How to Clean a Zojirushi (or any) Water Boiler

At the foundation of our coffee production here at the Jangro household is a 4 liter Zojurushi water boiler. I got it nearly a year ago, and I've got to say, of all kitchen gadgets we've ever owned, this one us right up there at the top of the list of useful items. It gets used every single day. And if you add up the minutes saved waiting for water to boil for coffee and other thngs (mostly coffee), it is significant.

Let's do some quick math. Say in a year, I average 500 cups of coffee. Most days I drink at least two, but not all. Just a guess. If I didn't have the water boiler, I'd spend about 3 minutes boiling a cup of water in the microwave to make coffee in the Aeropress. That's short enough, that I'd wait for that.

500 cups x 3 minutes = 1500 minutes. That's 25 hours of staring at the microwave oven. Really? Did I do that math right? Someone please tell me that isn't true. 25 hours of I-need-coffee misery.

You too can have those hours back for a few hundred bucks.

However, with that comes a bit of maintenance. We have hard well water here which results in hard water deposits forming on things like water boilers, coffee makers, etc.

Cleaning a water boiler, thankfully, is very easy.

Zojirushi sells packets of cleaner, which are expensive (though not the most expensive option, as you'll see below). The cleaner is simply citric acid, which is a common kitchen chemical.

Well, not that common. Apparently it's used for canning, but I can't find it at a local grocery store.

Enter Amazon.

Why Clean?

Routine cleaning removes lime, scale and mineral deposit build-up from electric dispensing pots, air pots and carafes. A clean pot means proper water temperature and a fresh clean taste. It will also extend the life of your appliance by keeping the internal parts clean and free of clogs.

This thing is expensive. I don't want to be replacing it any time soon.

What to use

I bought this Ball Citric acid on Amazon, mostly because it's what I found first, and it was available directly from Amazon Prime. I put a premium on that, probably too much so in many cases. But this time, that's what I did. There are surely better options.

The cleaning part is much easier than buying citric acid:

  1. Dissolve about 2 TBS of citric acid in one liter of hot water and pour it in the boiler.
  2. Fill the boiler the rest of the way. Note: In subsequent cleanings, I just fill the boiler with water, and dump in 2 TBS of citric acid for steps one and two.
  3. Run it through a boil cycle, until it boils.
  4. I opened the boiler and stirred the water with a wooden spoon (don't use metal!) to create some flow in there to help remove and dissolve any hard water build up. I then left it for 30 minutes.
  5. Dispense the entire quantify of water through the spout (rather than pouring it out). This cleans the whole path that the water takes.
  6. For me, at this point, the hard water was pretty much gone. Your mileage may vary depending on how bad yours in
  7. I wiped down the entire inside with a paper towel, which did remove some scum that was left behind.
  8. Rinse with clean water.
  9. Fill with clean water and run through a boil cycle, and repeat the process of emptying it to clean it all out.

You're good to go.

Note: Your boiler may have a "descaling mode", which for the Zojirushi can be activated by holding down the Re-boil button for 3 seconds. Basically, it boils the water for longer, the it sits in this mode for a while, forcing you to leave it alone. Other boilers may not have this, so I kept the instructions above generic.

Citric Acid

Based on my one time through with this, I'd guess that I'd get two more cleanings out of that container that I bought. That's about $2.50 per cleaning. For twice a year, I'm not going to lose sleep over that. But I should probably be doing this cleaning once every month or two.

Surely we can do better. I bought a brand name, and certainly paid too much. Let's see what else is available...

You can buy a single use packet of Zojirushi cleaner for $4 and some change. That's $4.24/oz or about $68 per pound.

In my experience, using a whole 1 oz. for a cleaning is not necessary. I'd guess you can get two cleanings out of this. $2/cleaning.

You can get 4 packets for $7.76. It doesn't say how big these packets are, but I'm going to assume that they're the same size. At two cleanings per packet, that's 8 cleanings. $0.97/cleaning.

Zojirushi #CD-K03EJU Inner Container Cleaner for Electric Pots, 4 Packets: Kitchen & Dining

Zojirushi inner container cleaner for electric Pots removes lime scale build up on electric water boilers.

Price: $7.76

But for just a few bucks more, you can get a whole 5 pound bag of citric acid! (you can buy smaller bulk packages as well, but let's just go with this example.)

So at a half ounce per cleaning, that's 32 cleanings per pound, and 160 cleanings per 5 pounds! That's about 7 and a half cents per cleaning. FTW.

The Patient

Here's the water boiler that we own, use, and love. If you're a daily tea drinker, or you make single cups of coffee via pour-over (like chemex) or an Aeropress, you need one of these...

Zojirushi CV-DSC40 VE Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer,Stainless Steel: Amazon.com: Kitchen & Dining

With a large 4-liter capacity, this water boiler and warmer comes in handy when serving hot beverages at a party, meeting, or other large gathering. The unit's stainless-steel double insulation wall keeps water hot with minimum electricity, while it Cafe Drip dispensing mode allows for slower dispensing. Multiple temperature settings include 175, 195, and 208 degrees F, reboiling at 212 degrees F. The appliance features a micro-computerized temperature-control system, and its control panel displ...

Price: $171.23

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Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 06:57:47 AM in Coffee
Scott Jangro

By Scott Jangro

Scott Jangro is a co-founder of Shareist. He's an entrepreneur, an old school affiliate marketer, web developer, a dad, a cyclist, and golfer.

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