Hand replacing water tank in KitchenAid® espresso maker

How To Clean And Descale An Espresso Machine

Great beans and a great grind – both contribute to making a great shot of espresso – but learning how to clean an espresso machine can help prevent minerals and oils from building up and altering the taste of your beverage. A regular cleaning and understanding how to descale your espresso machine can make all the difference.

KitchenAid® espresso machine on countertop next to canister of coffee beans. KitchenAid® espresso machine on countertop next to canister of coffee beans.


For the best tasting espresso, an espresso machine that’s used often should be wiped down daily and the portafilter and basket should be rinsed out with every use. In addition, a deeper clean, which involves washing the individual parts, should take place weekly to help keep the machine and its parts free of residue and impurities.

Descaling your espresso machine, either with vinegar or a descaling solution, at least once a year, is also key to maintaining your appliance and ensuring delicious results.

The items you’ll need to keep your espresso maker clean are simple and straightforward. In addition to the vinegar or specialized solution you’ll need for descaling, a daily or deep cleaning requires only a soft, clean towel and a little soap and water to get the job done.


Espresso only has a few ingredients so everything you put in your espresso maker matters, including water. Starting with a good filtered water can not only improve taste, but it also can help minimize the concentration of dissolved minerals in your espresso machine. If you are looking for filtered water straight from the refrigerator, KitchenAid recommends everydrop® Refrigerator Water Filters.1

1. everydrop® products and KitchenAid brand's products are both owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.

Hand removing the water tank of a KitchenAid® espresso machine. Hand removing the water tank of a KitchenAid® espresso machine.


Descaling is the process of removing mineral buildup from your espresso machine by flushing vinegar and water or a descaling solution through it. This type of cleaning should take place at least once a year, but if you’re not using filtered water, or your water is hard and has a higher mineral content, you might need to descale more often.

There are many different types of espresso machines, so before you begin descaling your espresso machine be sure and check your owner’s manual for the proper instructions on how to descale an espresso machine for your make and model. If your owner’s manual indicates that vinegar won’t harm your machine, you’ll want to make a cleaning solution containing the ratio of vinegar and water recommended for your machine, or have a descaling solution on hand. Vinegar does have the potential to leave a slight odor behind; if this is an issue for you, affresh® Coffee Maker Cleaner1 fights hard water and mineral build up for a powerful clean without the odor of vinegar.

Use the following steps to descale a KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine:

(Please note, if you need to to descale a coffee maker, the steps will be a bit different.)

1. affresh® products and KitchenAid® products are both owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation

Hand pouring water into water tank.


Fill a clean water tank with the volume of descaling solution and water recommended.

Espresso machine with bowl under group head, finger pressing clean cycle button.


Place a container below the group head and steam wand to catch the water and cleaning solution – the clean cycle button.

Espresso machine with bowl under group head, finger pressing start/cancel.

Step 3

Empty the container and repeat.

Some machines have an indicator light to let you know when it’s time to descale. If your machine is sputtering or the liquids aren’t flowing freely, this is another sign that your machine might need to be descaled. Also, if you’re going on vacation and you won’t use your machine for a while, you might want to descale your espresso machine when you return, to flush out any deposits that might have accumulated while you were away.

Hand tamping coffee grounds into portafilter. Hand tamping coffee grounds into portafilter.


Before you start cleaning your machine, it’s important to understand what parts are included in it and whether or not they are dishwasher safe, or should be cleaned by hand.

Two of the most important parts in an espresso machine are “the group” or “group head” which is the heart of the machine and the “portafilter” – which holds the coffee grounds, and is set inside a handle. These two parts connect the water and grinds to create the espresso. The portafilter should be tapped and rinsed to empty it of any residual grounds every time your machine is used. 

The steam wand, which is used to heat and froth milk, should be purged and wiped down after every use and should be rinsed with water after you’re done brewing. Learn more about how to clean a milk steamer or frother wand.

The KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine includes the following parts:

  • Espresso machine
  • Portafilter
  • Coffee scoop
  • Tamper
  • Steam wand
  • Milk pitcher
  • Water tank
  • 4 filter baskets
  • Drip tray
  • Cleaning brush
  • Milk tank

KitchenAid offers a separate automatic milk frother attachment, or discover the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine and Milk Frother Attachment to help prepare milk for delicious lattes and cappuccinos.

Hand inserting portafilter into group head of KitchenAid® espresso machine. Hand inserting portafilter into group head of KitchenAid® espresso machine.


Before you begin a deep cleaning of your KitchenAid® espresso machine, make sure that the machine and its accessories have cooled off and the maker is unplugged. Then follow these step-by-step instructions – and for standalone steps on cleaning a KitchenAid espresso machine – please see these product help instructions.

NOTE: Never use abrasive cleansers or scouring pads to clean your espresso machine.

Drip tray being removed from espresso machine.

Step 1

When the drip tray indicator becomes visible, empty the drip tray.

Hand wiping espresso machine with soft cloth.

Step 2

Wipe the espresso machine and the group head with a clean, soft, damp cloth.

Sink filled with parts of espresso machine soaking in soapy water.

Step 3

Wash the drip tray, portafilter, filter baskets, milk pitcher and drip tray plates in warm soapy water. Rinse with clean water. Dry with a dry cloth.

Steam wand positioned over espresso cup/ steam wand getting wiped down with soft cloth.

Step 4

Clean the steam wand after every use by selecting water. Position the wand over a cup or the drip tray and press the start/cancel button. Wait 3-5 seconds, then press the button again to stop. Wipe the wand with a soft, damp cloth.


Armed with a clear understanding of how to clean an espresso machine and a great espresso maker, you’ll be making delicious, “barista-style” espresso in your own kitchen, shot after shot. Soon, you’ll be discovering new recipes like this Warm Winter Espresso Cocktail, for a spirited twist on classic espresso. Shop the complete Coffee Collection from KitchenAid for more inspiring brewing possibilities.