Best Natural Descaler For Coffee Makers (Top 5 Solutions)

By Shabbir
Last update:

Your coffee machine works wonders that are often unseen due to the exterior materials. With that being said, every single morning, or period through-out the day, it works extremely hard to prepare the most delicious and flavorful cup of coffee for you.

Have you ever taken the time to reflect on all the delicious cups of coffee your machine made?

Now, let me ask you a question. Have you taken any time to treat your coffee maker with the same love and respect? While that might sound silly or a bit crazy; however, it is kind of true.

If you are not taking the time to provide your coffee maker with some TLC, it will break down and no longer function and your coffee will start tasting weird.

In order to prevent that from happening, you need to scale your coffee maker. While there are many products in the industry that you can buy to do this, there is one route that always works better: homemade or natural descalers.

You may be asking, “what natural or homemade descalers can I use?” Lucky for you, I have done the research for you!

What is descaling solution?

You may be wondering if “cleaning” your coffee maker and descaling your coffee maker are the same thing. The answer is: NO! If you are simply cleaning your coffee maker, you are not properly taking care of your coffee maker.

Since a coffee maker functions off of water, the machine, on the inside, will generate limescale, and to remove limescale, you need to use descaling solution.

A descaling solution is an acidic substance that reacts with and dissolves limescale.

Limescale is not toxic, but it will alter the coffee machine and the taste of your coffee, and too much of it will also hinder the coffee maker’s ability to heat up coffee.

The intention of descaling is to remove these unwanted minerals and elements from the machine and preventing more extensive build up.

While there are different kinds of descaling solution products that manufacturers offer, most of those are just a mix of common household chemicals.

So if you’re looking to save some money you can just use some natural descaler and get it for 10x cheaper than the manufacturer’s descaling solution.

Best Natural Descalers for Coffee Makers and Espresso Machines

If you want to decalcify your coffee machine, you don’t need to look very far: there are many natural descalers available for coffee machines that you probably have lying around at home.

We’ve put together a list of the best ways to decalcify your coffee machine without spending a lot of money on brand name descaling solutions. Read on!

Homemade descaling solution: citric acid

The benefit of using critic acid in comparison to white wine vinegar is that you won’t have to smell the natural scent of vinegar for hours. Citric acid, while less acidic than vinegar, can work some impressive magic as a homemade descaling solution.

Since it has a lower pH level, you may have to do a couple rinse cycles of the citric acid to insure all of the unwanted minerals wash away. What is also beneficial about this product is that it will not linger into the taste of your coffee, unlike other descalers.

The benefits of using Citric Acid to clean coffee makers:

  • This is one of the best smelling alternatives to chemical-based products.
  • Less acidic, which means you will not need to rinse or repeat water cycles to remove unwanted flavors or scents.
  • Relatively cheap and easy to find.

To make citric acid at home, simply dissolve one tablespoon of citric acid pellets for every gallon of water. If you want a stronger solution, use one tablespoon for half a gallon.

Since you’re not going to use the whole gallon for descaling at once, you can use the citric acid to descale your coffee maker over many cycles since the acid does not go bad. Just store it in an airtight container.

Lemon Juice

lemon juice is a great natural descaler for coffee makers

I am pretty sure Lemon Juice is nearly a source of healing and cleaning for almost everything, just as vinegar. With extreme levels of acidity, lemon juice can actually do the same amount of powerful work that vinegar does but it is not as hard to remove from the system.

In other words, lemon juice is probably your BEST option in terms of scent and time. The only downside to lemon juice is that you will need a lot of lemons in order to descale your coffee maker. If you are not a fan of squeezing lemons, you could opt for buying lemon juice.

If you are planning on using vinegar, the process to use is the same: 1/3 lemon juice 2/3 water. It is suggested to do multiple runs of just water AFTER descaling with lemon juice. This will help remove the after taste of lemons.

The benefits of Lemon Juice

  • Next to Citric Acid, this is one of the best scents to use in descaling your coffee maker.
  • Lemon Juice is extremely acidic, meaning it can provide the quality of cleaning that Vinegar can without the smells.
  • This is one of the fastest products for cleaning. You will only did to descale once and then do a water-run after to remove left over lemon tastes. It is important to note though that Lemon is an enhancing ingredient and could provide for a unique tasting experience.

Water Softening Pellets

water softening pellets can help remove limescale

Another route that you can always take is through water softening pellets. This is probably one of the most unconventional means to accomplish the task, but it works! If you have a water softening system, you can essentially take the water softening pellets, an example of this could be Morton Salt, and use this with your machine.

Out of all of the different natural sources of descalers, this probably the one that will take the least amount of time. It is advised to do some research on your machine and make sure that you have the best water softening pellets to accomplish this task. Removing unwanted minerals can be tough and you want to always use the strongest products available.

  • This is probably the most cost-effective route.
  • Extremely easy to do.
  • One of the FASTEST alternatives to descaling your coffee machine.

Baking Soda

baking soda is an effective way to clean a coffee machine

This is another source for all of the avid cleaners reading this article. Baking Soda is known to be a wonderful cleaner and assistant in many cases. This too includes your coffee maker!

First and foremost, if the exterior part of your machine is fifthly with stains, baking soda may be the perfect solution to cleaning the exterior of your machine. Now, Baking Soda is also quite handy when it comes to descaling your coffee maker as well.

There are a couple people who have reported that the baking soda was one of the best sources to descale and others report the opposite. Reason being, in some cases, the baking soda did not entirely dissolve in the water. If you don’t have any other option, baking soda is a healthy alternative.

The benefits of Baking Soda

  • This is one of the best cleaners for the exterior and interior of the coffee maker.
  • This will not leave an after taste or scent in the machine.
  • Great value: cheap and comes with enough product to last months.

Vinegar: a last resort

For those people who are familiar with house cleaning products, you might know that vinegar is one of the best cleaning tools in the world. So much so, many doctors and researchers are even saying that vinegar is essential for cleansing the human body from sicknesses.

Isn’t it crazy? You should not be surprised that vinegar is on this list. Since this is extremely acidic it has no problem combating the lime scale and other unwanted minerals. It is important to note that this product, while extreme productive, can take a couple cycles of rinsing to remove.

The benefits of using vinegar:

  • This is one of the strongest products that will remove all of the unwanted minerals.
  • Relatively cheap and easy to find.
  • Can be used to clean exterior of machine as well.

How to descale a coffee maker

Now that you are familiar with the importance of descaling your coffee maker, you probably are wondering how to descale a coffee maker, right?

Well the process is quite simple. It is important to mention to always research the specific brand or product that you decide to use and consult the manual, just in case there are slight differences.

Normally, though, this method is usable in any coffee maker.

Every company will have their own specific descaling measurements. Roughly speaking, it is said to create a solution of water and the alternative natural descaler in equal parts. Depending upon the acidity of the product, it is suggest to do 1/3rd of the natural descaler to 2/3rd water.

  1. From there, you are going to place this solution in the reservoir as if you are brewing a fresh cup of coffee. You are going to want to use a filter, just like regular coffee as well.
  2. Depending upon how much of a solution you made, once you notice that HALF of the solution has been poured, turn the machine off. This is the most important step! Let your machine rest for 30 minutes before finishing the brew. It is that simple!
  3. Once you’ve completed the descaling your coffee maker, flush it with regular water – meaning run the brew cycle with just water and no descaler/coffee – one or two times to remove any residual descaling solution left and you’re good to go.

In case the limescale buildup is very severe, you may need to run the descaling solution through your machine 3 to 4 times.

If the scale buildup is too extreme then you may need to remove the water tank and try to scrape off the limescale as much as possible first, since leaving acid in the tank for too long will also cause it to react with the metal, decreasing its capacity to heat up and retain heat.

Stay Away from Chemical Products

Now that you are properly aware of descaling your coffee machine, it is essential to remember one fact: stay away from chemical products for descaling your machine. You don’t want to mix any unwanted chemicals with unwanted minerals – that is a dangerous concoction for the human body.

That is why it is so important to consider using one of these five alternatives as they are not only natural and organic, they are also safer and healthier for you. In doing so, you coffee machine will be grateful for cleaning it and will provide you with some of the best tasting coffee ever.


Ninja coffee bar clean light keeps coming on

What is in descaling solution?

One question that comes to mind after all of this is what is in descaling solution that you can buy in the store?

How is it different than natural descaling solution?

The Keurig descaling solution(seen below), for example, contains:

  • 50% citric acid
  • 3% silicic acid
  • 5% phosphates and bleaching agents
  • Remainder: water

The commercial descaling solutions are blends of different acids that try to get a more effective combination at removing calcification.

The chemical reaction is quite straightforward, though, as any acid will dissolve calcification, so even though a natural descaler may not be as potent as a brand name descaler, you can get the same results just by running the descaling cycle a few more times using natural methods.

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.