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Cleaning Coffee Machine: Ultimate Guide to a Perfect Brew

November 9, 2023

Discover step-by-step techniques for cleaning coffee machine. Preserve taste & ensure longevity. Transform your morning ritual today!


Coffee machines are an integral part of our daily routine; from kick-starting our morning to giving us the much-needed afternoon boost. However, like any appliance, they require regular maintenance to perform at their best. Not doing so can result in a subpar brew or even damage the machine in the long run. This guide will provide an in-depth understanding of how to maintain and clean your coffee machine, ensuring that it lasts longer and produces excellent coffee each time.

Understanding Your Coffee Machine

To effectively maintain and clean a coffee machine, it is crucial first to understand its workings and various parts. Coffee machines, regardless of type or model, shares common components. They include the water reservoir, coffee basket, thermal carafes or glass pot, and in some cases, built-in grinders. Each type of coffee machine, may it be Mr. Coffee Machine, Breville Coffee Machine, or Bunn Coffee Machine; all have a different structure but operates under the same principle.

They function by heating water in its reservoir, which then drips down through the coffee grounds located in the basket, and subsequently, the brewed coffee gets collected in the pot. Understanding this process can assist in identifying problem areas, where coffee grounds or mineral deposits may accumulate, requiring extra attention during the cleaning routine.

Machine Parts and their Functions

The water reservoir holds the water for brewing coffee. The coffee basket holds the coffee grounds and allows water to pass through them, extracting the flavor. The pot or carafe collects the brewed coffee, and in machines with a built-in grinder, the beans are ground just before brewing for maximum freshness. Knowing the functionality of each part can help you clean them appropriately and maintain the machine’s overall performance.

Impact of a Clean Coffee Machine

Regularly cleaning your coffee machine has a significant impact on the machine’s performance and the quality of the coffee it produces. When oil residues from the coffee brewing process or mineral deposits from water start to accumulate in the coffee machine’s parts, it can affect the machine’s operation and the taste of your coffee. The coffee machine will output a brew that has a bitter or off-putting taste, disrupting the desired coffee flavor.

Maintaining a clean coffee machine also extends its lifespan, enabling it to operate efficiently for longer. By regularly cleaning and descaling your coffee machine, you help prevent the build-up of mineral deposits, which can cause blockages in the machine over time. Blockages can ultimately result in the machine breaking down if left unchecked.

Durability, Energy Efficiency, and Taste

Among other reasons, your coffee machine’s cleanliness plays an enormous role in ensuring its durability, energy efficiency, and coffee taste. Cleaning your machine regularly can save you from unnecessary repair costs whilst guaranteeing that every cup of coffee you make is rich, fresh, and flavorful.

Frequency of Cleaning

The frequency at which you clean your coffee machine largely depends on how often you use it. For regular coffee drinkers, it’s recommended to clean removable parts like the carafe and filter basket after every use. This doesn’t need to be a deep clean; rinse them with hot water and a little dish soap will usually suffice. Keep in mind that the cleanliness of these parts contributes significantly to the taste of your brew.

For a more comprehensive clean, which includes cleaning the interior sections of the machine, it’s recommended to do so every three to six months. This deep cleansing eliminates the mineral deposits that accumulate over time. A clean machine not only makes tastier coffee but it also increases the lifespan of your coffee machine.

Cleaning vs Descaling

Many people often confuse between cleaning and descaling a coffee machine, however, they serve different purposes. Cleaning a coffee machine involves removing coffee oil residues and dirt that can build up over time. These residues, if left unchecked, can lead to stale or bitter coffee and even potential machine breakdowns.

On the other hand, descaling is specifically for removing the built-up mineral deposits, typically composed of calcium and magnesium, in the machine’s inner mechanisms. These deposits originate from the water used in brewing coffee and can interfere with the machine’s operation, leading to inefficiency or even damage if left unchecked. Calcium and magnesium deposits are particularly common in areas with hard water. Descaling procedures is something you’ll need to carry out every few months, depending on the hardness of your water and the frequency of usage of your machine. Ratings suggest that Breville and Bosch machines require more frequent descaling, hence here are links on how to descale Breville coffee machine and how to descale Bosch coffee machine

While regular cleaning can be carried out with mild soap and water, descaling generally requires specialized descaling solutions or household vinegar. Both processes are crucial for maintaining your coffee machine’s health and ensuring it continues to brew delicious coffee.

Preparation for Cleaning

Before starting the cleaning process, it’s essential to gather all materials you will need. This typically includes a mild dish soap, warm water, a soft cloth or sponge, and a brush for scrubbing hard-to-reach areas. If you plan on descaling or deep cleaning, you will also need a descaling solution or white vinegar.

Always remember to disconnect your coffee machine from the power source before starting the cleaning process. This is to ensure not only the machine’s safety but also your own. Make sure to refer to the machine’s user manual for specific instructions, as some machines may have components that aren’t water-friendly or are sensitive to certain kinds of soap.Ninja coffee machines, for example, need to be handled differently during cleaning than other brands. Similarly, different kinds of machines have varying cleaning guidelines.

Disassembly for Cleaning

If your coffee machine has removable parts, it’s advisable to disassemble it for a more thorough clean. Parts like the carafe, filter basket, and any others that are in direct contact with coffee or water should be removed and cleaned separately. Refer to the machine’s user manual for steps to safely remove parts for cleaning.

Cleaning the Exterior

The exterior of your coffee machine can gather dust and coffee spills over time, which can make your machine less visually appealing and potentially sticky to touch. For cleaning the machine’s exterior, a damp cloth and a mild soap solution is generally all you need.

Simply apply the soapy water to the damp cloth and then wipe down the machine’s exterior. Be cautious around buttons and knobs; excessive water can potentially damage the underlying electrical components. Also, it’s essential to focus on the machine’s warming plate, as this space tends to accumulate a lot of residue from coffee spills.

Following this, wipe down the machine with a dry cloth to ensure no water has been left behind. Remember to clean the exterior regularly to prevent accumulation of dust and grim, enabling your coffee machine to look its best at all times.

Cleaning Removable Machine Parts

Coffee machines come with several removable parts such as the brew basket, carafe, and even the lid in some models. Over time, these components can accumulate coffee residues, leading to stale or bitter coffee.

For cleaning removable parts, warm soapy water works best. Simply rinse the parts under warm running water, apply a little dish soap and scrub carefully with a sponge or a soft brush. Then rinse again to ensure no soap residue remains, and leave the parts to dry fully before reassembling.

Likewise, there are specific cleaning instructions for different coffee machine models. For example, cleaning a DeLonghi coffee machine might differ from cleaning a Ninja or a Cuisinart coffee machine. Therefore, always refer to the user manual before starting the cleaning process.

Cleaning Non-Removable Machine Parts

While most parts of a coffee machine can be removed and cleaned separately, there are some parts that are non-removable. This includes sections of the machine like the reservoir, the internal piping and heating elements. These parts require special attention as they can’t be cleaned by conventional methods.

A common method for cleaning non removable parts is a brewing cycle with vinegar or a cleaning solution. Fill the water reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water, or according to the recommended concentration in the cleaning solution’s instructions. Run a brew cycle without adding coffee grounds, then run at least two more cycles with just water to ensure no vinegar or cleaner is left in the machine.

Remember, some machines, like the Bunn coffee machine, have special instructions for cleaning non-removable parts. Always consult the machine’s instruction manual for specific steps to avoid potentially damaging your device.

Deep Cleaning with Vinegar

Vinegar’s acidic nature makes it an excellent universal cleaner and your coffee machine is no exception. Cleaning your coffee machine with vinegar helps to remove the build-up of coffee oils, mineral deposits and impurities that can affect the taste of your coffee.

You begin by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water to create your cleaning solution. Fill your machine’s water reservoir with this solution and start a brewing cycle. Halfway through the cycle, turn off your coffee maker and let the solution sit for about an hour.

Then, resume the brewing cycle. After the cycle is complete, follow it up with at least two full cycles using only water to ensure no vinegar residue is left behind. Please note, deep cleaning with vinegar should be performed only as frequently as required by the specific instructions provided with your coffee machine.

Vinegar is especially effective for coffee machine models like Mr. Coffee and others mentioned in this article.

Deep Cleaning with Special Products

Commercial coffee machine cleaners are another efficient way to deep clean your coffee machine. These cleaners are formulated to deal with the stubborn mineral build-up and coffee residues that can inhibit your machine’s function and damage its longevity.

Specific steps will differ depending on the product you choose, but generally, you should mix the cleaner with water according to the product instructions, then proceed as you would when cleaning with vinegar. Be sure to run several rinse cycles afterwards to ensure all of the cleaners are flushed out of the machine completely.

Commercial cleaners can be particularly effective for cleaning and maintaining specialized coffee machines like the Breville coffee machine or the Jura coffee machine.

Descaling the Coffee Machine

Descaling is a process separate from cleaning, designed to remove mineral deposits or “scale” that build up over time in your coffee machine. These deposits can clog your machine’s lines and negatively affect the taste of your coffee.

Descaling solutions are available in the market which you can use according to the instructions provided. Alternatively, a similar process to cleaning, using a vinegar solution can also be used, but may not be as effective as a commercial descaling product.

Run the descaling solution or vinegar solution through the brewing cycle. Allow the solution to sit for the recommended time and then rinse thoroughly by flushing several cycles of fresh water through the machine.

Particular machines will require specific procedures for descaling, for instance a Bosch coffee machine or a Breville coffee machine, so always refer to your user manual or manufacturer’s website for further details.

Post-Cleaning Check

After the cleaning process is complete, it’s important to thoroughly check your coffee machine to ensure it’s functioning correctly and that all parts are in place. Plug the machine in and run a water-only brewing cycle. This will confirm the machine is working and also helps to further flush out any residual cleaner.

Make sure to inspect all removable and non-removable parts for cleanliness, and pay attention to components such as the brew basket, carafe, and water reservoir, which should be pristine. Following a detailed post-cleaning check can help prevent potential problems down the line.

Functionality Check After Cleaning

If you notice any irregularities in function, consider troubleshooting in line with your machine’s manual. Issues could include too much water left in the reservoir, the machine not heating up correctly, or irregularities in the brew cycle. Companies have customer support that can guide those using a DeLonghi, Ninja or other types of coffee machines through potential solutions.

Storing Your Coffee Machine

The longevity and readyness of your coffee machine heavily depend on how you store it. Always keep the machine in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Keep it unplugged when not in use, and avoid wrapping the cord around the machine, as this can cause wear and tear.

Basket and Carafe Storage

The basket and carafe should be emptied and dried before storing them to avoid mold and bacteria growth. If your coffee machine is not used regularly, consider storing the removable parts separately after cleaning them. If you have a commercial coffee machine, proper storage is even more essentail due to the higher costs associated with replacement or repair.

Pre-Brew Routine

Adopting a pre-brew routine is key to maintaining a clean coffee machine and enhancing the taste of your coffee. Part of this routine should include a quick check-up of your machine. Begin by inspecting the water reservoir for any debris and giving a quick rinse to the brew basket and carafe, even if they were cleaned the previous day. Also, consider running a water-only cycle through your machine regularly before brewing your coffee for the freshest taste.

Make sure all the components are correctly assembled, and ensure the water and coffee quantities align with the brew size chosen. If using a Mr. Coffee machine or a filter coffee machine, make sure to insert the filters correctly for optimal brewing.

Maintenance Schedule

Establishing a maintenance schedule is a crucial step in prolonging the lifespan of your coffee machine and preserving the quality of the coffee it brews. Regular cleaning can technically be done as frequently as after each use; this primarily involves cleaning out the carafe, filter, and any removable parts. While this might seem tedious, it helps to prevent buildup of coffee residue or limescale which can degrade the machine over time.

Deep cleaning and descaling, on the other hand, do not have to be done as often. Depending on the hardness of your water and how frequently you use your machine, you could perform these tasks anywhere from once every month to once every three to six months. For instance, a commonly used Bunn coffee machine needs its lime deposits removed every three months. However, remember to consult your machine’s user manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Signs Your Machine Needs Cleaning

If you experience any changes in the taste of your coffee, your machine could likely benefit from cleaning. Additionally, changes like slower brewing times, more noise than usual, or visible scale deposits are also clear signs that your coffee machine needs attention. Regularly referring to tips on how often to clean your coffee machine can also provide valuable insights.

Common Mistakes in Coffee Machine Cleaning

While cleaning your coffee machine, there are several pitfalls you should be mindful of to avoid causing damage. One common mistake is using harsh or abrasive cleaning materials. This can cause unnecessary wear and tear to the machine’s components and housing. Another mistake is neglecting to clean your coffee machine regularly. Infrequent cleaning allows oils, grounds, and mineral deposits to build up, which can seriously deteriorate the quality of your coffee and potentially damage the machine.

A notable mistake many make while using a Bosch, Breville, Jura or other coffee machine is neglecting descaling. Descaling removes accumulated mineral deposits that can clog the water pipelines inside the machine. Overlooking this process can lead to machine breakdowns.

Tips for Long-Lasting Coffee Machines

Proper maintenance and regular cleaning of your coffee machine can significantly extend its lifespan. Start by always using fresh, filtered water to minimize scale deposits. Where possible, use a water filter as it can reduce the number of impurities in the water and, as a result, slow down the accumulation of mineral deposits inside the machine.

Remember to always remove used coffee grounds immediately after brewing. Not only will this keep your machine cleaner, but it also prevents the coffee oils from becoming rancid and affecting the taste of your brew. Lastly, be sure to regularly inspect your coffee machine’s components for any wear and tear, and replace them as necessary. Parts like seals, gaskets, and filters can wear out over time, and it’s less costly to replace these than to buy a new machine.

Regardless of whether you have a Cuisinart, Mr. Coffee machine, or another brand, following these tips and understanding how to clean a coffee machine can increase its longevity significantly.

FAQs about Coffee Machine Cleaning

As a coffee machine owner, you might have a few questions about the cleaning process. We’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions to help guide you more effectively through cleaning your machine.

Can Vinegar be Used to Clean Coffee Machines?

Yes, vinegar is a popular, natural cleaning agent suitable for most coffee machines. Its acidity is great for eliminating mineral deposits, molds, and other bacteria. However, it should be used sparingly due to its strong odor, which can linger even after rinsing. Detailed steps on how to clean a coffee machine with vinegar are available for those interested.

Can Regular Dish Soap Be Used to Clean Coffee Machines?

Yes, for certain parts. Removable parts like the carafe and filter basket are suitable for washing with warm water and mild dish soap. However, the machine itself and non-removable parts should not be cleaned with dish soap as it can leave residue that interferes with the machine’s operation and the taste of the coffee.

How Often Should Coffee Machines Be Cleaned?

How often you should clean your coffee machine can depend on how frequently you use it. Regular cleaning of the carafe and other removable parts should be done after every use. Deep cleaning and descaling should be performed anywhere from once a month to once every three months, depending on water hardness and usage. Check out how often to clean a coffee machine for more information.


Regular cleaning and maintenance of your coffee machine have a significant impact on both the longevity of the machine and the quality of the coffee it brews. By following the right techniques and using appropriate agents like vinegar or specifically designed products, you can ensure effective cleaning.

As we have concluded, cleaning after each use, deep cleaning, and descaling periodically are the key components of coffee machine maintenance. But it’s also crucial to avoid common pitfalls during the cleaning process, like using abrasive cleansers that can damage your machine over time. Adopting these practices will ensure that your machine remains in excellent condition and that you always enjoy a fresh, flavorful cup of coffee.

Whether you’re a barista in a busy coffee shop using a commercial coffee machine or a coffee enthusiast with an DeLonghi or Ninja machine at home, this guide provides a comprehensive overview of all you need to know about maintaining your coffee machine. So, let’s keep our coffee machines clean, and continue enjoying the perfect cup of coffee!