How Do You Clean an Espresso Machine? Tips for Brewing Fresh Coffee Every Time


Have you ever experienced a foul taste in your espresso shot? Or maybe your cappuccino suddenly tastes too acidic? Those are signs that your espresso machine needs a long overdue cleaning.

The great news is it’s really simple and easy to clean an espresso machine!

You have the option to use cleaning products but most of the time, you can do it with things you already have at home.

There are different types of espresso machines such as the Nespresso systems. Some are fully automatic and have their own milk frothers and integrated coffee grinders but the concept of cleaning them is just the same.

Now, before we get to the steps, it’s important that you understand the reason why your machine needs cleaning.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Espresso Machine

It’s perfectly understandable that some people feel really lazy about cleaning their espresso machines. But once you learn the reasons why your machine needs cleaning and how simple it is, you will feel differently.

Every time you pull an espresso shot, your machine accrues some debris along with oils from the coffee beans, milk proteins, as well as mineral deposits from the water. All these things could affect the performance of your espresso maker and the taste of your favorite drink.

Aside from the quick clean that you need to do each time you use your espresso machine, you would need to do a deep cleaning every once in a while.

This will dissolve espresso debris that has built up in the unit as well as the oils and mineral deposits. The process is called descaling and it is recommended that you do it at least once every 3 or 4 months. If you are a heavy user, you may need to clean it more frequently.

How to Clean An Espresso Machine

To make sure that your machine stays in top shape and your coffee’s taste doesn’t change, you need to clean your espresso machine in two ways: light cleaning and deep cleaning.

Everyday Cleaning

Cleaning your espresso machine on a daily basis can sound like a daunting task. After all, who has time each day to clean his machine?

If your day won’t be complete without your favorite coffee, then you really need to make time for it. Now, don’t worry as it’s actually easy to do.

  • Portafilter
    After each use, remove the portafilter and basket from the machine and give it a good scrubbing. You can use a nylon brush to remove the grounds that are stuck on the sides. Rinse the basket with hot water and dry them both with a clean towel.
  • Gasket
    To clean the gasket, use a nylon brush and insert it into the group. Move your brush around and from side to side to remove debris from the gasket. Finally, run some water through the group to rinse whatever debris is left inside.
  • Frother
    If your espresso machine comes with a built-in frother or steam wand, you would have to clean that, too. Sanitize it after each use by placing a clean damp rag on the wand’s nozzle. Turn on the steam for a few seconds to flush out water and milk proteins. Wipe it dry again.

Deep Cleaning Once a Week

Aside from daily cleaning after each use, you should do a deep cleaning of your machine every week. You can simply remove the portafilter and the basket, detach the steam wand, remove the screen and rinse and scrub them all.

How to Descale An Espresso Machine

Descaling is an important cleaning step you shouldn’t miss in maintaining your espresso machine. It removes any mineral buildup which can damage your machine or ruin the taste of your coffee.

Here is the best way to descale your espresso machine:

1. Use a descaling solution.

You would need to use a descaling solution to remove mineral deposits and clean an espresso machine. There are solutions that you can buy online but you can also make your own at home using vinegar and water.

Fill your espresso machine with water, add the descaling solution, and let it dissolve. Let the solution stay in your espresso machine through the entire process.

Now, run the descaling solution through the steam wand by placing a container with the solution under the nozzle. Turn on the steam and allow a cup of the solution to run through the wand and then turn it off.

2. Turn off the machine.

Next, you need to turn off the entire unit and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. It’s very important that you leave it off for a while in order for the descaling solution to work.

3. Run it again.

After 20 minutes, turn on your espresso machine and run ¼ of the water from the reservoir out of the steam wand. Run the same amount of solution to the brew head or the portafilter.

Turn it off again and let the machine rest for another 20 minutes. The descaling solution will continue to dissolve the mineral deposits.

4. Flush out the remaining water.

After resting it for another 20 minutes, flush out the remaining water from the reservoir out of the steam wand and brew head. If your espresso machine is a super-automatic, you would have to drain all of the remaining solutions through the steam wand.

5. Flush out with fresh water.

Finally, you would have to flush out whatever is left of the solution with fresh water. Fill the water reservoir with fresh clean water and run all of it through the steam wand and portafilter. Make sure to place a container under the steam wand and brew head to collect the water.

You can do this process twice if you want to thoroughly clean an espresso machine. For super-automatic espresso machines, flush all of the clean water through the steam wand. Super automatic models have a self-cleaning feature so you only need to run through the wand.


It’s really important that you know how to properly clean an espresso machine to make it last longer and functioning at its best. Keep in mind that debris could build up inside your machine each time you use it.

Coffee oils, as well as mineral deposits from the water that you use, could build up and affect the taste of your coffee. It will also slow down the performance of your espresso machine. Make sure to do a quick regular cleaning and descale your espresso machine periodically for best results.

For other cleaning tips, check out our take on how to clean a coffee grinder!