...but first, coffee! Starting the day out right with a delicious cup of your favorite coffee is an essential piece to having a good morning. Every six months or so though, you need to show that hardworking coffee maker some love and give it a thorough cleaning.

One of the best-selling electric coffee makers is a 12-cup model by Cuisinart. While Cuisinart got its start in the late '70s with food processors, the company has since come to make a myriad of kitchen appliances, endorsed by icons such as Julia Child and James Beard. Since then, Cuisinart’s products have been associated with Universal design principles, making them more accessible to people of all kinds of abilities. It comes as no surprise that many of the brand's home appliances, including its coffee makers, consistently make it on "best of" lists year after year.

If you have a Cuisinart coffee maker, you might be seeing that little pesky “clean” light turn on to remind you it’s time for it’s biannual cleanse mission. Or, maybe you’re looking for a quick solution to cleaning your electric coffee maker without digging out the old instruction manual. (Let’s be honest, you probably recycled that thing years ago.) Either way, we’ve broken down eight simple steps to get that cleaning light reminder to stop flashing and rid your pot of calcium and bacteria in your automatic drip coffee maker.

Step 1: Empty the Coffee Maker

Once you’re ready to clean that sweet machine that brings you to life each morning, pull out the pot and the filter basket.

Step 2: Make Vinegar and Water Mixture

Using one part vinegar to two parts water, fill the reservoir completely. For example, if you have a 12-cup reservoir, fill the pot with eight cups of water and four cups of vinegar and dump it into the reservoir.

Step 3: Run the Machine

If there is a "clean" button, press it. This process will take longer than a typical brew cycle for a carafe of coffee. The machine will beep a few times after it has finished the cleaning cycle.

If there isn't a "clean" button, press the "brew" button. For a deeper clean, turn off the coffee maker for about an hour, then turn it back on and allow the cycle to finish.

Step 4: Run a Rinse Cycle

To rinse, simply fill the reservoir with water and brew. Repeat at least once to get rid of any leftover vinegar solution.

Step 5: Allow the Machine to Cool

After getting a good cleaning of the inside of the system, unplug the coffee machine for about half an hour until it is cool to the touch.

Step 6: Wash Carafe, Filter, and Base

Using hot, soapy water and a dishcloth or sponge, clean all of the removable parts of your coffee maker, as well as the base itself. If the warming plate has stains, clean them with dish soap and a rag or gentle sponge. Don't use harsh scrubbing pads, such as steel wool or SOS pads, on your coffee maker.

Step 7: Allow the Pieces to Fully Dry

Set all of the pieces in a dish drainer or on a towel on the counter to air dry before putting them back together.

Step 8: Reassemble

Once all of the pieces are fully dry, put all of the pieces back together and you’re ready for a fresh (clean!) cup of java.


Will this work for any brand of electric coffee maker?

Probably. Though, it’s always good to double-check your instruction manual for any specific guidelines.

I followed all the steps, but my clean light came back on…

This is your machine asking you to repeat the process. It’s likely that your coffee maker has built up quite a bit of calcification and will need to run the cleaning cycle a few times.

How often should I clean my Cuisinart coffee maker?

Depending on the quality of your water and how much coffee you make, this schedule can change. It’s recommended to clean at least every six months. If you make multiple pots of coffee a day, it may require a thorough cleaning monthly.

Why do I need to use vinegar?

Over time, the coffee maker will accumulate a build-up of hard water and minerals. Vinegar is used to decalcify the reservoir.

I don’t have a clean light on my coffee maker, how do I know when it’s time to clean it?

Your coffee will taste as bitter as your significant other sounds before their first cup of coffee in the morning.

What do I do if my coffee tastes funny after I clean it?

Depending on how much build-up you have in your machine, it may take a couple of cycles of running the vinegar solution. If you do run subsequent cycles, allow the machine to fully cool in between.

Can I Clean A Coffee Maker Without Vinegar?

Absolutely! Anything with an acetic constitution can help with the decalcification process and kill any kind of mold that may be hiding in little corners. Just make sure to run a couple of extra cycles through your coffee maker with just water. Here are a few suitable cleaning substitutes for vinegar:

Dish Soap

To use dish soap, you will need to be able to disassemble your whole machine, including hoses. After disassembling and cleaning each individual piece, you can put it back together and run a couple of full brew cycles with just water.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a direct substitute for white vinegar, so you can simply use the same one-to-two ratio listed above. Bonus: Your house will smell amazing as the coffee pot runs through the cycles.


Hard alcohol is a great alternative cleanser. Vodka works particularly well. Use a one-to-three ratio of vodka to water. Flush the system three to four times with water afterward (unless you’re into Russian coffee).

Baking Soda

One of the most common household staples, baking soda is a tried and true cleaning product. Clean your coffee maker with baking soda by using a one-to-three ratio of baking soda to warm water, allowing it to dissolve before pouring the mixture into the coffee maker. Otherwise, follow through with the steps above.

While you wait for your Cuisinart coffee maker to complete the cleaning cycle, try making a Whipped coffee!

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