How can I clean my coffee machine?
Out of all the items in your house that announce themselves as ‘in need of a good cleaning’, the coffee machine is probably quite low on the list. After all, stainless steel knobs and dials generally look quite pristine regardless of what they’ve been through. But is there something dire lurking just under the surface? Perhaps it’s time to give this contraption a deep cleaning. But can you do this yourself? And how on Earth do you get started?
Always consult your user manual. Most coffee machines come with a user manual which describes the best way to clean that specific machine. It’s always safer to follow these instructions as closely as possible for the best results.
Buy some tablets, powders or capsules and get cleaning! Perhaps you’ve misplaced the user manual, luckily there is a path to salvation. Many products exist which may be used to clean, and descale your machine.
These products claim that their cleaning substances are safe to use and pose no risk to the user once the appliance has been properly cleaned.
Remember to double check the compatibility of these products with your device before using them while paying close attention to the instructions.
Most shopping centres that stock coffee machines will also stock their cleaning materials, however, if you’re having trouble, you can always find them online. You can even find specialised brushes and wipes!
Hand Wash any detachable (washable) parts
Depending on your machine of choice, you may be able to skip this step. Newer models have begun prioritising a sense of convenience and simplicity for the user’s benefit. With this in mind, fewer parts are removable and the coffee machines themselves have come to resemble personal computers. If you find yourself in this scenario, it may be wiser not to dump any advanced technology into the dishwasher.
Sources do exist which advocate for handwashing parts of your device though it may also be pragmatic to ensure that the detachable parts of your machine are in-fact detachable, normally this includes (but is not limited to) things like the water reservoir and non-electric pots.
Just remember, if you need a hammer to detach it, it’s not detachable.
It would be nicer to have a one-size-fits-all method of cleaning coffee machines, sadly though, there are many types of coffee machines and even more brands, this means that the savvy owner might be inclined to do some personal research concerning their specific model to ensure the desired outcome.
It may be wise to research the machine types beforehand and if you’re averse to the idea of constant cleaning, let that factor into your choice.
- Drip coffee makers – Smaller openings make cleaning more challenging
- AeroPress coffee maker – As this device requires parts to be cleaned after every use, the chore of cleaning may very quickly outpace the joy of drinking.
- Espresso coffee makers – Many espresso makers have many complex and varied parts. Learning how to maintain them all could take a while.
- Grind and Brew coffee makers – Grinding coffee grounds means the machine may need more care than others.
- Siphon coffee maker – These complicated devices usually have many parts which means more cleaning.
What about home remedies?
If you’re not comfortable drinking coffee from a machine that has just been rinsed with cleaning materials, there is a ‘softer’ approach.
Many users claim that a thorough cleaning can be accomplished with a simple blend of vinegar and water. It is thought that this method can decalcify the inner workings of the machine without negatively impacting the taste of subsequent drinks.
Just remember that the process by which you would try this home remedy differs depending on the type of coffee machine you own.
“We dream of having a clean house – but who dreams of actually doing the cleaning?– Marcus Buckingham
Why do I need to clean my coffee machine?
All this may be sounding like a lot of work, which may lead you to ask, why? Do you really need to clean out your coffee machine and if so, how often?
If you are wonderful enough to have read our other article regarding coffee’s incredible staining abilities, you’ll already be familiar with how stubborn coffee grounds can be and how long they can stick around after they’ve been brewed.
As this normally occurs inside your coffee machine, you usually don’t need to worry about the stains, however the chemical buildup may result in a slightly different taste as it taints further drinks.
With every use of the machine, oily residue and fragments of coffee grounds may be left behind, compromising the flavour of subsequent cups.
This change in flavour could be enough to warrant a cleansing on its own, but the truly nasty bit is what happens if the machine is left unwashed for long periods of time.
In 2011 the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) conducted a swab analysis of 30 common household items across 22 families. They found that 50% of the families had yeast and/or mould growing in their coffee reservoirs.
This probably shouldn’t be too surprising. Mould grows in moist areas if your machine is never cleaned it could very easily lead to a buildup of mould/yeast over time.
Additionally, the calcification taking place within the device along with the aforementioned buildup of undesirable material may impair functionality as the pipes and flow channels are blocked up, resulting in a slower brew.
What’s calcification anyway?
For scientific reasons that are both long and boring, whenever you boil water, calcium is deposited in the boiling apparatus. This buildup of calcium acts like fat-blocking arteries. Over time it becomes harder and harder for liquids to pass through the inner workings of the system and your coffee machine’s effectiveness may begin to suffer as a result.
The process of breaking down and clearing out these mineral compounds from inside your coffee machine is known as descaling. As such, many different ‘descaling kits’ have been made available online and at certain retailers which may prove useful.
How often do I need to clean my coffee machine?
This most likely is down to the individual, most of us may not see the need to own such a meticulously clean coffee machine, but others (perhaps after learning about the potential mold buildup) might feel a desire for a more immaculate device and the perfect coffee that would hopefully follow.
Of course, as some users testify to the fact that the coffee tastes worse if the coffee machine is not probably cleaned like-minded operators might throw themselves into a frequent cleaning schedule to guarantee a worthwhile taste.
In Conclusion – How do I clean my coffee machine and is it really necessary?
The secret to properly cleaning a coffee machine is hidden inside the user manual. Each machine type and brand is different and so it may not be a great idea to clean them all in the same way.
Many cleaning tips and tricks do exist, things like specialised powders, tablets and capsules, as well as home remedies like a mixture of vinegar and water but these methods usually have certain procedures to follow and should be adhered to closely.
The most compelling reason to clean your coffee machine would be for hygienic purposes, studies suggest that the moist conditions of the water reservoir are a breeding ground for molds. Additionally, many coffee drinkers believe that the taste of the beverage is marginally (or in some cases, largely) spoilt by the buildup of minerals and oils within the device.
Calcification may also occur after time which can clog pipe systems thus dampening the effectiveness of the machine. In short, an effective cleaning may result in better flavour, less bacteria and a more productive coffee machine.
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