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How to clean and descale a coffee machine

Our best step-by-step methods on how to clean your coffee maker, and descale it too!


How to clean a coffee machine: coffee maker with magazines in the background

Key steps

  • The easiest method for how to clean a cafetière is to strip it to individual parts first, then wash in a dishwasher or by hand.
  • Run a cleaning mixture through your coffee machine to clean it.
  • 1:1 vinegar or lemon juice and water is great for descaling.
  • One-part citric acid to twenty-parts water is an alternative for descaling.

The combination of the minerals in water and the oil content in coffee means it's crucially important to both to clean and to descale a coffee maker in order to keep them in top working order. In this article you can find out the difference between cleaning and descaling an espresso machine or standard coffee maker, and provide a step-by-step method for how to clean your coffee maker and descale it too.

Regular cleaning is key to preventing residue and limescale build-up. A quick basic clean should be done after every use, and a good clean at least once a month.

What is the difference between cleaning and descaling?

Cleaning is about removing built up coffee oil residue to ensure your coffee always tastes fresh. Descaling removes the mineral build up around the heating element of your coffee maker, allowing you’re the water to always reach optimum temperature. Knowing both how to clean a coffee machine and how to descale a coffee machine will help you get the best possible results from it!


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How to clean a cafetière or other coffee maker

With our guide on how to clean coffee makers of all kinds, you can have them clean and ready to use again in no time.

1.     Cleaning a cafetière

  • Always tip away use coffee grounds into the sink first.
  • If there are stubborn grounds stuck on, use a wooden spoon (as a metal one could cause scratches).
  • Start by stripping down your cafetière to individual parts.
  • For most cafetières, all these parts can be put into the dishwasher.
  • If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can wash it by hand.
  • Using a soft sponge and water, thoroughly clean each part of the cafetière.
  • If you wish, you can use dishwashing soap, but always ensure you properly rinse it out to prevent it causing a taste difference to your coffee.

2.     Cleaning a drip coffee maker

Empty the coffee pot and tip away coffee granules from the filter.

Fill the coffee maker’s reservoir with a descaling solution made of one-part vinegar to two-parts water.

Turn the coffee make on to make a pot.

Allow the mixture to sit for around 15 minutes, before pouring away.

Brew two cycles in your coffee maker using just water. This will clean away any lingering taste from descaling with vinegar. Leave the water for 15 minutes between each cycle.

3.     Cleaning a one-cup coffee maker

  • Cleaning a one cup coffee maker is similar to a drip coffee maker.
  • Make a mixture of 1/2 cup of vinegar and one cup of water.
  • Pour your mixture into the reservoir.
  • Brew a cup, and leave to sit for 15 minutes.
  • Brew two cycles of water only, allowing it to sit for 15 minutes between each cycle.

How to descale a coffee machine

If you are looking for tips for descaling an espresso machine or other coffee maker, we have some easy steps for you to follow.

  • Why not try descaling with vinegar? Create a mixture of 50% vinegar to 50% water. Running this through the longest cycle available on your coffee machine. Use water only for 4-5 cycles to fully remove the vinegar.
  • You could also use lemon juice. This also requires a half and half ratio. Run it through the longest cycle on your coffee machine. You will only need around two cycles of water only to remove the lemon taste.
  • Another option is to use citric acid. This needs to be one-part citric acid to twenty-parts water. Pop it on the longest cycle before running two water only cycles.

Now you have top tips for how to clean a coffee machine as well as creating a descaling solution you can be sure to always create the best coffee.

Originally published