The list of things you need to clean is endless, so it can be easy to forget (or keep putting off cleaning) smaller items, like your coffee grinder. But that needs love too. So find out the easiest way to clean your coffee grinder with something you already have in your pantry.
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!
Why You Need to Clean Your Coffee Grinder
Yes, you really 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.
How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Coffee Grinder?
How often you need to clean it depends on how frequently you use it, but whenever you notice build-up, that’s a sure sign that it’s time. You should also clean it if you’re grinding a new roast or totally different type of beans so nothing muddles the flavor. Otherwise, plan on every two weeks at least, and perhaps more like once a week.
So, How Do You Get Rid of the 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.
Hamilton Beach Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder, $16.99 from Amazon
A super-affordable blade-style model that's a best-seller on Amazon.
OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder, $99.95 from Amazon
CNET's pick for best burr grinder based on performance and price.
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). Or, save them to use in your garden.
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.
Related Reading: 8 Places in Your Kitchen You Can Clean with Vinegar
What About Burr Grinders?
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 if you’re out of other options, but it’s not recommended. Here’s how to properly 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.
Related Video: How to Make a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Home
Sarah Perry wrote the original version of this story in 2013. It has been updated with additional images, links, and text.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.