For many Italians, coffee has always been considered a real ritual that cannot be renounced. Every family now certainly has a coffee machine at home. In commerce, there are a large number of types of machines: traditional, automatic, or pods for espresso mixtures. To keep it efficient over time, you need to take small and constant precautions. After the purchase, in fact, it needs numerous and periodic cleaning interventions. If you do not clean it with the right precautions, you will risk damaging your machine due to the limescale that forms in the internal mechanisms. So, let’s find out together how to properly clean.
How to clean an espresso machine
Get some vinegar and a large container – also plastic – that you will need to collect the water that will come out of the machine during the wash. Place it where you usually put your coffee cups. Empty the water tank and put one part of pure white vinegar and two parts water inside — an economical and effective solution. Before carrying out this step, check the machine’s information leaflet to see if any components could be damaged. For most of the coffee machines on the market, it is possible to do a nice wash using white vinegar. In any case, we recommend that you always read the parent company’s indications to avoid causing irreparable damage to the object. Alternatively, you can use a special descaler to clean both the tank and the internal circuits periodically.
Wait for the machine to warm up – after flipping the switch. When you get the signal that the right temperature has been reached, press the coffee spout button. Wait for all the water and vinegar solution to come out; the tray must empty. Never press the shutdown button before this has finished. You will immediately notice that the vinegar color inserted in the tray is very different from the one introduced initially.
At this point, you will have to finish with a final wash with hot water only. This step will eliminate all vinegar residues and make its strong odor disappear completely. If the pump still makes some bad noises even after performing this operation, repeat it two or three times in a row. To eliminate limescale, you can also choose a trusted descaling product instead of vinegar. Only by making a few attempts will you be sure the job is done. If your machine allows it, at this point, you can also insert a thin wire inside the tube and try to detach any limescale deposits. Once this is done, put it back and do another wash with the vinegar and then water again.
If you have previously washed with water and vinegar to descale the appliance, you can also increase the doses. Once you have tested your machine’s effect, you can develop a solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% hot water. Never use baking soda dissolved in water to clean the tank, or you risk clogging it and thus damaging it. If you have just done this, try to solve the problem by washing with white vinegar as we have described to you before. It works 3 times out of 4. If the machine is still clogged, unplug it and take out the water tank. Check if it is possible to detach the tube that brings the water to the boiler to control it better.
You can also pay more attention to cleaning the dispenser and the milk container at a later stage – if the machine is equipped with them. Clean these components after each use because the fat component of milk is comparable to limestone. It also leaves an invisible patina that will never go away in the long run.
If you want to go even deeper and do proper maintenance of your espresso machine, here’s what you can do. Unplug the appliance and make sure it is at room temperature. Remove the limescale filter and the tank. Remove all the removable components and place them on a work surface over an old tablecloth to not damage the table. Take a spray bottle with a degreaser in it – such as Bref Clean Easy – and spray it on all of the disassembled parts, leaving it to act for a while. After a few minutes, rinse all the components under running water and clean them with a delicate brush with soft bristles. Take a clean cloth and be sure to dry everything thoroughly.
As for cleaning the outside of the machine, do not use aggressive solvents or detergents, but instead, use a simple mild soap – such as dishwashing soap – or a solution consisting of hot water and vinegar. With a soft cloth, wipe the exterior surfaces of the machine again until it shines. In the end, dry it well and put back all the pieces you previously washed and dried.
Now your espresso machine is practically like new. Do not forget to clean periodically to ensure correct operation over time. Enjoy your delicious coffee!
Adapted and translated by The Cop Cart Staff