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How to Descale a Cuisinart Coffee Maker

Does the thought of having to descale your Cuisinart coffee machine make you cringe? Of course, it shouldn’t, but anything new can feel overwhelming. Luckily it’s pretty easy to do. This helpful article will walk you through how to descale Cuisinart coffee makers.


What is a Cuisinart coffee maker?

Cuisinart actually makes more than just food processors. Cuisinart is a company that produces coffee pots, kitchen appliances, water filters, dishwashers, waffle makers, and many other home items. One of their most common products is coffee makers. Cuisinart coffee maker models come with different features that can either be helpful or not helpful depending on the person who owns them.


How to Descale a Cuisinart Coffee Maker


What is descaling?

Descaling is the removal of scale from something. Calcium, mineral deposits, and other sediments in your water can build up over time. If you live in an area with harder water, you will find that you need to descale your appliances more often.

A water softener can go a long way to helping you keep the mineral content in your water down, but it’s not perfect. To minimize buildup, you can use bottled water, which has less of these things.


Benefits of descaling a Cuisinart coffee maker

Descaling is necessary for any coffee maker to perform at its highest level. Although it might seem like a good idea to ignore descaling until it malfunctions, there are several reasons why not doing so is counterintuitive.

  • First, your coffee will taste better if you descale regularly.
  • Second, leaving the minerals to accumulate over time leaves the appliance vulnerable to malfunction and breakdown.
  • Third, regularly maintaining your coffee maker will keep it lasting a longer time.


How often should I descale my Cuisinart coffee maker?

Cuisinart recommends using a limescale remover at least 3 to 6 months or as needed. This is generally easy enough but can be a little messy if you don’t know the best way to do it.

Fortunately, this article contains all you need to know about descaling your Cuisinart brew coffee maker. Some coffee makers will have a flashing light indicating it’s time to descale. If you don’t have that option on your Cuisinart model, you can default to regularly cleaning your machine, including descaling every three months.

clean button to descale a cuisinart coffee maker


How to descale a Cuisinart coffee maker?

The first thing you’ll need is a limescale remover (we use white vinegar, but you can use several descaling agents). I recommend following these steps when descaling a Cuisinart coffee maker:


Take the carafe out and discard any leftover coffee.

We will be running a full pot of the mixture, so we need to make sure we have an empty carafe.


Remove coffee grounds and filter.


descale a cuisinart coffee filter removed

Remove the coffee grinds and coffee filter that are in the coffee ground basket and discard them. This will allow for the descaling solution to pass through the filter easily.

If you have a charcoal filter holder, remove it and dispose of or clean the charcoal filter. Once your deep clean is finished, you can add a new one.


Fill the water reservoir to the “MAX” line with the solution.


scale build up inside a cuisinart coffee brewer


Put the distilled white vinegar into the water reservoir with a mixture of one-third white vinegar to two-thirds water. We’ve gone as high as 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water mixture, but Cuisinart recommends one-third vinegar.


Turn on the Cuisinart coffee maker.

Plug in the Cuisinart coffee machine and set it to brew a pot of water, which should take about 10 minutes.

If there is an Auto Clean button or a Self Clean button, use this to brew the vinegar mixture. This will activate the self-cleaning mode, and you just need to wait for the mixture to pass back into the carafe.


Wait until the cycle is complete.

Your Cuisinart will notify you when the cleaning cycle is complete. It will beep five times, and you can discard the vinegar-water mixture that has passed into the coffee pot. The Clean light should also be on, signaling that the cycle is complete.


Repeat the above steps.

Typically one cleaning round with vinegar is enough to descale your coffee machine, but if you find that there is a need to do this a few times if you have never descaled your Cuisinart before.


When finished cleaning, run a rinse cycle.

If you are satisfied that the descaling is complete, then you will need to flush out any solution that may still be in the reservoir.

Fill the machine’s water reservoir with fresh water and run a brew cycle through a full pot without adding any coffee grounds or filters. This will help flush out anything left in the water tank. You can then discard the dissolved minerals and add fresh water (this is to reduce waste).

Allow it to sit for a few minutes and run another pot of water through. If you still smell vinegar in the machine, keep running water through it until you are satisfied there is no more descaling agent in the Cuisinart.

From here, you should be good to go.


Enjoy your favorite coffee.

Now that you have successfully removed the scale buildup, it’s time to grind and brew coffee like you always have. Add a new charcoal water filter and some fresh cold water. Break out a new coffee filter, grind some of your favorite beans and enjoy!

Nothing brews better than a clean Cuisinart coffee maker.


Continue to descale as needed.

Of course, if your machine is exceptionally dirty or doesn’t work at all (which might be why you got this article in the first place), you’ll need to descale more often. The good news is that it’s super simple to do and takes less than 30 minutes.

As you’re already in the descaling process, it’s a good time to clean your Cuisinart. You can wash out the carafe and clean the outside of the machine. We usually use some soapy water. Just put a drop of liquid detergent in the sink and add some warm water, and you will be able to complete the outside cleaning process of your coffee maker. This makes your coffee maker clean and ready for its next brewing cycle.

Although it may seem daunting, descaling your Cuisinart coffee maker is easy with the right tools and a little practice. With most problems easily solved, you will reap the reward of delicious coffee every time you use it.

Related: How often to descale an espresso machine?


descale a cuisinart


How to Descale a Cuisinart Single-Serve Coffee Machine

If you have a Keurig K-cup style Cuisinart single-serve coffee maker, you will need to do something similar. We recommend reading our How to descale a Keurig as the process is similar. Here is how to do it.

  • First, empty the water reservoir and fill it up with one-third of distilled white vinegar and two-thirds water.
  • Next, remove any K-cup from the holder and add the vinegar solution through the Cuisinart.
  • Third, fill the water tank up with sparkling clean water once the vinegar solution has passed through. Then, run through a few full water tanks to ensure no solution or calcium deposits are left in it.
  • Fourth, add a new charcoal filter and a k cup of your choice and enjoy your fresh cup of coffee.


Different Methods to Descale a Cuisinart

There are many methods of descaling coffee makers, including vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda paste, descaling, and CLR. These are my thoughts on each of these methods:


Vinegar is the cheapest option for descaling, but it does not always work. This is my go-to and the method we will describe.

Citric acid:

Citric acid is one of the most effective ways to descale a coffee maker but is also the most expensive. It can be difficult for you to find in their local grocery store.

Baking Soda Paste:

Baking soda paste is the easiest method for decorating home appliances because it only requires baking soda and water (we use it to clean our stainless steel sink). However, many people do not like using this method because they are concerned that baking soda may harm their coffee pot or appliance in some way. We have never tried this method on our coffee maker, and therefore can’t recommend it.


CLR is the most effective way to descale a coffee maker but is also dangerous. CLR can damage appliances if it comes in contact with certain parts of the appliance. For this reason, we never use CLR on our coffee pots at home. If we did, it would be a last resort because none of the above worked.

Descaling Agent:

You can buy several descaling solutions online. We never buy them because we don’t want to pay for a descaling agent and would prefer to use water and vinegar.


Our Best Descaling Tips:

Descale as soon as possible:

The longer you wait to descale, the more difficult it will be. If you leave your coffee maker dirty for a long period of time, build up of mineral deposits can be so bad that they cannot be removed without affecting the taste of your coffee.

Descale with vinegar:

The best, cheapest way to descale a Cuisinart Coffee Maker is by using distilled white vinegar. However, using only water may not be as effective because vinegar is better at breaking down hard water buildup.

Descale more frequently:

We recommend descaling as often as every two months if you use your coffee maker once a day or have harder water. If you do not, then we recommend waiting at least three months between descalings.

Never use pure vinegar.

Pure vinegar isn’t recommended when descaling as it can cause damage to the internal parts of the machine. Instead, use the mixture of one-third white vinegar we discussed.

How to prevent scale buildup in a Cuisinart Coffee Maker

The easiest way to prevent calcium buildup on your Cuisinart machine is to use filtered water. Tap water is usually the culprit for mineral buildup. If you can use filtered water for your freshly brewed coffee, it will extend the life of your coffee maker and prevent calcium deposits from building up.


How often should I descale my Cuisinart?

Although descaling takes around 15-20 minutes in total, if your machine is new or recently cleaned, you can probably get away with doing it once every 3-6 months.


Have another coffee maker to descale? Check out our guides:
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