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How To Clean A Nespresso Machine (Including Descaling)

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By: Marina Maletic

Last Updated:

Nespresso machines have confusing cleaning cycles, as the simple interface doesn’t give much information on how to clean it. Here a summary of how to clean a Nespresso machine:

Rinse (or cleaning) cycle: On Vertuo machines, press the top button three times in two seconds to start a rinse. For Original machines, hold both buttons for three seconds and then press a button. Rinse every week to clean out the coffee in the brewing chamber.

Descaling: pour descaling solution into the water tank and fill two-thirds with water, then enter a special model to descale the Nespresso machine. If you’ve noticed your coffee has been running more slowly, or it’s stopped pouring altogether, it’s time to descale your Nespresso machine.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to take care of your device. I’ll explain everything from basic maintenance to descaling it, so you’ll always have a fresh cup of delicious coffee.

How to Run A Cleaning Cycle On A Nespresso

A cleaning cycle rinses the machine of leftover coffee grounds and residue.  It’s an easy way to clean your machine without doing any actual work.

Here is how to get a cleaning cycle by machine type:

  • Vertuo machines: push the start button three times within two seconds, and the light will flash.
    • This routinely doesn’t work on the first try, but don’t worry! Make sure you eject the used capsule (open and close the lid). If it still doesn’t work, open and close the lid and try again. It can take several tries, and try different speeds of pressing the button three times in two seconds (trust me, it’s not broken).
  • Original machines: push the two-cup button three times and watch for the lights to flash. No issues with this type, phew.

Place a tall container under the machine before starting a cleaning cycle. This lasts several minutes as the Nespresso machine will run until the water tank is empty.

Running A Cleaning Cycle On A Nespresso

How To Clean A Nespresso Machine?

Here’s what you need to clean a Nespresso machine:

  • A cloth
  • Dish soap
  • Container to collect rinse water (it must fit under the brew head)
  • A cleaning solution

When you want to clean your Nespresso machine, think of caring for each part individually.  Here’s how to clean each of the main parts:

  • Water tank — Remove the water tank from the Nespresso machine, empty and clean it with dish soap. Then rinse it thoroughly under water. Make sure there aren’t any suds, refill with water, and put back in the Nespresso machine. Note: don’t put the water tank in the dishwasher, as many aren’t dishwasher safe.
  • Capsule container — Empty all used capsules and wash the container with dish soap. Simple.
  • Brew head (where the coffee comes out) — Use a damp dish cloth and wipe the inside of the capsule head. Wipe the outside edges and the inside walls of the capsule holder. Also, wipe the coffee outlet with a damp cloth to remove coffee buildup.
  • Drip tray — Empty the drip tray and wash it with dish soap. Scrub away any buildup. Put the drip tray back in its place. You should empty the drip tray daily so it doesn’t overflow.
  • Machine body — Use a damp cloth and run it over the whole machine. There’s no need to use soap, as you just want to wipe away smudges. 

Tips On Cleaning A Nespresso machine

  • Don’t leave the used capsule in the holder; open and close the lid to drop the used capsule into the container for trash. If you leave the old capsule in the machine head, you’ll get more coffee residue in your cup (I learned this the hard way). 
  • If you have time, let the lid, water tank, and drip tray air dry before reassembling.
  • Avoid letting water sit in the tank too long – I find it tastes worse (maybe the minerality changes over time).
  • Don’t use a sponge and strong cleaners. A cloth and mild dish soap are enough.
  • Clean your Nespresso machine once or twice a week, depending on your use.

Descaling A Nespresso Machine

Descaling a Nespresso machine is a deep cleaning of the inside of the machine. Water has minerals that pass through your coffee machine, which build up over time. If you let the limescale build up over a long time period, it can prevent the machine from reaching the optimal temperature, and your device can stop working altogether. Moreover, you can have stale or sour coffee. 

It’s important to descale your coffee device to keep it working properly and to have coffee tasting the way it should. 

A general recommendation is to descale a coffee machine every three months or after every used 300 pods. However, this depends on your water hardness levels (harder water = more frequent descaling). If you notice a difference in coffee taste or that the coffee is running slower than usual don’t wait three months but descale as soon as you can.

How To Descale A Nespresso Machine

To descale, pour the descaling solution into your water tank and fill two-thirds full with water. Enter the machine into the special model and run a descale cycle. Then, run a rinse cycle after.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to descale your Nespresso machine:

  1. Prepare the machine — Turn on the machine and eject the used capsule.
  2. Put the machine into descaling mode — You have to press different buttons to turn on the descaling mode. This varies by machine model:
    • VertuoPlus: press the lever down three times, then hold the lever and button for three seconds to enter special mode. Press the lever down one more time to enter descaling mode.
    • Other Vertuo machines: press the button and hold for about seven seconds
    • Original: Press the two buttons on the Pixie, Citiz, and Inissia, and hold for about three seconds. If you aren’t sure how to put the machine in a descaling mode, check the manual. This is done differently on different Nespresso machines. 
  3. Fill the water tank — You should fill your water tank with water and add one packet of descaling agent.
  4. Put a container under the spout — So it can catch water from the water tank.
  5. Run a descaling cycle — Press the blinking button(s) and watch as the water runs through the machine. This can take some time and wait until the tank is fully empty. Once it’s done, empty the used water container and place it back under the spout.
  6. Run a rinse cycle — Descaling cleaner is strong, so you need to run a rinse cycle post-descale, and I recommend two rinses. First, clean the water tank and refill it with fresh water. Place the water tank back in the machine and press the button to start the descaling process again (only this time, it’s a rinse cycle). Repeat the process as necessary — check that the water has no scent. Once it’s fully rinsed, press the buttons again until the machine beeps to exit descaling mode. 
  7. Clean other parts of the Nespresso machine — This is a good time to clean the capsule container and drip tray and wipe down the machine.

Signs That the Nespresso Machine Needs Descaling

The red and green light mean it’s time to descale the Nespresso machine. Plan to descale every three months or 300 capsules for the best results. 

There are several signs that your Nespresso machine needs descaling:

  • A change in coffee flavor. Most often, coffee starts to taste burnt, dirty, or sour.
  • Your Nespresso machine is making strange noises. It usually becomes louder and needs more time to start pouring.
  • The machine is pouring coffee more slowly, and there’s a thinner stream of coffee.
  • The coffee is at a cooler temperature, and the machine can’t heat the water as normal.

What Descaling Solution to Use?

You can use Nespresso’s descaling solution or any other commercial descaling solution as long as it’s citric acid.

You can also make your own descaling solution with vinegar or lemon juice. Mix equal parts of vinegar or lemon and water.  

You can also use a commercial descaling solution, like Cafiza powder, which works well and is inexpensive (I use that or Cino Cleano tablets for espresso machines).

Pro tip: you should rinse the machine at least twice more if you use a homemade descaling solution, because vinegar and lemon juice have a strong odor. 

Why Should You Clean Your Nespresso Machine?

A clean Nespresso machine will make the highest quality espresso possible. You should also clean a Nespresso machine because of health reasons. Bacteria and mold can build up over time in the water tank. Residue, oils, minerals, and coffee grounds can clog the machine and affect the taste of your coffee.

Regular cleaning of a Nespresso machine will ensure you have the best-tasting coffee. Moreover, you’ll extend the life of your Nespresso coffee machine.

How Should You Clean Your Nespresso Machine?

You should clean your Nespresso machine to keep it running smoothly for a long time and to ensure you have the best-tasting coffee. Wipe down the machine’s exterior and clean the water tank, drip tray, and capsule container at least a few times a week. You should also descale the machine every three months, or as soon as you notice differences in coffee taste.

If you aren’t sure how to responsibly dispose of Nespresso pods, check out our in-depth guide on how to recycle Nespresso capsules.

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Marina Maletic
Marina has written hundreds of coffee articles for publishers including Craft Coffee Spot, Gourmesso, and HomeGrounds. She comes from a family of coffee addicts but appreciated java fairly late — around 25 years old. Her coffee journey began with her passion for writing. Her first coffee assignments led her to fall in love with the drink that means so much to people all over the world. For the last six years, she starts every day by brewing a cup of coffee. Nowadays, if she’s not writing or thinking about coffee, she can be found trying out the latest social media coffee trend.
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