Coffee Facts

Using Citric Acid for Descaling Your Coffee Machine

Proper maintenance of your coffee machine involves descaling on a regular basis. Learn the when (monthly), why (because…water), how (it’s easy, we promise), and what (spoilers, it’s citric acid) of descaling all right here.

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Descaling your coffee machine is not as scary or involved as you might first think. It actually only takes a few steps, can be done on a monthly or bi-monthly rotation, and requires very few products to get the job done well.

Although we hope you are washing your coffee pot and grinds holder daily to remove any excess coffee and oil, the inside of your machine needs attention in another way. Water will create a chalky substance on the inside of your brewing device that isn’t harmful to ingest, but will begin impacting the taste and efficiency of your coffee machine if left unscaled.

These scales can build up and create a crusty substance on the inside of your machine, even in the parts you can’t see. Depending on the hardness of your water, you should be descaling your coffee machine about every one to two months.

Citric Acid for Descaling

What To Use to Descale Your Coffee Machine

Of course, there is a slew of coffee-descaling products available on the market. They all claim to be the best and overcharge for what could be an easy solution. Don’t waste your money.

Most people will use distilled white vinegar. It comes in large quantities for very cheap and is highly effective. However, vinegar certainly leaves a smell (throughout the whole house!) and will often leave a lingering taste that takes several rinse cycles to get rid of.

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This is unappealing to the senses and also creates more of a hassle in the process of properly descaling a coffee machine. Remembering to descale in the first place is half the battle – adding several rinse cycles on tops will only make it harder to complete the task properly each month.

The easiest, most effective, and cheapest option for effectively descaling your coffee machine is to use good old citric acid.

woman pouring Citric Acid into electric kettle

Using Citric Acid to Descale Your Coffee Machine

Citric acid is easy to find in most grocery or convenience stores, usually comes in large quantities that will last for a long time, is cheap, and is not harmful to the environment.

Citric acid also has no smell, doesn’t leave a taste, and is not harmful if ingested by accident (although it’s certainly not recommended by anyone, especially us here at Roasty).

Because of these components, citric acid works great for descaling your coffee machine and it only takes a few steps to do it!

How To Use Citric Acid to Descale Your Coffee Pot

You only need two things when descaling your coffee pot with citric acid – water and 2 tablespoons of citric acid. Start with a coffee pot and filter that have already been cleaned with soap and water.

Step One

Fill the water reservoir of your coffee machine to the max line.

Step Two

Pour 1-2 Tablespoons of citric acid into the water reservoir and stir in slightly. If you descale your coffee machine regularly (monthly) you can maintain your machine with just one tablespoon of citric acid.

If it is your first time descaling in a while though, we suggest using at least two tablespoons.

Step Three

Run your coffee machine on the cleaning setting or on its longest brew session.

Step Four

Empty the water from the coffee pot and discard.

Step Five

Run one cycle of just water, without the citric acid or any coffee grinds, to ensure that the machine is thoroughly rinsed through.

And that’s it! All it takes is two simple brew sessions and your machine should be back to its sparkling self!

Brands We Suggest

Citric Acid in a glass

You can find citric acid in just about any grocery store or pharmacy. It’s a common household cleaning item and usually comes in large quantities. Here are a few brands that are a great bargain from Amazon that we recommend:


Can I Descale My Coffee Machine With Citric Acid?

Yes, using citric acid in the descaling process is safe and easy to do. Follow our step-by-step guide above!

Should I Descale With Vinegar or Citric Acid?

Either cleaner works great for descaling your coffee machine, but vinegar leaves a smell and is prone to leave a taste if not properly rinsed out. Citric acid is odorless and flavorless, making it far more easy to rinse out, while also taking up less product than vinegar.

What Is the Best Thing to Use to Descale My Coffee Machine?

Citric acid is the easiest and most convenient descaler to use on coffee machines.

How Much Citric Acid Do I Use for Descaling?

2 tablespoons of citric acid will thoroughly descale the entirety of your coffee machine and leave it ready to use with just one rinse! If you maintain regular descaling, you can get away with using one tablespoon of citric acid.

Happy Caffeinating!

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