How to Clean a French Press

French press coffee has been popular for a long time now with even the most casual of coffee fans, largely owing to the brewing method’s accessibility. Both the press itself and the grounds for it are low cost, and it’s very easy to use. While other brewing methods aren’t quite so forgiving with allowing pre-ground coffee, the French Press is.

The resulting coffee is also great for almost level of fan. It’s often a very mild and delicate cup that very few people find too strong.

It does have one big flaw however, and that’s the clean-up operation needed. Anyone who has done French Press before will be all too familiar with the gunky and lava-like mess of coffee left at the foot of the carafe after use, and how tedious it can be to dispose of the grounds and clean the press in a tidy but efficient manner.

Not cleaning your press properly can leave residual grounds and oils to harm the quality of your next brew. This is very common with all brewing methods, and French Press is no different.

Not only this but, like with anything that processes hot water, it can be vulnerable to hard water or limescale buildup.

Fortunately with the right tools the process can be made a lot easier. Here’s my guide on how to clean a French Press.

Note that it’s important that you don’t try to wash these down the sink. While a few grounds are harmless, washing the lot down there can risk creating a build-up and clogging it up.

french press coffee grounds

You will need:

  • Spatula
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Kitchen/Paper towels
  • Sponge and/or bottle brush
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar


Let’s get cleaning this thing…

Once you had your coffee, wait for your French Press to cool completely. Hopefully it goes without saying that handling it while it’s still hot is less than ideal.

Place a kitchen towel on your kitchen surface, and layer on another couple of towels. Use a spatula to dig out the grounds and pile on top of the towels. Once you have removed all your grounds, wrap up the towels around the grounds and transfer to your garbage or bin.

We’ll start with the easiest part, which is the carafe (the main glass/plastic barrel of the press). With the plunger still in, fill the carafe with warm soapy water. Use the plunger to lather up the water by plunging it up and down. Not only will this help create turbulence in the carafe, but it will help disturb the grounds stuck in the mesh filter of the plunger.

Tip out the water and use a sponge or brush to scrub the inside of the carafe and the plunger.. Rinse the carafe with soapy water once more, and use the plunger to plunge again. Rinse out until the water runs clean.

Disassemble the plunger. You can usually do this by unscrewing the plunger end of its stem. If your plunger has a metal plate or frame then you should also be able to separate this from the mesh filter.

Create a mix of water and baking soda. We want a fairly paste-like consistency, so you only want a little bit of water. Dip your sponge or brush in the paste and then scrub each individual plunger piece with it. Once you have scrubbed them, rinse each piece thoroughly until there is no paste left on them.

Finally, we need to use a bit of vinegar to get rid of any hard water or limescale buildup. Create a mix of vinegar and water, with a ratio of 1:1. Use this to scrub the plunger, lid, and inside of the carafe. Rinse thoroughly with warm water to get rid of any lingering vinegar.

Leave all parts disassembled to dry. Once completely dry, reassemble.



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