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How to Clean an Automatic Coffee Maker with Citric Acid?

A coffee maker is an essential appliance for any coffee lover. However, many people take their coffee makers for granted and fail to clean them often. When not cleaned properly and regularly, the appliance will eventually become inefficient, brew bad-tasting coffee, and probably malfunction. Just like other appliances, coffee makers require regular cleaning to brew tasty coffee and remain reliable for many years.

citric acid clean coffee maker

One of the best ways of cleaning a coffee machine is by using a solution of water and citric acid. Citric acid works by descaling the appliance. It’s an easy-to-use and inexpensive descaling product. The process is quick. The cleaning process takes about the same time taken to brew a pot of coffee.

What’s The Necessity of Cleaning Coffee Makers?

Just like other appliances, coffee makers require routine maintenance to keep them operating optimally for many years. Maintaining a coffee maker is relatively simple as it only needs cleaning the appliance. It’s something you can do easily and quickly. Cleaning the working components, especially the filter and pot can keep it working optimally. For instance, cleaning the pot eliminates the buildup of mineral deposits that result from using hard water to brew coffee. Mineral deposits often lead to uneven brewing, water loss, and less tasty coffee brews.

Besides cleaning the interior, you should also clean the exterior surface of your coffee machine. For instance, you should wipe away any liquid spills and dirt from the hot plate as soon as they occur. The hot plate is the heating element surface on which the pot sits when brewing coffee. Cleaning the surface of the hot plate will keep it smooth to make sure that the pot is warmed evenly, thereby resulting in better tasting brews.

Any liquid spills left unattended on the hot plate, especially coffee and water, can eventually cause the surface to rust. The rust may burn the pot or cause the hot plate coating to peel off. If that happens, you’ll need to remove the rust and recoat the surface.

Preparation before Cleaning

Before using citric acid to clean various components of a coffee maker, it’ll help to do certain preparations. First, detach the removable parts that require cleaning, especially the pot and filter basket. Clean them thoroughly with warm, soapy water. A dishwashing liquid detergent would do a good job. The warm, soapy water will remove residue coffee oils and coffee grounds.

Use a damp cloth to wipe away any spilled grounds. You can clean the coffee pot more thoroughly with a mixture of dry rice grains, liquid dishwashing soap, and water. Pour the mixture into the pot. Then swish it around. The rice grains will scrub the interior surface gently to remove any buildup and oils.

Using Citric Acid to Clean Your Coffee Maker

Also, it’ll help to clean the interior components of your coffee maker. The interior components make it possible for your automatic coffee maker to brew coffee. If you’re using hard water to brew coffee, mineral deposits such as calcium magnesium will eventually build up within the interior components. You need to get rid of the buildup to prevent clogging and making your coffee maker less efficient. Also, removing limescale will allow the coffee maker to brew better-tasting coffee.

You can descale the interior working components of your coffee machine with the help of citric acid. You can purchase the product from your local grocery or hardware store. For this coffee maker cleaning method, mix citric acid (1 tablespoon) with water (1 gallon) in a plastic container. Next, pour the mixture into the water reservoir of your coffee machine. Place a coffee filter in the filter basket. Turn on the appliance. Run the appliance until it brews about half the mixture. Then turn it off for about 30 minutes. Turn it on until it completes brewing the rest of the mixture. Repeat this cleaning method until it’s fully descaled.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Citric Acid as a Descaling Solution

Citric acid comes with some advantages and disadvantages when used as a descaling solution. You should consider its advantages and disadvantages before using it with your coffee maker. Among its advantages is that it’s easy to find and inexpensive. You can purchase it from a local store or online. It lasts long when stored properly. Besides, it doesn’t leave an odor in the coffee maker after cleaning. Its smell is less awful than that of most natural and chemical descaling solutions.

However, citric acid isn’t a very strong acidic product. Thus, you have to run the coffee machine a few cycles to descale it properly. In case a mixture of (water) 1 gallon and citric acid (1 tablespoon) doesn’t get the job done, use ½ gallon of water for a stronger cleaning effect.

However, using citric acid as a descaling solution on a long-term basis can cause buildup. You can avoid this problem by using other descaling solutions like vinegar.

Alternative Descaling Methods

In case citric acid doesn’t seem to descale your coffee maker, or you’re unable to find it in your nearby store, you can try alternative descaling solutions. One of the best alternatives is a mixture of water and white vinegar. Vinegar is especially effective when descaling hard water mineral deposits.

To use this method, add water and white vinegar into the reservoir in the ratio of 2:1 respectively. Insert a filter in place. Next, turn on the appliance and allow it to run for a full brewing cycle. Once done, rinse it with plain water for two cycles. Use fresh water for each rinsing cycle. Rinsing it with plain water will eliminate any vinegar smell left behind after cleaning it.

You can also try other cleaning solutions to remove mineral deposits from your coffee machine. For instance, you can buy CLR (Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover) if other solutions fail to do a thorough job. CLR is a powerful descaling agent. It’s efficient in eliminating calcium buildup in coffee machines. You can also find other products that contain bleaching compounds and acids from your local store.


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