How To Clean Automatic Espresso Machine: All Do’s and Don’ts

If your automatic espresso machine is preparing off-tasting and weak espresso shots or taking longer time than usual brew. In that case, the machine may be clogged up with limescale build-up.

All these issues indicate that your machine needs deep cleaning and descaling for proper functionality. No worries, I’ll guide you step-by-step about how to clean automatic espresso machine properly.

It’s a good practice to descale your machine once a month to ensure the perfect taste quality.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Automatic Espresso Machine

Before exploring how to clean an automatic espresso machine, it’s better to learn about your espresso machine. So, let’s explore the Espresso Machine and troubleshoot the problem.

collage image about 6 essential cleaning steps

Possible Reasons and Troubleshooting for the Malfunctioning Machine

Before knowing how to clean your automatic espresso machine, you should be better aware of the root causes. So your machine can be damaged because of:

  • Clogged or Dirty Group Head: Coffee oils and grinds can build up in the group head and affect water flow.
  • Water Level: The incorrect water level can cause the machine to overheat or shut down.
  • Calcium Buildup: Hard water can cause calcium buildup in the machine, affecting its performance and efficiency.
  • Worn or Damaged Parts: Over time, parts such as the gaskets, portafilter, and steam wand can wear out and cause issues with the machine.
  • Poor Quality Coffee Beans: Using low-quality coffee beans can result in an inconsistent extraction and affect the espresso flavor.
  • Grind Size: Using the wrong grind size for the coffee beans can result in an uneven extraction and a poor-tasting espresso.
  • Dirty or Clogged Nozzles: The steam and hot water nozzles can become clogged with coffee oils, affecting their performance.
  • Malfunctioning Thermostat: A malfunctioning thermostat can affect the temperature of the water and result in poor extraction.
  • Electrical Issues: Electrical issues, such as a faulty power source or a damaged heating element, can cause the machine to malfunction.
  • Poor Maintenance: Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and descaling, is important to keep the machine functioning properly. Neglecting maintenance can result in a malfunctioning machine.


  • Clean the group head with a cleaning brush or a cleaning solution and run water through it. If the issue persists, disassemble the group head and clean it thoroughly.
  • Check the water level and refill if necessary. If the issue persists, check the water tank for leaks or clogs.
  • Descale the machine regularly to remove any calcium and mineral deposits buildup.
  • Replace any worn or damaged parts with new ones.
  • Use high-quality coffee beans to ensure a consistent extraction and a great-tasting espresso.
  • Experiment with different grind sizes to find the one that works best for your machine and coffee beans
  • Clean the nozzles with a cleaning solution or run water through them. If the issue persists, disassemble and clean the nozzles thoroughly.
  • Check the thermostat for any damage and replace it if necessary.
  • Check the power source, electrical connections, and heating element for any damage and repair or replace if necessary.
  • Regularly clean and descale the machine to ensure it functions properly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and cleaning.

Why Clean Your Automatic Espresso Machine?

Why am I emphasizing cleaning? — A Super-automatic machine, without any doubt, comes with a hefty price tag, so you’ll definitely want a long time span for your coffee maker. Next, you can’t compromise the taste and quality of coffee after spending a few bucks.

Frankly – deep cleaning and descaling can solely maintain the taste and age of your Espresso machine. Is it tiresome or a time-consuming activity? No! No! No!

The best part of a super-automatic machine is that it demands less effort on your part as it rinses itself after every use. It also prompts you to descale it if you’re not using the filter. Read more about how automatic espresso machine works.

YouTube video

Why is Using Filters Always Recommended?

A cup of coffee is 98 percent water. Water comes with calcium and magnesium, which make it hard water. Hard water is not a health risk; it changes the taste of your coffee and clogs up your machine, and you know repairing can cost you extra.

So, a water filtration system gives a safe edge to maintain your coffee’s original taste and let the machine work well. Convinced?– Let’s check the water hardness before using an automatic espresso machine.

Read the complete article about the importance of quality water for brewing.

How to Test Water Hardness?

To nip the problem in the bud, test the hardness of your tap water before starting your automatic espresso machine. For this, most of the super-automatic machines come with a test strip. After testing your water, set the machine accordingly.

The total hardness of the water should be 35 to 85 ppm.

For soft water, you may use a water filtration system, install it In-line with your machine or fill the water tank with your filtered tap water. Luckily some machines include smart filters, so there’s no need for descaling, as the machine will do it automatically.

Jura produces such machines that come with a built-in filter. You can check here all the best Jura machines using the built-in filters.

Although these Bean-to-cup coffee machines have built-in descaling functions, you must manually descale it for deep cleaning. No worries, it’s shockingly easy and fun.

Do I Need to Descale My Automatic Espresso if I use a Filter?

Yes, descaling is mandatory even if you’re using filtered water in your machine. Filtered water reduces the chances of clogging up with limescale buildup, but it can’t stop it completely. So automatic and manual descaling is needed to preserve your machine and taste.

Should I not use a filter when descaling is necessary, even after using filtered water? The answer is simple; filtered water ensures the taste and aroma of your coffee.

What Can be the Options for Cleaning? Do I use a different Cleaner?

You may use different acids for cleaning as these acids can remove limescale buildup and fat residues.

I don’t recommend using these acids as they will not only break down magnesium and calcium but also gradually erode your machine’s metallic parts, especially those made up of aluminum.

Furthermore, the cleaning solution is formulated for removing the limescale only, so it doesn’t react with the parts of your espresso machine, while natural acids like vinegar react differently.

Back to what I was saying – most people use the following natural acids to descale their automatic espresso machine:

  • White Vinegar
  • Citric Acid
  • Surfactants
  • Commercial descaling solutions

White vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that helps to remove mineral buildup, such as calcium and lime, that can accumulate inside the machine over time. The acidic nature of vinegar helps to break down the mineral deposits, making it an effective cleaning solution.

Citric acid is another natural cleaning agent that removes mineral buildup. It is more acidic than white vinegar, making it more effective in breaking down mineral deposits and removing stubborn coffee oils.

Surfactants are cleaning agents containing detergents that help dissolve and remove oils and fats. They effectively clean the interior surfaces of an espresso machine, including the brew group, portafilter, and nozzles.

It is important to note that each of these cleaning agents should only be used as directed, as overuse or misuse can damage the machine or affect the taste of the coffee.


It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance instructions to ensure the machine’s proper care and longevity.

Commercial descaling solutions are specialized cleaning products that remove mineral buildup in espresso machines. They are formulated to effectively remove calcium, lime, and other mineral deposits that can accumulate in the machine over time.

 As you already know that this buildup can affect the performance and efficiency of the machine, leading to poor-tasting coffee and clogged nozzles.

The best part of these Commercial descaling solutions is that they can be more convenient and effective than household cleaning agents like white vinegar or citric acid. They are typically easy to use and can be found in most specialty coffee shops or online.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using commercial descaling solutions to ensure that the solution is used correctly and does not damage the machine.

Some descaling solutions are not recommended for use with certain materials, such as aluminum, so it is important to check the solution’s compatibility with your machine before use.

The above three cleaners are all cheap yet not recommended, while the last one is recommended but it’s a bit pricy.

Repeating Steps in Cleaning Automatic Espresso Machine

A moist Environment is a potential playground for the growth of bacteria, and the inside of an espresso machine is highly misty. There’s free-floating of steam, milk, and coffee, So chances of high growth of bacteria are obvious.

These bacteria are not only injurious to health but also make the taste sour. The following are the must-take steps at the end of the day for the proper functioning of your espresso machine:

  • Keep your drip tray and grounds holder empty and washed at the end of the day. These parts are easy to dismantle and dishwasher.
  • Wash the Brew group in lukewarm water, rinse it well with a cleaning brush, and then leave it to dry overnight. What if the brew group is fixed? Well, in this case, you can trust the auto-rinsing of the machine.
  • What about the water tank? You don’t like algae growing in your water tank. So remove and empty your water tank daily. Then rinse it with hot water and leave it to air dry before filling the water again.
  • Clean the milk system after making milk-based drinks.

All the steps as mentioned above steps as mentioned earlier are done at the end of the day. There are a few quick cleaning steps that you should take right after brewing your coffee.

For Espresso shot:

  • Clean and dry basket and handles of portafilters
  • Wipe Drip tray 
  • Clean the Brew unit with a brush like Pallo Coffee Tool to remove all coffee residues
  • Flush the Brew group with hot water and let it dry 

For Milk-frothing:

  • Quickly clean the steam wand with a damp cloth, but this cloth should be clean and reserved for this purpose only
  • Purge the milk residue from milk frothing or the wand’s exterior 
  • Clean the milk container and air dry afterward

For water using

  •  Rinse your water tank briefly and let it air dry to remove all impurities once
  • Use filtered water to maintain the taste of coffee

Repeat all these steps thoroughly at the end of the day, once a week, and month, depending on how often you use your espresso machine.

The Four Steps of Cleaning

First step how to clean automatic espresso machine /Drip tray is being removed from the espresso machine to wash it


Empty the drip tray when the machine prompts you.

A Hand is wiping espresso machine with a soft cloth


Wipe and dry the group bread and your espresso machine with a clean dump cloth.

Throwing coffee pucks and washing parts of espresso machine in sink.


Rinse all the components of the machine, i.e., drip tray, brew unit, milk frothing, portafilter, basket, milk container, and water tank, and let all these parts air dry for some time.

Steam Wand is being used and dipped into cup/steam wand is getting wiped down by hand using a soft handkerchief


Cleaning the steam wand or milk nozzle is crucial to avoid the bitter taste of milk-based drinks. place an empty cup or glass under the wand or nozzle and press the start button. Stop the steaming after 3-5 seconds and wipe the nozzle or wand with a clean cloth. 

How to clean automatic espresso machine? I’ve walked you through the whole process – Let me show you How to descale your machine?

Cleaning Vs Descaling

Let’s make it understandable what’s the main difference between cleaning and descaling.

Descaling and cleaning a coffee maker are two different maintenance tasks that are important to keep a coffee maker functioning properly.

Descaling refers to the process of removing mineral buildup from the inner workings of a coffee machine, such as the heating element and water tank. Mineral buildup can affect the performance and taste of the coffee, so regular descaling is important to maintain the quality of the coffee.

Cleaning, on the other hand, refers to the process of removing coffee oils and residue from the exterior surfaces of a coffee maker, such as the carafe, pot, and nozzle. Cleaning helps prevent buildup that can lead to bad-tasting coffee and can also help maintain the machine’s appearance.

Both descaling and cleaning are important to keep a coffee maker functioning properly and producing good-tasting coffee. Regular descaling can help prolong the machine’s life, while regular cleaning can help maintain its appearance.

Make sense? Now let’s move to the descaling.

How to Descale Your Automatic Espresso Machine?

Descaling is very important no matter how softer your water is. Furthermore, if you’re using filtered water in your automatic espresso machine, you still need to descale your coffee maker. 

However, the Jura brand claims that after using its CLEARYL filter that works with RIFD technology which means it’s using Intelligent Water System(I.W.S), you do not need to descale the machine as it will do it by itself.

What is descaling? What is the difference between cleaning and descaling?

It’s a process of purging the limescale buildup from the automatic espresso machine by flushing the water mixed with any descaling solution or natural acids(Remember, acids aren’t recommended).

Are you thinking that Automatic Espresso machines have different types?

I’ve been there – No doubt there are different types of Automatic Espresso Machines, so the descaling process may vary. So read the user’s manual before descaling your machine.

Let’s Descale a super-automatic espresso machine:

  • Mix your cleaning detergent in water, let it dissolve, and then pour it into the water tank.
  • Next, start the machine and let the solution go through the boiler.
  • Put a cup under the steam wand to hold the running water. Then close the steam knob so the solution can stay inside the machine for some time.
  • Further, turn the machine off for 20 minutes and let the solution work.
  • After 20 minutes, all limescale buildup would be removed and dissolved in water. Now open the steam knob, and the solution runs out of it.

Three simple steps for descaling your automatic espresso machine:

Hands pouring water and descaling solution in the espresso machine water tank


Fill the water tank with the descaling mixture.

Espresso Machine with a bowl under the steam wand and a finger pressing clean cycle button.


 Place a container under a spout or steam wand to catch the solution or water. And press the start button.

Espresso Machine with a bowl under steam wand/a finger pressing cancel/start


Empty the Container, and repeat the same process for rinsing thoroughly.

Now It’s time to Rinse and Rinse and Rinse!

Once the descaling solution runs out of the machine through the steam wand, fill the water tank with fresh tap water and start the rinsing cycle again.

Try to repeat this process multiple times until the color and taste of the water become original.

Boom– the descaling nightmare is over! Yeah, it’s that simple!

Now brew an espresso shot and enjoy!

Descaling your Espresso Machine

  • Turn the machine on until it reaches its optimum operational pressure; open the hot water valve.
  • Now operate the brew unit lever and discharge water from the heat exchanger. Close the valve once the boiler gets empty.
  • Now it’s time to prepare your descaling solution – mix it well by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Then pour this solution into your water tank and start the machine. The pumps in the machine will push the descaling solution to the boiler and brew group.
  • Place the portafilter and blind filter into the brew unit and lock them there, then operate it for 20 to 30 seconds, 3 times. Make sure to put the lever at the possible lowest position each time. This position will assist in descaling the expansion valve.
  • Hang on for 20 minutes and let the solution do its work. After 20 minutes, start the machine to run the solution out of the machine.
  • Again, switch the machine off for 20 minutes and open the hot water valve to let it air dry.
  • Empty your water tank from the detergent solution, remove it and rinse it with plain water thoroughly, then fill it. Once again, Attach the water tank to the machine and start rinsing.
  • Repeat the above process with this freshwater by operating the brew unit for 20-30 seconds,3 times. Keep your blind portafilter attached to the machine to descale the expansion valve.
  • You can remove the blind filter and operate the Brew group for 60 seconds to rinse the heat dispenser.

The following steps should be repeated 3 to 5 times for thorough rinsing:

  • Start the machine, let it reach its potential pressure, and turn it off. Now let the machine fully drain by opening the hot water valve.
  • Refill the water tank with fresh water and repeat the cycle by turning the machine on and off 3 to 5 times.

Bang! You’ve done – your espresso machine is fully descaled.

12 Tips for keeping your Automatic Espresso Machine Clean and Hygienic

  • Clean the machine after every use: Empty the drip tray and grounds container, and wipe down the machine’s exterior.
  • Run a cleaning cycle: Many machines have a cleaning cycle that can be run to flush out any built-up coffee oils and debris.
  • Descaling: Regularly descale the machine to remove mineral buildup.
  • Clean the milk frother: If your machine has a milk frother, clean it thoroughly, as milk residue can attract bacteria.
  • Use filtered water: To prevent mineral buildup in the machine, use filtered or purified water.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: Always consult the manual for specific cleaning instructions and maintenance schedules for your machine.
  • Pay attention to the brew group: The brew group is part of the machine where the coffee is brewed; make sure to clean it properly, as it is one of the most important parts of the machine.
  • Clean the nozzles: The nozzles are part of the machine that dispenses the coffee, make sure to clean them regularly to prevent clogging.
  • Clean the filters: Clean or replace the filters in the machine regularly.
  • Use the right cleaning products: Use cleaning products that are specifically designed for use on espresso machines. Avoid using abrasive or acidic cleaning agents.
  • Store the machine properly: When not in use, make sure to store the machine in a dry, cool place to prevent damage and mold growth.
  • Schedule regular maintenance: Have a professional service the machine at regular intervals to ensure that it is running at its best and to catch any potential issues early on.

Recommended Descaling Solutions

As I didn’t recommend using natural acids like Vinegar, Citric acid, Surfactants, lemon juice, or any other acid that can remove buildup, here is the list of recommended products for your espresso machine.

Durgol Swiss Espresso Special Decalcifier – A specially formulated solution for home-based espresso machines. You can check the price here.

Dezcal You can use Dezcal for every type of machine, i.e., super-auto espresso, semi-auto, manual coffee machines, and single-boiler and double-boiler espresso machines. 

Urnex Cleancaf – A mixture of detergent and descaler, Urnex Cleancaf is suitable for a home-based espresso machine.

Delonghi – If you’ve got a Delonghi espresso machine, you must have a Delonghi descaler.

Jura Detergent – If you want your Jura espresso machine to work for a long time, use Jura’s cleaning tablets.

Saeco – This descaler is formulated for the maintenance of Saeco espresso machines.

Final Thoughts on Descaling and Cleaning

I told you all the relevant information regarding the cleaning and descaling of the super-automatic and automatic espresso machines. If you’ve thoroughly read about How to clean your automatic espresso machine, you’ll be able to clean and descale your espresso machine at your home.

Now you know the hows and whys of deep cleaning and descaling automatic espresso machines. I’ll keep updating my cleaning guide about the automatic espresso machines.


No, almost all manufacturers of espresso machines don’t recommend using these natural acids for descaling the machine. No doubt they help purge the limescale buildup, but they slowly erode the metallic parts of your expresso, making the taste bitter and a health risk.

Yes, the best practice is to clean all the parts of your espresso machine involved in making the coffee. Make sure to rinse the group head and steam wand or milk nozzle to flush all coffee or milk residues.

First, you should wipe the milk nozzle or steam wand with a clean dump cloth right after use. Secondly, for deep cleaning, soak the wand or milk tube in water mixed with detergent for 3 – 5 minutes. Then wash them with fresh water and let them dry well

If you notice any change in taste and functioning (i.e., bitter taste or it’s consuming more time in brewing) of your automatic espresso machine, In this case, you should descale your machine immediately. It’s also recommended to descale the machine every 3-6 months, or more frequently if you live in an area with hard water.

Dissolve the Breville descaling solution in warm water, stir it well, and pour it into the water tank. Start the machine and follow the manual instruction to proceed further.

Most people make their descaling solution by mixing vinegar into the water. If you’re making your solution keep the vinegar should be 25%, and the water should be 75%. Remember to consult your manufacturer’s manual before using your own solution.

Using regular detergent to clean an automatic espresso machine is not recommended, as it can leave behind residue that can affect the taste of the coffee and potentially damage the machine. Use cleaning products that are specifically designed for use on espresso machines.

Consult your machine’s manual for specific instructions, but the brew group can generally be removed from the machine and cleaned with a brush or a cloth. It’s also recommended to use a cleaning solution specifically designed for espresso machines.

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