A Guide To Cleaning Your Chemex

Most coffee lovers can agree that using a Chemex is a great way to brew. The result is strong flavorful coffee and the device itself is a great piece for your kitchen. The design is simple, yet sophisticated.

The main concern many people have with the Chemex is that it can be quite hard to clean. The design, shaped like an hourglass beaker, can make it hard to reach some of the inner parts. Even though it looks super cool, the cinching in the middle creates some challenges.

On a day-to-day basis, warm water and dish soap can effectively clean your favorite coffee maker, but over time some buildup can occur. Coffee can leave an oily residue and even water spots can start to build up. These small factors can potentially impact the flavor of your coffee, which is not something we ever want.

A deep clean every now and then helps combat this. In this article, we’ll give you the ins and outs of cleaning your Chemex easily and effectively. It will allow you to keep making great tasting coffee every day.

Step-by-step instructions for cleaning a Chemex

Dump the grounds and let it cool

After finishing your coffee, dump the filter and grounds. Let the Chemex cool down. Since its main component is glass, we don’t want to shock it with a sudden change in temperature.

Disassemble

Once your Chemex is cooled, remove the wooden handle. These are designed to easily be removed by untying the leather cord.

An empty Chemex coffee maker disassembled
Loosening the leather thong lets the two halves of the wooden collar fall away from the glass. (© Bean Poet)

Scrub with soap and water

After removing the wooden handle, scrub the glass carafe with dish soap and water. Take special care on the crevice where the handle sits, since stains or deposits may start to build up there.

Soak with vinegar solution

To clean the inside of the carafe, use distilled white vinegar and water in equal amounts to fill it up. To deep clean you can let the solution sit for a few hours overnight. You can even submerge the whole carafe in a bucket to take care of grime on the outside as well.

Scrub with brush

After soaking, dump out the water and scrub with a bottle brush or one that can easily reach all parts on the inside of the carafe.

Rinse

Rinse and wash again with soap and water to remove any odd tastes.

Dry

Dry upside down with one lip propped up to allow for proper airflow.

Should you use hot or cold water?

Both methods work, but each uses a different technique for effectively cleaning the Chemex.

Cleaning a Chemex with hot water

For everyday cleaning, you can simply boil water and swirl it around. This cleans out the old coffee and makes sure the taste is not altered. For a deep clean, hot water works as well. It does not need to be boiling, since you will be scrubbing with a brush and you want to make sure not to burn your hand.

Cleaning a Chemex with cold water

Cold water does not effectively remove all the oils from the coffee as well as hot water does. However, using ice can help clean the inside without needing a brush.

For a cold-water cleaning, we recommend using ice, a couple tablespoons of table salt, a couple drops of dish soap and water.

After rinsing your Chemex, pour everything in so the carafe is about one-third full. Swirl the solution around carefully inside the carafe. The ice and salt will work together to scrub the inside and remove oils and built-up mineral residue that builds up. The ice is not too harsh on the glass, and the salt effectively scrubs the oils off.

Do you need to use soap?

While it is not required, soap is an easy and effective way for cleaning a Chemex. When combined with water and a brush, soap can easily remove all the oils and minerals on the inside walls of the carafe without the risk of any aftertaste. Just make sure to rinse thoroughly after using dish soap.

An alternative to dish soap is distilled white vinegar. It is also easy, effective and a cheap way to clean your Chemex. To use this method, pour equal amounts of water and vinegar and let the solution sit and break down the residues. We recommend rinsing again with soap and water, since vinegar has a strong taste and smell. If you choose not to, rinse thoroughly with hot water.

Is a Chemex dishwasher safe?

The Chemex can go in your dishwasher. You will want to remove the wooden collar and leather tie first, and wash the collar separately. Be very careful about positioning the Chemex in your dishwasher so that it doesn’t knock against other items during the cycle. They break easily.

Cleaning your Chemex properly can keep your coffee tasting top-quality every day. While a deep cleaning is not needed everyday, residues from the coffee can build up over time. Doba thorough cleaning every once in a while to keep your coffee tasting the best it can.

Image at top: © Bean Poet