White vinegar is generally the preferred ingredient for cleaning coffee makers. However, there can be times when you want to clean the coffee maker, but don’t have white vinegar or alternatives at hand. As a procrastinator extraordinaire, I try not to skip the chance when inspiration strikes.
At times like these, it is possible to clean the coffee maker with apple cider vinegar. It’s a common enough ingredient to be available at home and is every bit as effective as distilled white vinegar.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Actually Effective For Cleaning?
Okay, you have it at home, but can you use apple cider vinegar to clean coffee maker? Short answer: Yes.
It has the essential properties that make vinegar a preferred cleaning agent. A big part of the cleaning prowess of vinegar is the presence of acetic acid.
Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar both have acetic acid content at 5%. Stronger vinegar with higher acid content is available, However, most kinds of vinegar for home use stick to the 5% mark.
With roughly the same quantity of the active ingredient, apple cider vinegar becomes a viable option for cleaning coffee makers. Other properties that make vinegar useful for cleaning are:
- It is non-toxic and therefore doesn’t pose a health risk.
- It kills any mold and bacteria present in the coffee maker.
- Vinegar dissolves and removes any mineral deposits in the coffee maker.
- Vinegar is easily available.
- It is a cost-effective and efficient way to clean the coffee maker.
The non-toxic part is a big vote in favor of using vinegar for cleaning. Even if there’s a mistake in cleaning and some vinegar remains inside the coffee maker, it isn’t a health risk. The worst that can happen in this scenario is that you get a terrible tasting, but harmless cup of coffee.
Its easy availability and overall cost efficiency are as important. Not having to shell a pretty penny every time you have to clean the coffee maker is useful.
And yes, you should clean the coffee maker regularly. The exact timing depends on the manufacturer’s recommendation and your use of the machine. That said, regular coffee drinkers should clean their machines at least once every month.
Is There A Downside Of Using Apple Cider Vinegar For Cleaning?
As you notice, distilled white vinegar is the preferred cleaning agent. You can use apple cider vinegar to clean the coffee maker, but it’s best used in a pinch. The reason is that it has a more pronounced flavor and odor as compared to white vinegar.
That means it is more likely to affect your coffee maker with its flavor and odor. It will require more cleaning cycles before the odor is completely removed from your machine.
Steps To Cleaning Your Coffee Maker With Apple Cider Vinegar
Step 1: Preparation And Ingredients
Here’s a list of things you’ll need for cleaning:
- Apple cider vinegar (enough to fill half the water reservoir)
- Hot soapy water
- Kitchen towels
Step 2: Check And Prepare The Coffee Maker
Check your coffee maker to see that the water reservoir, filter basket, and the carafe are empty. It’s also good practice to switch off and unplug the coffee maker while you perform these activities.
There’s a good chance all of the aforementioned components are empty, but it’s good to check anyway.
Step 3: Prepare The Cleaning Solution
To prepare the cleaning solution, mix one part apple cider vinegar with one part water. This 1:1 ratio is the most commonly used. You don’t necessarily have to stick to it, but it’s the one that works best.
A simple way to achieve this is to fill half the water reservoir with vinegar. Then top it off with regular water.
For many machines, the carafe is the same volume as the water reservoir. If it’s more convenient, you can first fill the carafe with equal parts of water and vinegar. Then pour this mixture into the water reservoir. While this guide explicitly talks about apple cider vinegar, the same method is applicable for white vinegar as well.
Step 4: Running A Half-Brew Cycle
At this point, switch on your drip coffee maker. Let it heat up, but don’t dispense anything into the carafe. After a few minutes, your coffee maker will be ready to empty its water reservoir into the carafe. At this point, switch off the coffee maker without dispensing anything into the carafe.
The hot water-vinegar mix will soften and dissolve calcified deposits in the machine. Additionally, it gets more time to get rid of mold and bacteria in the coffee maker. Let the machine sit like this for about an hour.
Step 5: Run A Full Brew Cycle
Now, switch on the machine again and let it run a full brew cycle as normal. Within a few minutes, it will have heated the cleaning solution. As the machine runs, the calcified mineral deposits will be removed and flushed. Eventually, this will be poured into the carafe.
Step 6: Empty The Carafe
After the machine has run its full cycle, switch it off. Next, dump the contents of the carafe into the sink. There’s a chance the carafe will have developed spots and deposits as well. The cleaning mix pouring into it can play a role in cleaning the carafe.
Step 7: Run Fresh Water Cycles
Fill the water reservoir with clean water and run a few fresh water cycles. This is done to remove the traces and odor of vinegar from the coffee maker.
Conventionally, 1-2 fresh water cycles are enough to clean the machine. However, since apple cider vinegar has a strong odor, a couple more cycles will be necessary. It is not unusual to run 4-5 cleaning cycle to completely remove traces of vinegar from the machine.
Step 8: Wipe And Clean
Don’t forget the other parts and accessories of your machine! If they are dishwasher safe, let these parts have a ride in the dishwasher. Alternatively, put the carafe and filter in hot soapy water. It might be fruitful to let them soak for 30 minutes, if necessary.
Carefully scrub them and rinse thoroughly with clean water to ensure these parts are clean.
Next, use a damp kitchen towel to clean the exteriors of the machine. This can be followed by using a dry kitchen towel to thoroughly clean the machine. Using a dry towel ensures there are no marks or streaks left by the wet towel.
Where Can I Buy Apple Cider Vinegar?
It is best to buy vinegar from a local store. There’s a good chance your local grocery store or big box store has this vinegar in stock. This is likely the more economical option than purchasing vinegar online. If you do need to purchase it online, here are a couple of options to consider.
Lucy’s Apple Cider Vinegar
Lucy’s Apple Cider Vinegar is made from organically-sourced ingredients and is USDA certified organic. This family-owned and family-run company uses non-GMO apples from Washington state to make their vinegar.
Bragg USDA Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar claims to be a healthy and useful choice. This one too is made from organically grown non-GMO apples and is USDA certified organic. Those things are great, but don’t matter much for use as a coffee maker cleaner.
But hey, they are great qualities to look for in vinegar for its conventional use. And honestly, that should be your buying criterion, rather than its use as a cleaning agent.
Apple Cider Vinegar, The Cleaner
So, here’s the essence. You can clean coffee maker with apple cider vinegar. It is fairly competent and does its job well. It’s easily available and cost-efficient. You might already have it at home!
However, it is also likely to leave a lingering odor in the coffee maker. My suggestion is to not use this as the go-to method for cleaning. Only use it if absolutely necessary!