9 Tips Maintain and Clean a French Press
The French press is such an easy to use coffee brewing device, that cleaning and maintaining it properly can often be overlooked by coffee lovers.
However, just because the humble French press is not as complicated or expensive as an authentic espresso machine, doesn’t mean it still needs some TLC to perform at its best!
So, let’s dive into how to maintain and clean a French press properly, so you can brew great coffee consistently!
Why Do People Use a French Press?
The French press has been around for centuries in one form or another! In the early 1900s, the French press design we all know and love today was first brought to the European market.
Since then, the French press has grown in popularity due to its versatility, ease of use and how easy it is to scale up coffee brewing. Nowadays, it is a mainstay in kitchens all over the globe!
French presses are great tools for brewing coffee, as they offer a fuss free way to get great results time after time.
Since the French press brews coffee using immersion extraction rather than percolation, you need to grind your coffee beans more coarsely than methods such as pour over, moka pot or espresso machine.
This makes the French press a very forgiving way to brew coffee, since it is harder to over extract your coffee grounds compared to other brewing methods.
If you would like to learn more about how to use a French press properly, check out this article.
Why is it Important to Maintain and Clean Your French Press?
Just because the French press is simple to use, doesn’t mean you should neglect cleaning it properly! In fact, the mesh and plunger mechanism in a French press can very easily get clogged up with silt, residue and stale coffee oils, that can all go rancid pretty quickly!
If you don’t clean your French press regularly, you’ll end up with a bitter, stale tasting brew before you even start, and even worse… your French press could go mouldy!
So, check out the top French press cleaning and maintenance tips below to get the best out of yours!
If you use a French press regularly to brew your morning coffee, check out this article I wrote on the 13 most common French press mistakes and how to avoid them!
How Often to Clean Your French Press?
A commonly asked question when it comes to French press cleaning and maintenance, is how often should you actually clean your French press?
Well, French presses should be cleaned out after every brew, and deep cleaned at least once per week if used every day.
The reason for this is that, leaving any coffee oils or residue to build up in your French press will lead to pretty distasteful results in your next brew.
Since you’ll already have to discard your coffee grounds after using your French press anyway, it makes sense to give it a quick clean too. However, if you use your French press daily, you should also give it a deep clean weekly to ensure there is no unwanted staining or oil build up that your regular clean may have missed.
If you use your French press only every so often, then you can deep clean it on a monthly basis.
Want to get the best coffee out of your French press every time you use it?! Check out the 15 best coffee beans for French press here!
9 Top Tips to Maintain and Clean Your French Press Properly
So, here are 9 top tips to improve your French press cleaning and maintenance skills immediately!
1. Completely Dismantle Your French Press When Cleaning
The first key tip to get the best out of your French press, is to completely dismantle it when cleaning. This is something that many coffee lovers don’t know how to do, so don’t worry if you’ve never managed it before!
Remove your plunger from the carafe (glass container), and unscrew the plunging rod from the bottom.
This will reveal the mesh strainer, pitcher, cross plate, spiral plate, lid and rod. Usually, lots of oils and residue build up between the strainer, cross plate and spiral plate, as these are the pieces of the French press that separate the ground coffee from your cup.
They are also screwed together tightly, so often don’t get cleaned properly!
If you are deep cleaning your French press, take these individual parts and clean thoroughly using warm soapy water, a baking soda solution or purified vinegar, to ensure any coffee residue is removed completely.
2. Don’t Throw Old Grounds Down the Sink!
One of the biggest mistakes that coffee lovers make when they’re done using this French press, is to throw their used coffee grounds down the sink.
This can cause blockages due to the sediment and oils clogging up your drain pipes.
Here is a great Youtube video by French Press Coffee explaining what to do instead:
3. Dispose of Used Grounds Using a Sieve
Instead of throwing your old coffee grounds down the sink, use a sieve to strain out the liquid and then dispose of them in the trash. This is a much cleaner and easier way to dispose of your old coffee, without damaging your drain pipes!
If you don’t have a sieve to hand, you can also use a colander lined with paper towels.
Simply rinse your French press round with water, pour the liquid and ground coffee in the sieve or calendar, so only the coffee remains, and then throw it in the bin!
4. Plunge the French Press with Warm, Soapy Water
A simple way to quickly and easily clean your French press after every use, is to remove your old coffee grounds and then plunge with warm, soapy water.
Simply discard your old coffee and water using the tip above, and fill your French press up halfway with warm water and a squirt of dish soap.
Then, slowly move your plunger up and down to clean all the elements of your French presses strainer mechanism, and rinse with water to remove the soap.
Dry your French press thoroughly and you’re good to go!
5. Use Your Dishwasher
If your French press requires some more heavy duty cleaning, the dishwasher is the way to go. Again, make sure to completely dismantle it before placing it in the dishwasher to ensure all parts are cleaned thoroughly.
If you have left your French press for a while without cleaning it properly and any mould has started to build up, then the dishwasher is definitely the place to clean it!
6. Compost Your Coffee Grounds
Rather than throwing your old coffee grounds down the sink, you can actually use them as compost! This is an eco-friendly way to dispose of used coffee and also doesn’t make a mess.
7. Use Baking Soda for a Deeper Clean
When giving your French press a deeper clean, baking soda is a great companion. The alkaline in baking soda makes for a great stain remover, so it’s perfect for cleaning all parts of your French press.
Simply combine a tablespoon of baking soda with a splash of water and stir into a paste. Scrub your French press mesh strainer, plates and carafe with this solution and let it sit for a few hours, or overnight.
Then, rinse it thoroughly with warm water and hey presto! You’ll have a perfectly clean French press to use.
8. Vinegar Can Also Be Used
If baking soda is hard to come by, you can also use cleaning vinegar. Your best bet is to use unscented vinegar if you can get your hands on it, as this reduces the risk of any unwanted smells or tastes being left on your French press.
Simply combine your vinegar with water and scrub all of the pieces of your dismantled French press, to ensure no oil or residue remains.
9. Completely Dry Your French Press When You’ve Finished Cleaning It
The final tip to ensure your French press is cleaned and maintained properly, is to completely dry it after you’ve finished the cleaning process. This may sound obvious, but if you go ahead and store your French press in the cupboard whilst it is still damp, you could end up with a mouldy brewer!
If you love frothy coffee but only have a French press to hand, never fear! Check out this article where I explain how to froth milk using only a French press!
Overall, cleaning your French press doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming, but it is an essential part of making great coffee time after time. A little bit of care and attention goes a long way when it comes to the French press, and following the simple tips listed above will help maintain your device for longer.
If you want more information on French press cleaning and maintenance, check out these useful articles:
- Home Grounds: An Easy, Step-By-Step Way To Clean Your French Press (And Why You Should)
- Molly Maid: How to Clean a French Press Coffee Maker
- Masterclass: How to Clean a French Press in 5 Simple Steps
How Often Should You Clean Your French Press?
You should give your French press a light clean with warm, soapy water after every use. Every so often, cleaning your French press thoroughly is also recommended, to ensure it is free of residual coffee oils.
How Long Should You Brew Coffee in a French Press?
Brew time in a French press depends on how many people you are making coffee for, how strong you want your coffee and how coarse your grind size is. But, a general rule of thumb to ensure you get fully extracted, strong coffee, is to let your coffee brew for around 10-15 minutes in your French press before plunging.
What Grind Size for French Press?
Because the French press extracts coffee using immersion rather than percolation, you’ll need a medium to coarse grind size to get the best results.