Having an automatic drip coffee maker can feel like a lifesaver for anyone who's dependant on their morning coffee. A great cup of coffee takes quality beans and the right amount of water, but it also requires a coffee maker that functions properly. One way to keep your coffee maker working its best is to keep the coffee pot burner — that little warming plate the coffee pot rests on — clean. A dirty burner can lead to rust, disfunction and a burned coffee pot, but staying on top of its maintenance is quick and easy.
Cleaning a coffee maker heating element is a fairly simple process that can be made easier with regular upkeep. The best way to stay on top of a coffee pot burner is to wipe it down with a clean, dry cloth as soon as you see anything spill on it, such as coffee or water.
If you don't have time to clean up spills as they happen, a weekly cleaning with soap and water can reduce buildup over time. If you have hard water spills that are staining your coffee pot burner, wiping it down with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water will descale mineral deposits and get the burner's surface back to normal.
Cleaning a Coffee Pot Burner
To clean a coffee pot burner, turn the coffee maker off and unplug it from the wall. The warming plate should be completely cool before you start working on it. Use a damp, lint-free cloth to wipe away coffee and water spills and other debris. Doing this should wipe away any burnt coffee that's stuck to the coffee pot burner plate, which is a good way to ensure that the coating on the plate stays intact and the coffee is heated evenly across the bottom of the coffee pot.
If you have more to clean than what a wet rag can handle, you can lift stains with baking soda, vinegar and water. To clean using these items, mix a couple of tablespoons of baking soda with a bit of water until a heavy but easily spreadable paste is formed. Then, use a toothbrush to gently scrub the mixture onto the surface of the coffee pot burner in small circular motions, paying special attention to target water stains or burnt coffee that has spilled onto the burner.
If you have particularly stubborn stains, add a bit of white vinegar to the baking soda and water mixture, let it sit and then wipe everything down with a clean, dry towel.
Sometimes, rust can build up on a coffee pot burner if stains and spills aren't cleaned up. If you see, for example, a Cuisinart coffee maker hot plate rusting, you can eliminate rusty spots by soaking the area in Coca-Cola or store-bought rust dissolver. If you have a particularly rusty plate and ended up removing the plate's surface coating, you may need to recoat the hot plate. You can do this by using a surface cleaner designed for stovetops, which won't only restore the material but can also protect it from rusting in the future.