clean inside of thermal coffee pot


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Are you looking for a way to clean your thermal coffee pot the easy way? I sure was. And I tried all kinds of different methods, some of which didn’t really work at all and some that kind of sort of did the trick. None of them were anywhere near as effective and easy as the method I want to share with you today.

We opted for a coffee maker with a thermal carafe for ease of use. Because one of us often gets up much earlier, having a coffee maker with an open glass container on a burner, doesn’t make sense. Thermal pots keep coffee warm for a longer time and since they have fairly tight fitting lids, air cannot get into the coffee and oxidize it.

The only drawback is that the thermal coffee carafe is more difficult to clean than a conventional tempered glass one.

When I first heard of this cleaning hack, I didn’t believe it would be any better than all the other things I had already tried. But I don’t give up easily and since it sounded so simple, I had nothing to lose.

pinterest image how to clean your thermal coffee pot without scrubbing


The simplest way to clean any coffee pot is of, course to just wash it with soapy water and a brush after each use. But this is real life. At our house, washing the coffee pot essentially consists of rinsing it. I know we are not alone!

Thermal coffee pots are more difficult to clean and many people resort to the rinse and go method, eventually resulting in that pesky residue.

There are actually a couple of good reasons why this kind of pot is harder to clean and keep clean.

smaller opening at the top of the coffee pot

To conserve heat, nearly all thermal carafes have a much smaller opening at the top. And it does a great job with heat conservation, although the lid usually never comes off until the pot is empty.

Those smaller openings make getting to the inside of the pot much harder. Who wants to get their hand stuck? While it’s easy to reach into a glass pot to wash it out with a soapy dishcloth, getting inside a thermal pot is often impossible. Even brushes are tricky because they lack the proper design to reach every angle.

different material inside the thermal pot

Another significant difference that makes thermal coffee pots a little harder to clean is that they are lined with a metal surface. Not nearly as smooth, this surface material hangs on to coffee residue in ways that glass cannot. Coffee also contains oils that bond the particles to this surface, making it harder to rinse off.

Even though we rinse it out daily, after a while it still winds up looking like this:

image of inside of coffee pot with brown residue

cleaning methods that didn’t work well

Cleaning is not one of my favorite things to do. Having clean stuff, however, is important. When it comes to any cleaning chore, no matter how large or small, getting the best result with the least effort is pretty much always my main goal.

Through the years I tried several different ways to clean a thermal coffee pot, including:

  • scrubbing with baking soda and dish soap
  • sprinkling the inside of the pot with baking powder, letting it sit and scrubbing with a metal scrub brush
  • using other scrubbing agents like bon ami and bar keepers friend

Don’t’ waste your time on any of those methods! Each is much more labor-intensive than the one I am about to show you and none will yield nearly as good of a result!

Before we go on to cleaning your thermal coffee pot, I have to tell you all about my FREE Resource Library. It is filled with many more useful cleaning tips, printable recipes, even cute labels to use for your own homemade cleaning recipes. Just sign up here and the password is on its way to your inbox!

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When I first heard about this method, I was justifiably skeptical, because it sounded way too easy. You might feel the same as I did when you read this post. After all, I had seemingly tried it all and the results were never as good as I had anticipated. But low and behold it worked every bit as well as promised.

I have to confess, I was elated and a little bummed at the same time. Elated, because I finally found a way to really clean it and make it look like new without hardly lifting a finger, bummed because I didn’t know this much sooner. So what is the magic tool that makes the inside of your thermal coffee pot sparkle like new without all of the scrubbing?

Well, here it is! The humble dishwasher tablet.

Yep. Who’d have thunk it?


The process is super simple.

Take one dishwasher tablet and put it in the empty coffee pot. Fill the pot with boiling water. This is important. The water needs to be boiling hot. I tried the same method with hot water and it didn’t work nearly as well.

coffee pot with dishwasher packet at the bottom

You can see how the dishwashing detergent begins to dissolve almost immediately.

coffee pot with boiling water and dishwasher detergent

Set a timer for 30 minutes to allow the dishwasher tablet to do its magic. After waiting the proper amount of time, pour out the cleaning liquid. See how much of the residue is dissolved into the water? Like a super weak cup of coffee.

coffee pot and small cup with dirty liquid

Here is the final result after pouring off the cleaning liquid followed by a good rinse with clean water.

Remarkable, don’t you agree? Depending on how stubborn the residue is, you may have to use a brush to loosen up some stuck areas, but they come right off and rinse out beautifully. It couldn’t be any easier! Doesn’t it look like new?

Now, you may wonder if this works equally well with all kinds of dishwasher tablets. From my experience, I can answer that with a yes. It also works with powdered dishwasher detergent. Just use the same amount to clean the thermal coffee pot that you would use for a load in the dishwasher.

Will letting the hot liquid stand for a longer time work even better? The answer here is NO. Since this method works so well, there is no need whatsoever to let it sit. As a matter of fact, extended exposure, like leaving it overnight, may lead to an unpleasant aftertaste that may linger.

I have not tried this method with liquid dishwasher detergent. If you do and it works well, please let me know in the comments!

Always curious, I put an alternative recipe for “emergency dishwasher detergent” to the test to see what would happen. That recipe consisted of a mixture of baking soda, dishwashing liquid, and salt. It did not work at all. I will stick with my detergent.

But I am happy to report that I had the same outstanding results with gentler dye-free versions of detergent from my local Trader Joe’s.

So here is one more before and after shot to demonstrate just how well this scrub free cleaning method works.

Before and after pictures of thermal coffee pot

Pretty amazing, right? Turns out just like new every single time.

And that is how you clean a thermal coffee pot without scrubbing!

For some of my other helpful cleaning tips, be sure to check out these posts.




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  1. Marlies Martin

    Omg. Who knew? It me and I’m old!! Thanks!! Love this little blog of yours!! It plays a big role in my life!! Marlies

    1. WittyGrittyGirl

      No more coffee pot scrubbing:) Not missing that chore! Thank you for your support and keep spreading the word!

      1. Thank you for this, we use dishwasher tablets for our dishwasher, but never thought of this. Since it isn’t dishwasher safe, I’ve just been using regular Dawn dishwashing soap. I do have a couple of questions. It doesn’t leave an aftertaste in your coffee after 30 minutes? I know you stated not to leave it longer than that, but it made me worry about leaving it for the 30 minutes too. Also am I allowed to give it a scrub with a sponge after I pour the water out? Thank you again for this!

  2. Many years ago while working in restaurants …we used to clean our glass coffee pots with a small bit of vinigar, salt and add in a few pennies…swish around for a minute or so and you have a shiny clean pot…..I am wondering if this method would work on these pots…..

    1. I remember doing that when I worked at a restaurant – forgot all about that! If you do it every day, it would probably work. Glass is easier to clean because it is a smooth surface. It’s the combination of the slightly rougher metal surface and the oils that makes it more challenging to clean.

  3. I used liquid dishwasher liquid and boiling water in a heavily stained Mr. Coffee thermal pot. It works perfectly! It took two tries to completely remove all the black residue, but it is amazing. Thank you!

    1. I have not tried that. But it is a good option if you don’t have the dishwasher detergent on hand. How much did you use? I like that the dishwasher tabs clean everything on the first try.

  4. I can’t believe it but you were right. I had tried a multitude of things like you but they were fruitless. Your method, not only EASY, worked! My thermal decanter/pot hadn’t been cleaned in years and had an enormous amount of residue. This method got almost all of it out, except a couple of really tough spots. I am very pleased 🙂
    Thank you!

  5. What works for me is hot water (doesn’t have to be boiling) and a half scoop of Oxygenated laundry powder. Leave it in the sink overnight (the stuff foams up and out). Then clean it with liquid dish soap – like new

  6. I just fill the water tank as if I’m making coffee, put the tablet in the carafe, and run it through a cycle. If it’s time to also clean the coffeemaker itself I will run the vinegar/water cycle twice and do the dishwashing tablet last.
    Feels like a miracle every single time.

    1. Usually, I combine cleaning my coffee maker with cleaning the carafe as well. But I have found that using boiling water works better for me. I will try doing it your way next time to see if it does the job. I am all about streamlining chores!

  7. Oh my goodness, I cant even believe how well this worked! I was at my wits end and considering paying the expense of a new thermal coffee pot. I tried everything. I used the liquid dishwasher detergent with boiling water, let it sit for 45 minutes (because I got busy with something else) and the results were AMAZING!!! Thank you so much for providing this tip!

  8. Omg, this is amazing. I LOVE my morning coffee and do the whole “rinse clean” to my carafe, for like years…I wish I could show you before and after pictures, as I was VERY sceptical about this working…and it did!! Thank you!! Will be spreading the news and serving MUCH better coffee from here on out 🙂

  9. I knew I was in need of super help when I started getting black chips of something at the bottom of my coffee cup. The pot was years old and only got the requisite rinse and an occasional hard shake after use. I stumbled on your web-site and thought I have nothing to lose. Followed your instructions and when I poured out the solution, weak coffee was not even close to a description! More the color of black tar with a multitude of black chips. After a good rinse, the interior looks like new! Thanks a whole bunch!

  10. Paul In New England

    Easiest way to clean a thermal carafe is with a magic eraser sponge . Wet eraser ring out put hand down carafe and wipe, keep rinsing and ringing clean until the sponge no long gets black. The rinse with soap and water. If you can’t fit you hand in the carafe use a wooden spoon. Trust me works without scratching the inside looks like new

    1. One of the major issues with thermal carafes is that you cannot fit your hands into them. I have tried every method including the one you describe, but none of them have worked as well or been as easy as simply dropping a dishwasher tab and pouring boiling water to fill the carafe. Often, all you have to do is simply pour out the water and rinse, which also means that the inside will not be scratched in any way. You will also save water because repeated rinsing is not necessary. I would like to challenge you to try it and compare my method to yours. Do let me know what you think after you have tried it. I promise you won’t go back.

  11. Beware! In a an overzealous move I left the pod in the thermal carafe overnight. The liquid was brown when I poured it out the next morning but the odor of the pod stayed. No matter what I did to get the taste of the detergent in the coffee and the carafe smelled and tasted like the pod. We had to buy a new Bonavita 1900TS.

  12. This cleaning method was AMAZING!! It worked wonderfully!! The only thing was that I needed to rinse it a few times to get the soap taste out. The inside of my pot went from dark brown to shiny silver!

    1. try this it works wonders for me an dont have to worry about a soapy taste take some ice its best with the eatable size an then pour you a scoup of sugar an slush it in circle motion an watch the ice turn brown as it cleans the inside

  13. It totally works!!! I should have taken a before and after picture. My carafe looks brand new!! Thank you for posting this wonderful cleaning hack!!

  14. I take reviews and posts with a pinch of salt for the most part because a lot of these posts are never really authentic. It turns out that I tried out the info from this post also not fully persuaded however, I was rudely shocked. My coffee carafe that I have tried brushing and sticking my half hand in to clean came back brand New!!! I am so so soooo grateful for this.

    It’s true and it certainly worked for me.

    1. Agreed! I have tried a lot of things that are supposed to work very well, only to be disappointed. That is why I will only post information that I have personally tried and that actually work as promised.

    1. Great question! I leave the lid on the pot when it is soaking. Immediately after pouring out the liquid, I use a small brush and clean both areas. The steam and the fumes from the dishwasher tabs make it much easier to clean. I hope this helps!

  15. This trick literally just made my day. We give our hot coffee maker a break in the summer for homemade cold brew, and I opened it up today and realized I didn’t clean it very well back in May. 😱 I was dubious but 30 minutes later, that carafe was literally GLEAMING. I don’t think it was that clean when we took it out of the box. Thank you for the great tip!!

  16. I never leave comments , but this really worked. Every once in a while I would try to clean it to no avail. I was shocked that this worked!

  17. I was so close to buying a new coffee maker because I was hating this carafe pot because I just couldn’t clean it well. I don’t use the pods so I just took dishwasher detergent and poured maybe a tablespoon in and poured in the boiling water and let it sit for about an hour. OMG it worked! Really disgusting what came out but it worked and it’s looks brand new!

  18. No scrubbing necessary! We used our carafe every day to hold coffee for 5 years. It was BLACK on the inside despite the fact that we clean it regularly. I wish I had taken pictures of this process. The water coming out was almost as dark as the coffee we make. There was black sludge stuck to the bottom afterward. A quick rinse, and it came out looking almost new again. I can’t believe we drank out of that thing for so long. Thanks for the tip!

  19. Had a Thermos brand 40 oz coffee thermos with about 6 years of buildup inside. I had tried the vinegar/baking soda suggestions on other sites, boiling water and dish soap overnight… all to minimal success. One dishwasher pod and 4 hours of boiling water did the trick! The water poured out was like water down coffee colored and the inside looks like new stainless steel.

  20. Similar to others, I was pretty skeptical that this would work. After rinsing out the carafe, I was beyond shocked – it looks brand new!! Many thanks for sharing this true life hack!

  21. Holy cow! This really does work. Mine is gleaming. Thank you Karin for saving me purchasing a new coffee maker. I was sure mine was ruined.

    1. Cleaning it with soap and hot water is enough for first use. The method described here works very well for buildup that is very hard to remove any other way.

  22. This is an incredible method! So easy and the pot looks like new!
    I did change it up a bit. After 30 minutes the water was still really hot, so I scrubbed all around with a long handled brush, put the lid on and left it another hour or so. Then I scrubbed again and left it another hour. When I poured the water into a bowl, the detergent had completely broken down all the residue. Filthy water, sparkling clean pot!

    1. Sue, I am so happy you tried it! The 30 minute time frame is the minimum it should be left. I usually pour the still hot water in my garbage disposal to give that a cleaning as well.

  23. I am SO glad I found this!!! I have tried so many different methods and NONE worked. This worked exactly as promised. 30 minutes later my thermal carafe looks brand new. I am SO looking forward to how the coffee is going to taste tomorrow morning!

  24. This method worked great on my stainless steel carafe, but, with a caveat.

    I used 2-1/2 tablespoons of regular Cascade powder and boiling water, let it soak for a half hour, rinsed, and 90% of the residue was gone. I easily got the rest off with some Dawn dish soap and hot water, using a bottle brush. The inside looked flawless, like brand new!

    I did have to do an extra step, though. The next day I noticed a slight odor from the carafe, and it smelled like Cascade. I had rinsed it SUPER thoroughly with hot water the night before so I shouldn’t have smelled anything. Because I know how well I rinsed it I figured it was safe to use, so I made coffee and poured it into the carafe. Poured a cup, and I still smelled it from the coffee. Just a hint of smell, but that was enough, so I dumped the coffee.

    I then poured in a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and hot water, maybe a cup or so, swished and shook it around, drained and rinsed, then re-washed it with Dawn, and rinsed thoroughly. That did the trick, no more smell.

    2-1/2 tablespoons of Cascade is about what the dispenser cup in my dishwasher uses, but maybe that’s too much for a small carafe? Next time I’ll use less, but I’ll still do the vinegar/water rinse then the Dawn wash afterwards.

    1. Interesting and good to know. I have not used powdered Cascade. As far as smell or aftertaste are concerned I have never had an issue at all. But it’s great that you found a great solution, should that ever occur to anyone else.

      1. I’m thinking the pods contain less powder than the 2-1/2 tablespoons that I used. Plus they have the added liquid enzymes or whatever. That might be why you’ve never had the aftertaste or smell. I’m thinking 1 tbls or so of the powder is plenty for a 32oz carafe.

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