Step-By-Step: How To Descale Your Espresso Machine

There are a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of different espresso machines in the world. Here are some of the best, and you’ll notice, most of them are not cheap.

It may be that you have an automatic cleaning and descaling cycle. If you do, then you get to do a little happy dance. If not, you’ll need to do it manually.

  • 1. Decide On What You Will Use To Descale

It’s up to you what you use. Citric acid, vinegar and lemon juice are all all-natural. Any commercially-made descaling products – powders, tablets etc. – that you decide to use should clearly state that they are all-natural as well. Most are.
At some point, you will get into a routine with this and have a “go-to” descaling recipe or product that you like and that works. It may be that you choose to go the espresso machine descaler homemade route with vinegar or citric acid, or you might purchase a descaling product. Or rotate them through on a monthly basis. Whatever works for your machine.

  • 2. Mix It Up

Depending on what type of product you decide to use – a homemade solution or a commercially made product – there might be an additional step. If you’re using citric acid, you need to mix the powder with water; if you’re using vinegar, dilute it in water – and for a commercial product, please follow the directions.
I love breaking rules, but not when it comes to the well-being of the most important machine in my kitchen.

  • 3. Espresso Machine Descaler Rinse

While each machine is different, the overall process is the same. In this step, you fill up your reservoir with your cleaning solution (the mixture with the water) – just as if you were making coffee.
It runs through your boiler and out through the machine. You will want to run this through your steam wand too. Think of this cleaning solution as a much-needed “cleanse” for your machine. It runs through your espresso maker, cleaning away gunk and other bits and pieces that come from the minerals and other elements in your water.
This process dissolves those things as it goes – so that it doesn’t sit there and build up, clogging the pipes.
If you deal with hard water where you live and are concerned about it, you can run this process twice, back-to-back, just to be sure you got all the gunk.
Now, sometimes what happens is that in the middle of a descaling process, you are hit with the NEED for an espresso. We’ve all been there. Seriously. Even with your machine in the middle of this cleaning process, you can make yourself a double shot – without an espresso machine.
Click here to learn how to do this. It’s a real McGyver move to be able to make espresso without an espresso machine. Just sayin’.

  • 4. The Rinse Rinse

After you have done your descaling rinse, fill up your reservoir ONLY with water this time and do it all over again.  Nope, this is not a joke. You need to rinse out the rinse.
This is done to be sure that all of the citric acid, vinegar or other commercially-made descaling product has been flushed out of your machine. You don’t want your morning espresso tasting like vinegar or citric acid or some other descaling product. That would just be wrong.
And sad. So very sad.

  • 5. Take A Big Sniff

When you feel that you are done with the rinse rinse, take a big sniff of the water that has come out and make sure that it only smells like water. Not vinegar or citric acid or anything else. If you get a whiff of that – run the rinse rinse again.
And – if it looks the least bit cloudy, it is recommended that you start the ENTIRE process all over. You want to see clear water so you know there won’t be any descaling product flavor lingering about.Once the water is clear and it smells like, well… water, you are good to make coffee again!
One of the things you can do to keep yourself caffeinated throughout this process – it takes about 20 minutes all in – is to have some chocolate covered coffee beans around. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Click here to learn how to make these.

  • The Last Step – Make Yourself An Espresso

When you are all done, it’s time to reward yourself with an espresso! After all, you took the time to care for your espresso machine, now it’s time for it to return the favor. And after all that, perhaps a coffee liqueur might be order. You can find recipes here.