How to Clean Your Coffee and Espresso Machines

Keeping your coffee maker clean is important in preventing clogs, bad-tasting coffee, and/or breakage of the machine.

To keep your coffee maker running well and your coffee tasting great, here are some top tips on how to clean your coffee and espresso machines.


1. Daily Cleaning

Keeping up with a brief cleaning routine daily can help extend the life of your coffee machine.

Espresso Machine:

* After you’re finished with it, dump the coffee grounds (they are great for compost, sources say).
* Rinse the portafilter.
* Scrub the portafilter with a dish brush.
* If you use soap, make sure it’s an unscented variety that won’t impart flavors to your coffee.
* Allow all parts to air dry before reassembling.
* Wipe the exterior of the machine.

Drip Coffee Maker:

* Remove the filter and grounds.
* Rinse the basket of the coffee maker.
* Scrub the basket with a dish brush (again, use unscented soap).
* Wash the drip coffee maker’s carafe with hot water and unscented soap.
* Allow basket and carafe to air-dry before reassembling.
* Wipe the coffee maker’s exterior.

2. Weekly Cleaning

Espresso Machine:

* Perform a “backflush” if your espresso machine has a three-way valve. If it does not have a three-way valve, do not attempt a weekly backflush. Simply put half a teaspoon of white vinegar or cleaner into a “blind” filter (no holes) and put it in the portafilter. Turn on the pump and let it go until it quietens down. Turn off the pump and wait for the cleaner to be forced through the machine and into the drip tray. Repeat this process several times with plain water to wash out the cleaner.

* For regular espresso makers without a three-way valve, simple soak your portafilter, basket, and steam wand in a mix of white vinegar and water.

Drip Coffee Maker:

* For drip coffee makers, a weekly cleaning is not usually necessary if you’re keeping up with the daily regimen. However, if you’re using the coffee maker more than usual – such as several times a day with no chance to clean it properly – then you may want to perform the monthly cleaning (as outlined below) on a weekly basis.

3. Monthly Cleaning

Espresso Machine:

* Decalcify your machine once a month or every other month. This removes calcium and hard water deposits that build up in the espresso machine. You can use a decalcifying agent specifically made for espresso machines. It comes in packets, and you put a packet of the solution into the reservoir, stir, and turn on your machine.

* Sources say that decalcification is not necessary if you have a charcoal filter in your espresso machine that you change every other month.

Drip Coffee Maker:

* Each month, send a mixture of white vinegar and water through your drip coffee maker. How much vinegar and how much water and how many times to send the mix through varies with each model. So check your coffee maker’s instruction booklet for details. The following tips are general:

* Pour a mix of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water into the reservoir.
* Run your drip coffee maker as usual with the basket in place (no filter).
* Pour out the vinegar solution once it’s cooled.
* Run 2 pots of clear water through the machine to remove the vinegar.

Now that you know how to keep your espresso and coffee maker clean, you can enjoy top-quality, good-tasting coffee every day.