Like with everything in life, your french press will work better and last longer if you take care of it. That means not throwing it across your kitchen, not using it to store barbecue beans or other non-coffee foods, and making sure it’s kept clean after each brew.
Cleaning your french press isn’t hard at all, but it’s essential to brewing balanced, delicious coffee. Here’s why:
- The leftover oils and grounds impart flavors. Tiny grounds and oils cling to the brewer walls and sometimes get stuck in the filter. These guys leave behind flavors that can impact your later brews.
- Oils can even go rancid. Coffee oils, when left for a few weeks or months, can start to taste really gross. They probably won’t hurt you, but we suggest cleaning your french press before you find out for sure.
- A clogged filter makes a sad brewer. Tiny grounds getting stuck in the fine mesh filter is inevitable. Cleaning these out keeps the filters working properly and makes sure a ton of resistance doesn’t build up over time for when you’re plunging the filter.
- The visual experience matters too. The french press is the quintessential manual coffee brewer—and it looks like it to. A clean brewer adds to the visual realm of the coffee experience, but a dirty one takes away from it.
We’ll first look at how you can clean your french press effectively and quickly after each brew. Then, we’ll move onto the deeper cleaning you should be giving your press every few weeks for maximum flavor balance and filter efficiency.
Daily Cleaning: What To Do After Each Brew
You can clean your french press before or after you sit down and enjoy your mug of rich coffee, but I prefer to take care of it beforehand. Letting the coffee sit for a moment allows it to cool and the flavors to become more pronounced. It also helps me get this step out of the way so I can enjoy the coffee without having to think about cleanup.
If You Have A Garbage Disposal
If your kitchen sink has a built-in garbage disposal that can handle minor food waste, you’re fine to throw the used grounds down the sink. If your sink has a bad habit of getting clogged even with a disposal, however, I’d just avoid doing it this way.
Once the coffee is poured out, add a small amount of water to the grounds in the press, give it all a swirl or two, and dump it down the drain (water and disposal turned on). Do this again to collect any final straggler grounds.
For the filter, slightly unscrew the bottom filter to open up some space between the pieces. Run water over and through these pieces to knock out any stuck grounds.
If You Don’t Have A Garbage Disposal
I highly suggest you do not dispose of grounds in your sink if you do not have a grinding disposal for food waste. A little bit of coffee is fine, but throwing down a ton of grounds every day will clog the drain eventually.
Here are a few options for what you can do instead:
- Toss it all outside. Add some water, swirl it around, and throw out the majority of the grounds outside into a bush or a garden. The coffee-water’s fine for most plants, though I’d check just to make sure before throwing it into a flower garden.
- Use a strainer inside. Pour the coffee-water through a fine strainer that’ll catch the majority of the grounds. Then toss them into the trash or outside.
This takes a little longer, but it’s better in the long-run for your kitchen. Plus, if you keep the leftover grounds, you can use them for a variety of DIY self-care and cleaning products. Rinse the filter well and then you’re finished.
And that’s about it for regular cleaning. Quick, simple, and effective.
Deeper Cleaning: The Key To Long-Term Maintenance
Giving your french press a deeper clean is just as easy as your regular daily cleaning—if not even more so. We suggest going through this process 1-2 times per month to keep your brewer working good-as-new.
There are several directions you can go here, but they all aim to accomplish the same thing: break down the most resilient oils and remove them from your press.
- The soap, citric acid, and hydrogen peroxide method. Combine 2-3 teaspoons of each in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water. Soak the french press filter for 4+ hours, then throw the filter and glass carafe in the dishwasher.
- The white vinegar method. Combine 1 part white vinegar with 3 parts water and bring the solution to a boil in a pan. Submerge the filter and soak overnight, then throw it and the glass carafe in the dishwasher.
- The Urnex dedicated cleaner method. Urnex, among others, is a powder that you dissolve in warm water and submerge products in for 30-60 minutes. It’s designed specifically for coffee and very easy to use.
- The Oxiclean method. Mix 4-5 tablespoons of Oxiclean with hot water and soak the filter for one hour. After the soak, throw the filter and glass carafe in the dishwasher.
Each of these methods works well, and you likely already have all the ingredients you need for at least one of them.
The steel or chrome frame that comes around your french press doesn’t need soaking in these solutions, nor does it need to go into the dishwasher. It’s an exterior piece that really only needs a good rinse and wipe with a rag. The same goes for the lid portion of the french press.
A good cleaning routine keeps your brewer functioning at peak condition, keeps it looking brand new, and ensures your coffee’s as pure and untainted as it can possibly be. The steps outlined in this guide are quick and easy to implement—a small cost for better coffee and a happier french press.
A clean french press is a stellar match for our Coffee Club. We send you specialty-grade coffee beans that were roasting just two hours before being put in the mail, which means you get to experience the beans at peak flavor and freshness.
A dirty press will hide the best flavors behind a mask of oils from previous coffees, but a clean press provides a clean slate for stellar brewing.Want amazingly flavorful and fresh coffee delivered to your door? Check out our Coffee Club!