I drink an awful lot of coffee at home, and it doesn’t take long at all for the inside of my coffee pot to look distinctly grimy.
Throwing it away should be a point of last resort, however. There are a number of simple methods you can explore for cleaning the inside of your coffee pot.
How do you clean a stainless steel coffee pot? Well, there are four main ways to tackle this problem.
- Use a detergent pod
- Soak with vinegar
- Scrub with baking soda
- Apply salt & lemon juice
In the rest of this article, I’m going to explain how to make each method work for you.
Some are harder work than others, so I’ll start with the simplest approach. If that doesn’t get the job done, move onto the next one.
By the time you’re finished, I’m very confident you’ll have a coffee pot that looks just as good as the day you bought it!
(Head back to my massive home coffee brewing guide when you’re done for more help with this side of kitchen life!)
Use a detergent pod
Coffee pots are awkward to clean by design. They typically have a wide bottom and a narrow top.
That’s great for keeping your coffee hot, but less than ideal when you need to clean the inside of the thing.
This is the easiest method I’ve used to date, so give this a go. Move onto the next method if you’ve still got any stubborn interior stains.
- Boil just enough water to fill the coffee pot.
- Add a standard kitchen detergent pod to the pot.
- Put the pot in the sink, then pour in enough hot water to completely fill it. Putting it in the sink will help avoid any nasty accidents if it’s knocked over.
- After 30 minutes, grab a long-handled spoon and very gentle stir the contents.
- Empty the pot, then rinse it thoroughly until any remnants of the detergent are gone.
The good news is that most of the time this will be enough to clean your coffee pot. There’s very little effort involved, and all you have to do is play the waiting game!
If the job looks almost done, but there’s still a little work to do, I recommend simply repeating this method.
If two attempts haven’t done the job, move onto the next method in this guide.
Soak with vinegar
Vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice are just a few of the very versatile cleaning ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen.
Note that in each case you’re going to need a long-handled scrubber. This will help you get right inside the coffee pot and give it a good clean out once each secret ingredient has worked its magic.
First up, the vinegar. This method works best if you’re able to heat the coffee pot on the stove. If you’re not sure that’s safe, try using pre-boiled water instead.
- Add water and vinegar to the pot, in equal proportions, until it’s full.
- Boil the mixture on the stove for a few minutes.
- Turn off the heat, and let the coffee pot cool until it’s safe to handle.
- Use the scrubber to gently work away at the interior of the pot. If you’re struggling to do this without making a mess, empty a little of the liquid out first.
- When you’re finished scrubbing the whole thing, empty the pot and then keep rinsing it until any hint of vinegar has been eradicated. No one wants a sour cup of coffee, after all…
Scrub with baking soda
This one’s very similar to the vinegar method, and is the next logical step to take if you’ve still got a problematic pot.
- Add a cup of baking soda to the coffee pot, then fill it with hot water.
- Stir it around and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
- Grab that long-handled scrubber from earlier, and really go at the sides and the base.
- Once you’ve finished, empty the coffee pot, add more hot water, and let it sit for half an hour.
- After that, give the pot another good rinse and it should – finally – be in sparkling condition!
Apply Salt & Lemon Juice
This method is useful if you’ve had some success with the interior sides of the coffee pot, but the bottom of it is still looking unpleasant.
The reason the bottom of the coffee pot can be more stubborn to deal with than the sides is because it spends the most time in contact with the coffee.
If you live in a hard water area, you may also have problems with mineral build-up. That extra layer of gunk sinks to the bottom of the coffee pot, and makes it even harder to clean.
Try the other three methods I’ve outlined in this guide first before moving onto this next approach. It takes more time and is designed for dealing with the limited surface area of the pot base.
- Rinse the pot out with warm water and then leave it in the rack, upside down, until it’s dried out fully.
- Cut a lemon into segments, then squeeze the lemon pieces into the coffee pot. Try to get as much of the juice as possible onto the bottom of the pot, rather than the sides.
- Grab some standard tablet salt and pour a layer over the lemon juice. Add just enough so that there’s a full layer of salt over the base of the coffee pot.
- Swirl the lemon juice / salt mix around very gently for thirty seconds or so. You want to make sure you apply a good coating of this mixture all over.
- Put the pot somewhere safe where it can be left undisturbed overnight.
- The next day, grab a long-handled brush and scrub the bottom of the pot as best you can. Some of the more stubborn detritus will have been loosened, but needs a fair bit of encouragement to detach fully from the base.
- Rinse the coffee pot out with hot water, and continue washing it out until there’s no lingering lemon scent.
How often should I clean my coffee pot?
This is a tricky one to answer, as it depends very much on how often you use your coffee pot.
If you notice any variation in the flavor of your coffee, that’s a very good indication that it’s time to give the pot a good clean out.
You don’t need to go overkill in terms of general cleaning, but I try to give mine a dedicated clean at least once a month.
The more regularly you go through the process, the less work it’ll be in the long run. Once these things get really gunked up it can take an exponential amount of work to repair the damage.
That should be all the information you need to get your dirty old coffee pot back to mint condition!
As I said at the beginning of this article, start with the first method as it’s the easiest by far. Work your way down the list from there if the material’s still looking significantly past its best.
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