A cared-for coffee percolator can provide you with many years of service -- even decades. Like other coffee makers, however, it requires cleaning after each use. Electric percolators need special care because they cannot be submerged in water.

Electric Percolator Care

Even though the plug can be removed from many electric percolator models, the percolator itself is not meant to be submerged in water. To clean the device, unplug it and allow it to cool completely. This basic soap-and-water method can be used to clean the inside of any type of coffee percolator or urn, including stove-top nonelectric models.

  1. Remove the cover from the cool percolator. Discard the coffee grounds and filter.
  2. Remove the basket and stem assembly from the percolator.
  3. Wash the removable parts in warm, soapy water using a mild dish soap.
  4. Rinse the loose parts, and allow them to dry completely.
  5. Pour warm, soapy water into the inside of the percolator. Wipe it out with a dishcloth or sponge.
  6. Wipe off the outside of the percolator, avoiding the area where the plug connects.
  7. Rinse the inside of the percolator, and allow it to dry completely.

Vinegar Brew

Just like other coffee makers, percolators may develop mineral deposits if you use them often. Tap water evaporates and leaves behind a white residue that may be difficult to remove by simply washing or scrubbing the percolator. Remove the residue by filling the percolator with equal parts white vinegar and water, then running a brew cycle as if you were making coffee, with all of the percolator parts intact inside the percolator. Unplug the percolator or remove it from the burner for a stove-top version. After it cools for 15 minutes or longer, pour the vinegar down the drain. Once the percolator cools completely, wash and rinse the inside with soap and water as you would after each use.

Large Urn Cleaning

Large coffee urns, such as the 100-cup size, have the spout at the bottom, which makes cleaning slightly easier.

  1. Unplug the urn and remove the cord. Allow the urn to cool completely.
  2. Remove the basket assembly and dump out the coffee grounds.
  3. Wash the basket assembly in warm water with dish soap. Rinse and dry the parts afterward.
  4. Dump out any coffee remaining in the urn.
  5. Fill the urn half full with warm water, adding a squirt or two of dish soap.
  6. Wipe the inside of the urn with a dish cloth. Use a scouring pad to clean the heating element area.
  7. Drain the water out of the urn. Fill it partway full with clean water.
  8. Open the spout and allow the water to run out of the urn, down the sink drain. Continue until the water runs clear.
  9. Wipe down the outside of the urn with a soft, damp dishcloth.

Coffee Stain Discoloration

Coffee stains on the inside of the percolator may make you want to brew your coffee in something else. Instead of just dealing with the stains, remove them by running a regular brew cycle with water, using 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream of tartar in place of the coffee. Once the percolator cools, dump the liquid and wash the inside of the percolator.