Descaling a De’Longhi Coffee Maker with Vinegar: Is It Possible?

Picture of De'Longhi Espresso Machine

De’Longhi is an Italian company that designs and markets unique small appliances. Founded in 1974 and first known for its oil-filled radiators, it burst onto the coffee scene in 1993, showcasing a pump coffee machine. 

When properly cared for and cleaned, De’Longhi coffee makers can produce great-tasting beverages for years. In fact, cleaning is vital to the longevity of these appliances. While the automatic coffee makers come with an on-demand cleaning program, others require an eco-friendly descaling solution and coffee care kit. But are there other mixtures, like vinegar, that can be used to descale the machine? The short answer is yes, but this article will dive deeper into the descaling process and the pros and cons of using alternative mixtures.

What is Descaling?

Descaling is the process of removing calcium, magnesium, and other minerals that slowly build up when using unpurified water in your coffee maker. These minerals generally collect near the heating unit and, when exposed to heat, oxidize and produce limescale. This hard and chalky substance can be found in the boiler compartment of the appliance. 

De’Longhi suggests descaling approximately every three to four months. This time frame, however, varies from machine to machine. Regardless of what style of coffee maker you have, descaling your coffee maker is essential to protecting the small appliance from premature wear and tear or damage. It also keeps your brews tasting fresh and delightful.

Can I Use Vinegar?

Vinegar can be used during the descaling process. While there are several reasons why many people recommend using this mixture, De’Longhi cautions against methods that require vinegar.


For many, vinegar is the go-to mixture for descaling a coffee maker. Not only does it help remove mineral buildup, but it is also easy to access and considered effective for removing residual oils and bacteria that may be in the appliance.

Another benefit to using vinegar, as opposed to traditional descaling solutions, is for safety. Vinegar is not harmful to ingest, so if there is any residual vinegar left in the machine after descaling, it will not make you sick. Some people have reported feeling unwell with slight stomach upsets after accidentally ingesting small amounts of descaling solution.


Vinegar contains large quantities of acetic acid, a chemical that gives vinegar its distinct smell. This chemical is also corrosive. When vinegar is used to descale De’Longhi coffee makers, it can cause the internal workings of the machine to corrode, or break down over time.

How to Descale Using Vinegar

After reading the pros and cons of using vinegar, if you choose to use this mixture to descale your De’Longhi, the next step is to make sure you do it correctly to minimize any potential damage. To do this, you should use no more than a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.

  1. Turn the coffee maker on.
  2. While the appliance is heating up, remove the water tank and empty out any of its contents. 
  3. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a large pitcher. Pour this solution into the empty water tank until it reaches the maximum fill line.
  4. Put the water tank back onto the machine and place a large empty container under the spout where the coffee usually comes out. (Make sure the container is large enough to accommodate the amount of water that you placed into the water tank.)
  5. Find the descaling mode on your coffee maker. (The directions for how to access this feature are in the appliance’s manual. Engaging this feature for each appliance is slightly different.)
  6. Once the process has been started, the coffee maker will start to force the water and vinegar solution through the coffee maker. 
  7. When the coffee maker stops and the tank is empty, remove the water tank and wash it out. This will get rid of any residual vinegar.
  8. Empty out the large container that caught all the vinegar and water mixture during the first round of descaling.
  9. Once the water tank is clean, fill it up to the maximum line with clean water and put it back onto the coffee maker. Also, place the emptied-out container back underneath the coffee maker to catch this next round of water.
  10. Access your coffee maker’s descaling program once again and allow it to run with the clean water in the water tank. This will flush out any remaining vinegar that may still be inside the coffee maker.
  11. Once the machine has stopped, most of the water from the water tank will be gone, and the process is over.

Other DIY Cleaners

Aside from vinegar, there are other ways you can try to clean out mineral deposits from your coffee maker. Common household ingredients, like lemon juice and baking soda, can also be mixed with water to create a cost-effective solution.

Pros and Cons of Using Lemon Juice

Some people recommend using a 50/50 ratio of water and lemon juice to descale their coffee makers. Although it may take longer for the lemon flavor to leave the coffee maker, sometimes tainting your coffee with hints of lemon, it’s believed to be gentler on the coffee machine. Also, lemon-flavored coffee isn’t as offensive when compared to vinegar-flavored coffee.

Pros and Cons of Using Baking Soda

For descaling purposes, it’s suggested to mix one cup of water with ¼ cup of baking soda. This method is preferred by some over the lemon juice solution because baking soda is more readily available. One drawback to this solution, however, is it hasn’t proven to be as effective at removing mineral buildup when compared to lemon juice or vinegar.


When it comes to cleaning out the mineral deposits from your De’Longhi coffee maker, many rely on vinegar when mixed correctly and proportionately with water. The company, however, discourages anyone from relying on this method to descale their coffee maker.

Vinegar has been known to cause corrosion, which can cause the appliance to break prematurely. According to the company, the safest way to descale your De’Longhi coffee maker is with their eco-friendly descaling solution. In turn, this will ensure the quality of the appliance, while the delicious taste of your brew will not be compromised.