Is it safe to use CLR to clean a coffee maker at home? Is CLR a better option than vinegar to clean my coffee machine?
These are some of the few questions that I was asking one day when I saw a lime and calcium buildup in my old and trusty Bunn coffee maker.
I wanted to try a white vinegar treatment to clean and descale my coffee machine. But then I researched more online and found out about this CLR (Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover) Cleaning Solution.
After researching for hours, I realized one thing that many people are unaware about the actual pros and cons about this CLR cleaning solution.
And this is why I decided to write more about this topic today.
In this article, you will get to know why you can use CLR and how to safely use it to clean your coffee maker at home.
Without further delay, lets get to the most frequently asked questions related to CLR.
Table of Contents
- Most Frequently Asked Questions About CLR Cleaning
- What Does CLR Mean?
- What are the Ingredients Used in CLR?
- Is CLR Safe to Use for Cleaning Coffee Makers?
- What Type of CLR Brand Should be Used for Your Coffee Machine?
- How to Use CLR to Clean Your Coffee Maker?
- Is CLR Better Than Vinegar for Cleaning Coffee Maker?
- Is CLR Poisonous or Toxic to Humans?
- Can I Leave CLR Overnight when Cleaning My Coffee Maker?
- How to Remove CLR Smell from Coffee Maker?
- Can I Pour CLR Down the Drain?
- Does CLR Kill Bacteria and Mold?
- What Works Better CLR or Lime Away?
- What is a Safer Alternative to CLR?
- Wrapping Up
Most Frequently Asked Questions About CLR Cleaning
What Does CLR Mean?
CLR means Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover.
It is a type of cleaning solution which effectively dissolves and removes all types of tough lime and calcium deposits from various types of surfaces.
It is highly efficient in getting rid of very old and stubborn calcium deposits and lime stains from surfaces of toilets, bathrooms, glass, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines and coffee makers too.
What are the Ingredients Used in CLR?
CLR contains various types of acids which help in removing old and very stubborn lime stains, rusts, water stains, and calcium deposits from various types of surfaces.
The main ingredients of CLR usually contain lactic acid, Propylene Glycol, Lauramine oxide, gluconic acid, n-Butyl Ether, glycolic acid, sulfamic acid, citric acid, surfactants and water.
Due to these stronger ingredients, I think CLR is much better than usual vinegar solution in removing almost all types of calcium and lime deposits.
Is CLR Safe to Use for Cleaning Coffee Makers?
Before you plan for cleaning your coffee machine with CLR, it is important to know when and where CLR should not be used.
After researching about the CLR brand, I realized that it is not safe and not recommended to use for few popular coffee machine brands such as Keurig, Gevalia and Cuisinart coffee makers.
Other than these brands, you can safely use CLR for cleaning and descaling any coffee machine.
One more important thing to remember is you should not use CLR for the coffee machines that hold water on the permanent basis.
If you are using an expensive espresso machine at your home, then also I would not recommend using CLR for these machines.
It might cause clogging of your machine and it will not remain usable after that.
Many coffee maker manufacturers do provide important instructions in their manuals about the usage of CLR. Some do recommend it and some don’t.
It is always beneficial to read the user manual of the coffee machine you bought before trying out this method.
If your coffee machine is using a permanent carbon or charcoal filter, then also its not recommended to use CLR for cleaning your machine.
Because the carbon or charcoal filter catches the CLR solution and it gets deposited in the filters.
At the same time, it is important to remove coffee filters before you use CLR solution for cleaning.
The main reason is the filters of your machine catch the solution and then it is very difficult to clean and get rid of the CLR deposits.
What Type of CLR Brand Should be Used for Your Coffee Machine?
In my extensive research, I found out that there are several CLR brands out there in the market.
Some of them are too toxic and acidic in nature.
You must stay away from such products and should avoid them to clean your coffee maker at any cost.
These acid concentrated cleaners and descalers can be harmful for our health too if inhaled directly.
So I would recommend to use face masks for safety purpose while using them.
Instead of buying strong acidic CLR, its much safer to get a mild acidic, non toxic and non-corrosive CLR such as this CLR brand created by the Cary Company.
The type of CLR that you should be using for cleaning your coffee maker must be safe for your health and not too much acidic in nature.
This is important to follow because ultimately it will also keep your coffee maker parts safe and hygienic for long term usage.
How to Use CLR to Clean Your Coffee Maker?
With the help of non-corrosive and non-toxic CLR brand, you can easily clean and descale your coffee machines and decanters.
You can remove years of calcium and lime buildup of your machine with this cleaning solution at your home.
The actual method to use CLR to clean any coffee machine is provided as follows.
What You will Need:
B. Clean Water
C. And Your Coffee Machine Obviously!
Actual Cleaning Procedure:
1. The first thing you will need to do is to remove internal coffee filters of your machine.
It is important to take out the filters as they can not be cleaned by CLR and usually get damaged by such products.
2. Now take out the decanter and pour water and CLR into the decanter and mix it well.
The actual proportion of CLR to water should be at least 1:8.
This means, you will need to pour 1 part of CLR and 8 parts of clean water into the decanter.
3. Mix both the ingredients well and now pour the whole mixture into the water tank of the coffee machine.
4. Now switch ON your machine and let the descaling process begin.
Let this process run for next 20 minutes. Once this descaling process ends, throw the dirty liquid from the decanter into your kitchen sink.
5. Now refill your coffee machine pot with clean water and run the complete descaling cycle again for at least 2-3 times.
Some people do repeat this cycle for 5-10 times to entirely remove the residue smell of CLR from the machine.
6. By the way, this whole cleaning process is highly recommended for 8-12 cup coffee makers.
If you have 4 cup or single cup coffee makers, then you will have to use more diluted solution. In this case, you can use 1 part CLR and 12 parts of clean water to safely clean your coffee maker.
7. Finally, you can also clean your coffee pot and decanter with the help of CLR if you want.
You can use dishwasher too if you don’t want to clean them with CLR.
I recommend to watch the following short video to understand the whole cleaning process that I mentioned above.
Is CLR Better Than Vinegar for Cleaning Coffee Maker?
In terms of cleaning efficiency and ability to clean old and difficult to remove lime as well as calcium deposits, there is no competition in between CLR and vinegar.
CLR is clearly the winner in this competition by a lot of margin.
If your coffee machine is 1-2 years old and if it does not have any calcium or lime deposits, then I would recommend to use vinegar solution.
This vinegar solution is very mild in nature and helps to kill internal bacteria and some amount of mold.
It is very diluted solution and actually not very efficient in removing lime and calcium buildup of your coffee machine.
In order to completely remove these old lime stains and calcium deposits, you definitely need a stronger chemical solution. And this is where a CLR solution comes real handy.
So, I would highly recommend to use a mild non-toxic and non-corrosive CLR solution if your coffee maker has a lot of calcium buildup and lime deposits.
Is CLR Poisonous or Toxic to Humans?
If you look at the ingredients used to make CLR product, then you will realize most of the acidic substances used are not that harmful for humans.
A popular CLR brand such as this one uses non-toxic and non-corrosive substances such as lactic acid, gluconic acid, etc.
The only other ingredients that are used in this chemical solution, which are mildly hazardous for environment, are Lauramine Oxide, FD7C Yellow 5, Butyl Ether, and Tripropylene Glycol.
You can see all the detailed analysis about the safety level of this CLR product at Ewg.Org report.
If you think about our health, then I can say that CLR is not harmful for your skin.
If you don’t come in direct contact with this solution for long term and use face masks and gloves as a safety precaution, then there is no risk of experiencing any skin allergy or irritation.
Therefore, CLR is not dangerous for humans when used with safety kit such as face masks and gloves.
It could be toxic if we consume it for sure. And I am sure you will not think of it consuming in your life time!
Can I Leave CLR Overnight when Cleaning My Coffee Maker?
How long should CLR soak in the coffee machine? And can we really leave CLR overnight in the coffee maker?
These are some of the most important questions that I have in mind when using CLR to clean coffee makers.
After a thorough research on this topic, I have found out that it is not at all recommended to keep CLR overnight in your coffee maker.
Longer exposure of various acids of CLR could cause damage to your machine.
You can clean and descale your coffee machine with CLR for a single brew cycle which comes to about 20 minutes.
I would not recommend to use CLR more than a single brew cycle.
How to Remove CLR Smell from Coffee Maker?
If you have recently cleaned and descaled your coffee maker with CLR and you are experiencing weird CLR smell in your coffee then you definitely need to get rid of it soon.
To remove the lingering CLR smell from plastic and rubber parts of your coffee machine, you will need to use a descaling solution that can deodorize your machine completely.
The best descaling solution for removing CLR smell that I would recommend is Urnex CleanCaf Coffee Machine Cleaning Powder.
This cleaning powder is extremely efficient in removing all types of odors and smell from your coffee machine. It is also non-toxic and helps you in removing all types of CLR residues and smell from your machine parts.
Can I Pour CLR Down the Drain?
According to the manufacturer “The Cary Company”, who makes CLR product; it is completely safe to pour CLR down the drain.
After you finish cleaning your coffee machine, you can safely pour CLR solution into your kitchen sink.
In one of the cleaning tips provided by this company, they actually mentions that the CLR product has helped several of their clients to unclog their drains.
Therefore, we can assume that its safe to pour CLR solution down the drain once you finish cleaning your coffee maker with it.
Does CLR Kill Bacteria and Mold?
In the FAQ section of the Cary Company, they have mentioned that to some extent CLR can kill bacteria.
But I can’t say anything for sure about its ability to get rid of mold.
If you are looking for the best natural bacterial and mold remover solution then check out RMR 141 RTU Mold Killer.
What Works Better CLR or Lime Away?
Just like CLR, Lime-A-Way is also another excellent coffeemaker cleaning solution available online.
Lime-A-Way can be used to clean and descale your coffee machine in the similar fashion like CLR.
It is equally efficient in removing water stains, coffee bean oils, lime and calcium deposits of your machine.
If you have automatic drip, single serve and espresso coffee makers at your home; then you can definitely try out Lime-A-Way solution.
When you compare the ingredients of Lime Away and CLR, then you will know that CLR contains stronger acidic substances than Lime Away.
So, in comparison of ingredients, CLR has more capability to clean old and much stubborn lime and calcium deposits.
But if you want more mild and less acidic cleaning solution, then definitely choose Lime Away.
What is a Safer Alternative to CLR?
The best natural descaler solution is either lemon juice or white vinegar.
But most popular coffee maker brands strongly suggest not to use them as they could leave a lingering smell behind and could cause some damage to certain parts of the machine.
If you are looking for less acidic and more mild cleaning solution to remove old calcium and lime deposits of your coffee machine, then I will recommend to choose either Lime-A-Way or Urnex CleanCaf Coffee Machine Cleaning Powder.
Both of these cleaning solutions are much safer and less acidic in nature.
They don’t produce any after cleaning odour and are more environment friendly in nature.
CLR cleaning solution works really well in getting rid of old and hard to remove calcium, hard water and lime deposits of your coffee machine.
You can use it in moderation and run clean water cycle at least 5-10 times to remove the after cleaning smell.
If you still get that CLR smell in your coffee, then as I suggested above, you can run another cleaning cycle with the help of Urnex CleanCaf cleaning powder.