Life is full of added extras, whenever you buy anything it seems that there’s an upsell or two that you’re not quite sure whether you need! Whether it’s protection treatment for a sofa, or the now infamous payment protection insurance (PPI) for financial products, you often find yourself wondering whether those supplemental products are as critical as the salesman would like you to think. If this case, we’re talking liquid descaler for coffee machines, which is a solution that will normally be used diluted in the water tank of your machines for it to run a special cleaning cycle to reduce limescale and remove other substances periodically from the innards of your machine.
Is Descaling Important?
Descaler for coffee machines might be exactly that sort of product, and what’s more, it’s likely some people are more likely to need it than others. Fortunately, unlike PPI or sofa extras, it’s not something that’s likely to cost you hundreds of pounds – at least not in one go. Typically, depending on your bean to cup coffee machine brand, it’s likely to be less than a tenner, and certainly not much more even for premium brands.
That brings us to another common question – do you need the ‘official’ branded version for your machine. The answer to that depends on how keen you are to get the cheapest possible product, and how much risk you want to take. To put it simply, we’d certainly advise against using a third party branded descaler during the initial guarantee period on your machine, as the last thing you want to do is give the manufacturer a chance to declare your warranty void. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s any additional risk involved with using another brand, but all too often, the terms of a product guarantee require you to use official, branded parts and consumables with your machine. Whether a manufacturer can genuinely tell what you’ve used, or whether they’d even try it is debatable, but we’d rather not take the risk with our own purchases, so advise you to take the same approach.
Fundamentally, descaling is a vital part of the regular cleaning maintenance you should be doing on your machine, for the simple reason that it keeps the quality of the coffee it produces high, and is more than likely going to keep your machine going for longer. Statistically, a well maintained machine has a longer lifespan than one that’s never cleaned. That should be obvious, but for some reason, people don’t seem to see it the same way as they would, for example, see the family car.
If you choose not to buy the descaler that’s available from the company that make your machine, you’ll find coffee machine descaler in Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda and other large supermarkets, and of course they’re also alongside our recommended ones below at Amazon.
Coffee Machine Descaler Brands
Most coffee machine manufacturers also have their own brand descaler too, so we thought we’d list them here to give you a quick link to buy on Amazon, as we do in the coffee machine review section. We’re not necessarily saying it’s the cheapest place on the web to order your descaler from, but what you do get is fast shipping and a reliable name if something goes wrong and you need to return your purchase (or it doesn’t turn up at all). Amazon prices being very competitive also means you can buy the best descaler for your particular machine, and not be tempted to resort to using the not so recommended route of things like kettle descaler instead, just because they’re cheaper in Sainsburys or Tesco when you do the weekly shop!
You’ll find the descaling instructions in the manual that came with your machine, and if you’ve lost them, they’re often available for download as a PDF file from the brand website.
Delonghi Descaler Liquid
Lets start with our most popular coffee machine brand, Delonghi. Machines like their Magnifica ESAM4200 and Eletta ECAM44.660.B sell well, and they’re usually very reliable, especially when looked after properly.
Delonghi tend to be very straightforward too, so whether your automatic machine is a Magnifica, Eletta, Autentica, Dinamica or from any of their other ranges, if you’re advised to use descaler it’s likely you’re needing the bottle found with the blue button below.
If you’re a reader of manuals, you’ll know that manufacturers will always want you to use their own consumables, in this case Delonghi descaling solution. Fortunately, being a big brand that’s price focused, it means that Delonghi descaler is very competitively priced, currently it’s available at Amazon here:
Melitta Descaler Liquid
Melitta are another popular brand with our readers, especially with their outstanding Caffeo Barista TS coffee machine. Their espresso machine descaler liquid for automatic coffee machines is affordably priced as you can see at Amazon here:
Sage Descaler Liquid
Sage machines are more expensive in general than the more popular Delonghi options, so if you’ve chosen one then it’s wise to look after them carefully. That will mean following the manufacturer’s instructions on how and when to carry out cleaning cycles, and one element of tat is choosing the correct products for descaling the machine. In this case it’s tablets rather than liquid, and the pack of eight ‘Sage Espresso Coffee Machine Cleaning Tablets’ are suitable for the Barista Express, Dual Boiler, Oracle, Barista Touch and Oracle Touch:
Buying descaler might not be the most exciting way to spend your money, but it’s probably wise, and likely to improve the results you get with your coffee machine once you’ve had it for a few months.
How Often Do I Need To Use Descaler?
Some people never use descaler products on their coffee machine, but sooner or later that’s going to cause problems. Typically, manufacturers recommend descaling on either a regular time cycle (like every couple of months), or after a set number of uses. Most decent machines will keep track of all of that for you, though, and have warning lights that come on when a descale is required, and some even give you a little warning beforehand too!
If you’ve got a machine that senses when it needs maintenance, the amount of time might even depend on how hard or soft your water is in your area, as some places tend to have result in a faster build-up of limescale, and therefore require more regular cleaning.
Should I Use Descaling Tablets Or Liquid?
For some machines, the answer to this will be a straight one – either tablets or liquid will be the recommended option. For others, you’ll be able to use either and it’s down to you to decide. The only way to know for sure is to dive into the product manual – most have an entire section on cleaning and in there will refer to descaling practices, if it doesn’t specify one or the other, you should be fine to use either, especially if the brand make both coffee machine descaling tablets and liquid.
So, there you have it, your guide to bean to cup coffee machine descalers. Like we said before, it’s not the most exciting subject, but understanding what you need to do could significantly extend your machine’s life!