The 5 Best Coffee Machine Descalers In 2024 (For Nespresso, Keurig And Others!)

The best coffee machine descaler we tested

Do you remember when you first bought your coffee machine? It was shiny and clean and it brewed a perfect-tasting cup of coffee.

Now when you use it, it’s covered in scuffs and stains. Even after wiping it down, there’s coffee gunk in all the corners, and the metal has gone from shiny to dull.

Sound familiar?

If this is what the outside looks like after a clean, just imagine how the inside looks when you’ve never ever cleaned it!

In this post, we’ll explain what descaling is, why you need to do it, and what we think the best descaling product available is.

1️⃣ Best Overall: The Green Pods Eco Descaler
[Jump To Review]

2️⃣ Best Budget Option: Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler
[Jump To Review]

3️⃣ Best Descaling Solution: De’Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler
[Jump To Review]

4️⃣ Best Descaling Tablet: Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner Tablets
[Jump To Review]

5️⃣ Best Descaling Kit: Urnex Coffee Maker Cleaner and Descaler Kit
[Jump To Review]

Why Listen To Us? Well, because we KNOW coffee! In fact, we make our own coffee, coffee machine cleaners, and reusable capsules which we've sold to over 41 countries. Our team ouf experts include Tristan (an engineer), Claire (a food writer) and Richy (a barista). So, whether you're looking for a recipe or repair guide, we've got you covered 💚

TLDR; The Best Coffee Machine Descaler In 2024 [Our Overall Winner]

We recommend using the Green Pods Eco Descaler. It comes with 4 sachets (1 year’s supply) which are perfectly portioned – you just rip one open and pour it into your machine’s water reservoir. It’s environmentally friendly, and it’s also more cost-effective than the name-brand descalers like the ones from Nespresso or Keurig.

You can get it from Amazon here.
[Jump To Full Review]

The Green Pods Eco Descaler Descaling Powder in kitchen

Why Do You Need To Descale?

Cafés clean out their coffee machine thoroughly after every shift. So surely it isn’t too much to ask to clean your home coffee machine at least once every few months? However, a recent survey found that over 70% of coffee machine owners NEVER clean the inside of their machines.

That’s where a descaling solution comes in. By running the right cleaning chemicals through the pipework of your machine it gets rid of the buildup of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. These minerals accumulate in the interiors of the coffee maker, blocking the pipes, ruining the element, and tainting the coffee. It also cleans out all the old coffee residue that’s built up over thousands of coffees.

The Green Pods Blocked nespresso heating element due to limescale

Scale also has a negative impact on taste. A machine full of scale will cause the water to flow slower, and the temperature to be wrong – yielding a coffee either under or over-extracted.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to descale your coffee machine.

How Does Descaler Work?

Descaling solution removes the calcified buildup inside the pipework of the machine to ensure the machine doesn’t die an early death.

Most descalers use a food safe acid to dissolve the limescale, where the salt (in this case calcium) is dissolved in the acid. Here, the free hydrogen ions from the acid will bond to the oxygen in the metal carbonate molecule – creating carbon dioxide, water, and dissolving the metal into a solution.

CaCO3(s) + 2H+(aq) → Ca2+(aq) + CO2(g) + H2O(l)

Scale is mostly Calcium (Ca) but will also likely contain Magnesium, Copper, Sodium, and Iron, based on what’s prevalent in your town’s water supply.

Typically, you would run your machine once using the descaling solution and then flush it twice with fresh water to rinse the descaler out. The whole process takes about 25 minutes. Read our descaling guides to help you do this on your specific machine

The Green Pods the best descaler

1. Best Overall: The Green Pods Eco Descaler

The Green Pods Eco Descaler made for an easy top pick for the best coffee machine descaler in our roundup.

Here’s why; It comes with four sachets, which is enough for one year’s supply. The sachets are perfectly portioned to make descaling easy. We love that it’s environmentally friendly and more cost-effective than name-brand descalers. The Green Pods Eco Descaler is made from food-safe citric acid, which is safe to touch and won’t taint the taste of your coffee. (It’s also super effective at dissolving gunk and limescale buildup inside your coffee machine.)

  • Price: $19
  • Type: Sachets (powder)
  • Number of doses: 4 sachets / 4 doses (1 year’s supply)
  • Sustainability: Environmentally friendly chemicals, compostable packaging, made from recycled cardboard.
The Green Pods Eco Descaler – Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
  • ✔️ ENJOY BETTER TASTING COFFEE: Infrequent descaling is the #1 reason your coffee is tasting bad. Descale and you’ll taste the difference.
  • ✔️ SAFE FOR YOU AND YOUR MACHINE: Our Eco Descaler is safe for all machine parts. It leaves no harmful residues and does not cause corrosion within the coffee machine.
  • ✔️ WORKS ON ALL COFFEE MACHINES: Designed and tested on all leading coffee machines including Nespresso, Keurig, Dolce Gusto, Caffitaly, Breville, Delonghi, and more.

2. Best Budget: Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler at Amazon

The Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler is a great option for those on a budget. It’s an affordable descaling solution that’s still effective at removing buildup and limescale from your coffee machine. The Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler is made from food-safe citric acid, which is safe to touch and won’t affect the taste of your coffee. It’s easy to use and comes in a 16-ounce bottle, which is enough for several uses.

  • Price: ~$14
  • Type: Liquid
  • Number of doses: 2x 8 oz bottle (4 uses total)
  • Sustainability: Environmentally friendly chemicals however comes in throw-away plastic bottles
Descaler (2 Pack, 2 Uses Per Bottle) – Made in the USA – Universal Descaling Solution for Keurig, Nespresso, Delonghi and All Single Use Coffee and Espresso Machines
  • 2-Pack Coffee Descaler and Cleaner – Clean and rinse away residue and oils building up in your coffee maker with Impresa’s Coffee Descaler Solution….

3. Best Solution: De’Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler

De’Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler is a powerful descaling solution that’s perfect for those who want top-quality results. It’s made from 100% lactic acid, which is food-safe and eco-friendly. The De’Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler is strong enough to remove even the toughest buildup and limescale from your coffee machine. It comes in a 16-ounce bottle, which is enough for five uses. We love that it’s easy to use and doesn’t leave any residue or odor behind.

  • Price: ~$19 (expensive)
  • Type: Liquid
  • Number of doses: 5 uses
  • Sustainability: Food-safe chemicals however comes in a plastic bottle
Sale
De’Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
  • Significantly reduces the likelihood of premature breakdown from hard water scale build-up, increases the energy efficiency, and improves the coffee…

4. Best Tablet: Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner Tablets

Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner Tablets are a convenient and effective way to descale your coffee machine. The tablets are perfectly portioned and easy to use. They dissolve quickly and effectively remove buildup and limescale from your coffee machine. Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner Tablets are made from food-safe citric acid, which won’t affect the taste of your coffee. They come in a pack of six tablets, which is enough for several uses.

Note: In our test, we found the tablets hard to dissolve. You need to wait 2 or 3 minutes for the table to stop fizzing, but even then there’s still lumps in the bottom that take a lot of stirring to get to disolvve

  • Price: ~$7
  • Type: Tablet
  • Number of doses: 3 tablets (3 doses)
  • Sustainability: Environmentally friendly chemicals, recyclable cardboard packing
Sale
Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner, Works with Multi-cup and Single-serve Brewers, 3 Tablets
  • Descales your coffee maker, fighting hard water deposits and mineral buildup for a better tasting brew

5. Best Kit: Urnex Coffee Maker Cleaner and Descaler Kit

The Urnex Coffee Maker Cleaner and Descaler Kit is a comprehensive solution for those who want to keep their coffee machine clean and functioning properly. The kit includes a descaling solution, cleaning powder, and a cleaning brush. The descaling solution is made from food-safe citric acid, which is safe to touch and won’t taint the taste of your coffee. The cleaning powder effectively removes coffee oils and residue from your coffee machine. The cleaning brush is perfect for getting into hard-to-reach areas. We love that the kit is easy to use and comes with everything you need to keep your coffee machine clean and functioning properly.

  • Price: ~$12
  • Type: Liquid (descaling solution) and liquid (cleaning powder)
  • Number of doses: 1 use only
  • Sustainability: Environmentally friendly and safe for septic systems

What To Look For In A Good Descaling Solution? (Buyers Guide)

Descaling ProductPriceActive IngredientNumber of DosesOur Take
Green Pods Eco Descaler
~$15Citric Acid4 sachets (1 year’s supply)[Winner] Easy to use. Scan a QR code to get up to date instructions for your machine. Compostable packing and good price
Impresa Coffee Machine Descaler~$14Lactic Acid2x 8 oz bottles (4 uses total)Cheapest option and works well. Not a fan of the plastic bottles. Liquid descalers are bulky and annoying compared to powdered descalers.
De’Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler~$18Lactic Acid16 oz bottle (5 uses)[Runner Up] A good option with 5 doses (compared with most that have 4. However we find Liquid descalers are bulky and annoying compared to powdered descalers. Its also hard to get the right doseage from one large bottle
Affresh Coffee Maker Cleaner Tablets~$10Citric Acid6 tablets (3 uses)tablets are the worst option when it comes to descalers. They seem easy to use, but in reality they struggle to disolve and you spend more time stirring than desclaing
Urnex Coffee Maker Cleaner and Descaler Kit~$17Citric Acid2 oz descaler, 1 oz cleaning powder, cleaning brushOnly 1 dose but comes with a cleaner too. Bad value if you are looking at descaling multiple times but good if you just want to do a 1 off.
best coffee machine descaler infographic large

What Active Ingredients To Check For

Most commercial descaling solutions are made from acid and combined which a pH buffer that helps protect the pipework in your machine. Typically, these are, but are not limited to;

  • Lactic acid ✔️
  • Citric acid ✔️
  • Acetic acid ❌
  • Glycolic acid ❌
  • Formic acid ❌
  • Phosphoric acid ❌
  • Sulfamic acid ❌
  • Hydrochloric acid ❌

Now some of these acids, whilst great at dissolving gunk off your coffee machine, aren’t really safe to handle or ingest. We recommend looking for a descaler that contains citric or lactic acid as these are safe to touch, and won’t taint the taste of your coffee.

Can You Make Your Own Descaler? (Don’t Use Vinegar)

Absolutely, the key to correctly descaling is to use a solution that is acidic enough to dissolve the calcified deposits on the kettle, but soft enough not to damage any of the pipework or seals in the machine.

A mild acidic solution will do magic since calcium carbonate can easily dissolve in mild acids. Vinegar and citric acid are the best descaling solution substitutes that can effectively combat the limescale. What you do is to ensure the acids sit on the machine’s surface long enough to dissolve the minerals, and the magic will work.

  • Using Vinegar – We recommend using 1 part white vinegar to 1 part distilled water.Don’t use any flavoured vinegar or malt vinegar as this is full of other impurities that could gunk up your machine even more.
  • Using Citric Acid – Mix 2 tablespoons of citric acid in a quart (1 liter) of warm water. Stir to dissolve the powder in the water. Add the solution to the water tank and start descaling according to the instructions, provided by your machine’s manufacturer.
  • Using Lemon Juice – Don’t use lemon juice as this is full of other impurities and pulp that can block the pipework and are harder to get rid of than the scale itself!

Make sure to rinse the machine through well afterward as these recipes (especially the vinegar) leave a strong smell and taste behind which might ruin the next cup of coffee.

What About Buying ‘Eco-Friendly’ Descaling Products?

If you look for a descaler on Amazon, for instance, you’ll be overwhelmed with different products to choose from. Some bottles, some sachets, some in tablet form, and others are marketed as ‘eco-friendly’ alternatives.

So what are these eco alternatives? Well, unfortunately, it’s mostly just sneaky marketing tactics. Most descaling products use food acids and are therefore safe for the environment.

Instead, ‘Eco’ usually points to how the product is packaged. For example;
❌ Nespresso’s descaler comes in single-use plastic sachets which are not recyclable
❌ Keurig and Delognhi’s desclars come in plastics bottles wchic are only slightly better.

Our favorite descaler comes in recycled paper sachets and recycled cardboard box which is 100% compostable when you’re done with it

And just because it’s eco doesn’t mean you’ll pay more for it. Our top pick is actually cheaper overall once you average out the number of doses you get!

Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 Packets
Durgol Swiss Steamer, Descaler and Decalcifier for All Brands of Steamer Ovens, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
Best Overall
The Green Pods Eco Descaler - Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
Runner Up
De'Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 Packets
Durgol Swiss Steamer, Descaler and Decalcifier for All Brands of Steamer Ovens, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
The Green Pods Eco Descaler - Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
De'Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
2 Doses
5 Doses
4 Doses
5 Doses
Our Take: Expensive, Plastic sachets are wasteful.
Our Take: More expensive than other options
Our Take: Easiest to use as each dose is pre-measued. Great instructions. Good for the environment too!
Our Take: Good price, size, but knowing how much to use is confusing
Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 Packets
Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 Packets
2 Doses
Our Take: Expensive, Plastic sachets are wasteful.
Durgol Swiss Steamer, Descaler and Decalcifier for All Brands of Steamer Ovens, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
Durgol Swiss Steamer, Descaler and Decalcifier for All Brands of Steamer Ovens, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
5 Doses
Our Take: More expensive than other options
Best Overall
The Green Pods Eco Descaler - Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
The Green Pods Eco Descaler - Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
4 Doses
Our Take: Easiest to use as each dose is pre-measued. Great instructions. Good for the environment too!
Runner Up
De'Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
De'Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
5 Doses
Our Take: Good price, size, but knowing how much to use is confusing

What About Machine-Specific Descaling Products?

Nespresso’s Descaling Sachets

Nespresso sells small sachets of descaler alongside their machines at most appliance stores and online. Each sachet will have just enough solution for one descaling run.

They are sold in packs of two, and each pack will set you back $9 USD or $20 NZD – a bit extortionate for us New Zealand Nespresso drinkers! it is readily accessible and available at the Nespresso online store, Nespresso Boutique, and all Nespresso appliance retailers we check with.

  1. Number Of Doses – Each pack comes with two sachets, at one dose each.
  2. Price – At $5 per sachet this is rather expensive. You can buy identical products under a different brand name on amazon which yields a much cheaper price per dose.
  3. Accessibility – This product is easily accessible online and in-store.

Note: Unfortunately, the plastic sachets are not biodegradable, and since each sachet is only one dose, this is another single-use plastic-packed product.

Our Take:

We actually wouldn’t recommend the Nespresso product. Its the most expensive product we tested, it is readily accessible and available at the Nespresso online store, Nespresso Boutique, and all Nespresso appliance retailers we check with.

Caffitaly’s Descaler

Caffitaly coffee have their own product – the “Caffitaly 250 ml descaler”. This solution comes premixed and ready to use.

We’re not a fan of this product for a couple of reasons.

  • Dose size – We always recommend filling the entire water tank with solution to get the best clean. With this 250ml bottle you would need to buy 3 or 4 bottles to get the job done.
  • Price – At roughly $10 per bottle, and given that one bottle is only one dose, this is one of the more expensive products available.
  • Accessibility – This product is hard to come by, and in most cases will need to be bought direct form the Caffitaly website.

Most Caffitaly coffee machines feature an advanced automatic program to know when descaling is needed.

Our Take:

Expensive and unsustainable. There are far better options available. I think these manufactures trick people into buying the same brand name descaler as their machine (because that makes sense right) so once people realse you can use any descaler you can save a lot of money.

Final Thoughts And Recommendations:

So what do we make from all this? All descaling solutions do the same thing. Though ingredients and packaging vary slightly lot from brand to brand, so does the price tag. Name-brand coffee systems like Nespresso and Caffitaly use to their advantage to sell their own product at a premium price point.

We recommend using a generic product that is sold in bulk. Not only is this better value, but it’s better for the environment too as there is less plastic packing going to waste!

You can use any brand of descaling product in your coffee machine, as long as you dilute it with the correct amount of water to the manufacturer’s instructions. You don’t need to use the overpriced name-branded descalers

We recommend using the Green Pods Eco Descaler. It comes with 4 sachets (1 year’s supply) which are perfectly portioned. It’s environmentally friendly, and it’s also more cost-effective than the name-brand Keurig Descalers.

You can get it from Amazon here.

The Green Pods Eco Descaler – Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
  • ✔️ ENJOY BETTER TASTING COFFEE: Infrequent descaling is the #1 reason your coffee is tasting bad. Descale and you’ll taste the difference.
  • ✔️ SAFE FOR YOU AND YOUR MACHINE: Our Eco Descaler is safe for all machine parts. It leaves no harmful residues and does not cause corrosion within the coffee machine.
  • ✔️ WORKS ON ALL COFFEE MACHINES: Designed and tested on all leading coffee machines including Nespresso, Keurig, Dolce Gusto, Caffitaly, Breville, Delonghi, and more.

Descaling Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions about the descaling process. Here are some of the answers to these frequently asked questions.

Q. How much descaling solution should I use in my machine?

Each descaling product comes at a different concentration, so you’ll need to read the instructions on the label to see how much to use, and how much water to add. In terms of the total amount of solution to mix up, we recommend making enough to completely fill the water tank on your machine.

Q. How often do I need to descale my machine?

Nespresso recommends that you descale your machine every three months or 300 coffees – whichever comes first. That means if you use your machine often you may need to descale more frequently. Some examples descaling frequencies are shown in the table below.

Some machines, such as the dolce gusto machines and some Caffitaly machine, have a light that comes on when it’s time to descale.

Read the manual and see if your coffee machine has this feature.

Q. Can you use vinegar instead of descaling solution?

Scientifically speaking, cleaning your coffee machine with vinegar is almost exactly the same as with a commercial descaler solution.

Unfortunately, we’ve found vinegar tends to peel off the scale and build up in flakes which could clog your machine causing irreparable damage. We’ve heard of people having to throw out their coffee machine because of this and therefore recommend sticking with a product containing pure citric, lactic or acetic acid.

Q. What is a descaling solution made of?

Descaling solution is generally an acidic chemical that is capable of dissolving mineral salts such as oxides and carbonates. Notable descaling agents include acetic acid, citric acid and lactic acid. These are all food safe chemicals, however citric and acetic acid do impart a more noticeable taste to the machine, thus lactic is typically preferred.

Q. Can you make descaling solution?

You can make your own descaling solution using vinegar or citric acid, though we’d recommend using a commercial descaling product in a concentration that is proven not to damage your machine.

Q. Can I use any descaler in my coffee machine?

Yes, you can use any brands descaler product in your coffee machine. Just make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging to make sure you get the concentration.

Q. What happens If You Don’t Descale Your Coffee Machine?

Scale builds up inside the pipes restricting the flow of water. If this happens inside the thermoblock (Nespresso’s heating element) water won’t be able to reach its optimal brewing temperature. When this happens it’s impossible to extract the full flavor from the coffee pods and the flavour will become weak. Severe scale buildup can clog water flow completely, causing a machine to stop working

Q. Is Descaling Solution Toxic?

Our Nespresso descaling solution is completely non-tox and ecofriendly. It’s made from lactic acid which is food safe in moderate doses. Other descaling solutions may use caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide which is highly toxic, so please check the label if unsure.

The End

Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips or tricks to keep your coffee machine descaled and clean. What descaling product do you prefer to use?

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