How to clean a French press — your guide to a sparkling cafetière

Take a shot at cleaning your cafetière properly

A brass colored Bodum French Press coffee maker
(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

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

1. First, let your French press cool down

A used Bodum French press in white kitchen

A used Bodum French press

(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

Take this time to sip and savor your beautifully-crafted beverage alone or with friends.

2. Empty the grounds

A Bodum French Press with plunging lid removed

A Bodum French Press with plunging lid removed

(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

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.

Christina Chrysostomou dumping spent coffee grounds from Bodum French press into a food waste bin

Christina Chrysostomou dumping spent coffee grounds from Bodum French press into a food waste bin

(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

3. Fill the French press with lukewarm soapy water

Filling French press glass jug with lukewarm water

Filling the French press glass jug with lukewarm water

(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

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

Christina Chrysostomou plunging French press coffee maker in white kitchen

Plunging French press coffee maker to distribute soapy solution and cut through coffee oils

(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

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

Christina Chrysostomou pouring soapy mixture out of French press

Christina Chrysostomou pouring soapy mixture out of French press

(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

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

A close-up of Christina Chrysostomou using paper towel to wipe down a French press

A close-up of Christina Chrysostomou using paper towel to wipe down a French press

(Image credit: Future / Christina Chrysostomou)

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.

FAQs

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

Image of Digital Writer Christina Chrysostomou
Christina Chrysostomou

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 (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.

Christina Chrysostomou
Acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket. I'm the in-house appliances expert and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.

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