How To Unclog a Drip Coffee Maker (3 Ways)

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How To Unclog a Drip Coffee Maker (3 Ways)

If you’re an everyday coffee drinker, you may have encountered the unfortunate issue of your coffee maker becoming clogged. This happens for many reasons, but most of it is just built up over time. On the bright side, it’s relatively easy to unclog a drip coffee maker. 

To unclog your coffee maker, you just need to run hot water through it for a couple of cycles. If it’s still not working, you may need to remove the valve that rests inside the hose or thoroughly clean it.

Today, I’ll discuss how you can unclog your drip coffee maker. There are a few ways to go about doing this, depending on what problem you’re encountering. 

1. Run Hot Water Through the Coffee Maker

This is the simplest solution to the problem, and surprisingly, it works the majority of the time. Oftentimes, with drip coffee makers especially, coffee grounds can get caught at the base of the basket where the water filters through. 

If you’re having problems with your pot filling, but the basket is filling with water just fine, then it’s likely that you’ve run into this issue specifically. 

What Causes Coffee Makers To Clog in the Basket?

Most of the time, if a coffee maker gets clogged at the base of the basket, it’s because coffee grounds have made their way into the area. 

This is usually because your filter either broke or collapsed. Occasionally, people forget to put a filter in the basket, which can cause bad clogging issues. 

When coffee grounds become tightly compacted, they can act as glue, binding to themselves and whatever else is around them. This can make it enormously difficult to clean. While you may have to take other steps for an issue like this, the hot water will likely loosen the grounds enough to remove them.

How Long Should I Run Hot Water Through the Machine?

Ideally, you should continue running hot water through the machine until the water is filtering through at the correct rate and coming through completely clear

If the clog is very bad, you may notice that you must pull water through the machine several times. You may also need to start out by spraying hot water through the opening with a sink sprayer or another pressurized water sprayer. 

Please make sure and unplug your coffee pot ahead of time if this is necessary.

Bear in mind that, while running hot water through the machine will loosen any gunk that’s built up, it will only do so much. If the clogging is in other areas of the machine, for example, attempting to run hot water through will do very little

2. Clean the Hose With a Bottle Cleaner

If the machine hose becomes clogged, this can be a little more complicated fix. All drip coffee makers come with a hose where the water is pulled through the machine. 

Some hoses also come with a valve inside them, and this valve is the perfect place for the machine to be clogged. Over time coffee grounds and other debris can lodge between the valve and the outside of the hose. When this happens, you will get very little, if any, water flowing through the hose. 

To clean your hose, you’ll first want to remove the valve (if it has one). You’ll want to start by squeezing the hose repeatedly to see if you can release some of the junk built up over time. During this process, you should be able to release the majority of the coffee grounds or residue that’s built up, but you’ll still need to use the bottle cleaner. 

Using the Bottle Cleaner

The rubber that the hoses are made from makes it a little bit difficult to wedge the bottle cleaner into the hosing, but it’s really just about maneuvering it correctly. 

You can use soap during this process, but it’s best to only use water. Soap tends to form a lot of bubbles, and unfortunately, bubbles are not very easy to remove. This is especially true in the case of the hose. 

Move the bottle cleaner up and down, ensuring you reach the hose’s full length. You may need to move the bottle cleaner around, take it out, rinse it, and then repeat the process multiple times. 

After using the bottle cleaner, you’ll want to flush the hose with hot water. You can do this by tipping the machine and running water into the hose or by using the sink sprayer. Again, be sure that the machine is unplugged during this time. 

After removing the hose clogs, be sure and run your machine a few times with plain water so that everything gets entirely clean.

One thing I want to make a note of is that if the clog is taking up the whole circumference of the hose, you may do more damage by using the bottle cleaner. In this case, the bottle cleaner is going to work like a Q-tip does, pushing the gunk further into the hose rather than removing it. 

If you want to avoid this issue entirely, you can insert the hooked wire into the hose to try to pull out any debris. It may also be better to simply flush with water repeatedly if you encounter this problem. 

Cleaning the Valve 

If your drip maker has a valve, then you’ll need to clean it separately. Many times, clogging can happen inside the valve, so don’t forget this step.

To clean the valve, simply allow it to soak in hot water for a while. This should release anything that’s been built up in the valve.

Make sure you insert the valve the same way you removed it. Otherwise, it won’t allow water to flow through the hose at all. 

3. Give Your Coffee Maker a Complete Cleaning

The quickest way to unclog your machine may be to thoroughly clean the entire machine. In this process, you’ll use various cleaning additives such as vinegar and baking soda to help loosen any grime causing the clog. 

To begin, fill the water tank with a mixture of three parts vinegar to one part water. If you’ve never worked with vinegar, expect a strong smell. The smell will also intensify as the water heats. 

There’s nothing better and safer to use than vinegar. However, you may run into your coffee tasting like vinegar for a time, so you may want to run the coffee maker a couple of times after unclogging and washing before making your next pot of coffee.

Run the machine as normal and allow the vinegar water to filter through. I would suggest doing this two or three times to make sure anything that would clog the machine gets eliminated. 

Afterward, run straight water through the machine several times to remove any of the leftover vinegar. 

When To Add More Abrasive Materials

If the vinegar and water alone aren’t unclogging the machine, it may be time to add some abrasive materials to your water mixture. 

In this situation, you can dissolve salt into the water or use baking soda. Baking soda is typically the better option as it offers more abrasive qualities and acts as an odor eliminator. It also reacts chemically with the vinegar, producing bubbles that will stick to the machine’s inside and help dissolve any leftover crud. 

Whether you choose to use baking soda or salt, however, you’ll want to add between one and two tablespoons to the vinegar water. If you add baking soda, the vinegar water will begin to foam immediately. 

Make sure you mix the salt or baking soda into the liquid mixture before pouring it into the coffee machine. Otherwise, the salt may stay in the machine and clog it even more than it already was. 

After mixing, pour the mixture into the coffee maker and allow it to filter through. After this process, it’s even more important to make sure that you rinse the machine thoroughly. Run regular water through the machine multiple times before using it again. 

Using Baking Soda To Clean the Hose

While I didn’t go over this in the section on cleaning the hose, baking soda can also be a great option to clean the hose, particularly if you have a stubborn clog. 

The baking soda will work to remove most of the grime that’s stuck on the inside of the hose. Sometimes bottle cleaners just need a little extra help! 

Be sure to rinse the hose thoroughly if you choose to utilize baking soda for cleaning it.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your coffee maker is one of the best ways to unclog the machine. After all, coffee machines do a lot of work for us, especially if they’re used every day.

The best ways to unclog the machine are to run hot water through it or mix the hot water with vinegar. You can also include baking soda or salt if the clog isn’t being released. 

Remember to clean the hose and valve separately.

In any case, be sure to rinse your machine thoroughly after unclogging. You certainly don’t want to be left with debris in your morning brew.