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Coffee Pot Maintenance: Vinegar vs. Descaler

When you have to wake up with the sun to get ready for work, your coffee maker instantly becomes your best friend. If the red indicator light just came on warning you that it’s time to descale the coffee pot, you may be unsure of what product or method to use. Luckily, with a few simple steps, your coffee machine will be back to its old self.

Cleaning vs. Descaling a Coffee Pot

Before you get started, it’s important to distinguish between how to clean a coffee pot and how to descale a coffee pot. Rinsing out the machine with water may remove loose debris, but it’s not enough to tackle limescale buildup caused by hard water.

Hard water has a higher mineral content than soft water. The dissolved calcium, magnesium, and limestone start to build up in your coffee machine over time. It won’t hurt you, but it can affect the taste of your coffee.

Plus, the limescale can start to block the holes in your coffee pot—that’s what triggers the indicator light to turn on, if your machine has one. For older coffee makers and those with fewer features, simply look for chalky white residue. This tells you it’s time to descale your coffee pot.

Cleaning with Vinegar or Commercial Descaler

You have two strategies for ridding your coffee pot of limescale: white vinegar and commercial descaler. If you opt for cleaning with vinegar, follow these steps:

  • Empty and rinse the carafe.
  • Dispose of any coffee grounds left in the machine. Dump the grounds in your compost heap or trashcan, not down the sink.
  • Fill the water chamber halfway with white vinegar, and then top it off with water.
  • Set the carafe in place and start a brew cycle. Halfway through, turn off the coffee maker and let it sit for one hour. (If you descale your coffee machine regularly, you may be able to skip the rest period.)
  • Finish the brew cycle. Then, pour out the vinegar/water solution and rinse the carafe in the sink.
  • Fill the water chamber with clean water and let a full cycle run from start to finish. Let the machine cool slightly, and then repeat this two more times to get rid of any residual vinegar taste.

Cleaning your coffee pot with commercial descaler is almost exactly the same—simply substitute the vinegar for the descaling solution, adding the amount instructed on the packaging.

Pros and Cons of Cleaning a Coffee Pot with Vinegar vs. Descaler

Consider the following before you decide which method to use when descaling your coffee pot:

  • The descaling process is the same, no matter which product you use.
  • Vinegar is readily available and more affordable than descaler.
  • Descaler is specifically formulated for descaling coffee pots and will keep the machine running reliably.
  • The manufacturer may not honor a warranty claim if you use vinegar instead of descaler.

Tip: To prevent needing to descale your coffee pot as often, try brewing with bottled or spring water instead of tap water.

Molly Maid Can Keep Your Kitchen Clean

Descaling the coffee pot is only one of many tasks on your kitchen cleaning to-do list. If you need help getting it all done, call on Molly Maid! Our kitchen cleaning services are designed to take a load off your shoulders so you have more time for friends, family, and brewing great cups of coffee!

To request a free in-home estimate for professional house cleaning services near you, please contact your local Molly Maid or call us at (888) 583-6490.

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