The Most Effective Way To Descale Your Coffee Maker

Coffee is the essential elixir that allows java lovers to face life each day. If you're an avid coffee drinker, it's time to return the favor to the appliance that makes focus possible by keeping your coffee maker in tip-top shape. Sure, you can wipe it down and give the pot a rinse, but if you want the best out of your coffee maker, you'll need to go deeper. There's a cleaning agent that Kitchn recommends for effectively removing everything that's gunking up your machine, especially the scale build-up that will eventually ruin your cup of joe. Spoiler alert, it's not vinegar.

We've all seen the chalky white build-up that gathers in the nooks and crannies of our coffee makers, especially in homes with hard water. That hardened substance is scale, which Fresh Cup Magazine says is the mineral build-up that occurs when the calcium and magnesium in water are heated. As scale accumulates, it will clog valves and hinder the machine's heating element, eventually affecting the coffee maker's ability to brew.

You might think that opting for distilled water without mineral content is the answer to the problem, but that can work against your best efforts by negatively affecting the flavor of your coffee. The minerals in water bind with coffee, pulling out its natural flavor for a tastier brew. Filtered water is ideal for coffee, but because its minerals will cause scale to build up over time, it's essential to use a highly effective cleaner.

Citric acid is an effective descaling agent

Keep your vinegar for salad dressings and instead opt for citric acid when you want to descale your coffee machine (per Daily Journal). While vinegar will clean coffee stains and rancid oils from your appliance, it will also leave an unwanted flavor and aroma even after many rounds of flushing. Citric acid can clean and remove scale, ensuring proper function that leads to a best-brewed cuppa.

Citric acid is a naturally occurring substance found in citrus fruits that can be manufactured into a powder that makes an effective food-grade detergent (per Kitchn), but it also bonds to metals like magnesium and calcium that cause scale, which makes it a chelating agent. Add a couple of tablespoons of citric acid to the water reservoir in your coffee maker and brew until the reservoir is empty. Refill the reservoir with clean water and brew once more for a rinse. The result should be a visible reduction in the white scale build-up without leftover flavor and aroma from the citric acid.

Citric acid powder is the go-to ingredient for baristas and coffee fanatics who want to avoid the headache that scale can cause when left to build up. Depending on how much a machine is used, it is recommended to descale coffee makers every one to two months. Citric acid is an affordable and effective cleaning agent that can be found at the grocery store (often called sour salt) or easily found in larger amounts online.