Descaling Your Tassimo on the Cheap

We’ve had our Tassimo for about two years now, and I have to admit I’ve been wondering what effect our rusty water has had on the inner workings.

Yes, we use filtered water, but our filtered water is just rusty water run through a Brita [don't get me started on the efforts we've gone through to get our water de-rusted... it's town-provided and we had it under control for awhile, but then they changed the system and now we have a) rusty water and low enough pressure that the toilet won't even flush or b) slightly more rusty water and decent pressure]. I have tried to clear the rust buildup out from the tank but it’s hard without a thin brush.

I’m not sure how long it takes for a usual Tassimo to light up with the DESCALE ME indicator, but ours did it a few weeks ago. It’ll still work with the light on but I don’t imagine it’s good for your machine.


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We have the same model but in black (the white one looks swanky!) and the descale light is on the bottom left of the indicator panel there, above the big round button, below the steaming coffee icon.

Naturally, seeing a new indicator on the machine, I consulted my manual. It said a bunch of confusing things in IKEA-style gibberish infographics. Why do people not use clear text anymore?! Anyway, from what I gathered, I needed my cleaning disc, the empty T-Disc with a bar code on it that tells the machine to run water through the system.

Problem #1 – We somehow lost our disc. It has a slot for safekeeping right on the back of the  machine, but when I looked, I couldn’t find our disc. We think it got thrown out. But I didn’t really feel like spending the money (or waiting) to get a new one, so I started Googling.

Here’s a link for the cleaning T-Disc bar code, which you can simply tape to an already-used disc. Yes, you will get a gross watered-down coffee/hot chocolate/milk/etc in your cup, but that won’t affect the actual cleaning process. I should point out that I taped mine right over a coffee disc and by the time the descaling process was finished it was a soggy mess, but it does the trick for one-time use.

I’m jumping ahead, though, because we still had another problem.

Problem #2 – We didn’t have any descaler. Nobody told me I needed descaler! Apparently there is a recommended brand, but I again didn’t want to have to pay/wait for it. There is no descaler at the grocery store in town. I was stumped, and wanting coffee. Again with the Google…

  • VINEGAR – Seems like a good idea, right? But Tassimo recommends against it, and that’s because it’s too acidic. It might work, but it might screw up your reservoir. It’ll probably also taste gross after the fact.
  • CLR – Yes, people on the internet said to put CLR in the reservoir. But that seemed like a horrible idea to me — I use that stuff to clean my bathtub and I don’t really want to ingest it. It’s also not recommended for coffee makers with a built-in reservoir, but it’s allegedly okay for the type where the reservoir attaches, like our Tassimo model (the T20, I believe).
  • CITRIC ACID – This one is apparently good and easy, but I don’t know where to find citric acid. Word has it that Kool-Aid, the powdered kind you have to add sugar to, is a good source. But, there’s another way, and it’s what I used…
  • LEMON JUICE – The pure kind, as in, the stuff from the little yellow squeezy-bottle.

I used two tablespoons of lemon juice + one tablespoon of baking soda, and added it to just over 500 mL of water (from what I understand, you have to use at least two cups). But I still wasn’t sure what to do with my water/lemon/baking soda mixture.

Problem #3 - The Tassimo manual is basically in hieroglyphics. Luckily, the internet held one more answer for me, with Nerd Fever’s plain-English explanation of how the process works. Once you get your (homemade) solution into the back of the reservoir and your (homemade) cleaning disc into the usual place, you have to hold down the big ol’ MAKE ME COFFEE button, at which point the coffee-making indicator will blink along with the descale indicator.

Twenty minutes later I had a really disgusting cup of watered-down coffee, lemon juice, water and baking soda, and a soggy disc in the holder, but the descaling light was off and I was only out a buck for the lemon juice.

If you live in a place with easily-found descaler and want to spend the money it’s probably easier to just do things the ‘right’ way, and I don’t know if this had any negative effect on our machine, but I’m calling it a success.

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