How Often Do You Need to Descale a Coffee Machine?

Barista cleaning coffee machine

Last Updated September 7, 2022 in How To, How to Clean

The cleaning routine of your coffee machine may likely be that you always keep it looking tidy and clean on the outside. This is great, but the most needed place to keep clean isn’t always obvious – it’s the inside of the coffee machine within the pipes. 

It may only be a few streaks of limescale, which isn’t much to worry about and can be easily removed with certain cleaning products.

However, if you have left the cleaning of the inside of your coffee machine for some time, then there could be a build up of limescale and mould. Mould in the tubing will affect the overall taste of the coffee you make and could lead to illness. 

Through this blog, we will educate you on what can build up inside your coffee machine, what causes these build ups and how to get rid of them.

Yellow mug on coffee machine

What is limescale?

Limescale is the product produced from heated water. ‘Hard’ water has elements like magnesium salts and calcium in high quantities; when heated, it is these elements which form limescale. 

‘Soft’ water can be used to prevent the build up of limescale, as the magnesium salts and calcium content is of a lesser amount. Every part of the machine where heated water goes through will begin to become affected by the production of limescale. 

Fortunately, limescale is not a toxic product. It can become annoying though, as the smaller and thinner tubes of a coffee machine become blocked, the coffee making process will become slower and also have a negative impact upon the taste.

Why do coffee machines need descaling?

Coffee machines need descaling as when limescale builds up, over time, it affects the overall capability of the coffee machine to work at certain capacities. This limescale will also affect the taste of the coffee produced from the machine. 

No one wants horrible tasting coffee, especially just as they’ve woken up!

Descaling will make sure that your coffee machine removes almost all limescale throughout the machine, and in doing so, prolong the overall life-span of your coffee machine, as well making sure you have great tasting coffee every time. 

How often should you descale your coffee machine?

You should ideally descale your coffee machine every 2 months, meaning it should be done at least 6 times a year to properly prevent growth of limescale.

The main factor that descaling times rely on is the overall hardness of the water which you are using in the coffee machine.

The three main ingredients for limescale are:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium salts
  • Hot water

The harder the water, the more calcium and magnesium salts are within, meaning that a higher amount of limescale will be produced.

Barista cleaning coffee machine

What happens if you don’t descale a coffee machine?

It is very important to begin a routine when it comes to cleaning and descaling your coffee machine, as neglecting it will begin to have implications on both your coffee quality and the coffee machine lifespan. 

One reason why you should descale your coffee machine is to optimise the taste of your coffee. Over time, without descaling your coffee machine, the taste of your coffee being made will become bitter and unworthy to be drunk. 

Another drawback from not descaling your coffee machine is that it will begin to smell. An awful smell will take hold of the room and also impact your coffee. 

The final factor which will happen if descaling is not done is that the machine will become unusable and break, which is every coffee lover’s nightmare!

How do I know if my coffee machine needs descaling?

The main signs which show that your coffee machine needs descaling are: 

  1. If, once you have made your coffee, the taste begins to become bitter, then there is likely limescale within the tubing and a descale is needed.
  2. If the coffee machine starts to produce an acrid smell, then it is time to do a descale as there may be large amounts of limescale within the pipes, maybe even mould.

Why does my coffee machine need descaling so often?

Minerals like magnesium and calcium within water produce limescale, which will build up through the metal piping of your coffee machine. 

This build up can lead to implications like your coffee tasting bitter and your machine producing a terrible odour. These are all things that you do not want to happen, and for these reasons, a descale should be done often.

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