How Often Should you Clean a Coffee Machine?

Cleaning your coffee machine may seem like a boring chore, but it is an essential household task to ensure that your coffee machine is working properly. 

Not cleaning your coffee machine will not only leave you with poor tasting coffee, but potentially with a damaged coffee machine too. 

What happens if you don’t clean your coffee machine?

Coffee by nature is quite oily, and if you don’t regularly clean your coffee machine, these oils can accumulate and form an undesirable residue. 

Even with the best coffee beans and the most advanced machine, it is impossible to brew a great-tasting cup of coffee in a dirty machine. 

If you don’t clean your coffee machine, the build-up will have a few unwanted effects:

  • Your coffee will begin to taste bitter.
  • Your coffee machine will begin to smell.
  • The coffee residue that is left in the machine can cause blockages which can result in your machine being unusable.

How often do you have to clean a coffee machine?

Depending on how often you use your coffee machine, you should be cleaning it thoroughly every three to six months. 

You can check your coffee maker’s instruction manual for a more precise time frame, but in general, every three months or so should do the trick.

Some coffee makers actually have a cleaning indicator, which will light up when it’s time to descale to. Have a look if your machine has one of these lights as it may have one without you even noticing. 

Do different types of coffee machines need to be cleaned differently?

All coffee machines, household and commercial, need maintenance to ensure optimal performance and the perfect brew. However, it can be difficult figuring out the best ways to clean your coffee machine. 

Different coffee machines will need to be cleaned in different ways because they all have different elements and features from one another. 

For example, a filter coffee machine will need to be cleaned in a different way to an espresso machine as it has different internal and external elements.

How do you properly clean a coffee machine?

Cleaning a pod coffee machine 

Probably the easiest machine to use and clean are pod coffee machines. To start, take out all the removable parts such as the water reservoir, drip tray and its cover, and put them into warm soapy water.

Leave these to soak whilst you continue with the following steps:

  1. Clean the exterior

Take a toothbrush or small bristle brush to gently brush away any residual coffee grounds in the pod insertion space. You can also use a damp cloth to remove any build-up. 

If you notice any limescale deposits, simply soak your cloth in some white vinegar and apply it to the affected area. You can then reassemble your coffee maker, putting the removal pieces back into position.

  1. Run a vinegar solution

Now that you’ve reassembled your machine, fill the water reservoir to the maximum line with a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water. Put a large cup on the drip tray, turn on your coffee maker and select the largest cup setting. If your machine only has a stop/start button, simply press this.

Allow the vinegar solution to run through the machine as many times as it takes to empty the reservoir tank.

  1. Let sit and rinse the reservoir 

You can empty the vinegar from the cup, but you should let the coffee maker sit for at least 30 minutes. 

Once time is up, rinse the reservoir to get rid of any vinegar residue.

  1. Run with water

Repeat step 2, but this time with plain water to rinse out the vinegar from your machine. Again, place a mug under the drip tray. 

Run the machine until the reservoir is empty and you should have a squeaky clean machine ready to be used again.

If you would prefer to use a proper descaler rather than white vinegar, the Ecozone Coffee Machine Cleaner and Descaler is an odourless and taste-free formula which works great with pod coffee machines. It is also environmentally friendly and plant-based.

Cleaning a filter coffee machine 

Descaling and cleaning a filter coffee machine is extremely simple. 

  1. Wash all removable parts 

Start by washing all the removable parts of your filter machine. This includes the carafe jug, the filter basket and water reservoir. 

Leave to soak in warm soapy water whilst you wipe down the exterior of the machine with either a cloth soaked in warm water or white vinegar. Make sure you wipe down any areas which have limescale buildup.

  1. Run a descaling solution 

Once you’ve washed the removable elements, dry them off and put them back in the machine. Next, fill the water tank with a 1:2 mixture of vinegar and water. Alternatively, you can use a descaling solution mixed with water. 

Turn on your machine, and let the water flow through until the water tank is empty and the carafe is full of the solution. You can discard the solution once it’s cooled down.

  1. Rinse the reservoir 

Now repeat the above step, but this time run plain water through the machine in order to rinse away the vinegar or descaling solution. 

Repeat as many times as you deem necessary. Once completed, your machine will be ready to start brewing great-tasting coffees again.

Cleaning an espresso machine 

Cleaning your espresso machine may take a bit of work, but it is worth it in order to have great-tasting coffee. 

  1. Wipe down the exterior and clean removable parts

To start, take away any removable parts like the portafilter and drip tray. These can both be hand washed in warm soapy water. 

Whilst these are soaking, wipe down the exterior of the machine with a warm, damp cloth or a vinegar soaked cloth. You can use a small brush or toothbrush to brush away any coffee grounds from the gasket. Run water through the group head to remove any remaining coffee.

  1. Reassemble the machine 

Once you’ve cleaned the outside of the machine, dry off the portafilter and drip tray and put it back on the machine.

  1. Add a cleaning solution

Pour a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar or a descaling solution with water into your espresso machine’s water tank and switch the machine on. Let this sit for around 20 minutes for the descaling solution to work.

Next, run about half the reservoir through the steam wand and the other half through the group head. Fill your reservoir with water and continue this process until the solution is flushed out the system. 

Once you’ve finished flushing the system, your espresso machine will be squeaky clean and ready to be used again.

Photo of author

Matt Tomkin

I am an avid tech lover and the journey started back when LCD TVs and Plasma image burn were all too common. Over the years I have sold technology in retail stores but more recently have been building numerous businesses all based around technology. It's great to be able to test new tech and provide my thoughts on a platform like this.

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