How To Clean Your French Press So Your Coffee Tastes Better

Contrary to the pleas of bleary-eyed drip coffee drinkers in offices around America, the French press is one of the easiest ways to make coffee. It doesn't require you to rinse out the little filter after every serving like an espresso machine does, it doesn't call for additional filters (sold separately), and it doesn't need to be carefully coddled over a stovetop to prevent burning. French press coffee requires only hot water, coffee grounds, a few minutes, and a good push. It can also double as a tool for French press coffee-infused recipes and even French press cocktails.

But despite the French press' ease of use, cleaning it can be a little confusing. You might be tempted to simply rinse out the coffee grounds and call it a day. Or perhaps you take a sponge and soap to the carafe, only to find yourself boggled by the wire coils and mesh of the plunger, which seem designed to avoid easy cleaning. But taking advantage of the plunger is actually the key to cleaning your French press, and it will help your coffee taste better by avoiding contamination from coffee residue stuck to your plunger. Add soap, plunge to a froth, and rinse thoroughly.

How to clean your French press

When you're ready to clean your French press, the first step is to empty the grounds into the trash — or use them for compost if that's accessible to you. Rinse any remaining grounds out of the carafe and plunger tines with water, then add a small amount of dish soap and some warm water to your carafe. Work the plunger up and down a few times, agitating the soapy mixture and getting it into the mesh of the plunger. Once it's nice and foamy, you can rinse out your French press again and wipe it down with a sponge.

Rinsing your French press and wiping it down with a soapy sponge is fine for daily use, but you should try to deep clean your French press once a week if you use it every morning. The oils in coffee can stick to your French press and go rancid, making your coffee taste off. Keeping your French press clean is the only way to ensure that you're only drinking that day's fresh grounds, and it's easy to incorporate an extra cleaning into your weekly routine.

Deep cleaning your French press

To really deep clean your French press, however, you'll need to take it apart and clean each section individually, as coffee grinds can get caught in between the layers of the plunger, and coffee residue can build up in hard-to-reach places. To really get in there, loosen your plunger all the way until the layers of mesh separate and the plunger disconnects from the metal rod attached to the lid. Rinse each layer separately and wipe each one down with a soapy sponge — then reassemble your plunger and set it out to dry.

You may also be able to clean your French press in the dishwasher, but check your particular brand to make sure it's dishwasher safe. If it is, stick your carafe and plunger separately on the top rack of your dishwasher and run it with the rest of your dishes.

If you really want to thoroughly clean your French press, you can make a cleaning solution from hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, citric acid, and dish soap. You'll want to take your plunger apart and soak it in the solution overnight, then finish with an additional hot water and soap rinse in the morning. If you don't have all those ingredients, washing your carafe and plunger with a fifty-fifty white vinegar and water solution will help combat hard water buildup and coffee residue.