How to Clean an Espresso Machine


Espresso machines are popular when making and serving coffee to many coffee drinkers. At least they make nice, decent coffee. And if you like coffee, you would probably have used one sometime as you use your espresso machine to create terrific coffee. You will, at some point in time, need to clean it.

The machine will perform better if the users have a culture of routine maintenance. That is why this guide will help you to know how to clean an espresso machine effectively.

How an Espresso Machine Works?

One of the first things you must consider about maintaining an espresso machine is the accuracy of use. Therefore an understanding of how an espresso machine works is very crucial. 

 If you want to get stout coffee, some stuff happens within the machine. This stuff is water progression through a water heater and a steam boiler under very high pressure. At 9 bars of pressure measurement, if only you had a barometer to confirm, right?

Inside the machine, hot water and steam are under pressure by mechanical pistons, much like your favorite car. The pressure is the single, most important part of how an espresso machine works.

In recent versions, the process is in automation because an electric pump replaces the mechanical pistons. So instead of pulling levers on the machine, you only need to press a button.

 The porter filter is usually the compartment with the ground coffee inside. There the final mix takes place all within seconds, and your espresso fizzles out. Hopefully, you got that summary?

So you need to clean your dirty beverage maker, right? However, most espresso machines have unique parts and properties. So you have to follow the steps on how to clean an espresso machine.

That means that you have got to familiarize yourself with the parts of this miracle coffee churner.

Parts of an Espresso Machine

A quick rundown of these machines will give you the following parts:

Portafilter: This looks like a beaker and has a long handle. 

Basket: This the detachable disk or cup which has some diminutive holes. It keeps the ground espresso beans and is with the portafilter. 

Blind Basket: Some call it a blind disk, probably because it doesn’t have holes.

Group Head: This usually is a roundish type of receptacle it functions is the discharging of heated water. You will notice the portafilter is in connection to it.

Group Gasket: This is usually rubber and is the roundish gasket on the group head.

Group Screen: You can call it a shower head because it does a shower. Yes, the fine mesh is part of the group head. This fine mesh is what water forcefully passed through.

Carafe: Usually just a glass mug or jar which catches your espresso.

Reservoir: Most espresso machines will come with a reservoir, which is for holding water.

Steam Branch and Nozzle: This the ducts through which steam passes. 

Drip Tray: This is the metallic support that holds the carafe.

Now that you know the parts of the espresso machine, we can now move further.

First of all, cleaning an espresso machine is quite time-demanding. So you could do this overnight, or at a time your demand for coffee is low. The following items are important for the different types of cleaning. They are-

  • Water
  • Cleaning rags  
  • Scrub brushes
  • Espresso cleaner or Detergents

Note: having a flathead screwdriver would be a great added advantage. If you are a little tech-savvy, you may like to delve into cleaning the screen.

How to Clean an Espresso Machine

Now let us get into how to clean an espresso machine proper. For light cleaning, all you have to do is the following:

  • Shake the lingering ground coffee from the basket after every espresso shot and flush it out.
  • Dab the basket with a clean, dry rag.
  • Connect the portafilter to the group head and place it under running water a few seconds.

So let’s see what are the steps to clean espresso machine:

Step 1: Back Washing

Backwash your machine regularly. If you use it daily, once a month will be sufficient.

Insert a blind filter (this is usually a hard filter plate that normally comes with your device). It prevents water from running through the portafilter) into the portafilter. Now run the hot water as you would for an espresso.

  • Stick in the blind filter and add up to 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) of your espresso detergent. Latch the portafilter unto the showerhead.
  • Initiate brewing for at least 10 to 30 seconds. This process allows the detergent to pass through the machine’s usual cycle while cleaning. Repeat this as much as three times for light cleaning and up to 10 for deep cleaning.
  • Detach the portafilter then initiate a brew cycle. You can now rinse the portafilter from the water via the group head. 
  • Stick in the blind filter. Latch your portafilter into the group head again. At this time, you should have a clean blind filter without the cleaner. Now rerun an espresso cycle without any detergent this time. Do this for like two times.
  • You can make a test shot of espresso to backwash the detergent.
  • Saturate the filters and the metal part of the portafilter but not the plastic handle. Try this for about 30 minutes in a teaspoon of detergent and (1 L) of hot water.
  • Wash out with water and return the filters. Then repeat running an espresso cycle as in step.
  • Run it for 5 seconds and then let it sit for ten. The water then empties into the drip tray.
  • Next, top up the portafilter with your preferred cleaning agent and run an espresso-making cycle, repeat several times. Do this again with fresh water to ensure that all the detergent washed out. Make sure your reservoir is full before you start. This will remove any coffee oil debris that has gathered up over time.

Step 2: Brushing the Basket

You need to detach the basket away from the portafilter and scrub. Try using the dedicated porta filter brush for this task. Some people just put this in hot water to wear the dirt away. But if you can run the heated water even if it’s gradually, you will get better results. 

Step 3: Cleanse the Showerhead

 Wield the brush on the showerhead. First, dilute some espresso cleaning detergent. Dip the brush in it and swab. Pay due diligence to this particular task because ground coffee amasses over time.

Step 4: Tidying up the Steam Wand

like a real magic wand, the steam wand is capable of releasing gaseous like steam. Unlike the magic wand in Harry Potter, however, it requires constant cleaning after every use. Sometimes stuff like milk, the cream may fall on it. 

To avoid them melting and sticking to the steam wand, you have to clean with a rag. If you can get a non-tipped slim metal to pass through the pipe and clear residues, that would be awesome. Some espresso brushes come with such dandy pinheads.

You should also follow a routine of purging the duct with clean heated water mixed with the cleaning detergent. In this method, remove the tip and soak in the same hot mixture for 3 to 12 hours.

Step 5: Clearing the Draining Hose

The draining hose performs similar functions just like your trash can only more automatically. So it is best to avoid any clog or coffee debris build up in the drip-tray pipes.

Step 6: Cleaning the Dispersion Screen

Can you negotiate a screwdriver, then try cleaning the dispersion screen. Dispersion screens work for the diffusion of water from the group head. It helps to spread the coffee well in the portafilter basket. Cleaning the dispersion screen in few easy steps should be possible for most machines.

  •  Remove the screen by unscrewing the bolt at the center of the screen. It may be a flathead nut or just a bolt.
  • Then soak the screen, either in warm water mixed with espresso detergent before scrubbing or can outrightly start scrubbing. If you have a paleo brush, this would be handy too, as you can also clean with your clothe rags. If you have a machine that has an internal and external dispersion plate, then feel free to clean those too. You aim to make sure this machine disperses water evenly, which is crucial to make a perfect shot of espresso.
  • When the screen looks very clean, and now you cannot see coffee debris on it, then reattach it back. You should do this by fastening the screw back in the same way you loosened it.

Video on Cleaning an Espresso Machine

Considering this article is based on how to clean an espresso machine. It is normal to ask how often?

So How Often Should an Espresso Machine be Cleaned?

The machine is not that intelligent to answer this, so we would have to solve this little riddle ourselves. As much as it is so important to clean up the espresso machine, knowing how often helps. You can go overboard with cleaning it. 

Since wear and tear, as well as the possibility of water getting into the wrong electrical places, can happen. Do not make it a habit of always disconnecting every part of the espresso machine. So some types of cleaning maintenance may require a technical expert to do.

The following tips might come in handy when deciding how often to clean your espresso coffee maker.

  • For light cleaning: do this as often as every once or twice you use the machine.
  • Deep cleaning: This will depend on the intensity of your use of the machine. Experts recommend about twice a month for personal use.

For commercial use, however, it should be as much as twice a week. This recommendation, however, still depends on the amount of use. So you might get a situation where you have to clean less or more as the occasion demands. So applying discretion is key.

Which Cleaning Product Should you Use?

Before you start surfing the net looking for the perfect espresso detergent to use for your cleaning, you might want to check your manufacturer’s preferences. You don’t use products that have corrosive reagents and are capable of damaging your fragile espresso machine.

Also, do your best to follow the prescriptions on both the detergents the manufacturer. Lastly, know your waters, whether they have high mineral content or not. This is so that you’d know if descaling products are necessary or not.

Common Espresso Machine Cleaning Products


It is a great and viable option for cleaning most machine parts, so why not an espresso machine? Use this to backflush and soak various parts; however, don’t over soak and generously rinse after wash. Also, vinegar has high praise for its environmental friendliness.

Citric Acid

It is not easily accessible in some countries. However, it is usually the active ingredient in various espresso descalers. A teaspoon of powdered citric acid is potent enough when mixed in 1cl of water for a reservoir. Liquid descalers would typically be less concentrated with citric acid. As usual, you need to flush and thoroughly rinse to get this out of the machine after use.

Many great products for your espresso machine are available in your grocery store. This doesn’t mean that every cleaner is ideal for your particular type of machine. So you must be deliberate and selective when buying.

Descaler tablets are quite popular, as well as a powder to liquid variants. Urnex and Jura 64308 espresso cleaners are two popular ones, and they are comparatively cheap and have great positive reviews.

Final Thoughts

 At the end of the day, we all want the best shot from our espresso machine. That is why learning how to clean an espresso machine was worth its weight in gold. And even though keeping your espresso machine requires time and effort.

Your espresso machine should have an integral part of your cleaning your routine so that you can establish hygiene standards. Why you should clean as often is also important to the lifetime of the machine.

The more there is less clog, the better the chances of your having a longer-lasting machine. Finally, a clean espresso machine is the best warranty you can have.

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