How to Clean Your French Press (A Smart Way to Remove Used Grounds Inside)

how to clean a french press

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Anybody who has ever used a French Press coffee maker is already too familiar with the arduous task of cleaning the thing. A big clump of wet coffee grounds at the bottom of a cylinder that my hand is too fat to fit in is a mess waiting to happen.

Why don’t I just rinse the grounds down the garbage disposal? Well, I would, but apparently, that is a faux pas, as it may clog my garbage disposal/sink. Otherwise, believe me, I would do that.

There is also more to cleaning a French Press than simply emptying out the used coffee grounds. Like any coffee maker out there, you need to give a thorough cleaning from time to time to prevent bitter, bad-tasting coffee from brewing on a consistent basis. So let’s outline the steps to cleaning a French Press below.

  1. Remove Used Grounds
  2. Disassemble and Soak
  3. Scrub
  4. Dry

In the following sections, I will illustrate how you can properly clean a french press, and also how to make this chore easier. So read on!

What Do You Need To Properly Clean a French Press?

  • A nonmetal spatula: for scrape out the spent ground
  • A mesh sink strainer:  if you are lazy to scoop out the used grounds
  • Dish soap: To remove the oil in the vessel
  • Water: obvious you are going to need water.
  • Sponge and/or bottle brush
  • Baking soda (optional): if you want your french press to be extra clean.

How to Clean a French Press: Step by Step

1. Remove Used Grounds

Ok, I realize this may be an obvious step, but for many people, the best way to remove coffee grounds from a French Press isn’t so obvious.

Since we now know that grounds shouldn’t go in your sink or garbage disposal, the best place to dispose of them is a good old-fashioned garbage can. If you want to be really politically correct, toss them into a compost bin.

If you can’t get all of the grounds out by simply tapping the bottom of your French Press, you should use a long spoon, spatula, or brush to scoop out the remainder. By the way, a little bit of ground coffee won’t hurt your sink…so feel free to wash any remaining coffee grounds down the sink.

If this still sounds like an awful process to you, consider purchasing the Tambaroo (make sure you get the right size). It is a cool little device that you can place at the bottom of your french press to catch used grounds and easily dispose of them afterward. Check it out below:

How to remove coffee grounds from a french press even easier

If you are just too lazy to dig out all the spent grounds in the vessel or buy a french press ground collector on amazon.
You can try the following method, it is just quick and easy: All you need to do is to get a small sieve or fine mesh sink strainer!
Here’ how it works:

  1. Put a little water in the french press
  2. Swirl the french press around
  3. Dump it right in the strainer.

Since you grind coarsely for French press coffee, it forms a pile and doesn’t run through the strainer.

Sieve to remove coffee ground from a french press

2. Disassemble and Soak

Go ahead and separate all of your French Press components (the lid, plunger, plunger screen, cylinder) and submerge in hot water with light dish soap or baking soda. Many coffee snobs use baking soda because it could never compromise the long-term taste of the brewed coffee. However, if you decide to use dish soap you should be fine. Just make sure to rinse it thoroughly…nobody wants to taste soap in their coffee (or anything else for that matter).

If you want to get really fancy, you should consider a coffee machine cleaning powder like Urnex Cafiza. The stuff is apparently great (although we’ve never tried it). It’s supposed to get rid of all leftover oils that coffee inevitably leaves behind. Leftover coffee oils can be particularly problematic with a French PRess.

3. Scrub a Dub Dub

Using a small brush that won’t scratch up your beautiful glass French Press, scrub along the inside walls of the carafe thoroughly with the warm water/baking soda solution (or soap). Next, give your plunger and plunger screen a thorough scrubbing, making sure that all remaining coffee grounds are removed.

4. Dry

Keeping the parts separated, lay all of the pieces out on a drying rack. Or, if you need to use the coffee maker immediately, you can dry everything off with a dishtowel. Please note: this is easier for people with little hands.

 

More To Note…

Can you put the French Press into a dishwasher?

Most French Presses are dishwasher safe, so feel free to use one if you are lazy. Still, be careful if yours is made of glass.

Is it OK to put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal?

Nope, please collect your used grounds and throw them into the trash can. The coffee grounds will accumulate in drains and pipes, and eventually clog your garbage disposal. Another thing to note, the coffee grounds won’t harm the garbage disposal and they’ll actually help eliminate odors though. Despite that, do not do it.

best way to dispose of coffee grounds from a french press

Find a compost bin around you. If that isn’t an option, rinse the grounds, then spread them directly over your garden/plants (including indoor plants!).

If you don’t do any gardening and don’t have a lawn that could benefit, give them to a friend or neighbor who can make use of it.

If none of the above is applicable, throw them in the trash.

You may want to put the grinds for the french press in a container and let them dry out first (to avoid excess water/weight in your trash).

The larger chunks will act as a natural deodorizer, but the soggy base will start to grow mold, so toss it sometime before that happens.

Conclusion

Now it’s your turn…how do you clean your French Press? Please share in the comments below!

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  • Coffee grounds probably won’t harm the garbage disposal, but they are likely to clog the drain line, resulting in a costly call to a plumber or drain cleaning service. The waterlogged grounds are heavy and they tend to settle in j-traps and sections of the drain lines with a small gradient. A few stray particles probably won’t do any harm, but dumping the grounds in bulk from any kind of coffeemaker is asking for trouble. I’ve seen the problems this can cause in a few office break room situations where employees carelessly dumped the filter basket full of wet grounds into the sink, instead of into the wastebasket.

  • Hi – I got a stainless steel french press for Christmas and want to start off keeping the coffee oils from building up. I am wondering if soaking in vinegar/water will harm it? I use this method with my automatic coffee maker to remove the oils. Thanks

    • No, it shouldn’t harm it. You could also use baking soda with hot water as an alternative to vinegar with hot water. Just make sure you dilute whichever one you use and only soak, don’t scrub.

  • I dump mine down the drain everyday for the last fifteen years. No clogs. No problems. Im on city sewer. I do not have a personal septic tank. I have a suburban house.

  • I have hard water deposits/buildup around the plastic exterior of my coffee press. What’s the easiest and safest way to clean off the deposits? I used to use a razor blade, but found this very time consuming.

      • I have not yet. Thinking about wrapping a paper towel soaked in vinegar around the outside and leaving it for a few hours. Do you think that will help dissolve the deposits? Has anyone else tried this?

    • I use distilled water. I look at it this way. Imagine that water doing the same to the inside of your body… Not happening. Distilled water and no problems.

  • Between proper cleans, I sometimes put hot water and washing up liquid in the cafetiere and then work the plunger vigorously up and down. It gets the thing clean and produces a fountain of suds, which is fun. I’ve been told that because coffee grounds are made up of small quite jagged particles they actually act to scour the wastepipe on the sink. Dunno if it’s true, but it eases my conscience.

  • I had a seriously clogged mesh screen that I considered replacing, but soaked it for a few minutes in CLR and it’s good as new. I’m not patient with thorough daily cleanings and the oils can really build up and make the “press” a workout.

  • I have some old galvanized pipes so am careful what goes down the drain. I use a small, fine strainer. Put some water in the press and pour over the strainer. Duscard/recycle the grounds. It may take a few times but works great.

  • Question: I have never removed the screen itself from the plunger, but I scrub it every time I wash it with a toothbrush used for just that purpose, with it still on the plunger. I haven’t yet, but I will take your advice and soak it in baking soda water. Is that sufficient?

  • There is no way of taking the glass carafe out of the Bodum CHAMBORD press. Does this prevent you from cleaning it well?

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