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how to clean your coffee grinder (do you need to clean your coffee grinder?)

Whirling blade–style coffee grinders are cheap and useful for lots of things besides grinding coffee—such as grinding spices. But since you can’t immerse an electric grinder in water, how do you get it clean? The short answer: bread, rice, sugar, or salt!

And yes, you do need to clean that coffee grinder, ideally pretty frequently. It may not get as disgusting or dangerous as your smelly kitchen sponge, but old coffee oils and residue can mute or muck up the taste of your fresh coffee beans, tanking your dreams of the perfect pour-over. So, how do you get rid of that gunk?

We still stand by the Chowhound community advice dished out in 2013:

Simply grind something else in it that will absorb the oils and odors without adding any of its own. Chowhound escondido123 recommended a piece of bread. Meanwhile, chileheadmike suggested kosher salt, and scubadoo97 spoke up for instant white rice—but make sure it’s instant (parboiled) rice, not regular rice, or it might break your grinder, according to chefj. Sugar also works well to absorb oils and odors, whether from coffee or other spices, ellabee said.

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How to clean your coffee grinder:

1. Knock excess grounds out of the grinder.

2. Grind the neutral, absorbent substance of your choice into a fine powder. That can be a slice of white bread, instant (parboiled) white rice, kosher salt, or sugar. About 1/4 cup should be enough.

3. Dump that in the compost (or trash).

4. Unplug the grinder and wipe it out with a dry paper towel, then a damp one, then another dry one (or use a clean, lint-free kitchen towel). You can repeat the grinding and wiping process if it looks like there’s still residue left.

5. Let the grinder air dry before you put the lid back on (and don’t forget to give that a wash or wipe-down too).

Tip: If your grinder was particularly smelly (say, if you have one you use for spices), kimeats suggests wiping it out with vinegar to eradicate any lingering odor.

Of course, if you’re a coffee snob connoisseur, you’ve probably upgraded to a pricier piece of equipment; if so, you can still try the rice trick, but here’s how to deep clean your burr grinder. And if you’re in the market for one, check out CNET’s guide to the best coffee grinders you can buy right now.

Also see our round-up of the best coffee subscriptions, and some other expert coffee equipment to improve your brew!

Related Video: How to Pull the Perfect Espresso

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