How To Clean Chemex

Secrets to a Spotless Chemex – How and When to Clean a Chemex Coffee Maker

As a coffee connoisseur, you know that the beauty of Chemex brewing is in its elegant simplicity. But as with any tool or item used often, it needs to be cleaned regularly.

There’s nothing worse than sitting down for your daily cup and getting hit with stale scents from yesterday’s brew… Yuck.

In this article, we will discuss the secrets to maintaining your beloved Chemex – how and when to clean it properly so it keeps delivering delicious cups every time.

Read on to find out more about keeping your Chemex spotless.

Why it is important to keep it clean

Keeping your Chemex coffee brewer in tip-top shape isn’t just a matter of aesthetics – it’s also very important for the taste of your coffee.

If you don’t regularly clean the glass carafe, bad things will happen:

  • Your beautiful museum masterpiece will become discolored.
  • Residue from previous brewing sessions can build up around the spout. This will make your coffee taste stale and can even clog its flow over time, making it less effective at extracting flavors from your ground coffee.
  • The bottom of the carafe will develop strong, thick coffee residue lines.

It could even shorten the life span of your Chemex if not taken care of properly – yikes!

So regardless of whether you’re a newbie or an experienced barista, having a spotless Chemex should be a top priority for anyone who wants to enjoy great-tasting java.

How and when to clean your Chemex

There are several methods you can choose from to keep your Chemex clean, depending on your preference and time availability. I’ll go over the various ways to clean your Chemex, and also when you should employ which method. 

With each method where you clean the outside of the brewer as well, you should remove the leather strap and wooden collar.

Chemex Wooden Collar

You don’t want them to soak.

Use soap and water as regular “maintenance”

Keeping your Chemex coffee brewer clean with soap and water is arguably the quickest and most efficient way to brew delicious coffee time and time again. 

I have to admit, when I first got my Chemex, I had no idea how often it needed cleaning. But once I figured out how easy and quick it was to do so with just some mild dish soap and warm water, my favorite cup of joe tasted even better every single time.

Brush Cleaning Chemex

So here’s exactly what you need:

  • Mild dish soap (a few drops will do)
  • Cleaning brush (optional)
  • Lukewarm water

And here are the steps to cleaning your Chemex with soap and water:

  1. Dump any residual coffee from your brew.
  2. Fill up your Chemex about 1/4 full with lukewarm tap water, swirl it around, then dump it.
  3. Fill it again with lukewarm water to about 1/4 full, making sure not to overfill as this can cause bubbles to splash out.
  4. Add two drops of mild dish soap.
  5. Swish around gently until all surfaces are covered by suds.
  6. You can also use a cleaning brush from time to time, but don’t need to with every rinse.
  7. Dump the soapy water, and rinse thoroughly with warm running water until all traces of soap are gone.

This method should be done each time you brew coffee. It is an easy but effective way to keep your Chemex as clean as possible.

Use ice and salt for a deep clean

With time and use, the inside of the carafe will develop a light film of coffee oils and residue, even if you rinse it after each brew. This is when you need a deep clean of the carafe.

One of the more novel ways to clean the inside of a Chemex is with salt and ice. This method takes some effort and patience but can be very effective when it comes to cleaning those hard-to-reach places inside the brewer.

Ice Salt Chemex Cleaning

It’s especially helpful for getting rid of any built-up residue from your coffee grounds or oils that have stuck on the inside walls over time, and won’t come off easily with regular washing.

So let’s get started!

What you need:

Step-by-step guide on cleaning a Chemex with ice cubes:

  1. Fill your Chemex with the ice cubes to around half of the way up in the carafe.
  2. Add the salt
  3. Add a bit of water, just enough to let the ice cubes swirl around in the next step.
  4. Swirl the ice around manually for 2-4 minutes. The shifting action from sloshing around will help to loosen any stubborn residue or oils that have built up over time.
  5. Frost might develop on the outside of the basin, but don’t worry. It won’t cause any damage. Keep on swirling, periodically checking whether the stains are gone yet.
  6. Afterward, pour out the solution and rinse your Chemex with cold water.

 And there you have it! A spotless Chemex coffee brewer with only a few steps and basic ingredients. 

Use baking soda to break up oil residue

If the ice+salt method isn’t up your alley and you have baking soda at home try this method.

Baking Soda

Here is how.

  1. Fill the carafe halfway with warm water.
  2. Add a teaspoon of baking soda.
  3. Swirl your Chemex around until the baking soda dissolves completely.
  4. Let the mixture site for 1 hour.
  5. Dispose of the water and rinse your Chemex.

I’ve found that this doesn’t work as well as the ice+salt method, but it is simpler if the stains inside of your Chemex are not that strong.

Use vinegar to remove mineral deposits

Cleaning a Chemex coffee maker with vinegar is the next step up in the care and maintenance of your beloved brewer. It removes limestone and mineral deposits with ease, if they’ve formed from improper drying, or if you have particularly hard water in your area. 

While you can use this method any time, it’s best to do it when the ice+salt cleaning route (as described above) doesn’t quite cut it.

White Vinegar

Here’s what you need:

  • white vinegar
  • water
  • a sponge+long wooden stirring spoon for scrubbing action

And these are the steps to cleaning the carafe with vinegar:

  1. Begin by filling about ⅔ of the Chemex with lukewarm water.
  2. Add three tablespoons of white vinegar into the mix before stirring all together (you might want to cover your nose at this point – trust me, that smell will last!).
  3. Then let the liquid settle down inside the carafe for no more than 10 minutes – having too much acidity isn’t that great, even though the borosilicate glass is non-porous. 
  4. After that time has elapsed, grab your scouring device and give everything from top to bottom a good scrub-down without missing any nooks or crannies.
  5. Now dispose of the vinegary brew and rinse until all vinegar is gone before drying it off thoroughly.

Et voilà, you got yourself one clean Chemex.

The dishwasher method

The Chemex is 100% dishwasher safe, which provides an easy and convenient way to clean your brewer. It does require a few extra precautions though.

Before you just throw it in the dishwasher, make sure that the entire carafe fits safely inside without touching the wall, any other dishes, or obstructing any part of the machine’s water jets.

It’s important to note that although putting your Chemex in the dishwasher is a quick and stress-free way to clean it, this process can become very frustrating if done incorrectly because some parts may not be cleaned properly due to blocking the water jets. It may even get filled with soap residue or food particles.

That being said, here are the steps I take when washing my Chemex in the dishwasher.

  1. Remove the strap and wooden collar
  2. Rinse any residue before putting it into the dishwasher.
  3. Place it on the top rack, so it doesn’t come into contact with heated elements or other dishes/cups during the cleaning cycle. You need the opening to be facing straight down, so the dishwasher can spray water inside the carafe.
  4. Start the cleaning cycle on whatever heat you would normally. Obviously, hot water will not damage your brewer 🙂

Some like to remove the Chemex right after the cycle is complete and dry it by hand, so it doesn’t dry spotted. 

I’ve found that this only happens if I use low-quality washing tablets. They actually leave all glassware full of spots. But if you opt for the higher quality all-in-one washing machine tablets, there won’t be any spots.

Also, I used to think that adding salt to the salt compartment of my washing machine was necessary. It turns out that these all-in-one tablets already have salt in them, so you don’t need to add any.

Drying the Chemex

If you want to keep your Chemex spotless, drying it is just as important as cleaning it. And yes, to ensure that it looks and works like new, you’ll want to dry it properly after each brew’s cleaning.

Here’s what you need:

  • A clean, dry cloth or paper towels

Now for the method, you can make it complicated, or simple.

  1. To start, grab the clean cloth and gently pat down the outside of the carafe until it is mostly dry.
  2. Finally, place the carafe upside down on top of the cloth so that any droplets run down. You want to let it dry in a ventilated place, like your kitchen counter. Closing it in a cupboard is not as effective. You don’t need to dry the inside with a cloth, it’ll dry itself.
  3. Now your Chemex should be completely dried off!

With proper cleaning and drying methods, your brewer can stay spotless for years to come. Who knows – maybe one day when you’re old and gray, you’ll be able to pass on your spotless Chemex as an heirloom to your children.

Hand Washing vs Dishwasher

Hand washing your Chemex can be a great way to get it sparkling clean and maintain the same quality of life you’d expect from any kitchen utensil or coffee brewer. But, if you’re looking for an easier way to keep your Chemex looking as good as new, then using a dishwasher is also an OK way to go.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each:

  • Hand washing: This method is great for those who don’t mind getting their hands wet and dirty, as well as taking some extra time out of their day to clean it properly.
    Plus, it gives you more control over how thoroughly you’re cleaning your Chemex since you can scrub away any stubborn gunk or residue that won’t come off with just the post-brewing rinse.
  • Dishwasher: On the other hand, using a dishwasher can save you tons of time as all you need to do is pop it into the washer and let it do its job. If you position the carafe properly, everything inside gets cleaned, and there is less of a chance of cracking due to sudden temperature changes since the machine does its job gently.
    The downside to this is that you won’t be able to get as much control over how clean it gets or make sure all of the old coffee residues are removed. 

How often should you clean a Chemex?

Here are some general guidelines on how often I would recommend you clean your brewer:

  • Give your Chemex a simple soap+water rinse after every use.
  • Deep clean your Chemex with ice and salt as soon as you see any coffee residue that doesn’t come off with a rinse.
  • Use vinegar to clean your Chemex if you notice any water stains that seem tricky to clean.

These cleaning protocols will ensure that each batch of coffee will be a great batch.   

FAQs

Any long-handled cleaning brush or bottle brush can be used to clean a Chemex. Or you can just put a dishwashing sponge inside, and scrub it around with the handle of a long wooden stirring spoon.

But if you rinse your Chemex after each use and carry out the ice+salt cleaning once every few weeks, you won’t need to scrub the inside with a brush.

The ice+salt cleaning method I describe above is the easiest way to get coffee oil and stains out of your Chemex.

If you see a crack in your Chemex, even if it’s small, stop using it right away. Even if it can still brew coffee normally, the rapid heat changes can cause your Chemex to suddenly crack and spill hot coffee on you.

Conclusion

As you can see, keeping your Chemex clean and well-maintained is important for flavor and aesthetics.

Whether you choose to hand-wash or use a dishwasher, the most important thing is that you consistently clean your Chemex to maintain its spotless appearance for even more delicious coffee.

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