How To Clean A Percolator?

How To Clean A Percolator?

Some coffee lovers still prefer using a percolator over the more modern and fancy coffee makers these days. They claim that it makes good old strong coffee that fits their taste.  However, along with owning one comes the responsibility to clean and maintain it. Coffee contains countless compounds that remain stains and coffee residue could build up and create a blockage in your percolator. 

How to clean a percolator?

Before you proceed with cleaning it, prepare the following materials:

  • Dishwashing detergent 
  • White vinegar 
  • Baking soda 
  • Hydrogen peroxide  

Here are the steps on how to clean an electric percolator:

1. Do some basic cleaning. 

Clean the electric percolator using a washcloth or soft and non-abrasive fabric. Remove any trapped coffee granules in between the parts and check the washers as it is where most granules get stuck. These remnants can affect the quality of your coffee by leaving a bad taste and altering pressure. Use a toothpick or pin to remove the remnants and other stuck granules. 

2. Wash the percolator with vinegar. 

After removing the remnants, you also need to remove limescale and mineral deposits in the coffee maker. First, dry the percolator and run a cycle with vinegar.  Fill the brewer halfway with water. Next, pour vinegar until it is full.  

The 50/50 mix descales the inside and components but will also neutralize alkaline compounds without damaging the metal. Place the basket, close the lid and start percolating. Allow it to run for at least 15 to 20 minutes. After this is done, unplug the percolator and remove the water. Let it cool for another 15 minutes then wash the brewer manually with dish soap. 

Next, dry the percolator and plug it again but this time you will just use plain water. Switch it on, start percolating and when finished pour the water out. Fill with fresh water and switch it on again and after the process is through, pour out the water a second time. Be sure to do two straight water brews to ensure that there won’t be any traces of vinegar in the brewer.

3. Scrub the brewer with baking soda. 

If you notice that after the steps above there is still a hint of color and scent of old coffee, use baking soda. It will absorb certain acidic compounds and the fine grains remove stubborn layers. Place one to two tablespoons of baking soda into the percolator and mix some water. 

Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Next, wash and rinse but do not use any material that will leave scratches like steel wool. Replace the water with a half-cup of hydrogen peroxide to remove any stubborn dirt. 

Stir for a minute and let sit for about 30 minutes. Then, pour out the mixture, wipe the brewer and rinse with hot water. Coat any dirty surface with baking soda while still somewhat wet and let sit for a while. Pour vinegar over this and notice a fizzy reaction that releases any grime stuck to the metal material of the brewer. 

The vinegar used in cleaning the brewer neutralizes alkaline compounds and decalcifies the steel material. Meanwhile, baking soda reacts with acidic traces and helps with scrubbing and neutralizing the smells.

If at times you only see the need to clean the percolator basket, here is what you should do:

  1. Place the basket in hot vinegar water.
  2. Using the 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water, leave it in a bowl for a while. 
  3. Finally, wash it off and wipe it dry.

When cleaning a traditional or manual percolator, you can submerge it in the vinegar and water mixture. Nevertheless, follow the steps as specified above. 

Why is it important to clean your percolator regularly?

It is important to clean your coffee maker regularly, ideally, at least every month. The oily residue of coffee, hard-water deposits and impurities could build up over a certain period and contribute to the terrible taste of your coffee. Molds and bacteria can thrive in dark and damp areas and this makes the piping system and water reservoir breeding grounds for germs. 

These areas are also often overlooked because they cannot be seen. Also, the hot water temperature and acidity of the coffee are just enough to kill about half of the entire bacteria population in your brewer.

Always wash the percolator after every brew, empty the basket and make sure to rinse everything. Do not allow wet coffee grounds to stay long in your brewer to avoid stains. Do not keep coffee in the brewer since the remaining coffee could stick to the metal and cause stains and bad aromas.


Percolators produce good old strong coffee that many coffee lovers prefer. However, you should also ensure that your brewer is well-maintained and cleaned regularly. This is to ensure that you will always have good quality and great-tasting coffee. Follow the steps stated above on how to clean a percolator to ensure that it is free from residual buildup, bacteria and molds. 

Image: / Montypeter