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7 Ways You’re Shortening the Life of Your Coffee Maker

Avoid these things if you want to make sure your beloved coffee maker doesn't die on you too early.

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sink dirty dishes coffee maker

You’re not cleaning or descaling it

If you read that and instantly asked out loud, “I’m supposed to clean it?” Then guess what? First of all, you’re just like us. And second of all, you could be shortening the life of your coffee maker. The extra gunk and dust that gets into your machine can cause, overheating, calcium deposits, and even mold. Have a cleaning schedule for your machine and stick to it. Clean the glass carafe every time you use it, and follow these steps to deep cleaning your coffee maker once a month to avoid drinking mold and bacteria along with your morning cup of coffee.

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coffee grounds
Nor Gal/Shutterstock

You’re leaving old grounds in

We’re all guilty of it. You brew the pot, pour your cup, and run out the door, leaving the old, wet beans for the next person who uses it—or you, tomorrow. Not a huge deal, right? Unfortunately, not so much. “Always clean out the wet coffee grinds as soon as you’re done brewing,” Dan Scalco, creator of Food Box HQ, told Reader’s Digest. “The warm or damp conditions create a prime environment for mold and bacteria to collect.” Not only can this lead to the premature breakdown of your hard-working coffee pot, but it can also make you sick.

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french press coffee
Rybalchenko Nadezhda/Shutterstock

You’re using the wrong grind

Different pots are made for different levels of grind. Using the wrong sort can damage your coffee maker. For example, if you prefer cold brewing, a percolator, or using a French press, you’ll want a courser grind, and with drip pots, or a café solo brewer, you’ll want more of a medium grind. A finer grind is right for pour-over cones, or espresso machines. Using the wrong kind of grind can make your machine work harder than it’s designed to. Just like these 14 mistakes you’re making with your coffee pot, the wrong grind can also lead to a subpar tasting cup of coffee.

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coffee beans
mariana hadomska/Shutterstock

You’re using oily beans

Oil from inside the raw coffee bean is brought to the surface during the roasting process. All beans will have some level of oil on them, but some are more oily than others. The darker your roast, the more likely your beans will have a bit of extra oil on them. You’ll be able to tell by sight—look for the rich, shiny coating. Some people prefer that flavor, while others prefer a drier bean. One isn’t necessarily better than the other by flavor, but if you’re looking for a longer lasting coffee maker, you might want to take note. Some machines—espresso machines in particular—don’t do well with the excess oil. Espresso Machine Experts, a coffee machine repair company, recommends looking into what level of oil and roast type works best for each coffee maker and getting the coffee maker that works best for your favorite flavor of beans.

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coffee machine mug maker

You leave it on when it’s not in use

Not only does leaving it on all day waste energy, but it can also shorten the life of your coffee machine long term. The excess use of energy and continual electricity flow will wear away at your machine’s mechanics. It’s an easy mistake to make, just like these 12 common mistakes that will make your coffee taste bad. Luckily for those of us who are a bit more scatterbrained before we’ve downed our morning cup, many modern coffee machines automatically turn off when they are not in use.

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coffee pods
Rodolfo Pizzo/Shutterstock

You’re using the wrong size coffee pod on your single cup brewer

Turns out those pods aren’t as interchangeable as we thought. Each brand of coffee pod you buy is actually a different size. While many of them have evolved to sizing that fits multiple coffee machines, there are several that are not compatible with all machines. Check your k-cups, Nespresso pods, or other single serve coffee pod to be sure it fits your machine before you force it in there.

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water coffee maker machine

You’re underfilling the water tank

When there isn’t enough water in the water tank of your machine, you can run into some big problems. Regardless of whether or not your water tank is dry, once you press that “brew” button, your tank will pump for the preset amount of time. That means that if you underfill your tank, the pump will draw air into the system which puts added pressure on the mechanics and can lead to problems down the line. Another reason to fill up that machine? These 8 myths about coffee have officially been debunked and it turns out, contrary to popular belief, coffee is actually hydrating you!

Isabel Roy
Isabel Roy is a former newsletter editor at Reader’s Digest who writes and reports on home, culture and general interest stories. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse in 2017 with a B.A. in Rhetoric and Writing.