Any appliance using hard water grows mineral deposits over time. For coffee machines, build up can taint the taste of your brew or clog the machine entirely. For this reason, you should use a descaling agent every few weeks to clean the tubs, pumps and chambers.

Acids Make a Difference

Some descalers work better than others. The best commercial products contain sulfamic acid—an organic water-soluble compound. Unlike hydrochloric acid, another common compound, sulfamic acid is less volatile and toxic. It is one of the safest acids for cleaning cooking appliances. It is also more effective than organic acids found in homemade descaling solutions like vinegar.

Apart from the acidic composition, you will want to check for the following qualities in a descaler:

  • FDA-approved solutions use non-harmful ingredients, rendering minor residue less of a hazard;
  • Biodegradable chemicals are safe to dispose of down sinks—a convenience for kitchen appliances.

Ideally, your descaler of choice will also be colourless and odourless. These characteristics ensure a clean rinse—no leftover flavours or aromas.

Volume Matters Less Than Reusability

The best descaling agents are reusable. This minimizes waste and maximizes your dollar. But not every descaler can go through a machine twice effectively, so this is a feature you’ll need to seek on the label.

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