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Caution for mold in your coffee maker

Posted at 8:11 AM, Mar 24, 2017

Do you ever clean your home coffee maker or do you just rinse it out and leave it on the counter? One mom is wondering if her coffee brewer may be causing her health problems, after she opened it up and discovered mold inside.

Stephanie Brauns loves coffee, but for the past six months she's been having a bad reaction to her morning cup of Joe.

"It's interesting because I always have my coffee at home, and within three sips, I sometime have severe reactions," she said.

So when a friend forwarded her some articles about mold and bacteria in coffee pots, Brauns took hers and opened up the top with a screwdriver.

"It was horrifying," she said.

She couldn't believe what was under the top: Several years of calcium buildup, along with a browish-yellow substance that looked like mold.

Some coffee makers with a glass carafe and a very simple to clean tank are very easy to clean. But Braun's machine is not one of those.

"It is impossible to get to the full tank," she said, "unless you dismantle this machine, which I haven't figured out yet. Outside of taking a hammer to it, I don't know how to completely open it and see what's inside."

She is sending a sample of the buildup in the top section to a lab to see if anything toxic may be growing there.

What can you do to protect your family? Most brands instruct owners to clean the machine regularly with white vinegar: It dissolves crud and helps disinfect the inside.

Even pod machines need to be cleaned regularly. Check your machine's handbook.

Brauns has a message to everyone else with a home coffee maker. "You need to be able to clean that area," she said.

Good Housekeeping Magazine says "just washing the carafe won't cut it." It suggests that you run a vinegar cycle monthly, then empty the tank completely and leave the lid open to dry for a day. That way you get out the buildup and prevent mold from growing, and you don't waste your money.