CoffeeHustle is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
It doesn’t matter whether you have a simple drip coffee maker or a top of the liner model or if you use the most expensive organic coffee beans or whatever pre-ground coffee was on sale at the grocery store this week. If you don’t take care of your coffee maker, it’s not going to be able to keep making good tasting coffee.
Mineral buildup and stains are real problems when it comes to home coffee machines which is why it’s so important to use the best coffee maker cleaner regularly. We researched 37 differed products to figure out which outperformed the rest. Our Editor’s Choice is the Urnex Full Circle Coffee and Espresso Descaler, a non-toxic, biodegradable formula trusted by some of the most popular coffee shops around. We also included five other products that we think are really capable of getting the job done.
To find these products, we considered a few different features in our research. First, how much volume do you get? Is the product one-time use or does it contain enough solution for multiple cleaning cycles? We also looked at the ingredients so you know exactly what you’re working with when you choose one of these products. Finally, we considered how easy these products are to use. The first thing you’ll see is a table where we compare all of our products, side by side. After that are in-detail reviews of each item followed by a detailed buying guide to help you figure out which is the right one for you.
Our Editor’s Choice is Urnex Full Circle Coffee and Espresso Descaler. This non-toxic formula is phosphate-free and biodegradable so it’s safe for your family and the environment. Urnex is a leader in the industry and its products are used by a lot of commercial coffee shops, including most Starbucks locations.
One of the best things about this formula is that it’s odorless and rinses away easily so it won’t affect the taste or aroma of your coffee. It breaks down limescale and acts as a decalcifier so it’s great for drip coffee or espresso machines.
This product is meant to be used for regular cleaning. For best results, the manufacturer recommends using it at least every three months. If you have hard water, you may need to use it more frequently. Because you get two 4-ounce bottles with this purchase, it should last anywhere between two and six months.
Some reviewers mentioned that the instructions were a little hard to follow. A few people also commented that they had to use more than one bottle to get their machine clean but, ultimately, that depends on how much buildup was in the machine in the first place. We should also mention that this formula may stain any plastic components of your coffee maker.
What do we love it for?
Rinses away easily
Includes 2 single-use bottles
What were we disappointed with?
Instructions can be difficult to follow
May need to use more than one bottle, depending on how much buildup is present
Next up is Saeco CA6700/47 cleaner, a decalcifier specifically designed for espresso machines. It removes limescale buildup and prevents corrosion, extending the lifetime of the machine and making sure you always get the best tasting coffee.
Believe it or not, using this product in your espresso machine ensures that your coffee comes out at the right temperature. When limescale builds up, it absorbs heat from the water which means that your espresso is not as hot as it should be. Using this product regularly corrects this problem.
If you have a Saeco espresso machine, this cleaner is for you, although it works with any cappuccino or espresso maker. The great thing about most Saeco machines, though, is they have a light that indicates when it’s time to descale. All you have to do is pour this formula into the reservoir, fill it with water, and run the machine.
Most users were very happy with this product, though some did comment that it was a bit pricey and you only get a single-treatment bottle. That said, if you’ve invested in a really good coffee maker, you have to make sure you take care of it properly. This one definitely gets the job done.
We’re calling the Halefresh Descaling Solution our best product for the money. Why? Because this formula is so powerful, you get about eight uses from each bottle. Plus, this universal formula works on just about any machine, including some of the most popular brands like Keurig, Ninja, Nespresso, and Breville.
This formula works fast and rinses away easily so it doesn’t leave behind and odors and won’t affect the taste of your coffee. The manufacturer recommends using it roughly every six to eight weeks, depending on the mineral content of your water. It’s really easy to use, too. The bottle has a built-in measuring system so you know you’re using the right amount with each cleaning.
Another thing we like about this one is that it’s an all-natural product that’s made in the USA. Regular use will not only make your coffee taste great, but it will also keep your machine working like new and extend its lifetime.
Most people were very happy with the results from this product but some mentioned that the instructions were a little difficult to understand. A few people also commented that it didn’t work as quickly as was implied but, again, this really comes down to how much buildup was present in the first place.
What do we love it for?
8 uses per bottle
Universal formula works with most popular brands
Built-in measuring system
Made in USA
What were we disappointed with?
Instructions can be difficult to understand
May not work quickly depending on the amount of buildup present
If you’re looking for a great cleaner for your single-serve coffee maker, take a look at Essential Values Universal Descaling Solution. This package comes with two 8-ounce bottles, each with enough solution for two cleanings – so, four cleanings in all. The manufacturer recommends using it once every one to three months, depending on the hardness of your water, so this product could potentially last up to a year.
This product is made in the USA and works with some of the most well-known coffee maker brands, including Delonghi, Keurig, Ninja, and Saeco. Plus, it can be used with espresso machines as well as drip coffee makers.
Although this product claims to rinse clean, several people commented that the first cup of coffee or two after cleaning tasted a bit off and that the machine required a few flushing cycles to get the taste back to normal. That said, some users also commented that they didn’t notice any bad taste so this might come down to how much of the cleaner you use. Another thing that was mentioned a few times is that they needed to clean more frequently than they did when using other products.
If you have a Keurig, you have to take a look at the Keurig Brewer Care Kit. It was designed by the brand, for the brand so you can rest assured you’re getting the most out of your machine. This set is compatible with all Keurig machines except the Rivo system and the K10 mini.
This kit includes a bottle of descaling solution to remove limescale and buildup and a two-pack of water filter refills which remove chlorine from the water. Keurig recommends using the descaling solution quarterly and replacing the filters every two months.
Something kind of obvious that we should point out is that this cleaner is only meant to be used with Keurig machines. Can you use other cleaners with a Keurig? Sure. Can you use this cleaner on other brands? Maybe. Just keep in mind that this product was specifically made by Keurig for their own products.
Most users were beyond happy with the results. A lot of people commented that they couldn’t believe how much gunk came out of their machine. Most were also very surprised that there was no bad aftertaste or odor left behind. Some people did not have this experience, however, and commented that they had to rinse their machine several times.
What makes it special?
Made by Keuring for Keurig machines
Includes descaling solution and 2 water filters
No lingering odor or aftertaste
What cons did we find?
Only meant to be used with Keurig machines
May require several rinse cycles to eliminate smell and odor
Last up is our budget pick, Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner. This powdered formula removes mineral deposits and hardened stains that are otherwise impossible to clean. It’s ideal for espresso machines and drip coffee makers which is great because it’s not always easy to find cleaners for automatic drip coffee makers.
One of the great things about this cleaner is it’s not acidic so it’s safe to use on any machine. It removes mineral deposits, excess oils, and stains without ruining the inside of your machine. It’s also really effective at getting stains off of coffee pots, carafes, and even stainless steel travel mugs.
There are a few downsides to this cleaner. Since it’s a powder, you have to mix it yourself which isn’t quite as convenient as premixed solutions. A few people commented that they had a difficult time getting the powder to completely dissolve, though this wasn’t common. Another thing to note about this product is that it can be difficult to rinse so you may have to run the machine through a few rinse cycles to get rid of any leftover smells or aftertaste.
What stands out?
Can be used with just about any coffee maker, including automatic drip machines
Cleans mineral deposits, excess oils, and stains
Great for coffee pots and carafes
Powdered formula so you can mix exactly what you need
What cons did we manage to find?
Have to mix it yourself
Powder does not always dissolve completely
Can be difficult to rinse clean
Things to Consider
If you’re never really thought about how important cleaning your coffee maker is, you’re in for a surprise. Over time, buildup really starts to affect the way your coffee maker works and how good your coffee tastes. Using the right cleaner is essential to getting and keeping your machine working like new.
Why should you descale a coffee maker?
Water is an essential part of any pot of coffee and all water contains minerals, like magnesium and calcium. Not all water is the same, though. For example, hard water has more of these minerals than soft.
As water passes over the heating element in your coffee maker, minerals begin to accumulate. If not taken care of, it will continue to get worse and worse until the heating element no longer works properly. Pieces of this mineral buildup can also break off and clog the waterlines inside your machine. This can happen pretty quickly with hard water.
The tricky thing is that, because you can see the heating element inside your coffee maker, you may not even be aware that this is happening or how bad the buildup is. Regular cleaning and descaling is the best way to make sure it never gets excessive.
All of the products we chose are roughly the same price, ranging between $10 and $20, but it’s important to keep in mind how many applications are in each bottle. Several, like the Saeco CA6700/47 cleaner, can only be used once. On the other hand, a bottle of Halefresh Descaling Solution has enough for up to eight applications.
The best coffee maker cleaner can be found by the following features
If you’re not sure how to choose the right coffee maker cleaner, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Capacity varies based on the concentration of the product. Urnex Full Circle Coffee and Espresso Descaler comes with two 8-ounce bottles while Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner is a small eight-ounce can of powder. Most of these products have to be mixed with water before use anyway so what you really need to pay attention to is how much volume is needed for a single cleaning cycle.
How long does it last?
Some of these products are single-use bottles, meaning you add the entire bottle to the reservoir and add water, in most cases, to begin a cleaning cycle. There are two exceptions. Halefresh Descaling Solution comes in a multi-use bottle with a measuring system included and, as we mentioned, Brew Rite is actually a powder.
Look at the ingredients
Citric acid is by far the most common ingredient in coffee maker cleaners or any other type of descaler. It’s a natural descaling agent that worked without being too aggressive so it won’t cause damage to the machine. Citric acid is so good at what it does that a lot of these cleaners don’t use many other ingredients.
Some of these cleaners have a bit of a potent smell that is not always easy to get rid of. When a cleaning cycle is finished, all of these products will require a few rinse cycles to make sure there is no scent left behind that will affect the way your coffee tastes and smells.
It’s hard to determine cleaning time because so much depends on how much buildup was present in the first place. If you’ve never descaled your machine before, it may take a few cleaning cycles to make sure you got it all. On the other hand, if you’re performing regular maintenance, a cleaning cycle followed by a rinse or two usually does the trick.
All of these bottles are pretty easy to use. Some may have childproof lids but that’s about as difficult as it’s going to get. A lot of these bottles are one-time-use only so you just need to open them and dump the contents into the reservoir.
The multiuse Halefresh bottle is a little different. It has a measuring reservoir on the top so you have to squeeze the bottle until the small reservoir is full to make sure you’re using the right amount. This is a little more involved than just opening a bottle and dumping it into the machine but it’s pretty simple nonetheless.
These cleaners are all effective. Customers were very happy with the way each performed. That said, remember that you may not get the results you were expecting with the first clean. If you’ve never descaled your coffee maker, a single clean may not be enough to get rid of all the buildup, no matter what cleaning solution you’re using.
Tips on cleaning your coffee maker
Make sure your coffee maker is turned off and completely cool before you begin to clean it.
Clean the other parts of your coffee maker at the same time. After the cleaning cycle finishes, clean the carafe, filter basket, and outside of the machine.
Rinse until there is no noticeable odor or taste – no matter how many cycles it takes. Typically, two to three is enough but if you need to do five, do five. If not, your coffee will not taste or smell good.
Once you do a good cleaning, follow a regular maintenance schedule. Most products recommend descaling once every three months or so.
If you have hard water or make a lot more coffee than the average person, you may need to descale as often as once a month.
Vinegar can be used for descaling but there are a few reasons but descaling cleaners are better. First, vinegar has a very powerful scent and taste that can be very hard to get rid of. Second, descaling solutions are specifically made to descale coffee pots and are more likely to deliver the best results. Another thing to keep in mind is the warranty. Some brands will not honor a warranty if vinegar is used instead of the recommended descaler.
Technically, no. While they all contain a lot of the same ingredients, it’s always best to follow the instructions that come with a product. For example, if you use a cleaner that’s meant for espresso machines on a drip coffee maker, you can’t be sure that you’ll get the best results.
One of the biggest things you can do to extend the time between cleanings is to use bottled or spring water instead of tap water. This is especially important if you know your home has hard water. Using water that contains fewer minerals can slow down how quickly buildup happens but, remember, all water has minerals so you will need to descale regularly, even if you only use bottled water.
Our Editor’s Pick is Urnex Full Circle Coffee and Espresso Descaler, a cleaner used in most Starbucks locations. This formula is compatible with all types of coffee makers plus it’s non-toxic and biodegradable. It’s odorless, rinses away easily, and extends the life of your machine.
We also recommend Saeco CA6700/47, particularly if you have a Saeco coffee machine. This one is meant for espresso machines in particular. It’s extremely effective and easy to use, just pour the premixed solution into the reservoir and you’re ready to go. Most people were pretty impressed with their results.
Finally, we have to recommend Halefresh Descaling Solution. You can use this one with all types of coffee makers. It’s extremely powerful and quick plus it doesn’t leave behind and after tastes or bad odors. One bottle of this Halefresh best coffee maker cleaner has enough cleaning liquid for up to eight uses so this one is definitely a great buy.