Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning: How & How Often?

by Ben Coleman Updated: March 18, 2024 4 min read
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Fully automatic espresso machines are all about convenience—you push a button and are delivered a delicious espresso beverage in mere moments. This convenience is present when it comes time to clean your machine as well. 

Most super-automatics not only give you handy reminders for when it’s time to clean and descale—they’ll mostly automate the process as well. 

Because of how communicative super-autos have gotten, the best advice we can give you is to simply listen to your machine and clean it when and how it instructs you to. 

However, if you want to make sure you’re keeping up with the needs of your coffee machine in between deep cleaning, we’ve got a few tips for you. 

Test Your Water

If you ask Whole Latte Love techs what the #1 espresso machine maintenance issue they deal with is, they would not hesitate to respond: scale buildup. 

Scaling occurs when minerals in brew water precipitate and build up in various parts of an espresso machine, primarily the boiler. Scale buildup can cause blockages and prevent your machine from brewing espresso correctly. 

How hard your water is determines how much scale will build up, so it’s important information to ensure you’re taking proper care of your machine. If you don’t know how hard your water is, you should test it (don’t worry—it’s easy and relatively inexpensive). 

Test Your Water
Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning: How & How Often?

BWT Hot Beverage Water Hardness Test Kit

Complete your Set-Up with the BWT Hot Beverage Water Hardness Test Kit Please Note: in the included testing manual, the TH and CH measurements outlined in the English instructions correspond with t...

Use Water Filters

Before we get to descaling: what if there were a way to significantly reduce (if not entirely eliminate) the frequency with which you needed to descale your machine?

There is: use a specialized water filter. 

Most modern super-automatic espresso machines come with a water filter that lives right in the reservoir. If yours doesn’t, you can simply fill your reservoir with water filtered through a BWT pitcher. 

Better than Brita
Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning: How & How Often?

BWT AQUAlizer 2.6 L Pitcher with Illuminated Baselight

The BWT AQUAlizer is an attractive modern water pitcher with an intuitive baselight to alert you when it's time to change your water filter. When used with BWT Magnesium Mineralization Cartridges, the AQUAlizer produces delicious drinking water that will not cause limescale buildup in your espresso machine.

Certain filters, like those JURA makes for their super-autos, are designed to entirely eliminate the need to descale your machine (assuming you replace your filter regularly). Others significantly reduce how often you’ll need to descale.


How often you need to descale your machine depends entirely on the hardness level of your water and the type of filter you use. With medium-hard water and no filter, you should plan on descaling every 3 months or so. 

Universal Descaling Solution
Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning: How & How Often?

Durgol Descaler

Designed for use with coffee makers, Durgol Express Descaler will safely remove build-up from hard water that can alter the taste of your coffee. This fast-acting, food-safe decalcifier rinses clean, ensuring there will be no residue left behind to change the taste or aroma of your freshly brewed coffee. Please consult your coffee maker’s user’s manual for descaling instructions specific to your machine.

During descaling, a cleaning solution like Durgol Descaler dissolves scale build up within your machine and keeps your valves free from obstruction. 

To descale your machine, simply add a descaling solution to the water reservoir and run the descaling procedure. How to initiate this depends on which machine you have, but it should be somewhere in the main menu. Many machines, in fact, will actually give you automatic reminders to descale based on the hardness of your water. 

Just make sure you remove any in-tank filters before adding the descaler to your reservoir (it will destroy your filter). 

Milk System Cleaning

Cleaning espresso machines’ milk systems is just as important as anything else. How you do this, however, depends on what type of machine you have. 

Gaggia machines, for example, use an auto-frothing carafe for producing milk foam, which the machine cleans automatically after each use…but you should still wash the carafe every week or so just to give it a thorough cleaning.

JURA machines, on the other hand, require you to run a cleaning program after preparing milk drinks. It’s easy to do though: you simply add some JURA milk system cleaner to the included cleaning tub, connect the line, and the machine will do the rest for you. 

Keep Your Milk Clean
Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning: How & How Often?

JURA Milk System Cleaner Mini Tabs Refill - 180 g

The JURA Milk System Cleaner Mini Tabs Refillable Bottle, available in 180g for 60 cleaning procedures, utilizes JURA’s fine foam technology in the form of mini tabs. These phosphate-free tabs, together with your machine’s automatic cleaning program, ensure you’ll always use the right amount of cleaner to effectively remove milk fats and proteins, as well as keep the tubes clean and hygienic for consistently fine, light-as-air milk foam.

Brew Group Cleaning

Similar to the milk systems, how you clean the group head of your super-auto will depend on what type of machine you have. 

Gaggia machines, for example, have removable brew groups which you should take out and rinse in hot water every week or so to remove the coffee grounds that can get caked on after pulling shot after shot of espresso. 

JURA machines, by comparison, have no removable brew groups. Instead, you clean them by adding espresso machine cleaning tablets to the single dose chute and running a cleaning cycle on the machine. 

Cleaning Tablets
Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Cleaning: How & How Often?

JURA 3-Phase Cleaning Tablets 25pk

An essential part of the maintenance of any JURA espresso machine the 3-Phase Cleaning Tablets are the new standard of care. Designed for three phases, cleaning and care which break down coffee fats and oils and form a protective barrier against them, and now protection from the buildup of mineral deposits.

You can use espresso machine cleaner tablets in Gaggia machines as well, however we recommend removing the brew group to clean it thoroughly at least once a month. In the words of one of our techs, using these cleaning tablets on a machine with a removable brew group is like “taking a shower with a wet wipe.” 

Keeping Your Machine Clean

The secret to a long-lived espresso machine that continues to brew great espresso for years is to make sure it stays clean. 

Luckily, most new super-autos have built-in systems to remind and instruct us for exactly when and how to do this. 

Of course, if you ever need some extra assistance, we’re here for you. Schedule a Coffee Cast for some one-on-one support from one of our in-house experts. They can walk you through cleaning your machine or help you troubleshoot any other issues you might be having. The best part? It’s totally free!