Easy Ways To Clean A Permanent Coffee Filter

The truth is – we all adore our precious coffee makers, but they DO get dirty. This includes filters too.

As the coffee brews, filter baskets can accumulate a buildup of oils from the grounds. Those oils can go stale and, eventually, turn your coffee into a sour, bitter mess.  While people understand drip coffee makers must be cleaned, they often overlook the filter. That’s why, giving a little bit of attention to your coffee filter, every once in a while, is a topic we’ll talk about today.

There are many ways to clean this part of a coffee maker (how you will do it depends on the type of the filter as well).

In general, you’ll never make a mistake with natural ingredients – good options are vinegar and citric acid (lemon juice). You may leave your filter in these for around half an hour and then rinse the filter under warm water. Alcohol works well too.

Another option would be to soak it in baking soda to dissolve the oils. Just make sure you rinse the filter thoroughly after each cleaning process.

How to clean different types of filters


Metal coffee filters are easy to clean because all the stains are very visible.

Attention! – Have in mind that a term we use as “metal” refers to stainless steel, not aluminum (baking soda is the worst possible thing you can use on any aluminum surface).

Make sure you’ve taken all the components apart before you start cleaning and never use harsh cleansers that can ruin the finish.

Cleaning metal coffee filter with vinegar vs baking soda guide
Cleaning metal coffee filter with vinegar vs baking soda guide

Cleaning metal coffee filter with baking soda

Soak your metal filter for a few minutes in hot soapy water. Then, use a small bit of baking soda mixed with water to remove any remaining stains from the filter. Gently scrub the object, rinse it and allow it to air dry completely.

Cleaning process with vinegar

Put your coffee filter in a mix of equal parts warm water and vinegar and allow the filter to soak for a few minutes. To give the metal shine and remove the dirt leftovers gently scrub the filter with your brush. Another handy tip is to mix a bit of baking soda into the vinegar solution. Foam is a good way to get rid of all the persistent stains lingering on the filter.

Make sure to rinse and allow to dry thoroughly.

Extra tip:
Use a nonabrasive scrubby sponge as a cleaning tool. An alternative solution is a toothbrush or any other small brush with plastic bristles to help lift stains and degrease the filter.

Plastic Basket Filters

Plastic coffee filter baskets are quite handy, just like metal and gold ones. Having them around means you support nature and you don’t produce waste. We recommend two basic ways to clean your plastic coffee filter.

Make sure to remove any leftover coffee grounds by rinsing the filter basket. Afterward, fill the sink with hot water and add 2 cups of white vinegar per gallon of hot water. Then put the basket in the sink and leave it to soak for at least 15 minutes. Wash the filter with warm, soapy water and a clean cloth. Use a gentle brush or sponge and repeat the process until all the persistent stains are gone.

The other way? People swear in Krud Kutter! Spray your plastic filter with it and use a toothbrush to scrub a bit. The cleaning goes smoothly and requires not much of a strength to scrub. This concentrated cleaner is non-toxic and a good thing is it won’t leave any taste or smell. Use an old toothbrush to get to the tiniest parts of a filter and once you are done, rinse well.

Gold Filters

With gold and gold-tone coffee filters, there’s a little bit of magic going on – they can actually improve the flavor of the coffee because they don’t absorb flavors or oils from the coffee grounds. On that note, it is essential to regularly clean a gold filter as it preserves the flavor of the coffee. Another valid reason not to neglect the cleaning part is the fact that acids in the coffee damage gold filters easily.

You can clean your gold filter in a dishwasher or by hand. Throw away the coffee grounds and run the filter under hot water until all the grounds are washed out. Place it in a dishwasher on the top rack to keep the plastic parts safe (they may melt).

If you prefer doing it by yourself use a bit of dishwashing liquid and pour it over the filter. By using a soft scrubber or a gentle brush, clean the inner and outer side of a golden net delicately and carefully. Rinse the filter completely until all the soap residue is gone.

Extra tip!
We advise you to check your gold-tone filter for damage, on a regular bases. Cracks in the basket or tears in the mesh often occur. This can damage your coffee machine and ruin your cup of coffee.

Pros & Cons of different types of coffee filters

different types of coffee filters comparison
Cloth coffee filters yield a lighter and cleaner coffee than metal.

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Metal vs Plastic vs Cloth

The fundamental fact to have in mind while choosing a coffee maker with a certain type of filter is that different filters affect the final coffee flavor.

Metal filters

Metal filters have holes that can easily absorb micro-fines (tiny granules of coffee that are small enough to slip through the holes of the filter). This affects the final coffee taste giving it a bit darker note. Whoever prefers a more bold and rich coffee cup, a metal filter is a way to go. The brew will have coffee settled at the bottom of the cup, leaving a bit of sediment (like French press or Turkish coffee). We can’t skip the fact metal filters are extremely durable so they will last for years before the coffee buildup corrode it.

Paper Filters

Paper filters are much finer, giving you a light, brighter cup, both in appearance and flavor. Their structure traps the micro-fines and usually captures most of the oils. Coffee brewed through a paper filter can often be described as more sweet and fruity, so if this is something you are delighted with, a paper filter should be your choice.

Health concerns

The fact that paper filters are tightly woven, filtering out most of the oils and micro-grounds,  can be both a good and a bad thing.

You will hear numerous health experts recommending paper coffee filters because they reduce the amount of cafestol, a coffee oil that’s been implicated in raising cholesterol levels. This feature sets them aside as better ones comparing to metal filters. On the other hand, bleached paper filters may leach dioxin into your coffee, a hazardous chemical used in bleaching. So maybe, a good idea would be choosing a healthier option.


To sum it up – Whether you are going to pick a paper or a metal filter depends mostly on how you like your coffee.  The key factor is taste. If you wish to try out thick and rich coffee flavor go for a metal filter, while paper ones will give you refined, less oily thinner brew.

The finely weaved cloth filter catches all of the coffee grounds but barely absorbs and coffee oils. These types of filters are rare but if you decide to use them, you will be satisfied as they have more positive features than tricky ones.

Go green! – Cloth filters make zero waste and are more than affordable. They cost as much as a package of paper or tea filters but last longer. You will find them in practical and simple packaging to ensure the green policy.

They are eco-friendly – Most of these filters are made of hemp and organic cotton mix that will endure hundreds of uses. Materials are always sustainable and responsibly manufactured.

For light and easy brew – Cloth filters remove more of the bitter sediment leaving you with bright and fruity coffee flavor. If it’s something you think you would enjoy, there’s a reason to try out a product not so many coffee lovers use.

Be careful while cleaning – Make sure you always empty the grounds before rinsing and allowing to air-dry. Also, have in mind cloth filters require specific care – thorough wash between brews is a must and you shouldn’t let them dry out too much or stay too moist.

We hope we helped with some useful tips on how to treat the most important part of your coffee machine. Why THE most important, you may wonder? Because the final flavor of your coffee depends on what type of filter you use. Think about this before buying a coffee machine and once you do it, make sure to keep your filter clean and well-kept

cup full of coffee

It will be your key ally for a delicious coffee cup.


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