How To Clean Your Coffee Maker Without Vinegar?

Want to know how to clean your coffee maker without vinegar? This article discusses the ways to clean your coffee maker, from the simplest to the most complex.

How to clean your coffee maker without vinegar?
Using vinegar definitely cleans your coffee maker

One tried and true way to clean your coffee maker is to brew with a combination of vinegar and water and then rinse by running more water through the machine. While this method is definitely simple and very accessible, it’s not for everyone.

Some people just don’t like the smell of vinegar, even for cleaning, or maybe you don’t have any vinegar around the house. Perhaps the only vinegar you have on hand isn’t good for cleaning (like balsamic vinegar).

Fortunately, there are many ways to clean your coffee maker without vinegar, no matter what brewing method you use. From approved detergents to other forms of acid, and even baking soda, if you need to clean your coffee maker and you don’t have or don’t want to use vinegar to do it, there’s a method. Read on to learn more!

How To Clean Your Coffee Maker Without Vinegar

A glass of fresh lemonade.
You can use lemon juice

The reason that vinegar works to clean your coffee maker is because vinegar is strongly acidic. It breaks down the oils that collect in your coffee pot and along with any limescale that might accumulate in your brewing system. There are several options if you just want to replace the vinegar with something that doesn’t smell as strongly.

The most straightforward replacement is lemon juice. While lemon juice isn’t as acidic as vinegar, it’s still acidic enough to do the job; you just have to add a little more of it.

I would also recommend straining it before brewing it through your machine since the pulp is not a desirable cleaner for any coffee maker. Lemon also has the benefit of bringing a “clean” smell with it.

Another option if you’re an avid home cook or baker is to use cream of tartar. Don’t worry; this isn’t an ingredient in tartar sauce but instead is the powdered form of tartaric acid.

Bakers use it to help fuel reactions with baking soda and make their baked goods rise, but because it’s highly acidic, you can use it to clean your coffee maker. A teaspoon or so of the white powder dissolved in water and brewed through your machine is enough to do everything vinegar does without the vinegar smell.

The Easy Route: Buy Commercial Coffee Machine Cleaner

Detergent and Powder
Commercial products are also a good option

You can find plenty of products on the market designed to clean coffee makers. Usually sold in powder form, these are similar to tartaric acid or cream of tartar in that they’re almost always powdered forms of acids.

They’re also usually reasonably cheap, which means you can keep a few packs around for when you need them and top them up whenever you get the chance. Just pour the powder into the right compartment of your coffee machine, brew water through it, and rinse the same way you would with vinegar or any other product. 

If you’re sensitive to various chemicals, it’s worth checking labels, as well as ensuring that you rinse your coffee maker thoroughly after brewing the cleaner through it. But these products are an easy option, and there’s no risk that you’ll want to use them for something else and run out unexpectedly.

You might also find our guide on how to clean coffee machines with a coffee brush useful.

Consider Baking Soda To Clean Things Up

Finally, you can use baking soda to clean your coffee maker, much in the same way as you would use the previous methods. Simply dissolve about a quarter cup of baking soda for every cup of water in your carafe, and brew normally. You can let the baking soda and water cool and scrub the accessible surfaces afterward if you want, but you can also just do a “rinse cycle” of regular water brewed through the machine. 

While I haven’t found this method as effective as some of the others on the list, many coffee lovers swear by it. As an added bonus, baking soda doesn’t really smell like anything–so there will be no weird smells in your home as a result. However, be careful when scrubbing with baking soda, as plastic surfaces can be scratched up by the particles, while the gritty texture can really help glass and metal components. 


  • Savannah McClelland

    Savannah is a coffee lover who took her appreciation of the brew to the next level starting in college, becoming a barista before combining her love of writing with her affection for a good brew. She has written for several publications including and TopTenz, and also works as a ghostwriter. Find Savannah on LinkedIn.