We all love nothing more than a delicious cup of warm coffee? But a good cup of mold? Not so much. However, there are times when mold can even affect the coffee you drink, by making a cozy home for itself in your coffee maker.

How Does Mold Get In A Coffee Maker?

Mold thrives in coffee much the way it does if there’s a leak in your home—with moisture and darkness.

In 2011, U.S. product testing giant NSF International conducted a study on the classic basket-and-carafe coffee makers most of us have in our homes and found that about half of had mold growing in their reservoirs.

This doesn’t surprise University of Arizona germ specialist Kelly Reynolds in the least. “(Coffee makers) are certainly a moist environment where mold is known to grow in high numbers. Our bodies can deal with it, but at some point, it’ll grow to levels high enough to cause sickness.”

How Do You Keep Your Coffee Maker Free Of Mold?

Contrary to what you may have heard, a good soak in hot water and dishwashing detergent won’t get mold out and running coffee through to disinfect it won’t do the job either.

Carolyn Forté, director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute says there’s only one way to remove any signs of mold proliferation—vinegar, which not only sanitizes the appliance but “decalcifies,” or removes, any mineral buildup from tap water.

Forté does suggest giving the coffee maker a gentle cleaning every day, regardless. “The carafe, lid, and filter basket should be cleaned daily with warm, sudsy water. A coffee maker that’s used daily should be decalcified about once per month in hard water areas and every two to three months in soft water areas.”

This method of keeping your appliance free from mold also applies to “pod-based machines” like Keurigs—debris can clog their many nooks and crannies, so they also benefit from a vinegar run-through every few months.

To keep your coffee maker clean and free of mold:

  1. Fill your coffee maker’s water chamber with equal parts white vinegar and water and brew (using a paper filter) until half the chamber is empty.
  2. Turn the coffee maker off and let it sit for 30 minutes, then finish brewing.
  3. Using another paper filter, rinse the machine by brewing a pot of clear water. Do this twice.
  4. Fill the carafe with warm, sudsy water and a handful of rice (to be used as an abrasive). Swirl the mix in the pot, then use a scrubber sponge to remove any additional gunk. Rinse and dry.
  5. Wipe the outside of the machine with a damp cloth.

For answers to your questions about mold and how to get rid of it, make sure to contact a mold remediation specialist.