Knowing how to clean a French press (aka cafetière) is one of those things that everyone should know how to do. This machine-less coffee maker is the secret to delicious and easy-to-brew coffee, so knowing your way around clean-up will make early starts and lazy weekends run silky smooth.
This small coffee maker was invented in the 19th century, but there have been tons of improvements in the way that they are designed to make cleaning them a fairly effortless process. Usually complete with stainless steel, copper, or brass finishes, they look fancy, too. So even if you have a pod coffee machine that you can clean easily, it's good to know how to maintain this portable coffee maker when you're hosting a few friends and would prefer to take the plunge.
Note, if you don't clean your coffee-making equipment, you could end up with a gritty-textured or rancid-tasting cup next time round. You have been warned.
How to clean a French Press
Good to know
A press pot is basically a heatproof jug made from borosilicate glass with a built-in filter. But soaking coarse grounds in this useful kitchen gadget comes with a little maintenance... and sometimes the sediment can settle to the bottom.
Here's what you'll need
- A soft silicone spatula (like the ones in this set from Amazon) (opens in new tab) or fine mesh strainer (like this set from Amazon) (opens in new tab)
- Access to a sink with running water from the faucet
- An electric kettle (optional)
- Your trash can or a compost bin (this one is highly rated on Amazon) (opens in new tab)
- Your favorite dish soap (opens in new tab) — has to be Method for me!
- A soft sponge or bottle brush — the Mama Bear bottle brush from Amazon (opens in new tab) kills two birds with one stone!
- Paper towel
- A dish towel— Aunt Martha's (on Amazon) is where it's at (opens in new tab)
1. First, let your French press cool down
Take this time to sip and savor your beautifully-crafted beverage alone or with friends.
2. Empty the grounds
Remove the top of the French press so you can begin the cleaning process. You can either use the spatula to remove coffee grounds or use the strainer over the sink. Pop these in your food waste container, repurpose them as a kitchen cleaner, or use coffee as compost in your backyard. Just don't pour them down the sink as you could cause drainage problems that could clog up your home's sewage system.
3. Fill the French press with lukewarm soapy water
You can either use equal parts hot and cold water from your faucet, or fill your French press with an equal ratio of water temps from your tea kettle. Then, add a squeeze of liquid dish soap and pop the top back on. I like using an eco-friendly cleaning product when washing a small kitchen appliance, personally.
4. Plunge, plunge, and plunge again
Plunge a couple of times so that the dishwashing detergent and water mix together to create a soapy solution. This simple action will cut through the natural coffee oils and do 99% of the work for you.
5. Pour it all away and rinse
Drain the murky mixture and rinse the French press out with fresh water from your tap. You can then go in with your bottle brush or soft sponge as you would normally to handwash your other kitchen utensils and pans. Make sure you rinse it sufficiently, removing all the suds.
6. Dry your French press
Use a few pieces of paper towel to dry your French press, inside and out. You can let it air fry on a drying rack, but if the water is hard in your area, it may leave stains.
Can I put coffee plunger in the dishwasher?
This will depend on what materials your French press is made from. In most cases, you can put the borosilicate glass, plastic, and chrome parts into the dishwasher without any damage to the respective components. Always check the beaker for scratches, chips, or cracks before using it again.
Meet our experts
Hey, I'm Christina, one of the ecommerce editors at Real Homes. As well as having a bean-to-cup coffee maker, I make my coffee in the Bodum 1928-16US4 Chambord French Press Coffee Maker (opens in new tab) (available on Amazon), which holds 34 ounces. My favorite ground coffee is from Monmouth Coffee in London or failing that, the Taylor's of Harrogate coffee which is available in any good UK supermarket.