With any coffee maker, the proper care goes a long way toward making sure your machine keeps working the way it’s supposed to. While each unit will have slightly different maintenance needs, most Bunn coffee makers use a similar method for cleaning, and learning how to clean your machine properly can extend its life – and give you better tasting coffee! Best of all, the proper cleaning methods will only take a few minutes a day (with occasional deep-cleaning and descaling). Isn’t it worth taking a few minutes if it means your coffee maker will work better, and for longer?
Every day that your Bunn coffee maker has been used, you should do a quick-clean of the main components: The filter basket and the carafe. These can be removed and washed with a mild dish detergent. They are also top-shelf dishwasher safe. If you use paper filters, the filter basket may just need a quick rinse, but it’s still important that you do this – otherwise, harmful bacteria may build up in the leftover coffee debris.
Once you’ve cleaned the removable components, the outside of your machine should be wiped down with a damp cloth. In most cases, soap will not be necessary, but if you do decide to use a soap, make sure it has no added citrus and that it is food-safe.
Thermal Carafes (BTX Models)
While much of the process is the same, washing a thermal carafe is a bit different. Bunn BTX carafes are easily disassembled for cleaning, by rotating counter-clockwise. Periodically, you should remove the FlavorGard valve and clean that as well. All components of the thermal carafe, with the exception of the lid, are top-rack dishwasher safe. Optionally, you can use your machine’s normal brew cycle, with powdered dishwashing detergent in the brew funnel. Allow this soapy mixture to sit in the carafe for 10-15 minutes, and then rinse with clean water. Do not use abrasive cloths to clean your thermal carafe – hard scrubbing with a soft cloth should be sufficient.
Monthly (or Quarterly) Maintenance
Depending on the mineral content of the water you’re using, you’ll need to descale and delime your machine every one to three months. First, fully drain all water from the unit. To do this, you must remove the top lid. It may take a bit of work to get it off the first time, but you should never have to force it. Once the lid has been removed, remove the white rocker valve arm by lifting straight up. Turn the unit upside down over a sink and allow it to sit for about five minutes. You may hear some gurgling or other similar noises while your unit is draining, as there is no air intake when the machine is flipped over.
Once the water reservoir is empty, you’ll need to clean the bottom of the tank. You should be able to do this with a soft rag and warm water. If there is still residue left over (which may happen if your water is very hard), you may need to use a spudger or similar small plastic stick to scrape the deposits from the floor of the water tank. In most cases, this is only necessary if your machine is not cleaned frequently enough.
Descaling with Vinegar
When your machine starts to slow down, it may be overdue for a descaling. Pour 1 quart of white vinegar into the water tank and run a normal brew cycle. Allow the vinegar mixture to remain in the decanter (with the warming plate on) for two hours to soak. After your machine has soaked, unplug it and remove the brew funnel and spray head. The spray head should be cleaned using a mild dish soap and a clean cloth, and then thoroughly rinsed.
To rinse the vinegar from the machine, run a few cycles of cold water through the machine, before replacing the spray head and funnel. It may take as many as 8 or 9 cycles for the vinegar taste and smell to be completely removed. After the machine has been thoroughly rinsed, reinstall the spray head and funnel, and allow the water in the tank to return to room temperature before brewing your next pot of coffee.
Descaling with Deliming Tool
Brand-new Bunn coffee makers come with a flexible deliming tool, which is used to clear residue and debris from the spray head tubing and the holes in the sprayer itself. If your machine hasn’t been descaled in a while, it may be necessary to do this before a vinegar descale. First, you should remove the spray head with your hands and set it to the side. It should come out fairly easily; if you use a tool to remove it, you may void your warranty.
If you purchased your Bunn coffee maker new, it will come with a flexible deliming tool. If you have misplaced the tool, or you purchased a used coffee maker that didn’t come with the tool, you can use a large twist tie. Insert a few inches of the tool into the spray head tubing, and slide it in and out a few times. If there is a lot of build-up, you may need to use some force and/or a twisting motion to loosen the deposits.
After the tubing has been cleared, examine the spray head itself. If there is any white residue or obvious mineral deposits, you’ll want to clear them with a pointed toothpick or similarly-sized object. Clean your spray head with a soft cloth and a mild detergent, then thoroughly rinse and reinstall. Run a brew cycle with clean water into the decanter to finish the cleaning process.
Emptying the Water Reservoir
It’s important that the water tank be emptied before the machine is stored or transported, especially if there is a chance of freezing or mildewing. This should be done when the coffee maker is completely cooled, as there may be hot water trapped within the machine. Remove the spray head and the brew funnel and set them aside. Then, carefully turn your brewer upside down over the sink. Most of the water will flow from the spray head tube opening, although some may flow from around the lid. Continue holding the brewer over the sink until it is finished draining. This can take up to five minutes to complete. Once the machine is fully drained, replace the spray head and funnel, and your brewer is ready to be stored.