How to Clean a French Press

Just as failing to clean the basket of an automatic drip coffee maker can result in stale tasting brew, using an unclean French press will do the same thing.

While some think that simply rinsing out their press pot with hot water will do the trick, you actually need to cleanse it well to keep stale odors and flavors at bay.

The culprit is the large amount of oils extracted from coffee grounds while using a French press, which tend to cling to the carafe and filter unless soap and a bit of scrubbing are involved.

Fortunately, cleaning out a French press doesn't take a ton of time, and you'll be glad you did it to get a clean tasting brew.

​Washing the Filter and Plunger

The filter of your French press will get the most gunky -- after all, it's what comes into contact with the coffee grounds. Here's the best way to clean your filter quickly and efficiently.

  1. Unscrew the filter slightly from the plunger. If you can't unscrew it, simply go to the next step.​
  2. Separately rinse the filter screen and plunger under hot running water to remove stuck on grounds.
  3. Rub a drop or two of dish soap over the plunger rod and screen, being gentle so you don't bend the filter out of shape.
  4. Take a sponge or dish cloth and clean the top of the French press, paying careful attention to the pour spout.
  5. Rinse all of the soap off the filter, top, and plunger -- you don't want a soapy taste in your coffee.

Keeping the Carafe Clean

Cleaning the carafe of your insulated coffee press is the easiest part of maintaining it.

After you've dumped the used coffee grounds into your trash can or compost heap -- putting them down the sink can clog it -- rinse it out with hot water.

Then take a non abrasive sponge or cloth, put a bit of dish soap on it, and swipe the inside of the carafe clean.

Do a once over on the handle and outside of the French press as well to ensure you get any drips on it that you may not have noticed.

Rinse the soap off, and you'll be good to go. You can certainly let the carafe air dry, but if you're particular about fingerprints hand dry it with a lint-free dish towel.

The Super Quick Method

If you're short on time, here's a quick way to clean your press pot.

As long as you thoroughly clean it using the above method at least once a week, you should be fine doing this on days when you've got to hurry.

Dispose of your coffee grounds, rinse out the carafe with hot water, rinse off the plunger and filter without unscrewing the pieces apart, and then put a few drops of soap into the carafe.

Fill it half-way with hot water, put in the plunger, and then gently plunge it up and down a few times to help get off any remaining grounds and oils.

Pour out the soapy water and rinse all pieces of the French press thoroughly before setting it aside to dry.

Using a Dishwasher

If you have a French press or insulated coffee press that's dishwasher safe, you can certainly pop it into your machine instead of washing the coffee maker by hand.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Unscrew the filter from the plunger, and place the plunger rod and filters into your dishwasher's silverware basket.
  2. If you can't unscrew the filter, fully extend the plunger and place the whole thing on the top rack of your dishwasher.
  3. Place the carafe of the French press in the top rack of your dishwasher if possible. If it's too tall to fit, place it on the bottom rack away from the silverware basket to prevent your flatware and utensils from bumping up against it.
  4. Put the French press through your normal washing and drying cycles and take it out once the dishwasher has stopped. You may notice some water at the bottom of your French press, but that will come out once you sit it upright.​

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