Your coffee maker is always there for you, ready to jump-start your day by brewing up a fresh pot—until it isn’t, due to some malfunction that means you either skip the caffeine that morning (gasp!) or hit the nearest cafe in your pajamas.

First-world problems, we know, but why not avoid them by making sure your coffee maker is in good working order at all times? And keeping the machine clean is one of the best ways to do just that. Minerals in the brew water, especially if your home has very hard water, can degrade a coffee maker’s components over time. Leftover coffee oils, meanwhile, will tarnish the taste of the finest blends.

Here's how to clean your coffee maker in a step-by-step guide from the experts at Consumer Reports. Afterward you'll have better-tasting coffee and a sparkling carafe—the better to watch your machine dispense your caffeinated elixir of life, drip by beautiful drip.                     

Step 1: Clean the Brew Basket

If you’re like most people, you probably rinse the brew basket at the sink after you empty it. Now and then, it’s good to go the extra distance by washing it thoroughly in warm, soapy water. This will take care of the oily residues that can leave behind a bitter taste. 

Step 2: Remove Mineral Deposits

Minerals in your home’s water can clog your coffee maker’s tank and tubes. If it gets bad enough, the machine will either stop working completely or its brewing performance will be compromised; excessive steaming and increased brew cycle times are two telltale signs of trouble. 

You can refer to your manual for specific cleaning instructions. But for most machines, an effective solution is to occasionally run equal parts water and white vinegar through the machine. Then run plain water through it a couple more times to eliminate any trace of vinegar.           

Step 3: Clean the Carafe

Coffee stains on a glass carafe look cruddy, plus they can also impart an unpleasant flavor. Fill the carafe with a solution of one part baking soda and two parts hot water and let it stand overnight. Then rinse thoroughly with fresh water. A damp sponge dipped in baking soda can also be used to remove burned-on stains from the hotplate; just make sure the plate is cool before you touch it.

The Best Coffee on the Shelf

Once you commit to keeping a clean coffee maker, make sure you’re also putting the best ground beans in it. In our latest coffee ratings, Counter Culture is the leading brand from the popular Colombian region, while Whole Foods’ Allegro brand is our top-rated Kenyan coffee.