If you’ve started to notice your morning coffee tasting just a little bit funky, the first thing you should check is your permanent coffee filter.
Over time, your coffee filter will accumulate all sorts of muck. There’ll be oils from the coffee, old coffee grounds and mineral deposits – especially if you live in a hard water area.
Leave things too long and you also risk allowing bacteria and mold to build up over time. At that point, you’re more than overdue a deep clean!
In this article, I’m going to explain some simple, tried and tested methods for cleaning up your reusable coffee filter.
(Looking for something else to help with your morning cup? I have a massive coffee brewing archive that has more to explore!)
Why Use a Permanent Filter Anyway?
Whether it’s the reusable filter for your Keurig, French Press or drip coffee machine, I’m a big fan of using a permanent filter over paper filters.
Paper filters are a mess to get ready for recycling, and I also think they leave something of an after-taste in the drink itself.
They’re convenient, sure, but I think a permanent filter is worth the extra time, effort and investment.
Cleaning A Permanent Coffee Filter
If you have enough time on your hands, cleaning your coffee filter after each use will definitely save a bigger job in the long run.
That’s not possible for most of us, but if you can give it a weekly clean at least, the following method should suffice:
Method #1 – Soap & Rinse
If you’ve only got light staining or grime on your coffee filter, consider the simplest approach: dish soap and water.
First of all, empty the coffee grounds into the garbage bin, or make use of them elsewhere in the house. That guide I’ve linked there contains some really useful tips for reusing your old coffee grounds.
Never put coffee grounds down the sink or through your garbage disposal. The grounds will settle and eventually clog up your plumbing system. Your plumber will love you for this, but your wallet won’t…
Next, grab a piece of kitchen towel or a sponge, and dry-wipe off as much of the old grounds as you can.
This will make the next step a whole lot easier, and will minimize the risk of chunky grounds going down your sink too.
Rinse the filter under warm water to get as much of the detritus off the filter as possible.
Finally, just use a gentle sponge and some regular dish soap to work the grime off the surfaces on all sides.
When you’re done, rinse it again under warm water, then leave to air dry on a rack – upside down – for at least an hour. Make sure it’s fully dried before using it for a brew!
Method #2 – Dishwasher
Check the manufacturer’s listing first, as not all permanent filters are safe to put through the dishwasher. If you can do it though, you’ll find this to be the easiest way by far!
I recommend placing it in the top rack of the dishwasher along with your cups though. This will prevent sharper – or bulkier – objects from damaging the filter.
Method #3 – Vinegar & Water
If you’ve left things a really long time, and the first two methods haven’t got the job done, it’s time to move onto something a little more drastic.
If you have a gold tone filter, don’t use this method. The acidity of the vinegar will eventually cause damage. Simply repeat the previous, less abrasive methods until your filter’s back to factory condition!
Grab a bowl and add white vinegar and water to it in a ratio of 1:2. There should be enough liquid in the bowl to fully submerge the filter once you’ve added it in.
Leave the filter in the bowl overnight, so that the vinegar can slowly work its cleaning magic.
The next day, rinse the filter under warm water until there’s no lingering aroma of vinegar.
This might take a while but keep going. You really, really don’t want any hint of vinegar in your next cup of coffee…
Method #4 – Baking Soda & Elbow Grease
If you haven’t got time to leave your coffee filter soaking in vinegar overnight, you can turn to the kitchen cleaner’s second favorite hack: baking soda.
This takes a little more elbow grease, but if you’ve got a bit of baking soda and a gentle scrubbing sponge to hand, you’re all set.
(Don’t use a metallic pad on your coffee filter. It’s really easy to damage the filter if you do. A simple kitchen sponge is what you need here.)
Add a little bit of baking soda to the filter, then gently scrub away with the sponge. Keep going until you’ve removed as much of the muck as you can actually see.
When you think you’ve done enough, give it a rinse under warm water and see how the results look.
If there are any mucky or stained patches left over, repeat the process.
Again, make sure you air dry the filter thoroughly before using it.
Those four methods should be all you need to clean your reusable coffee filter, and get it back to mint condition.
Your coffee should taste much better, and you’ll reduce the risk of adding another source of bacteria to your kitchen!
As always, start with the least abrasive method first and see how that goes. If that doesn’t do the trick, move onto the next one.
Mark’s a lifelong food fanatic and spent ten years working as an entertainment journalist. He now combines his love of food, drink and writing as the founder and editor of Viva Flavor. Read more