Waking up in the morning with a cup of freshly brewed filter coffee is one of life’s little luxuries.
However, what if you go to prepare your morning cup, only to find the reusable filter is covered with a layer of what looks like mold? Do you need to throw the filter away? Is it safe to give it a quick rinse and make your morning java? Can the mold make you sick?
All these questions and more will be covered in today’s article, so keep reading!
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What kind of mold grows in a coffee filter?
There are several strains of mold that are commonly found growing in the home, these are Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Stachybotrys Atra. These are just three of the most likely strains you can find growing in a coffee filter, there are thousands of others too. They can often be recognized by their white, black, green, or blue colors, and powdery textures.
One of the lesser known, but still fairly common strains of fungi found in coffee filters is called Trichoderma, a completely harmless fungus that feeds off the used coffee grounds.
This can sometimes be recognized from its vibrant green-blue color and almost “powdery” appearance. However, there are many other strains of mold that share these color and texture profiles, some of which can be hazardous to humans, so if in doubt, wear safety equipment if you plan of removing it yourself.
Can mold in a coffee filter make you sick?
Yes, molds are living organisms and some have developed a system of protection for whenever they feel threatened. Should they feel they are in danger, they can produce mycotoxins, which can be quite harmful to humans if ingested or inhaled in large enough quantities, or over a prolonged period of time.
In healthy individuals, a small amount of mycotoxin exposure will be unlikely to cause any major problems, however, if the individual has a suppressed immune system, even small amounts could cause potentially serious health concerns.
If a reusable coffee filter were not to be checked regularly and mold was being ingested on a regular basis, symptoms could include:
- Breathlessness (if spores are inhaled)
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Brain fog
These are just a few of the frequently reported symptoms, there are many more, ranging from mildly irritating to potentially life-threatening. This is why it is imperative for your health that you regularly check your coffee filter for mold and do not treat finding a colony living in it lightly.
How to clean a moldy coffee filter
Fortunately, cleaning mold out of a reusable coffee filter is a simple process that will allow it to be safely used again.
Before you begin, it is important to note that you should be wearing safety goggles, a breathing mask, and rubber gloves before you begin cleaning. This may seem a little over the top, but as you may be agitating the mold and its spores, without a breathing mask, you may otherwise end up inhaling them.
In order to clean a plastic or metal reusable coffee filter, you will need the following items:
- Warm water
- White vinegar
- Spray bottle
- A scrubbing brush (or old toothbrush)
Use the following steps to make your coffee filter safe to use once again.
Make a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water in a spray bottle.
After taking the filter apart (if applicable), liberally spray the filter with the solution, ensuring every part is covered.
Leave the vinegar solution to work on the filter for at least ten minutes. The vinegar is powerful enough to kill live mold and its spores.
Create a mixture of warm water and detergent, then using either the toothbrush or scrubbing brush, wash away any residue mold and vinegar solution.
Leave the coffee filter to air dry (preferably in direct sunlight), and store it away or place it back into the machine only when it is completely dry to avoid regrowth.
How to clean a moldy coffee filter with baking soda
Should you be concerned that using vinegar will create an unpleasant aftertaste in your morning coffee, you have another option in the form of baking soda.
Baking soda has a high PH level which will kill mold as effectively as vinegar does but without any unpleasant smells or potential aftertaste.
In order to use baking soda to clean a moldy coffee filter, use the following steps.
Create a solution of one cup of tap water to one tablespoon of baking soda and pour this into a spray bottle.
Agitate the solution and liberally spray it all over the filter. Leave this to sit for five to ten minutes, then rinse under wrap to remove any residual solution.
Completely dry the filter before storing it away or pacing it back into your coffee maker.
How to prevent coffee filters from becoming moldy
The most simple method to prevent mold growth in a coffee filter is to make sure it is cleaned after each use.
As soon as you have finished your cup of coffee, the filter should be removed and thoroughly cleaned, then dried to ensure no residual coffee grounds or moisture is left.
As long as you deny mold the things it needs to survive, it can not possibly grow, so starving it of moisture and nutrients is a good start.
As an additional option, you can store your coffee filter in direct sunlight, as the sun’s UV rays will kill any mold and its spores.
Should you throw away a moldy coffee filter?
In most cases, it will not be necessary to throw away a coffee filter just because you have found mold growing in or on it. The only time you may need to is if it has been growing for a prolonged period of time and has become fully established as a colony.
In this circumstance, you may find it very difficult to completely remove all traces of mold, and it may even have penetrated deeper into a plastic filter if there are any small cracks or crevices.
If, however, the amount of mold you have found is small and has only been growing for a short period of time, using the steps provided above should be adequate to allow you to safely use this filter once again.
Coffee filters can be prone to mold growth if not cleaned on a regular basis and preventative measures are not taken.
Fortunately, in most cases, a filter can be easily cleaned using the steps provided in this article, so will not require you to purchase another.