How to Clean a Classic Coffee Pot

Coffee pots are beloved kitchen appliances for good reason – they allow us to brew delicious, aromatic coffee right at home. But like most appliances, coffee pots require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep them in top shape. Cleaning a classic, non-electric coffee pot is easy to do with some simple steps. Keeping your classic coffee pot sparkling clean will make your morning coffee taste better and extend the life of your coffee pot. This guide will provide tips on how to thoroughly clean the different parts of a classic stovetop percolator or French press coffee pot.

Cleaning the Pot Exterior

The exterior of a classic coffee pot can collect dust, smudges, coffee drips and residue over time. Here are some tips to clean the outside of your coffee pot:

  • Wash with mild dish soap and water – Mix a few drops of liquid dish soap with warm water and use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the entire exterior surface. Avoid abrasive scouring pads as they can scratch the finish.
  • Rinse and dry thoroughly – After washing, be sure to rinse away all the soap with clean water and hand dry with a soft towel. Allow the pot to completely air dry before storing to prevent water spots.
  • Remove stubborn stains – For any remaining coffee stains or discoloration, make a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub the paste onto stains with a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge. Rinse and dry. The baking soda will help lift stains without damaging the finish.
  • Clean handle and lid – Detach any plastic or wooden handles/lids and wash them separately in warm, soapy water. Dry thoroughly before reattaching to the pot.

Regularly wiping down the exterior keeps your coffee pot shining!

Descaling the Interior

Hard water mineral deposits can build up inside a coffee pot over time. This calcified scaling needs to be removed to prevent altering the coffee flavor and hampering functionality.

For percolator pots:

  • Fill the pot with equal parts white vinegar and water. The acidity in the vinegar will dissolve the scale.
  • Let the vinegar solution sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to a few hours if heavily scaled.
  • Swish the mixture around and scrub any stubborn spots with a soft brush or cloth. Avoid steel wool or other abrasives that can damage the metal.
  • Empty the pot and rinse several times with clean water to flush away all the vinegar.

For French press pots:

  • Fill the pot with undiluted white vinegar to fully submerge all interior parts.
  • Let soak for 1-2 hours. Use a soft brush to gently scrub the plunger screen and other interior parts while soaking.
  • Once descaled, empty the vinegar and thoroughly rinse all parts with clean water.

Descaling removes mineral deposits for better tasting coffee. Repeat this process as needed based on your water hardness.

Unclogging a Clogged Spout

Slow dripping or a blocked spout when pouring can mean there is a buildup of old coffee grounds or mineral deposits. Here’s how to safely unclog the spout:

  • Use a straightened paper clip or pipe cleaner to loosen any blockages in the spout opening. Be gentle and don’t scratch the finish.
  • Flush with very hot water to dissolve any remaining particles. Allow water to flow freely through the spout.
  • Use a de-clogging solution like baking soda and vinegar – boil water with baking soda to dissolve scale, then run white vinegar through.
  • For stubborn clogs, detach the spout and soak it in equal parts hot vinegar and water to dissolve the clog, then scrub with a small brush.
  • Prevent future clogs by filtering water or regularly descaling the pot.

Unclogging the spout ensures smooth coffee pouring and prevents drips or splatters.

Cleaning Key Parts of a French Press

French press coffee pots have several key parts that all need individual attention when cleaning.

The Plunger and Screen

  • Disassemble and separate the plunger and screen from the glass beaker after each use. Rinse right away to remove coffee residue.
  • Scrub the screen under hot water with a brush or cloth to remove trapped grounds. Coffee left on the screen can impart a stale flavor.
  • Soak the plunger parts in a vinegar solution periodically to descale and sanitize.
  • Dry thoroughly and reassemble. Improper drying can cause mold or rusting.

The Beaker

  • Hand wash the beaker with warm soapy water and rinse very thoroughly after use.
  • Do not put the glass beaker in the dishwasher which can lead to cracking or clouding over time.
  • Descale by filling with vinegar and letting soak for a few hours, then scrubbing and rinsing clean.

The Lid

  • Remove the lid and rinse after each use.
  • Wash in warm soapy water, taking care to clean the underside rim which contacts the beaker.
  • Check the lid for cracks or warping – lids need replacing over time with repeated use.

Proper cleaning of all parts prevents buildup and maintains fresh coffee flavor.

Deep Cleaning a Percolator

Percolator coffee pots have several components that require cleaning. Follow these steps for a thorough deep cleaning:

The Pot

  • Fill the metal percolator pot with equal parts water and distilled white vinegar, or a citric acid-based descaling solution.
  • Allow to soak for 30 minutes if lightly soiled or 2+ hours for heavy mineral buildup. Scrub interior with soft brush.
  • Rinse several times until vinegar smell dissipates. Wipe exterior with a cloth and soapy water.

The Metal Filter Basket

  • Remove filter basket and discard old coffee grounds.
  • Soak in warm soapy water and use a brush to dislodge any packed-on grounds.
  • Rinse under running water. Soak in vinegar solution and scrub to remove scaling.

Stems and Tubes

  • Remove any tubes, stems, or valves and soak them in hot, soapy water. Use pipe cleaners to clean inside hard-to-reach tubing.
  • Rinse thoroughly. Soak in vinegar solution to descale and sanitize.
  • Reassemble all parts tightly once fully dry.

Deep cleaning ensures all your percolator components are free of buildup for great tasting coffee.

Cleaning the Coffee Pot Lid and Handle

The lid and handle of a coffee pot endure a lot of use. Follow these tips to keep them clean:

For plastic lids:

  • Wash in warm, soapy water, using a bottle brush to clean the sip spout. Avoid excessively hot water on plastic.
  • Stains can be removed with a baking soda paste. Gently scrub and rinse.
  • Replace cracked or warped lids that do not seal tightly to prevent leaks.

For wood handles:

  • Wipe down with just damp cloth or sponge and mild detergent. Avoid over-wetting wood which can warp and crack over time.
  • Remove stains with a barely damp magic eraser sponge.
  • Treat regularly with food-safe mineral oil to condition and prevent drying out.
  • Check screws or rivets to ensure handle is securely attached.

With attention and care, handles and lids can last for years. Replace if damaged or excessively worn.

Preventing Buildup Between Cleanings

There are some easy ways to prevent mineral and coffee residue buildup inside your coffee pot between full cleanings:

  • Rinse out the coffee pot with fresh, hot water after each use. This removes some residual oils and particles.
  • Consider using filtered or bottled water for your coffee rather than hard tap water which exacerbates scaling.
  • Descale pots regularly, at least monthly, to prevent significant scaling and clogging – don’t wait until there is a noticeable issue.
  • Use a coarse grind of coffee that won’t pass through a paper filter. Ultra-fine grounds can cause sediment in a coffee pot.
  • Allow the pot to fully dry upside down on a dish rack before storing to avoid trapped moisture breeding bacteria or mold.

With some simple preventive habits, you can keep your classic coffee pot fresh and clean!

FAQs About Cleaning a Coffee Pot

How do you clean the inside of a coffee pot?

Use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Fill the coffee pot and let soak for 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on buildup. Scrub with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse thoroughly until the vinegar smell is gone.

How do you descale a coffee pot?

Descaling involves removing the mineral deposits that can build up in coffee pots from hard water. Fill the pot with undiluted white vinegar or a citric acid descaler. Let soak 1-2 hours, then scrub and rinse.

What removes stained coffee pot?

Make a paste of baking soda and water and use a soft sponge or cloth to gently scrub exterior stains. For interior stains, fill with vinegar and soak to dissolve residue, then scrub with a bottle brush. Avoid abrasives that will scratch the finish.

How do you clean a French press?

Disassemble all the parts – plunger, screen, beaker, lid. Wash the beaker and lid in warm soapy water. Scrub the screen and rinse the plunger under hot water. Soak all parts in equal parts vinegar and hot water to descale.

Why does my coffee pot get clogged?

Mineral deposits from hard water and leftover coffee particles can accumulate and create blockages. Try filtering water, descaling regularly, and fully rinsing out coffee residue after each use. Use a straightened paperclip to clear simple clogs.


The key to keeping a classic coffee pot working its best is regular cleaning and maintenance. Take apart all components and wash in hot, soapy water. Target built-up mineral deposits by descaling with vinegar soaks. Unclog spouts using baking soda or paper clips. Deep clean French press pots paying special attention to the plunger screen. With the right techniques and cleaning products on hand, keeping your coffee pot pristine is easy. Taking good care ensures great tasting coffee every morning!