What is in coffee maker cleaner

What Is In Coffee Maker Cleaner? You Might Be Shocked By The Answer!

If you have a coffee maker at home, then you’ll inevitably have to face the chore of cleaning it on a regular basis. There’s just no way around that if you want to have quality coffee with great flavor in every cup you drink. And a great cup of java requires a coffee maker that brews hot coffee. But for your brewer to function properly, you’ll need a cleaner, but what is in a coffee cleaner really?

The single most used ingredient in coffee maker cleaners is a chemical called sodium carbonate.

It has a similar chemical structure to baking soda (Na2CO3 vs NaHCO3).

Although this chemical is used as a cleaning product (e.g. in swimming pools), while we generally use baking soda for cooking.

Still, don’t freak out since according to EPA (the US environmental protection agency), sodium carbonate is considered a safe pesticide.

On the other hand, the FDA (food and drug administration) views it as a generally safe-to-use chemical compound.

In essence, the primary goal of these coffee machine cleaners is to eliminate any hidden mineral deposits in your coffeemaker.

You can think of them as more potent options for cleaning your machine in comparison to things like vinegar.

So, if the tap water where you live is hard, then you might want to consider using one of these cleaners.

Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner

What’s The Best Coffee Maker Cleaner On The Market?

Name: Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner 
Top-rated in its class: Yes

While there are several pretty good ones out there, the most effective one with the best rating seems to be the Brew Rite coffee machine cleaner.

Not only does it have a stellar user rating on Amazon, but it’s also dirt cheap.

Essentially, this is a basic coffeemaker cleaner that relies on a single, tested and proven ingredient to adequately clean your coffee machine – sodium carbonate.

There are no bells and whistles, but it doesn’t really need any since it does exactly what it says on the label:

  • Gets rid of hidden mineral deposits
  • Optimizes brewing time
  • Doesn’t leave any harmful residue

It’s also non-acidic and odor-free, making it ideal for most coffee machines for home use.

Furthermore, Brew Rite is even compatible with Keurig single-serve brewers.

Also, it’s supposedly much more effective at eliminating those nasty bitter coffee oils from the system of your coffee maker than say good old vinegar.

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But if you grab one of these coffeemaker cleaners, don’t forget to carefully read the instructions.

There are certain directions when it comes to mixing ratios so that you may get rid of any hard water deposits.

Such mineral deposits could potentially accumulate in the machine from using serving containers, reusable coffee filters or K-Cups.

And don’t worry about your coffee becoming toxic or something after you use a coffee machine cleaner.

As I already mentioned, don’t forget that both the EPA and FDA claim that sodium carbonate is generally safe.

Besides, you’ll be brewing with water only at least two times following a cleaning procedure with this chemical.

This ensures that any chemical leftovers are flushed out of the machine prior to brewing actual coffee.

What is in coffee maker cleaner

How To Clean A Coffee Maker Without Vinegar?

You can do that either by using a chemical coffee maker cleaner (like the Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner ) or by using a natural solution like lemon juice or baking soda.

But since we already covered coffee machine cleaners, we’ll now be focusing on lemons and baking soda for cleaning a coffeemaker.

Even though lemon juice is superior, let’s take a look at each method and how to utilize it:

Lemon Juice

This is how you use lemon juice to clean your coffee machine:

  1. Make a lemon juice solution consisting of 1/3 (to a half) of lemon juice and water
  2. Pour it into the water reservoir
  3. Run one brew cycle using this mixture
  4. Once done, run another cycle this time using only pure water to clean the system of any lemon taste

Voila – It’s as simple as that.

And your best bet would be to use a lemon or lime juice, either by squeezing it yourself or buying a packaged juice.

Lemons are a great choice since they contain plenty of citric acids.

Also, citric acid has powerful cleaning and disinfecting capabilities.

This makes lemon juice a superb tool for both killing bacteria and removing mineral deposits.

What is in a coffee maker cleaner

How To Clean A Coffee Maker With Baking Soda?

Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to clean your coffee maker with baking soda:

  1. Remove your coffee maker’s filter
  2. Pour 1 cup (around 8 oz) of lukewarm water to a bowl or a pot
  3.  Add 1/4 cup (around 2 oz) of baking soda to the water
  4. Stir the mixture well so that the soda dissolves properly
  5. Pour the whole thing into the water tank of your coffeemaker
  6. Run one brewing cycle
  7. Add 1 cup (~ 8 oz) of clean water to the water reservoir
  8. Run another brewing cycle

This should be more than enough to clean any build-up residue in your coffee machine.

Just note that you might have to run more than one water-only brewing cycle until the water that comes out is as clean as the one in the water tank.

However, baking soda should be the alternative method for cleaning your coffee maker when you don’t have any lemons or lemon juice.

That’s because if your machine requires descaling, adding a coarse substance like baking soda might cause even more harm.

Still, it can effectively remove any unpleasant odor and simply clean the ‘intestines’ of your coffee machine.

What Can I Use To Descale My Coffee Machine?

The most cost-effective method for at-home descaling would be to use one of these three natural ingredients – citric acid, lemon juice or vinegar.

Obviously, lemons already contain citric acid in them since they are made up of roughly 5-8% of that acid.

This means that 150 grams of lemon juice will have approximately 7.5 grams of citric acid.

However, if you want to you can use powdered citric acid, which will make for a more concentrated and potent descaling solution.

And this is how you can descale your coffee maker using either citric acid, vinegar or lemon juice, DIY style:

  1. Mix water with one of the three – vinegar, citric acid or lemon juice
    Note: For citric acid use a ratio of 1/20 (1 part acid to 20 parts water), while for lemon juice and vinegar go for a ratio of 50/50 (half water and half lemon juice or vinegar)
  2. Pour the mixture into the water tank of the coffeemaker.
  3. Run a complete brewing cycle
    Note: If the coffee maker wouldn’t start without placing a pod first, then just put an old one inside. But make sure that thoroughly wash and clean (i.e. remove any ground coffee, dirt etc.) the used pod before putting it in.
  4. Finally, run 2 back-to-back brewing cycles only with clean water if using
    lemon juice or citric acid or 4 to 5 back-to-back cycles if using vinegar

Using this super easy and efficient method on a regular basis will mean that your coffee machine works as intended and produces great-tasting coffee.

Clearly, if you use your coffeemaker on a regular basis, it will start generating limescale and that can have a negative impact on the taste of the coffee that comes out of it.

That’s why frequently descaling it will prevent any extensive mineral buildup.

Remember To Check The Cleaning Instructions Of Your Coffee Maker Before Descaling!

Even though the aforementioned DIY technique won’t do any harm, it’d still be a good idea to check the cleaning instructions before doing any descaling yourself.


Because the machine could have a built-in descaling functionality that might require a particular cartridge, powder or tablet to operate.

By doing so, you’ll make sure that you don’t cause any internal damage to your coffee maker.

Also, you won’t risk saying goodbye to the warranty so keep that in mind.

But for the most part, if there aren’t any strict descaling instructions in the manual, you can go ahead and use the awesome DIY descaling technique.

What is in a coffee maker cleaner
Although this coffee pot might not need descaling, your modern and sophisticated coffee machine most definitely does!

What Happens If You Don t Descale Your Coffee Machine?

Here’s what happens when your coffee maker hasn’t been descaled for a long time (or never):

  • You’ll be drinking coffee with a far-from-optimal taste and less flavor
  • The water flow of your machine will slow down
  • The coffee that comes out will be slightly warm, not hot
  • Your coffee maker might eventually stop working

The cause for all of this is an excess build-up of minerals (i.e. limescale) inside of the coffee maker.

Now, limescale is generally found in regions with hard water, but even if your tap water isn’t particularly hard, you’ll still have to descale your coffeemaker.

Now, the main problem with limescale is that it interferes with the brewing process and more notably the water temperature.

And if your machine isn’t using the proper brewing temperature (195 F to 205 F), it won’t be able to adequately extract the whole flavor of the coffee beans.

That’s why it’d be sensible to periodically descale your coffee machine, especially if you’ve never done that.

Essentially, descaling prolongs the life of your machine and ensures that it operates at its full potential for as long as possible.

What that means is that you’ll have the privilege to enjoy a nice, hot cup of coffee each day for longer.

But most importantly, the coffee that you’ll be drinking will have a superior taste

What is in coffee maker cleaner

How Do You Clean A Drip Coffee Maker?

By using this highly effective and super easy DIY method:

  1. Fill the water reservoir with half distilled vinegar and half water
  2. Press the ON button and let it brew
  3. Allow several cups of the mixture to run through
  4. Turn off your drip coffee maker and let it sit for 45 minutes
  5. Start it up again to brew one last time (without adding or removing anything)
  6. Ditch the water/vinegar combo
  7. Run water through as many times as needed to get rid of any vinegar odor

And that’s how you properly clean your drip coffee maker in no time.

Obviously, It’s quite important to adequately take care of your drip coffee maker since they collect grime over time.

Even if you wash them after every use, you still might find some dirt lurking somewhere in the carafe.

The beauty of this method is that it’s not time-consuming, nor expensive and you can do it at home.

Feel free to do that cleaning procedure once a month and you’ll have a cup of coffee that’s full of flavor every time.

Cleaning Keurig Coffee Maker With Vinegar – Is That Even Possible?

Yes, you can clean your Keurig unit with vinegar. Here’s how:

  1. Dump any water from the cold water tank of your Keurig
  2. Remove any K-Cups that have been left behind
  3. Use a piece of cloth (preferably damped) to wipe away any residue from the pod housing
  4. Fill the water tank to the ‘Max’ line with half distilled vinegar and half water
  5. Put a mug under the dispenser
  6. Lift the handle of the pod housing and then immediately close it without putting a pod inside
    Note: If your Keurig won’t start without a pod (K-Cup), then you can either use an empty reusable K-Cup or use an old regular K-Cup. However, if you’re putting an already used pod inside, make sure to clean it well to remove any residue i.e. coffee grounds.
  7. Hit the ‘Brew’ button
  8. Repeat until there’s no more vinegar/water mixture left in the water tank
    Note: If your Keurig has one of those small water reservoirs, then you might need to fill it with vinegar and water a few extra times.
  9. If there’s still some vinegar and water mix left in the water reservoir, simply dump it
  10. Fill the water reservoir with clean (preferably filtered) water and run multiple cycles, until your Keurig is free of any vinegar odor

That’s undoubtedly one of the most affordable and convenient ways of descaling your Keurig unit.

Remember, if you don’t descale your Keurig coffee machine every few months (roughly every 3-6 months), the machine’s lifespan will be decreased and your coffee won’t taste as good.

How To Clean Cuisinart Coffee Maker?

Here’s how the simple and easy way:

  1. Fill the carafe with a mixture of half water and half distilled vinegar
  2. Press the Self Clean (or Clean) button
  3. Turn on the coffee maker via the On/Off switch/button (depending on the type of your Cuisinart machine)
  4. After the Self Clean mode has finished, turn your Cuisinart coffee maker off
  5. Dump the water in the carafe

It really doesn’t get any easier than that.

To be honest, one of the best things about Cuisinart coffee machines is that most of them have a Self-Clean feature that does all the hard work for you.

How To Clean A Coffee Machine Step By Step

In all truth, cleaning a coffee machine is far from rocket science.

You can do that either by using vinegar, lemon juice or even a coffee maker cleaner.

Coffee maker cleaners like the very popular Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner  brand rely on a chemical known as sodium carbonate to do all the cleaning for you.

Don’t worry, sodium carbonate is considered safe to use by both the EPA and FDA.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your coffee maker using vinegar:

  1. Change the filter with a new one (if needed)
  2. Empty the water reservoir and wash it with water
  3. Add a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water to the water tank
  4. Start a brew cycle and then turn the machine off half-way
  5. Let it sit like that for 1 hour
  6. Turn the machine back on to complete the brewing cycle
  7. Empty the water tank again to get rid of any remaining water/vinegar mix
  8. Fill it with fresh, hot water
  9. Run a complete brew cycle and repeat if needed or until the vinegar odor goes away
  10. Clean the water reservoir with soapy water and the filter basket with cloth

Now, this is how to do the same thing (step by step) but with the help of lemon juice:

  1. Change your coffee machine’s filter (if you haven’t done that in a long time)
  2. Run a water-only brew cycle to remove any coffee residue from your coffeemaker’s system
  3. Add half lemon juice and half water (50/50) to the water tank
  4. Let the lemon juice/water solution sit in the reservoir for 15 minutes
  5. Run a full brew cycle
  6. Dump any remaining liquid from the reservoir
  7. Fill the water reservoir with fresh water
  8. Run as many brew cycles as needed to completely rinse out the lemon/water solution
  9. Thoroughly wash the water tank with soapy water and the filter basket with cloth

And finally, the step by step guide on cleaning your coffee machine via a coffee maker cleaner:

  1. Follow the specific instructions for your particular coffee machine
  2. The amount of coffee maker cleaner that you use might vary, depending on the number of cups, the coffee pot capacity of your machine etc.

Obviously, every coffee maker cleaner comes with its own instruction manual, so, by all means, so follow the instructions to the letter.


So there you have it, sodium carbonate is the most widespread and widely used ingredient when it comes to coffee maker cleaners.

And while this is essentially a chemical, it’s considered safe-to-use by both the EPA and FDA.

Thus, if your coffee machine is in need of a good cleaning, definitely consider using a coffee maker cleaner.

If you’re wondering where to put your coffee maker in the kitchen consider placing your brewer on a separate shelf if you want less clutter.

Have ever used a cleaning product for your coffee machine and if yes, which one is your favorite?

Feel free to let me know in the comment section below!

Last update on 2023-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2 thoughts on “What Is In Coffee Maker Cleaner? You Might Be Shocked By The Answer!”

  1. No doubt, the post is incredible and informational also. Every time I read your blog I just stuck with the content of a post that how easily you describe each and every aspect of topic of the post.
    Great inspiration for me.
    I very HAPPY. You’re the best.
    What coffee is good for beginners?

    1. Hey Zahir and welcome aboard!

      Glad you like my work.

      CoffeeLifious will always be about providing honest and super helpful information that’s meant to help all coffee lovers across the globe, from novice to battle-hardened caffeinated veterans!

      As for what coffee is good for beginners – if by that you mean coffee drinks, my personal advice would be to go for the good old latte.

      That’s because it adds steamed milk to the espresso shot, which makes for a smooth and more mellow taste than traditional espresso that some beginner coffee fans might find too strong.

      Cheers and God bless,

      — Simon

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