If you depend on that first (or fifth) cup of coffee to get and keep you going throughout the day, then you know how important it is for a coffee machine to work correctly. And if a coffee machine goes awry, then you know for sure that a huge portion of the European workforce is going to suffer: Almost nine out of ten people at work drink coffee daily. It’s a way to give a little zip in the morning and warm you up, too.

That’s why if you know how to descale a coffee machine you’ll never run into headaches regarding not being able to make cup after cup of joe. And besides, coffee makers need cleaning in order to rid themselves of germs and mineral deposits, among other things. So what are tips you can follow to put your coffee machine in its best working order? This graphic explains it.

Descaling your coffee machine

Descaling Your Coffee Maker

You can buy a commercial descaling solution to help you descale your machine, which may be the easiest and most effective way to get the job done. Commercial descaling solutions generally contain citric acid and other strong acids. They're the most expensive way to descale a coffee maker, but they tend to work well. If you decide to go this route, look for a natural, non-toxic product, and follow the instructions on the bottle.

As an alternative, you can make your own descaling solution. But first, check your coffee machine's manual to make sure the manufacturer doesn't advise against certain solutions.

These are the three most common ingredients used to descale coffee makers.

  1. White vinegar. Vinegar is easy to find, and it's acidic enough to dissolve mineral buildup. Many people use it to clean their coffee makers, and some coffee machine manufacturers recommend it as an option. But it may not be as effective as a commercial descaling solution, so you may need to repeat the process a couple times. To make a descaling solution with vinegar, fill your coffee carafe with equal parts vinegar and water.
  2. Lemon juice. Lemon juice is commonly used to descale machines. It's not nearly as acidic as commercial descaling solutions so you may need to repeat the descaling process several times. But on the upside, it smells good! To make a descaling solution out of lemon juice, fill your coffee carafe with equal parts lemon juice and water.
  3. Powdered citric acid. Citric acid is the most effective of the homemade solutions. It's an acid that's found most abundantly in lemons, limes, oranges, and other citrus fruits. It was first isolated from lemons in 1784 using a fungus. Today, citric acid is widely used as a preservative in the food industry, but it doesn't come from lemons anymore. It's usually grown on a black mold that converts cornstarch sugars into citric acid.

    You can buy a bag of powdered citric acid online, at many health-food stores, and at some grocery stores. To descale your coffee maker with citric acid, aim for a 20 percent acid solution. Usually, this means you'll add 2 tablespoons of powder per quart of water.

Once you buy or make a solution, it's time to descale your machine. Check your user's manual to see if your coffee maker has a special descaling cycle. If so, follow the instructions in the manual. If not, follow these instructions to descale your coffee maker.

  1. Remove any spent coffee grounds from the basket.
  2. Mix the descaling solution in the coffee carafe
  3. Pour the solution in the water reservoir as if you're making coffee.
  4. Pour the solution in the water reservoir as if you're making coffee.
  5. Start a brew cycle.
  6. Turn off the machine midway through the cycle, and let it sit and soak for an hour.
  7. Turn the machine back on and finish the brew cycle.
  8. Pour out the descaling solution.
  9. If your machine has heavy scaling or if you're using lemon juice or vinegar, repeat the process one more time.
  10. Run three cycles with only water to rinse your machine and remove the odor or taste of the descaling solution.


By regularly cleaning and descaling your coffee machine, you can improve the coffee at home and the office. And for that, your family and colleagues will celebrate.