Descaling Coffee Machines: Consistently Good Coffee Enjoyment

Descaling Coffee Machines: Consistently Good Coffee Enjoyment

For the best possible coffee enjoyment, you should descale your coffee machine regularly. But why actually? You can find out all the reasons for descaling and how to do it here. We take a closer look at all the options and thus show the cheapest and most effective measures.

Why should you actually descale coffee machines?

Limescale in the water not only affects the taste, but can also damage the coffee machines. Since limescale deposits on the pipes, they can become porous and expensive repair costs arise. Particularly with expensive coffee machines and fully automatic coffee machines, you should therefore pay particular attention to regular descaling. At the same time, you ensure that your espresso has a perfect crema, the coffee has the right temperature and the maximum filling quantity per cup is reached. Fully automatic coffee machines that are regularly decalcified also work more quietly and reliably during brewing and use less electricity, as the water heats up faster on lime-free pipes.

So there are many good reasons for descaling. But, how often should one actually carry out the measure and what are the best means for it?

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A comparison of household tips

In addition to the commercially available liquid or powder decalcifying agents, there are a number of household tips on the Internet that can be used to decalcify the coffee machine cheaply. The miracle weapons mentioned include above all baking powder, vinegar, citric acid or dishwasher tablets. They help against the lime, but are they also safe? Let’s see what experts think of these agents.


Vinegar is known to help loosen limescale from surfaces and is used by some as a cleaning agent in the household. However, vinegar is only partially suitable for descaling coffee machines. Although it removes limescale from the coffee machine, it also attacks the pipes at the same time. Some manufacturers expressly advise not to use vinegar to decalcify and limit the guarantee in the event of contrary actions.

In the worst case, vinegar can not only damage the coffee machine, but also roughen the surface, which means that limescale can then deposit even faster. In addition, the vinegar smells very pungent and can affect the taste of the coffee even after being rinsed several times. So reason enough to look for alternatives.

citric acid

Citric acid is often advertised as a “natural” alternative to vinegar, which is also often contained in commercially available decalcifying agents. In order to avoid damage to the coffee machine, care should be taken not to use the citric acid under heat, otherwise calcium citrate is formed, which can deposit on the components. Citric acid does not affect the taste of the coffee if it is rinsed thoroughly. Citric acid is available in pharmacies, but you can also use lemon juice concentrate, which is available in every supermarket, and thus have a cheap alternative to decalcifying agents. At the same time, the natural product protects the environment and does not contain any aggressive chemical substances.

baking powder

Baking powder is another way of decalcifying coffee machines cheaply and in an environmentally friendly way. With its sodium hydroxide solution, this ensures a loose consistency in the cake, whereas in the coffee machine it produces bubbles that reliably remove the lime.

Dishwasher tabs

On the Internet, you can find the tip to use simple dishwasher tablets to descale the coffee machine. This should work, but there is hardly any price difference to cheap decalcifying agents especially for coffee machines. In addition, dishwasher tabs are quite large and certainly a bit oversized for a small coffee machine. From our point of view, it is therefore better to use special descaling agents that provide precise dosage information. If you still want to try dishwasher tablets, do not use any combination products that contain rinse aid and thoroughly remove any residues of the tab after use.

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How often do you have to descale coffee machines?

The general rule of thumb is to descale a coffee machine every three months. However, the degree of calcification naturally depends on the water used. Our drinking water naturally contains lime, but how much that can vary greatly depending on where you live. If you want to know exactly, you can ask the waterworks or a local plumber. You can also determine the calcium content yourself by using the appropriate test strips.

If the calcium content of your drinking water is very high, you will of course have to clean the coffee machine more often. If the contents are very high, you can also think about decalcifying the water with suitable filters before using it. This will protect your coffee machine and you will have to descale much less often. But cleaning every eight months is recommended even with very soft water. 

Overview of water hardness and decalcification intervals:

  • Very hard water (over 26 ° dH): about every 3 months
  • Medium hard water (15-21 ° dH): about every 4 months
  • Very soft water (0-3 ° dH): about every 8 months

And this is how it works: step-by-step instructions for descaling

Step 1: While the liquid and powder descaler are usually filled with cold water in the coffee machine’s water tank, citric acid, baking powder and the like work best with warm water. Mix a packet of packing powder, a teaspoon of citric acid or 2 cl of vinegar with half a liter of warm water and let the mixture cool down in the tank.

Step 2: Turn on the coffee maker and wait for the first drops of the mixture to come out. Now switch the machine off again so that the limescale can dissolve in the pipes, in the flow heater and in the brewing unit.

Step 3: Turn the coffee machine on again after about 15 minutes and let everything run through.

Step 4 : Then do the brewing process once or twice with clean water to remove any residue. We recommend brewing up to three times for vinegar so that no pungent taste is left behind.


The coffee machines should be descaled regularly. In addition to tried and tested descaler, which you can find on the internet, you can also use tried and tested household remedies. Citric acid in particular has proven to be very inexpensive, practical and environmentally friendly.