How to Clean a Chemex

Using a Chemex is a fantastic brew method, but due to its uniqueness of it, it can be rather tricky to clean. That’s why today I’m going to show you how to clean a Chemex step-by-step.

dirty chemex

The truth is, the cool beaker-like design is great to look at, but it can be hard to access the inner workings to scrub them. Making sure that all of your previous batch of coffee is removed is just the first step in completely cleansing your Chemex.

removing chemex grip

Keeping your Chemex coffee brewer clean will ensure it has a long life making great-tasting coffee. We’ve put together this short guide to let you in on a few must-know tricks and tips for when it’s time to clean your Chemex.

Soap and Water

The number one way to avoid a build-up of bacteria in your Chemex is by thoroughly cleaning it after each and every use. One of the most effective, and arguably the simplest, methods of cleaning your Chemex is with soap, water, and a brush.

cleaning chemex with soap and water

Ideally, you want to use a brush with soft bristles and an arm long enough to allow you to scrub the internal walls and corners. After scrubbing it’s essential to rinse thoroughly to avoid the risk of any soapy flavors contaminating your next batch.

A Hot Rinse

While less meticulous than the method outlined above this technique still cleans your Chemex, it just doesn’t sanitize it. Simply boil some water, pour it into the Chemex, and swirl it around for a minute or two. This hot rinse will flush out all of the old coffee and prevent your next batch from having its taste altered or impaired by the last batch. For that simple purpose, the hot rinse technique is more than enough.

A Cold Rinse

For this method, you will require a full pint of ice, around two tablespoons of table salt, two or three drops of liquid dish soap, and water. The first step is to make sure that there is no residual coffee left in your Chemex. Then pour in the ice, salt, and liquid dish soap and mix it all up. Next, you’ll want to fill up Chemex with water, about a third of the way full should be enough.

Once you start to swirl you should see a froth start to develop. The swirling ice applies the right amount of force to scrub the coffee oils and residue off the glass, without risking scuffing it, and the table salt acts as a mild abrasive to help get rid of any coffee stains and mineral residue from the water. If your Chemex is really in need of deep cleaning, you will want to swirl for a minute or two longer.

White Vinegar Flush

Many Chemex users find a white vinegar solution to be an easy, effective, and economical means of cleaning. For this method, you will need to pour around 2 ounces more than your average batch of coffee white vinegar into your Chemex and let it soak.

cleaning chemex with white vinegar

After approximately thirty minutes to one hour rinse it thoroughly with soap and water, or just water if you prefer, and leave it to dry. It’s recommended that you leave it out to dry overnight in a well-ventilated area so that the vinegar taste and smell will naturally air out. When doing this, it is important that you rest part of the lip of your Chemex on an object.

airing chemex out

This is because if the lip is completely flat, there will be no airflow and it will cause condensation and in the worst case, molding. Be sure to prop up one side of your Chemex to avoid this happening.

Use A Dishwasher – If It’s Safe To Do So!

The majority of Chemex are dishwasher safe. So, if you check your and the manufacturer has approved the use of a dishwasher, then go right ahead. Being cleaned in a dishwasher can leave your Chemex looking immaculate, but it’s important to be extremely cautious due to the delicate body of the Chemex. If you do decide that you want to wash your Chemex in the dishwasher, you should definitely remove the collar and tie it before loading it in.

So, there you have it. Now you know a variety of ways to keep your Chemex clean, you’ll be able to treat your taste buds to the best quality coffee that it deserves. Remember, there’s nothing quite like the taste of coffee that’s been brewed in a Chemex.

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Nathan is the founder of The Darkest Roast (featured in the NY Times, Yahoo, and Tasting Table). He is a self-taught coffee expert and has tried 100s of coffees from around the world. Nathan's goal is to help you find the best coffee, so you only drink the best.