve tried several different natural cleaning products over the years when it comes to my coffee machine, and I have a few favorites that I feel produce a better end result than others.

I must also point out that they are all safe to use, will not damage your coffee machine, and with enough rinsing, they will also be unable to change the flavor of your coffee.

That itself is a huge bonus.

Can You use Baking Soda to Clean Your Coffee Machine?

I’ve heard a number of people talking about the merits of using baking soda when it comes to cleaning different things, so I was intrigued to find out how it worked regarding my coffee machine.

I admit I initially thought it would be impossible for it to do anything. Still, I was ultimately surprised by the end results.

Now, to successfully clean your coffee machine with baking soda, there are two different components you need to take care of. 

Using a Baking Soda Paste

The first thing I want you to do is to make a baking soda paste.

I must say I didn’t achieve the right consistency at first, as I added too much water, and it was more of a liquid than a paste. The liquid was useless for cleaning the outside of the machine, so I had to start again.

Use a couple of teaspoons of baking soda, add water drops, and stir.

It should eventually form into a paste, and if you still see too many granules of the baking soda, add a few more drops of water to get it to the right consistency.

Once ready, use a cloth and scrub the outside of your coffee machine, the base plate, and anything else you could wash by hand.

You will be amazed at how it can make things sparkle.

Using Baking Soda to Clean the Inside of Your Coffee Machine

So, what about the inside of your coffee machine?

Well, you cannot use the paste concept here, so a different mix is required.

I’ve found the best balance when it comes to quantities is to get a cup of water and half a cup of baking soda and mix the two.

You want to stir the baking soda until it’s completely dissolved, as this is the mixture that will be flushed through your coffee machine to help get the pipes and inner workings sparkling.

After that, you need to do these key steps.

  • Pour the dissolved baking soda mix into the water reservoir for your coffee machine
  • Place your carafe and get it ready to catch the liquid
  • Run your coffee machine with just the baking soda mix
  • Repeat a second time
  • After this, empty out the baking soda mix and rinse with clean water several times

I always suggest running clean water through your machine several times because that baking soda does get everywhere.

Clean water is the only solution, and it stops any risk of getting a sort of powdery residue.

When I first tried this method, I didn’t rinse it enough, and I did feel there was something left over from the baking soda.

It doesn’t make for a good coffee, so don’t make the same mistake as I did.

Will Baking Soda Clog My Coffee Machine?

I understand that people worry about the potential for baking soda to clog their machines, and I also felt like that before I tried it.

I feel the best solution is to make the baking soda rinse relatively weak if you are concerned.

I gave the measurements above, but if you are worried about it, I’d cut the amount of baking soda you use in half, which will make a huge difference.

But the biggest thing for me was the rinsing of the machine after.

I would rinse it as many times as necessary until there was no chance of any baking soda residue being left there. 

As long as you do the rinse part, I don’t see too many problems. 

Using Vinegar to Clean Your Coffee Machine

I also saw suggestions for using vinegar to clean my coffee machine. I know vinegar is widely used as a cleaning substance, so it didn’t surprise me.

However, I preferred combining the vinegar with the baking soda, but not for its fizz.

Instead, what I did was I carried out an initial rinse with the baking soda mix and then ran a vinegar and water mix through the machine a second time.

I felt the vinegar could rinse through some of the baking soda residue, and it made it easier to flush the entire machine once done.

But I did have several key steps I followed to help me get my coffee machine at least feeling as if it was super clean.

Also, I thought it worked better with a stronger concentration of vinegar.

  • Mix equal parts of vinegar and water
  • Pour the solution into the water reservoir of the machine
  • Rinse the vinegar through the machine
  • Repeat several times
  • Replace the vinegar solution with clean water
  • Rinse the machine several times with the clean water

I’m aware that some people start the process of flushing their machine with vinegar and then switch the machine off midway.

This traps some of the vinegar solution in the pipes and gives it time to work.

I get that this is a great idea. If you soak anything in vinegar to get it clean, then they do suggest leaving it for at least 20 minutes, so I see why this should also apply here.

However, I don’t feel it’s something you need to do every single time you clean your machine, but I’d certainly do it with every two or three cleans.

Alternative Ways to Clean Your Coffee Machine

clean coffee machine

Finally, I have a couple of other suggestions as to what you can use to clean the inside of your coffee machine.

Let’s face it, vinegar is not the best-smelling product to use, and I felt I had to then rinse my machine repeatedly before I believed the smell had gone.

So, if that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun for you, then I experimented with other options to see the results.

What I found was that most did a decent job, and I certainly felt as if my coffee machine was cleaner than before. So, here are my suggestions.

  • Lemon juice – smells better than vinegar
  • Citric acid – good for descaling and doesn’t smell awful either
  • Combining vinegar with either lemon or citric acid to dilute the smell

But no matter which option you choose, you do need to rinse your machine well before using it again. After all, you want to preserve the flavor of your coffee and not destroy it just because you cleaned your coffee machine.

To Conclude

If you want to clean your coffee machine the natural way, then I suggest flushing it through with either baking soda, lemon juice, or some type of vinegar.

Flush and dispense a number of drinks to completely rinse while also washing other pieces by hand rather than throwing them in the dishwasher.

Do this regularly to help maintain your coffee machine, which makes it easier for it to then continue to produce amazing coffee that doesn’t come with a weird change in flavor, thanks to your dishwasher.