The 8 Best Coffee Maker Cleaners and Descalers of 2022

We love the Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

The Best Coffee Maker Cleaners and Descalers of 2022

Amazon

Making a great cup of coffee is an art form, and one of the secrets that everyone should know is how to keep your coffee maker clean and free of build-up. Not only does a clean machine result in a better-tasting cup of Joe, it also keeps the parts moving efficiently and smoothly.

Coffee maker cleaners and descalers can be designed for a specific machine or work in different setups, but each has an individual purpose. “While cleaning is done for the elimination of rancid substances, the aim of descaling is the removal of mineral build up in the machine,” says Maria Isabel Angela, spokesperson for Mr. Coffee. To effectively remove pesky mineral deposits, a descaler usually falls “on the acid side of the PH scale,” says Brandon Pleshek, member of The Spruce's Cleaning and Organizing Review Board. According to Pleshek, cleaning your coffee maker should be done roughly once per month, and “descaling is done as needed depending on how hard your water is.” Pleshek also notes that a descaler is "usually a much stronger acid. It "takes time to properly rinse your coffee maker.” With that in mind, he “would suggest only descaling when needed.”

Most of the below options are descalers that tackle mineral build-up, and our top pick, the Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler, works on just about every coffee maker and machine out there. It’s effective on hard water build-up and mineral deposits and easy to use, so you can get back to your morning rituals quicker. You should still run a cycle or two of plain water before brewing your coffee, though, which is standard amongst both cleaning and descaling products.

Here are the best coffee maker cleaners and descalers to ensure that your coffee tastes fresh and your machine lasts for a long time.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler

Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler

Amazon

What We Like
  • Compatible with all machines

  • Simple to use

  • Comes in a two-pack

What We Don't Like
  • Ratio to dilute not included

  • Requires multiple cycles in your machine

This Impresa descaler works in all machines, including Keurigs, Nespressos, espresso machines, and regular drip coffee pots. It comes in a two-pack of 8-ounce bottles, which we appreciate since you have to use half of a bottle for each cleaning. To use, make sure that everything is cleared from the machine first. This might mean running a cycle or two of hot water, and wiping out the reservoir or pod dispenser.

To run the solution through the machine, you’ll pour it into the water reservoir and dilute it with water. The exact solution-to-water measurements aren’t included, which might be tricky if you have a machine with a smaller or larger-than-normal water reservoir. Just make sure you run a full tank of clean water at least two times through before you make coffee after descaling.

Notably, this solution is very effective on hard water build-up, including limescale and other mineral deposits, though. And while the potent formula (which contains citric acid and sulfamic acid) is effective, it is also straightforward to use.

Price at time of publish: $14

Cleaner or Descaler: Descaler | Type: Solution | Amount: 16 ounces | For Use On: Drip coffee makers, single-serve coffee makers, espresso machines, superautomatic machines, Keurig machines, Nespresso machines

Best Budget: Nuvera Descaling Solution

Nuvera Coffee Maker Descaling Solution

Walmart

What We Like
  • Good for a variety of coffee makers

  • Solution-to-water ratio is specified

  • Bottle has markers for measuring

What We Don't Like
  • Can result in small leftover amount

  • Might need to keep multiple bottles on hand

This pick from Nuvera is one of the best value coffee maker descalers on the market, costing less than a fancy cup of coffee itself. You can use it on single-use coffee makers, such as a Keurig—but, it also comes with enough solution to use on a larger coffee pot. Like many of the other products on this list, it uses citric acid to clean and descale, which is effective on limescale and residue.

The bottle holds 8 ounces of solution, but you can measure in 1-ounce increments using the markings on the back and only use as much as you need. Just note: if you have a 12-cup coffee pot, you’ll use 6 ounces of solution per cleaning, which will leave you with 2 ounces that you can’t use or the need to purchase more bottles. If you like this descaler, that isn’t a problem, but it does mean you may need more storage space to always keep a couple of bottles on hand.

Price at time of publish: $5

Cleaner or Descaler: Descaler | Type: Solution | Amount: 8 ounces | For Use On: Drip coffee makers, single-serve coffee makers, espresso machines

Best Powder: Biocaf Coffee Equipment Descaling Powder

Urnex Biocaf Descaling Powder

Amazon

What We Like
  • Individual packets make less mess

  • Plant and mineral-based ingredients

  • Biodegradable

What We Don't Like
  • Descaler only

This powder from Urnex Biocaf comes in individual packets, so you never have to worry about measuring. This particular product is a descaler only, but Urnex Biocaf also makes a coffee maker cleaner that has its own usage instructions. While using a separate descaler and cleaner does add extra steps, the two products do have different purposes—as noted by both Angela and Pleshek. Notably, this descaler is compatible with single-cup machines and drip coffee makers, as well as espresso machines.

This is a more eco-friendly option that doesn’t contain phosphates, is biodegradable, and uses plant and mineral-based ingredients to get rid of limescale and other build-up. It dissolves completely when mixed with 32 ounces warm water, so you don’t need to worry about any powder getting left behind in your machine. You should still run a cycle or two of plain water before brewing your coffee, though.

Price at time of publish: $12

Cleaner or Descaler: Descaler | Type: Powder | Amount: 2 ounces | For Use On: Drip coffee makers, single-serve coffee makers, espresso machines, superautomatic machines

Best Tablet: Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner Tablets

Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner Tablets

Amazon

What We Like
  • Work on single and multi-cup drip machines

  • Individually wrapped

  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like
  • Requires multiple cycles for cleaning and rinsing

  • Not compatible with espresso machines

Tablets can be less messy to dispense than other options, but they can also be expensive per use. If you don’t mind spending a bit more on a descaling product, the Affresh coffee maker tablets bring plenty of cleaning power to get rid of mineral build-up from inside your machine. For a standard, multi-cup drip coffee pot, put the tablet into a full reservoir of water and run a brew cycle. You will need to run a water-only cycle to fully rinse the system after that. For a single-serve coffee maker, you’ll need to run two brew cycles after you add the tablet to a filled water reservoir, then two water-only cycles to rinse. 

These tablets are formulated for descaling, so it’s a good idea to also add an additional cleaning product to your shopping cart. They are individually wrapped and easy to store, however, as long as you have a compatible machine. They do work with single-cup machines, as well as larger drip coffee pots, but they aren’t formulated for use with espresso machines.

Price at time of publish: $9

Cleaner or descaler: Descaler | Type: Tablet | Amount: 3 | For Use On: Drip coffee makers, single-serve coffee makers

Best Solution: Essential Values Coffee Maker Descaler

Essential Values Coffee Maker Descaler

Amazon

What We Like
  • Works on limescale and hard water build-up

  • Works for all types of machines

  • Great value

What We Don't Like
  • Water dilution can vary by reservoir size

  • Requires multiple cycles of rinsing

This liquid solution from Essential Values is both essential and a great value if you want to keep your coffee maker clean and free of limescale and residue. The citric acid-based formula works on drip coffee pots, single-serve pots, Keurigs, and espresso machines. With such a wide range of uses, it is one of our top picks, as well as one of the best liquid options.

Each cleaning uses half of the bottle. Pour it into the reservoir, fill the remaining amount with water, and run the largest cycle you can. Throw out any unused diluted solution and then run three water-only cycles to rinse the system. Depending on the size of the reservoir, this means that your cleaning solution may be more or less diluted. If it is less diluted, you may want to run additional rinse cycles to make sure that it is all out of the machine before you make coffee. This pick is very similar to our best overall option, and it primarily differs in that it requires an extra (or two extra) water-only cycles during the cleaning process.

Price at time of publish: $14

Cleaner or descaler: Descaler | Type: Solution | Amount: 16 ounces | For Use On: Drip coffee makers, single-serve coffee makers, espresso machines, Keurig machines, Nespresso machines

Best for Keurig: Caffenu Safe Clean Keurig Cleaning Pods

Caffenu Safe Clean Keurig Cleaning Pods

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Formulated with plant-based cleansers

  • Comes with eight pods

What We Don't Like
  • Can’t use with other coffee makers

  • Not effective on mineral build-up

These individual-use pods look just like the normal Keurig pods, but contain plant-based foaming cleansers to clean out the pod dispenser. All you have to do to use them is pop one in your Keurig and run an 8-ounce cycle. Throw out the cleaner and run another cycle to rinse the machine. 

Because Keurigs have complex interior systems and small places to hold K cups, it’s important to take the extra steps needed to really deep clean the interior and water tank. This will require washing the removable components and cleaning the exterior of the machine. You might need to use a sponge or cloth to get into every nook and cranny.

These are pricey compared to a similar solution, powder, or tablet option, too, but they are so easy to use and made specifically for Keurigs to get into all of the areas you can and can’t see. They remove stains and old coffee residue, but do not descale the machine. For that, consider the Keurig cleaning and descaling kit from Caffenu that includes these pods, as well as a descaling solution.

Price at time of publish: $12

Cleaner or descaler: Cleaner | Type: Pods | Amount: 8 | For Use On: Keurig machines

Best for Nespresso: Nestle Nespresso Descaling Solution

Nestle Nespresso Descaling Solution

Amazon

What We Like
  • Packaged in single-use portions

  • No measuring required

  • Suitable for all Nespresso models

What We Don't Like
  • May damage some surfaces or irritate skin

  • On the pricey side

Made specifically for Nespresso machines, this liquid solution is formulated to break down mineral build-up in your coffee maker. It conveniently has just the right amount of product for two cycles. Plus, each use is individually packaged, which means you don’t have to worry about measuring out the correct amount to clean your Nespresso machine.

The descaling solution is potent and may cause damage to your countertops, however—this is especially true of natural stone and unsealed countertops. Make sure to quickly wipe up any drips, and consider putting down a protective barrier as an extra precaution. It may be a good idea to wear gloves to protect your skin in case of any spills, as well.

Price at time of publish: $15

Cleaner or descaler: Descaler | Type: Solution | Amount: 6.76 ounces | For Use On: Nespresso machines

Best Descaler: Urnex Dezcal Coffee and Espresso Descaler

Urnex Dezcal Descaler

Amazon

What We Like
  • Works in almost all machines

  • Each use is packaged separately

  • Dissolves easily in water

What We Don't Like
  • Requires multiple rinse cycles

For just about any descaling need, this Urnex pick is a great choice. It works on drip coffee makers and single-serve machines (like Keurig and Nespresso), as well as Breville, Jura, Delonghi, and other coffee machines. Even if you have multiple machines in a coffee nook or coffee bar, you only need one descaling product. Each box has four packets of powder. To use, just mix the powder with 32 ounces of warm water and fill the reservoir. You will need to run additional cycles to rinse your machine.

Keep in mind that this is a descaler rather than a cleaner, so it targets limescale and other hard water build-up. It isn’t as effective on organic residue, such as old coffee grounds and burnt-on coffee. Depending on how hard your water is, you should plan on using this descaler every one to three months.

Price at time of publish: $12

Cleaner or Descaler: Descaler | Type: Powder | Amount: 4 | For Use On: Drip coffee makers, single-serve coffee makers, espresso machines, superautomatic machines, Keurig machines, Nespresso machines, Breville machines, Jura machines, Delonghi machines

Final Verdict

Our top pick is Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler. It works on many types of makers and machines, effectively descaling the interior components with an easy-to-use, liquid solution. While the Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler is a great value, you can save a few bucks by opting for the Nuvera Coffee Maker Descaling Solution, which is also a liquid solution—but, the solution-to-water ratio may require that you keep spare bottles on hand, depending on the coffee maker’s water tank size.

What to Look for in a Coffee Maker Cleaner and Descaler

Cleaning Purpose

Coffee maker cleaners and descalers remove build-up from within your machine to keep your coffee tasting great and brewing efficiently, according to Maria Isabel Angela, spokesperson for Mr. Coffee. Cleaners target coffee oils and burnt-on liquid. This tends to accumulate in the brew cup or pot, as well as the spout. Descalers break down limescale and other minerals that build up throughout the inner workings of your coffee maker. If you have hard water, this build-up can accumulate faster, making descaling a must. Some products include both cleaning and descaling agents in their formula.

Type and Application Method

Many coffee maker cleaners and descalers come in a liquid solution. To use, you just need to pour the designated amount and dilute it with water. Then run, typically, between one and four cycles in your coffee maker, as well as additional rinse cycles. The number of cycles will depend on what your individual product calls for, so you should always read the instructions on the packaging and follow them thoroughly. The Essential Values Coffee Maker Descaler is a versatile liquid option, making it our “best solution” pick.

Powders are similar and are put into the water reservoir along with warm water, which dissolves them. The Urnex Biocaf Descaling Powder is worthy of consideration if you’re looking for a powder to remove mineral deposits from your coffee maker. Tablets, such as the Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner Tablets, are the same as powder, but can be even easier to store.

Coffee Maker Compatibility

Some cleaners and descalers are made for specific types (or brands) of machines. Keurig-compatible pods, like the Caffenu Safe Clean Keurig Cleaning Pods, are the most common machine-specific cleaners, but they can’t be used for traditional brew coffee makers or espresso machines. On the other hand, liquid solutions can often be used for single-serve machines, drip coffee makers, and espresso machines. Just make sure to pay close attention to the amount needed, since that can vary depending on the size of the bottle.

FAQ
  • How often should a coffee maker be cleaned and descaled?

    Try to deep clean your coffee maker every one to three months. If you have hard water, you will likely need to descale your machine more often than that, since hard water has more minerals that can build up inside the machine. If you notice that your coffee maker is not working as quickly or efficiently as expected, it may be time to clean or descale. You can also see visible build-up in some cases that can alert you that it is time for a thorough cleaning.

    If you have other problems resulting from hard water in your home, you may want to consider installing a water softener system. Water softeners can reduce the mineral content in your water before it enters your plumbing, appliances, and fixtures.

  • What happens if you do not clean and descale your coffee maker?

    Not only will your coffee brew cycle not work as well if you do not clean and descale your coffee maker, but also leaving build-up in your coffee machine can make the parts wear out faster. Build-up can also impact the taste and temperature of your coffee. If the coffee is less smooth, limescale may be to blame. If it comes out cooler than in the past, the heating element may be having a hard time effectively warming the water as the coffee brews.

    “Your coffee will begin to taste bitter. Your coffee and coffee machine will produce an acrid smell,” says Angela. “Coffee residue can cause clogging and blockages that can render a machine unusable.” Pleshek adds, “Cleaning and descaling can seriously make your coffee taste so much better when done correctly,” additionally noting, “I also like to always suggest thoroughly rinsing your machines, you don’t want to leave any cleaner or descaler behind.”

  • Can you use vinegar to clean and descale a coffee maker?

    Vinegar and hot water is an effective cleaning solution with many uses in the home, including cleaning your coffee pot. You can use it similar to a cleaning solution, by putting it in the water reservoir and running a few brew cycles to clean and rinse the interior parts and the brew pot. You should also take out the filter basket and any other removable parts to clean them with a sponge or brush.

    It is still a good idea to periodically descale your coffee pot. Vinegar can’t always break down mineral deposits that form, especially if you have hard water. If you try vinegar and still experience the same signs that your coffee pot needs to be deep cleaned or descaled, it may be time to try something stronger.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was researched and written by Katie Melynn, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. An enthusiastic coffee drinker, Katie has tested out most of the cleaners on this list in her own home. Katie talked to Maria Isable Angela, a spokesperson for the well-known coffee maker brand Mr. Coffee, about when to clean and descale your coffee maker. Brandon Pleshek, a third-generation janitor and founder of Clean That Up!, also offered insights into the differences between coffee maker cleaners and descalers, and how often to use them.