How To Clean Hard Water Buildup from Your Coffee Maker

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Hard water buildup in your coffee maker will reduce the machine’s efficiency, increase your wait time, and affect the taste and quality of your cup of coffee.

Here, we’ve shared the 6 best methods to remove calcium deposits and hard water buildup from a coffee maker.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • You can clean hard water buildup from a coffee maker with white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and commercial cleaners.
  • Keeping your coffee maker mineral-free will prevent reduced efficiency and burnout as a result of calcium buildup.
  • If you want to eliminate the need to remove mineral deposits from your coffee maker, consider installing a POE water softener.

🧽 6 Best Methods To Remove Mineral Deposits From A Coffee Maker

Here are the methods we recommend to clean your coffee maker and remove stubborn mineral stains.

You don’t need to try all these methods – just pick one or two that are the most convenient for you based on the items you already have at home.

Method 1: White Vinegar Brew

The coffee maker cleaning method that takes the least effort is the white vinegar brew.

You just need distilled white vinegar and water – and around 10 minutes of free time.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Remove the pot, coffee filter basket, and carafe, and thoroughly wash the items in a bowl of warm water and soap. Dry the parts and return them to the coffee maker.
  2. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, then replace the coffee filter and fill the pot with this solution. Program the machine to perform a brewing cycle.
  3. Turn the coffee machine off when the cycle is halfway through, then leave it to sit for 30 minutes. This will give the warm vinegar time to grab onto the calcium deposits inside the machine and pull them away from surfaces.
  4. Switch the coffee machine back on and allow it to complete its cycle.
  5. Repeat the process twice over with a batch of fresh water, except this time, wait just 10 minutes after stopping the cycle mid-way through. This will get rid of any lingering vinegar tastes.
  6. Rinse your coffee pot several times, then wipe it clean to get rid of any water spots. It should now be ready for use once more.

Vinegar not done the trick? Try adjusting the vinegar and water solution so the ratio of vinegar to water is greater. The more vinegar you use, the more cleaning strength the solution will have.

Don’t use too much vinegar, though – undiluted vinegar may damage the internal parts of the machine.

Cleaning a coffee maker with limescale

Method 2: Baking Soda And Water

A similar scale-removal coffee machine cleaning solution is baking soda and water.

This is a convenient method if you’re a baking fan and already have baking soda in your kitchen cupboards, so you won’t have to make a dedicated shopping trip for cleaning supplies.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Start by thoroughly washing and drying the coffee pot, filter basket, and carafe.
  2. Measure a quarter cup of baking soda, then add it to the reservoir.
  3. Fill the reservoir with hot water.
  4. Run the machine for two complete cycles.
  5. Empty out the pot and rinse it thoroughly with warm water.

Your coffee pot should now be clean and scale-free. If you can still see calcium buildup, repeat the process or follow up with another method listed here.

Method 3: Lemon Juice Soak

If you don’t have any distilled white vinegar at home but you do have lemon juice, we recommend the lemon juice soak* method.

Lemon juice is similar to white vinegar in that both solutions are acidic, so they’re capable of eating away at calcium deposits in a way that most cleaners with a neutral pH can’t.

For this method, you just need lemon juice (either fresh juice from a lemon or store-bought bottled juice) and some warm water.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Measure half a cup of lemon juice and add it to your coffee pot.
  2. Fill the rest of the pot with warm water.
  3. Run a brewing cycle and wait for it to finish.
  4. Pour the lemon juice and water mix back into the coffee pot and leave it to soak for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Using the same lemon solution in the coffee pot, run a second brewing cycle.
  6. Thoroughly rinse the coffee pot in warm water, using dish soap to remove any lingering residue.
  7. Finish by running three cycles with water, dumping the pot every time.

Lemon juice isn’t as unappealing as white distilled vinegar, but that still doesn’t mean you’ll want it affecting your coffee taste. Make sure to rinse your coffee maker thoroughly after deep cleaning it with lemon juice to eliminate any remaining flavors or odors after cleaning.

*Don’t have any lemon juice? You can achieve the same results using a mixture of citric acid and water.

Lemon juice soak to remove limescale

Method 4: Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic liquid that’s used to prevent infection of cuts, scrapes, and minor burns. It has a whole host of uses around the home, including as an effective scale remover.

To use hydrogen peroxide to remove mineral deposits from a coffee maker, you just need one cup of hydrogen peroxide and some hot water.

Follow these steps:

  1. Measure one cup of hydrogen peroxide and add it to your coffee pot.
  2. Fill the remainder of the pot with hot water.
  3. Run a full cycle, then rinse the coffee pot and check it for mineral buildup.
  4. If the coffee pot isn’t completely clean, repeat the process with the brewed hydrogen peroxide liquid.
  5. Once the calcium deposits are completely dissolved, empty out the solution.
  6. Rinse the coffee pot in warm water and dish soap.
  7. Fill the pot with clean water and run two or three cycles, dumping and refilling the water after every cycle.
  8. Once the machine is clean, rinse the coffee pot once more and leave it to dry.

Method 5: Vinegar And Water Soak

Don’t have access to power, or just looking for an overnight solution that doesn’t require waiting for your coffee maker to run several brew cycles?

You can also clean your coffee maker with a vinegar and water soak.

For this method, you’ll just need some distilled white vinegar and some fresh water from your tap.

Follow these steps:

  1. Combine equal parts vinegar and hot water in a tub or large bucket.
  2. Remove the pot, filter basket, and carafe, and submerge them in the vinegar water solution.
  3. Leave the components to sit in the solution for a few hours. If the calcification is particularly tough, leave the components to soak overnight.
  4. Remove the components from the solution and rinse them thoroughly in hot water, using a soft-bristled toothbrush or a rag to scrub away any lingering deposits.
Water and vinegar mix for limescale removal

Method 6: Coffee Maker Descaler

If you’ve tried using white vinegar or baking soda and it didn’t provide the results you were hoping for, your last resort is to use a commercial coffee maker descaling solution.

You can buy coffee machine descalers from some coffee brands and most of the big marketplaces online.

Some brands sell tablets that you need to dissolve in water, while others sell liquid formulas that you can measure out and add to the water reservoir as you would with white vinegar or another natural cleaner.

Different coffee maker descalers have different uses, so make sure to follow the instructions closely, and measure carefully – you don’t want to damage your machine or put your health at risk.

πŸ€” Why Remove Mineral Deposits From A Coffee Maker?

There are a few reasons why you should remove mineral deposits from your coffee maker.

First, calcium buildup is unattractive. If you pride yourself on having a sparkling-clean kitchen, you probably don’t want to spoil appearances with a stained, white-crusted coffee pot.

Looks aside, mineral deposits in a coffee maker can damage the machine and shorten its lifespan.

Coffee makers and espresso machines aren’t designed to perform efficiently when they’re coated with set-in calcium deposits.

Calcium acts as a layer of insulation, meaning your coffee maker has to work harder to heat water to the desired temperature, and excess mineral buildup may clog various pipes and components, preventing the machine from working as it should.

These factors put your coffee maker at a greater risk of burnout, so coffee machines used with hard water typically have shorter lifespans.

Plus, using hard water in the coffee brewing process will give your coffee an unpleasant bitter taste, so your regular brew might be hindered by a buildup of mineral deposits in your coffee pot.

Wiping off hard water spots from coffee maker

βœ… How To Prevent Mineral Formation In A Coffee Maker

It’s all very well knowing how to clean out a coffee maker to remove calcium buildup, but what if you don’t want the hassle of regular cleaning?

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”§ To prevent mineral deposits from forming in the first place, you have one solution: install a water softener.

A water softener is a unit that’s installed on your main water line. It softens water by exchanging the hardness minerals with small amounts of sodium, so water is no longer able to form scale.

After you install a water softener, all the water that comes out of your faucets will be soft, so you don’t have to take any extra effort to make the water suitable for use in your coffee maker.

Of course, you’ll still have to clean your machine for hygiene and sanitation purposes, but you’ll no longer have the arduous task of removing stubborn hard water stains.

Continue Reading: Unveiling the secrets to soft water: Best water softeners reviewed

Water softener prevents hard water

πŸ“‘ Final Word

Mineral deposits are common features of coffee makers, but thankfully, there are a few easy ways to remove them at home.

Clean your coffee maker regularly to prevent excess mineral deposits. You just need one of several cupboard essentials, like vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice. Or, if you want a cleaner that’s specially designed for coffee makers, consider commercial cleaners.

You might have thought it was impossible to get your coffee maker looking like new after months of years of calcium buildup, but with some thorough cleaning and the right cleaners, you can get your coffee maker clean and sparkling once more.

❔ FAQs

Why is there white stuff in my coffee maker?

White stuff in coffee makers or coffee pots is usually caused by calcium buildup. Mineral deposits are whiteish-gray and have a rough, crusty texture to touch. They’re caused by hard water – so if you use tap water with a high mineral concentration in your coffee pot regularly, you’re likely dealing with the effects of this water in your machine.

How do you clean a calcified coffee maker?

The best way to clean a calcified coffee maker is by running a vinegar solution through the machine two or three times. The vinegar will lift the mineral deposits from the entire machine, clearing the calcium and bringing it back to like-new condition.

Can you use Borax to clean a coffee maker?

No, you shouldn’t use Borax to clean a coffee maker. Borax isn’t food-safe, and has several concerning side effects if ingested by humans. If you plan to use a commercial cleaner that can remove mineral deposits from coffee makers, check that it doesn’t contain Borax before you spend your money.

Is it safe to use CLR to clean coffee maker?

It’s safe to use CLR (calcium, lime, rust remover) for removing calcium buildup in some coffee makers, but not others. It’s generally recommended that you don’t use CLR in espresso machines, or in coffee makers sold by Cuisinart, Gevalia, or Keurig. Contact the manufacturer or check the product manual for more information.

How often should I clean my coffee maker?

You should clean your coffee maker every three-to-six months, depending on your water quality and how often you use the machine. If you use the machine twice a day or more and you have hard water, clean the machine at least once every three months to prevent long-lasting mineral damage.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

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