How to Clean My Espresso Machine?

Ah, so you’ve heard that you need to clean your espresso machine. Do you wonder how to start? I’ve written the steps here to clean your espresso machine if it is not a super automatic that has automatic cleaning functions.

There are some materials you may need to prepare before cleaning:

  • Espresso machine cleaner kit (including flushing detergent) *IMPORTANT: Never use conventional detergent!
  • Backflush portafilter basket
  • Descaler or Citric acid (or any other weak acids, such as vinegar)*IMPORTANT: Never use strong acid like hydrochloric acid!
  • Clean kitchen towel and dishrag.
  • ‘Green scrubby’ of 1’X 1’ size or any similar non-grating materials for scrubbing

A container of size capable to soak in the portafilter. You need to clean your espresso machine:

  • After every shot
  • Daily
    Weekly; and
  • Every 3 to 6 months
  • If you clean according to the routines, your espresso machine will shine with glamor and look healthy. Perhaps it may even last longer than its supposed life. The most important thing is, you’ll have great espresso every time! So here are the steps to do it:

After Shot Cleaning
This process is perhaps the simplest and easiest cleaning process.

What you need to do is just clean the milk wand thoroughly using a damp towel and release some steam to expel any milk trapped in the nozzle hole and you are ready for another cup of coffee.

If you are not going to prepare another coffee, you should empty the grounds from filter basket and rinse thoroughly from the group head, then wipe it dry and reinstall it back to the machine. After that, run some water through it from the spout to rinse out any remaining stains.

Daily routine
1. Wipe off the residue on your shower screen with a damp towel.
2. Install the backflush portafilter basket into the portafilter.
3. Run water though the group head and jiggle the filter handle to rinse water around the shower screen and parts around the group head. Beware as the water splashed out is hot! Use lower boiler temperature to prevent scalding.
4. Tighten the filter handle and run water into the group head as though you are making espresso.
5. Let the water pressure in the machine build up for 15 seconds then release it along with the stains. This step is known as backflushing.
6. Repeat the backflushing for at least 5 times or until the water released from it is clear.
7. Remove the portafilter and drip tray. You may notice there are small coffee particles and brown tint to the water.
8. Rinse the drip tray (and remove any undissolved detergent if used)
9. Reinstall the portafilter and drip tray after cleaning.

Weekly routine
I shall make this part brief as the steps are almost similar to that of the daily routine with only addition of detergent.

1. Measure the recommended amount of the detergent as mentioned by the manufacturer then pour it into the backflush portafilter basket.
2. Install the backflush portafilter basket into the portafilter and add the recommended amount of detergent into the portafilter.
3. After that, you just have to follow the steps 3 to steps 9 of the daily routine.

Additionally, you must also soak both the backflush portafilter basket and the portafilter into a container with water and detergent and scrub them clean. If your group head is removable, remove it and soak it into detergent water and scrub it clean too.

Every 3 to 6 months routine

This routine is dependent on the hardness of water of your water supply as it is meant to remove minerals collected in your machine. The higher the mineral content, the harder the water is. Water test reagent or strips can be used to test hardness of water.

1. Empty the water reservoir and fill it with descaler of appropriate amount or amount as suggested by manufacturer.
2. Initiate the machine for the descaler to enter the boiler and pipes.
3. Run some of the descaling solution through the hot water wand and group head too.
4. Leave the machine switched on for at least half an hour with descaling solution in it.
5. Empty the reservoir and refill it with clean water. Rinse the machine as you did with the descaler.
6. Repeat steps 5 for at least 2 times or until you are satisfied.
7. Use a litmus paper to test the pH of the water to ensure all the descaler has been rinsed out. If the blue litmus paper turns red, repeat the rinsing with clean water again.

Well, I hope the steps are simple enough to follow. Happy cleaning and enjoy your espresso!

I have more tips and recommendations in my coffe blog.

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