Mildew In a Coffee Maker’s Reservoir

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Dear Home-Ec 101:
I have a coffeemaker with a removable water reservoir. I turns out that it never totally empties and now it smells musty. I have tried cleaning it with vinegar and denture tablets as suggested. I live in southern Louisiana and musty smells are a way of life, but not in my coffeemaker!
Any other ideas?
Musty Have My Coffee

clean mildew out of coffee reservoir

Heather says:

Oh, I feel your pain. I live in the South, as well and yes, an occasional mildew and musty odor are pretty much expected. (I just moved into an older home, too) Throw in 15+ inches of rain in June and my dehumidifier is getting a heck of a workout, but I digress.

Grab a flashlight, a q-tip, and some diluted bleach, but remember to use cool water. Just for fun, revisit How to use chlorine bleach safely.

Use that flashlight to shine inside the reservoir and use the cotton swab to clean out those obnoxious ridges where little spores may be hanging out. Then fill the reservoir with the dilute bleach.

Run three or four pots of water through your coffee maker, to make sure you get all of the bleach out. Since it was already dilute, it’s not going to hurt you, but no one wants to make coffee with pool water. BLEH

If it’s possible, run the removable pieces through your dishwasher at least once a week, on the top rack.

Now, this is the part that’s going to be obnoxious because it has to become a habit. Once the pot has brewed, open the reservoir and leave it open. Do not leave the grounds in the basket until the next pot.

how to clean appliances
Click the picture for more tips!


The goal is to allow air to circulate and the moisture to evaporate. Mildew loves, dark, still, damp areas and the inside of your coffee maker is just about as ideal as it gets.

Good luck.

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