We’re going to cut right to the chase: you should not clean a coffee maker with bleach. There are much safer options that work better, so there is no reason to use bleach to clean a coffee maker. Bleach is extremely dangerous to work with, and the risk of residual bleach winding up in your coffee is high. Ingesting even small amounts of bleach can lead to hospitalization and death.
With that out of the way, some people insisted on using bleach to clean their coffee maker because they’ve neglected cleaning it for so long that mold and bacteria have run rampant. If your coffee maker is so dirty that you feel only cleaning it with bleach can make it safe to use again, you should throw it away and buy a new coffee maker. If you are dead set on using bleach to clean your coffee maker, we’ll give you some tips in this article for how to do it as safely as possible. However, you’ve been warned, and we are not responsible if you get sick—seriously, don’t do it!
Steps for Cleaning With Diluted Bleach
Did we mention that this is a bad idea already? We provide a safer alternative to using bleach at the end of this article, but if we can’t dissuade you, here are the steps for using bleach to clean a coffee maker.
How to Clean a Coffee Maker with Bleach
- Coffee maker
- 1 tbsp bleach
- 1 gallon water (plus more to rinse)
- Create a diluted bleach solution. Bleach is a potent chemical and needs to be heavily diluted before you put it anywhere near your coffee maker. Add 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Don't give in to the temptation to add more bleach, and be careful when you add it to the water. Bleach stains clothes and can cause burns on exposed skin. Always work with bleach in a well-ventilated area as the fumes from bleach are dangerous.
- Run a brew cycle. Fill your coffee maker's reservoir with the bleach solution and run a brew cycle without any coffee in the machine.
- Repeat the process until all of the bleach solution is gone. Empty the coffee pot carefully and rerun brew cycles until you run out of bleach solution.
- Rinse with 5 gallons of water. Before you use your coffee maker to brew coffee again, you need to rinse the machine thoroughly. We recommend using at least 5 gallons of water but more won't hurt. It will take a long time to run brew cycles with five gallons of water, but we warned you that cleaning your coffee maker with bleach isn't a good idea.
- Let the machine air dry. Leave your coffee maker upside down for at least one day to air dry. If there is any bleach left in your machine, it will leave white deposits once it has dried. If you see white deposits after one day of air drying, you need to rinse the machine more by running brew cycles with plain water.
An Infinitely Better Alternative
Hopefully, you’ve jumped to this section because we’ve effectively scared you off of the idea of cleaning your coffee maker with bleach. Besides how dangerous using bleach to clean your coffee maker, it also isn’t as effective as safer alternatives! Mineral deposits from hard water are easily broken down by acidic agents like vinegar and lemon juice. Bleach, conversely, won’t break down mineral deposits.
What’s more, lemon juice and vinegar are both naturally antibacterial and will kill any nasty growths festering in your coffee machine. There is no reason to choose bleach over lemon juice or vinegar.
Both lemon juice and vinegar are safe to ingest, and the downside of not rinsing enough after using lemon juice or vinegar is a funny-tasting cup of coffee instead of a trip to the emergency room.
Here’s how to clean your coffee maker with vinegar.
- Mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water. Make sure to use enough to fill your coffee maker’s reservoir.
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Salt enhances vinegar’s antibacterial properties and makes a more effective cleaning solution.
- Run two brew cycles. You need to run fewer cycles with vinegar because it is more effective than bleach at breaking down mineral deposits.
- Rinse with four brew cycles. Run four brew cycles with just water to rinse out any remaining vinegar in your machine.
Cleaning your coffee maker with bleach is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Bleach is unsafe to handle and will cause you serious harm if you ingest even small amounts. Using lemon juice or vinegar to clean your coffee maker is much safer and also more effective. Bleach is basic and won’t break down stubborn mineral deposits, while lemon juice and vinegar both will, thanks to their acidity.
If your coffee maker is dirty enough to make you contemplate using bleach, you need to develop better cleaning habits and stay ahead of the problem. We strongly recommend against using bleach to clean a coffee maker and suggest biting the bullet and purchasing a new machine if your coffee maker is exceptionally unsanitary rather than attempting to sterilize it with bleach.
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock