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It doesn't matter if you own a top-of-the-line machine or grind your beans for the freshest brew—your cup won't pack the same punch it used to if you aren't cleaning your coffee maker.

Coffee is a very oily ingredient that forms a rancid residue in your machine over time. The buildup not only makes your coffee smell and taste bitter, but will also eventually clog your machine. And if you live in an area with hard water, there's the added challenge of mineral scale buildup, which also breaks appliances down.

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You can use vinegar and water to flush out some of the residues, but it's time-consuming and can leave a funky aftertaste. Plus, it's not strong enough to actually descale your machine. Instead, hundreds of Amazon shoppers have turned to a speedier, less-smelly solution: Urnex Dezcal Descaling Powder.

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To buy: $6;

The non-toxic biodegradable powder is specially formulated to remove even the most resistant buildup in drip coffee makers, espresso makers, and single-serve machines without damaging equipment. Simply dissolve a packet of the powder into a liter of lukewarm water, pour the solution into the machine's water reservoir, and brew a full tank. The mixture quickly and thoroughly removes all limescale and stubborn oils from the heating elements without a vinegar-y smell. After it's finished, repeat the brew cycle twice with clean water to rinse everything out.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Urnex Dezcal Descaling Powder has been climbing up Amazon best-sellers lists, becoming the retailer's choice for descalers. Hundreds of shoppers swear by the stuff, saying it works better than vinegar solutions to wash out the hardest mineral buildup and eliminate acrid flavors.

"My coffee started tasting horrible," wrote a reviewer. "I tried everything, including buying new coffee, but nothing helped the bad taste. I found these descalers on Amazon and thought I'd give it a try. Wow, it worked great and now I can enjoy my coffee again—no more bad bitter coffee."

Another added, "We live in Texas where there is very hard water. I had tried every trick possible to remove the buildup: vinegar, lemon juice, etc. with no luck. The pump was making a horrible noise. After reading all of the reviews, I bought a box of these. WORKS LIKE A CHARM! One packet later, my coffee tastes fresh, the machine is quiet, and it brews a full cup."

And with a $6 price tag, the Urnex Dezcal Descaling Powder is an affordable way to keep expensive machines running like new. Several users said the cleaner resurrected defunct coffee makers, saving hundreds of dollars.

"My espresso machine had stopped working completely due to lack of pressure," one said. "It was an old machine and I thought I'd have to replace it but decided to try Dezcal just in case the problem was scale buildup—after two packets, the espresso machine is working as good as new. I now use this stuff regularly to keep the machine humming."

Before you go ahead and get a new coffee maker because you thought your old one couldn't be saved, see if this powder is the low-cost solution you were looking for.


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