Cleaning Coffee Maker with Citric Acid- Everything Explained!

Cleaning Coffee Maker with Citric Acid

Many people may not even think about cleaning their coffee maker with citric acid.

Most people clean the filter and leave it at that. Even though you may wash off some or most of the acidic buildup with water, there is still plenty left for your coffee beans to pick up. 

So, for a little more effort on your part, this guide can demonstrate a few helpful tips on scrubbing a coffee maker with citric acid.

Let’s get started!

Some tips before you start cleaning the machine

Depending on how you use your coffee maker, there are a few items you should make sure you have before beginning the cleaning process.

A sponge or cloth

A cleanable cloth is handy in case you have to wipe off some acidic buildup. A sponge is best in case you have to scrub at the machine.

A cleaning agent (optional) Options include white vinegar, dish soap, baking soda (and even corn starch), and hydrogen peroxide.

Disposable gloves

Although citric acid is not extremely dangerous compared to other acids, it may burn you when you let it out of a container. 

Wearing these gloves will give you a better grip on the container and prevent the strong smell of citric acid from getting into your eyes or nose. 

If you don’t have them, try to take regular breaks during your cleaning session to give your skin time to breathe.

A robust set of cleaning equipment (optional)

You may also be ready with other cleaning equipment that can help pull off stubborn buildup, including brush, toothpick, q-tip, and bobby pin.

How to clean the coffee maker

Step 1: Wash the removable parts of the coffee maker

First, make sure the coffee maker is unplugged. Once you are confident, the machine is safe to handle without the risk of electric shock, grab your sponge or cloth and dip it in water. 

While wearing your gloves (optional), wipe off any loose dirt that might be on the outside of the machine. 

Step 2: Fill the reservoir with water

The quantity of water you pour in will depend on the size of your coffee pot, but make sure you fill the reservoir about halfway.

Step 3: Pour in citric acid. 

If you want to use citric acid for this process, pour about a quarter cup of it into the reservoir and then stir with a spoon until dissolved.

What does adding citric acid do?
Ensure there is no trace of undissolved crystals left, or they can cause unexpected reactions later on.

Step 4: Turn on the machine.

Close the water reservoir lid, then turn the machine on to brew the coffee cycle. 

Step 5: Wait for the coffee to brew 

Wait for the machine to finish brewing and then empty the dirty liquid into the carafe. 

Step 6: Start the cycle again with clean water.

After the machine finishes brewing the coffee, fill the reservoir with fresh water and turn on the device to brew again. Then, dump it out and wash the parts with hot water. 

Which processes in the water cycle clean water?
Your machine is ready! It is still important to wipe down the device on a more regular basis. You will also need to clean the reservoir periodically, separately from the cleaning process with citric acid. 

A good way of doing this is just to run another complete cleaning cycle using water.

What can you do if citric acid doesn’t work?

If you are still seeing traces of coffee residue, this means that your coffee maker is most definitely not safe for consumption anymore. 

Although there are other methods to clean the machine, these will not remove the stains. In this case, it is best to take your coffee maker back to a shop for cleaning or replace it altogether.

How often should you descale the coffee maker?

If you stick with cleaning the pot every other day, there is no reason to run a citric acid cycle more than once a month.

However, if your machine should start to look dirty again before that period ends, there is no harm in repeating the process.

You need to find the time to do the cleaning regularly. You will undoubtedly want to keep your coffee maker clean, but also you will want to enjoy your coffee too! It is a good idea to have spare weekdays blocked out just for this. 

This way, it becomes a regular task that you can do without much worry.

How do you mix citric acid for descaling?

Mix 3 tablespoons of acid with 1 quart of hot water in a small container. Then, adjust the amount of acid to 1 quart depending on how much buildup you want to remove.

Is vinegar or citric acid better for descaling?

The best descaling solution is the one that works for your machine and is easy to use. If you have tried citric acid and it did not work, you can try vinegar next. Vinegar also has a slightly lower pH than citric acid, and it will also break down coffee stains.

You may want to try using a combination of the two. If you cannot find citrus-based acid in your local stores, you can also use lemon juice or white vinegar instead.

How long does citric acid take to descale?

It depends on how tough the build-up is and how often you clean your coffee maker. For most people, cleaning the machine once a week is enough to keep it clean. But if you’re seeing residue more frequently than that, try the citric acid procedure more often.

There are some coffee makers where this process will only work on a certain coffee cycle. It is important that you know how your machine works so that you can be sure to clean it frequently enough to prevent problems with staining and flavor loss.

Does citric acid leave residue?

No, citric acid will not leave any residue. All you need is a little bit of citric acid and an adequate source of water to remove the soil and stains that come with the use of a coffee maker.

How toxic is citric acid?

Lemon juice is made from citric acid, and it is used by many people on a daily basis.
It is non-toxic, but it can cause mild irritation. When mixed with water, citrus acid can have a pH of about 2.6 to 3.6.

Does citric acid remove hard water deposits?

Yes. The citric acid should dissolve the hard water deposits that have been on your coffee maker.


With this guide, you have learned that cleaning your coffee maker with citric acid is not as hard as it may seem. Follow the steps mentioned in the manual and watch your coffee pot become clean!

The benefit of these directions is that you can clear up any buildup inside your filter basket or basket filter, inside the coffee pot's reservoir, or inside the brewing unit itself! It will not only help to make your coffee taste better, but it will also make your coffee maker last longer.

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