Your mornings are about to get a whole lot better.
Credit: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

When you’re dragging your sleepy self to the coffee maker every morning, the fact that you haven’t cleaned it in a while is probably the last thing on your mind. (We feel you.) But keeping your coffee maker spick and span is super important, and not just because it keeps your brew tasting great: It also keeps your go-to appliance from becoming a breeding ground for yeast, mold, and bacteria.

Sure, you can use pricey coffee maker cleaners or a smelly vat of vinegar to get the job done—or you can dissolve a few denture tablets in water and let them do the scrubbing for you. (This is not a drill.)

Why Clean Your Coffee Maker With Denture Tabs?

“Denture cleaning tabs utilize the antibacterial and alkalizing properties of sodium bicarbonate (the primary ingredient in baking soda), and when combined with fizzing properties, is essentially like scrubbing and cleaning on a micro level,” says New York-based dentist Lee Gause, DDS, owner of Smile Design Manhattan. This is why they’re thought to be a useful cleaning agent for stubborn or hard-to-reach areas, such as those in a coffee maker.

Compared to other DIY coffee maker cleaning solutions, the convenience of dental tabs is hard to beat. They’re scent-free—unlike vinegar, which leaves a bad smell after you clean with it, says Lily Cameron, cleaning and organizing expert for Fantastic Services in the UK. It can also take three or more rounds of water to completely rinse the vinegar out of your reservoir (and avoid funky-tasting coffee). Dental tabs, on the other hand, usually only require one round of rinsing, saving you both time and water.

And because dental tabs dissolve stains for you, you don’t have to deal with the time-consuming hassle of scrubbing the nooks and crannies by hand like you would with other liquid or powdered cleaners, says Cameron. Just rinse and carry on.

Plus, they’re cost-effective: Packs of 200+ denture tabs sell for roughly $15 each. Depending on how many you use when you clean your coffee maker and how often you clean it (experts recommend a minimum of once a month), one pack could last you an entire year, says Jennifer Rodriguez, chief hygiene officer at Pro Housekeepers in Florida.

Convinced? Here’s how to clean your auto drip, Keurig, or french press coffee maker using denture tabs, courtesy of Leanne Stapf, vice president of operations at The Cleaning Authority:

To Clean Your Auto-Drip Coffee Maker

Fill the reservoir to the max line with warm water. Drop two denture tablets into the water and let them fully dissolve. Run your coffee maker through a regular cycle. Once complete, fill the tank with warm water only and run it through another cycle.

You can also get stubborn residue off of the removable basket using denture tablets—just fill a large bowl (or your kitchen sink) with warm water and dissolve two tablets. Let the basket sit in the solution for 5-10 minutes or until the residue is no longer caked on. Rinse and dry the basket before popping it back into your coffee maker.

Finally, clean your carafe by filling it to the max line with warm water. Pop one denture tab into the water for lighter stains and two for moderate/heavy stains. Let fully dissolve. After letting your carafe sit for roughly 5-10 minutes, rinse it and dry thoroughly.

To Clean Your Keurig Coffee Maker

Fill the reservoir with warm water. Drop in two denture tablets and let them fully dissolve. Run the mixture into mugs until the reservoir is completely empty. Repeat the progress using only warm water.

To spruce up the removable parts, dissolve two tablets in a large bowl (or sink) of water. Let the parts sit in the solution for 5-10 minutes and dry thoroughly before reassembling.

To Clean Your French Press Coffee Maker

For a quick clean, rinse out any coffee grounds and fill your French press to the top with warm water. Drop one denture tab inside and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse it out with water only and thoroughly dry.

For a deep clean, separate the lid, plunger, filter screens, and disks and rinse off any leftover coffee grounds. Fill your sink with warm water and drop in 3-4 denture tablets. Once they’ve fully dissolved, put the parts in and let them sit until much of the residue is gone. Scrub off any excess and dry thoroughly before reassembling.