How to Clean & Descale the Breville Barista Express

How to Clean & Descale the Breville Barista Express

The Breville Barista Express has two maintenance modes. The cleaning cycle removes coffee oils and residues, while the descaling cycle removes mineral buildup caused by hard water.


Clean Cycle Backflush vs. Descaling

Before you get started, it’s important to note that the cleaning cycle and descaling cycle, while very similar, accomplish different goals.

The cleaning cycle removes coffee oils and residues, while the descaling cycle removes mineral build up caused by hard water.

This Breville espresso machine has a water filter just like the water filter in your fridge, and you'll need to use at least one cleaning tool to ensure you have a clean cup of coffee, and your steam wand is safe to use.

Both cycles are important to maintain the proper functioning and high-quality, delicious shots of coffee and espresso. The cleaning cycle is indicated by a blinking light, and the descaling cycle is indicated by a solid light. Follow these simple steps for a clean Breville barista express.

Shopping List

Here are some of the recommended, reader supported products for cleaning and descaling your Barista Breville Express:

Some other suggestions for cleaning and descaling your machine:


How to Clean Cycle the Breville Sage Espresso Machine

How to clean cycle your Breville Barista Express in 7 simple steps.

What To Do When Breville Espresso Clean | Descale Light is Blinking

1) Turn the machine off
2) Empty the drip tray
3) Add cold clean water into the water reservoir
4) Replace the filter in the portafilter with a single cup filter
5) Add the Breville cleaning tablet
6) Hold down the single and double buttons, followed by the power button
7) Check to see that the entire cleaning tablet has dissolved

1) Turn the machine off

If your cleaning/descaling light is blinking on Breville espresso machines, that means it’s time for it to be cleaned. This may happen more or less depending on if you have hard water (even with a water filter, you'll need regular cleaning).

Before doing anything else, you’ll want to make sure your Breville espresso coffee machine top is off.

The only way to start the cleaning and descaling process on a Breville coffee machine is to start from a powered down machine. Have a cloth ready to wipe any potential spill from the machine's deep clean.

2) Empty the drip tray and remove the metal grille so that the drip tray of the machine is exposed

3) Add cold clean water into the water reservoir tank to the max line.

The water should be cold, or optionally from a water filter. Fill it to the top.

4) Replace the filter in the portafilter with a single cup filter

Remove your portafilter, and replace the existing basket, with the single cup filter basket. Then, put in the silicon cleaning disk.

Breville Replacement Cleaning Disk

Cleaning tablets go directly into this part of the Breville machine!

5) Add the Breville cleaning tablet into the pod

Breville cleaning tablets

6) Hold down the single cup and two-cup buttons simultaneously and then press the power button. Hold for 5 seconds.

The cleaning process should start after a few seconds. Don’t be alarmed if water does not come out of the portafilter, simply check that it’s flowing into the drip tray.

The 2019 model has holes in the cleaning disk of the portafilter, which means water should flow directly out just like when you're making a cup of coffee. In other models, the water may run through the machine and into the drip tray. Once you see water coming out, you know it’s cleaning! This process takes about 5 minutes, and you'll hear a beep indicating it’s finished.

If no water comes out at all, from the portafilter or the drip tray, turn the machine off and try step 6 again. Rinse your tray.

7) Check to see that the entire cleaning tablet has dissolved

If the cleaning tablet has fully dissolved, your espresso machine is ready to use! If not, go back to step 6 and repeat the cleaning process (it's always good to have multiple cleaning tablets on hand for any extra cleaning).

When you’re finished, you can flush and finish cleaning the Breville espresso machine by running the double shot option to clean out any dirty water that might remain. Carefully remove your drip tray and rinse (it will be hot) and the cleaning cycle is complete!

Your Breville coffee machine is ready to use. Make sure to keep extra cleaning tablets around, in between running these systems to get rid of build up, you can always use a damp cloth or soft cloth to clean out the filter basket, group head, upper burr and shower screen. Most readers use a vinegar solution or something similar to wash in between maintenance.


How to Descale the Breville Barista Express

How to descale  your Breville Barista Express in 9 simple steps.

What To Do When Breville Clean | Descale Light is Lit (Not Blinking!)

If your Breville machine has run a complete cleaning cycle and the clean me light is now on, it's time for some descaling maintenance.

1) Turn the machine off and empty all water from the water reservoir tank

2) Add commercial descaling solution or an alternative descaling solution into the water tank

As an alternative to the descaling solution, you can add one parts dissolved white vinegar and one parts water.

3) Fill up the water tank with clean cold water

4) Place the empty milk pitcher beneath the group head

5) Simultaneously press the two shot button and the power button. Hold for 5 seconds.

If the descaling process does not begin, you may have not pressed the buttons in the right order or with enough pressure. Turn off the machine and try again.

6) After the descaling cycle has finished, activate the backflush, hot water, and steam wand functions until all the water runs out.

First backflush the grouphead with the portafilter inserted.

7) Press down the two shot button once to flush the group head.


8) Turn the steam dial on the side of the machine and dispense hot water from the hot water spout

Be mindful of any body parts or objects beneath the spout.

9) Point the steam wand downward toward the drip tray and turn on the steam wand

Repeat until the water level in the water tank is below the minimum line and steam is no longer coming through the machine, don't worry about any remaining solution.

You don't need a special steam wand cleaning tool, just use a rag to wipe it dry.


9 Steps to Cleaning Your Breville Grinder

While you can consider using cleaning tablets for your grinder (no disassembly required), you can also clean your grinder on the Breville Barista Express with a brush and a rag.

1) Remove the lid of the hopper of the machine

2) Unlock the grinder and dispose of beans into a bowl or coffee bag

3) Add the hopper back on the machine

4) Run the espresso grinder until the hopper is completely empty

Coffee gets retained in the grinder/chute; this will help empty it out.

5) Turn off the machine for safety while performing maintenance

6) Remove the hopper lid again

7) Remove the grinder wheel and brush away dust from the machine

8) Use a coffee brush to remove any coffee that’s stuck in the grinder

A popular coffee brush on Amazon

9) Vacuum or wipe up any leftover grounds of espresso around the espresso machine with a damp cloth.


Add in some fresh water, and you're back to enjoying a delicious cup of espresso and coffee.

We hope this helped you get your Breville Espresso machine clean! Be sure to keep up with regular maintenance, descaling, and cleaning of your machine. You can also clean your Breville machine by wiping down the steam wand tip with a soft cloth and warm water to remove any build up.

Breville also offers a comprehensive cleaning kit to make cleaning your machine just a little bit simpler.