How To Clean A Milk Frother

by Véronique Raymond
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Every coffee lover knows the benefit of having a milk frother in their coffee machine or espresso machine.

Just like a steam wand, they can allow you to create barista level drinks (think cappuccinos, macchiatos, lattes, and more.

Many milk frothers come built into coffee makers, but many milk frothers also come as independent units.

No matter what type of milk frother you have, a proper cleaning schedule is imperative for your health and the quality of your drink.


Why Is It Important To Clean A Milk Frother?

Milk frother cleaning should not be something you ignore.

While you may think these machines cannot get all that dirty, milk buildup can actually be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold.

Cleaning your milk frother regularly will guarantee you aren’t ingesting any harmful contaminants that come off the tool.

Not only could they affect your health negatively, but it will also produce an off-tasting cup of coffee.

In addition to creating healthier and better-tasting drinks, cleaning your milk frother regularly will actually help extend the life of the small appliance.

Just like your coffee grinder and heating element can be affected by grime, your milk frother can too.

Keeping this machine clean at all times ensures you won’t have any performance issues or have any components breaking down prematurely.


How Often Should I Clean My Milk Frother?

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A milk frother should be wiped clean after every single use, but it will still require a deeper clean on a regular basis to prevent build up of milk residue and potential bacteria or mold growth.

The frequency with which you should perform this deep clean will depend on how frequently you use it and what type it is.

If it is a dishwasher safe handheld unit, you should put it in the dishwasher after every 1-2 uses, since it is quite convenient to do so.

If you need to dismantle your Nespresso machine or other coffee maker, once a week would be just fine as long as you keep up with the daily wipe down (or after each use if it is used more than once a day).


How To Clean Different Types of Milk Frothers

All types of milk frothers will require descaling and regular cleaning, but the exact process to follow will vary depending on the specific kind you own.

Of course, dishwasher safe models will be cleaned in the dishwasher, so we’ll break down the manual cleaning process for each type of milk frother.

Supplies You’ll Need

In order to clean a milk frother, you’ll need a few basic supplies.

The necessities include warm water, a soft cloth, and dish soap.

You may also wish to include a non-abrasive sponge and/or a milk frother cleaner.

Some people even prefer to mix lemon juice or citric acid in some water as a soaking solution, as these substances are excellent at removing built-up milk residue.

Depending on the type of milk frother you have, you may also need a specific cleaning brush that came with the machine or a cup/bowl.

Manual Milk Frother

A manual milk frother is a very simple tool composed of two main components.

There will be a container to hold the milk (usually made of stainless steel) and a pump-action handle that is used to add air into the milk to create the frothy texture.

The longer and faster you pump the handle, the more froth is added to the milk.

The Process

Since manual milk frothers don’t contain any electrical components, many models are safe to go in the dishwasher.

If yours cannot go in the dishwasher, follow these steps to adequately hand-wash your milk frother.

  1. Remove the plunger and lid.
  2. Wash the plunger rod and mesh with a damp cloth or sponge and warm soapy water.
  3. Wash the lid, and be sure to remove the silicon ring if it has one. Clean in the groove with your cloth or sponge and rinse the silicon ring off in running water.
  4. Wash the milk jug with a soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge; avoid a rough sponge as this can damage the finish.
  5. Rinse each component under the faucet.
  6. Thoroughly dry each component with a dry cloth and reassemble the milk frother.

Handheld Electric Milk Frother

A handheld electric milk frother is a wand-style object that runs on batteries or plugs into an outlet.

It is a versatile machine that can do more than froth milk, but whatever your intended use is, you’ll still need to know how to clean it thoroughly by hand.

The Process

  1. Fill a bowl or small cup with warm water and a few drops of dish soap.
  2. Lower the steel whisk component into the water and run the frother for a few seconds. Make sure you turn off the machine before removing it from the water to avoid making a mess.
  3. If there is still milk residue on the frother, you can gently scrub it off with a cloth or soft sponge.
  4. Rinse the steel whisk with running water (cold or hot water) and dry thoroughly.

Automatic Milk Frother

Automatic milk frothers are standalone countertop units that automate the milk frothing process.

All you have to do is fill it with milk and turn it on.

These are the most complicated models to clean since they have so many removable parts and a more complex system, but they are also the most convenient and precise.

Follow these steps to keep the machine clean and functioning at its best.

The Process

  1. Unplug the frother.
  2. Remove the pitcher from the base and wipe the base clean with a dry cloth.
  3. Remove the lid from the pitcher and clean with tap water and soap/mild detergent. Make sure to remove the silicon ring and clean the groove.
  4. Remove the whisk and rinse it under cold water. Gently clean with a cloth or soft sponge if necessary.
  5. Clean the pitcher with soapy water and a soft cloth or the cleaning brush that came with the machine.
  6. Rinse all components and dry with a clean cloth or towel
  7. Reassemble the machine.


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