Nespresso Descaling: Why Descaling Nespresso Machines is so Important

nespresso descaling

Creating the perfect cup of coffee every morning involves a few different factors: the machine you have, the type of coffee you use, grinding, measuring, creamer, etc. All of these steps and components are critical to getting you that tasty first sip, but not many people consider the cleanliness of their machine. 

One thing that every coffee machine has in common is that it needs to be cleaned regularly, whether it’s making black coffee or espresso. A Nespresso coffee maker is no different, and today we’re going to learn how to clean Nespresso machines. Nespresso descaling, as it’s formally referred to, will ensure that your machine not only continues to operate well but that your coffee continues to taste good. 

What is Descaling?

Descaling is a cleaning process that removes scale from equipment that builds up over time and with frequent use. While you can descale many things, including boilers and heat exchangers, today we’re focusing on coffee makers. 

Scale forms from sediments and minerals that collect on the inside of your coffee machine - specifically, on the parts that get hot. These minerals can build up and harden over time, which can impact the way your machine operates. 

Regardless of how you filter your water in your home, all water has minerals. Minerals like calcium and lime cannot be removed entirely, so they can build up over time.

The descaling process removes any hard minerals that have built up inside of your machine and cleans out the system for continued use. 

Why is it Important to Descale a Nespresso Machine?

descaling nespresso

Descaling Nespresso machines is critical to its operation, and learning how to descale Nespresso models can ensure your coffee maker lasts you a long time. 

While both calcium and limescale are non-toxic and won’t affect you and your family’s health, they can downgrade the quality of your coffee. You won’t get sick from these minerals in your machine, but you won’t get the best cup of joe, either.

When scale builds up on the inside of your coffee maker, it can form an insulating layer around the heat source. This layer can prevent the brewer from reaching the best temperature for brewing coffee. 

Why does this matter? Well, to brew coffee, you must have hot enough water. Try pouring room temperature water over coffee grounds and you’ll see what we mean. 

If you want to get the best, fullest flavor from your coffee beans, you have to have hot water. Ideally, you want the water to reach between 195 and 205 F degrees to extract the most flavor from any kind of grounds. Following the brew, you also want the water hot enough for you to enjoy your freshly-made cup. 

In addition to low-quality coffee, the scale can force your heating element to work harder than it should have to. Over time, this hard work increases the amount of electricity used and can eventually wear the machine out. 

When your Nespresso machine malfunctions, you can expect poor flavor, clogging, and uneven water flow. All of these things do not add up to a good start to your morning. 

How Often Should I Descale My Machine?

nespresso descaling kit

Regular descaling is ideal for keeping your machine functioning properly and living a long life, but what exactly does “regular” mean in this case?

Nespresso recommends that its customers descale their machines at least every six months. Or, you can opt to descale after every 600 capsules - if you plan on keeping track. 

While that’s what Nespresso says about their particular machine, some other experts suggest more frequent cleaning after every three months or 300 capsules. 

Some factors, such as frequency of use and the water you use, can impact how often you need to clean your machine. You can always try running a brewing cycle into a cup with any coffee in your machine to test its cleanliness.

If your water comes out looking clear and clean and does not have an odd smell, chances are your machine is pretty clean. You can also taste the water, and if it has any kind of flavor to it, you should descale it. 

When in doubt, always check out your machine’s instruction manual. It will likely have information on cleaning and descaling that is specific to your machine. And if you can’t remember the last time you descaled, then it’s probably time to give it a go.

Other Cleaning Information

nespresso descaling instructions

If you’re going to descale your Nespresso machine, you may as well clean the rest of it while you’re at it! 

You should consider cleaning the outside of the machine daily. Wipe down the external surface after each use with a damp cloth to keep it looking bright and shiny. Make sure you swap out the water in the tank daily, too. Sitting water is a great breeding ground for many bacteria. 

Many experts also recommend cleaning the water tank every day with dish soap and warm water. 

Depending on how often you make coffee, you may also want to clean the drip tray every day as well. But you can probably get away with cleaning it every couple of days or so. Some drip trays are even dishwasher safe. 

You should wipe down the coffee outlet regularly too. Using a damp cloth, you can wipe away any buildup from dripping coffee and prevent clogs and bacteria growth. 

Whenever you clean any components of your machine, make sure you dry them off completely before reassembling them. Trapped water can cause damage and even bacteria build-up, so take the extra time to dry well. 

Finally, try not to use any harsh or strong cleaners like bleach on your coffee machine. Dangerous chemicals can linger on the components and find their way into your coffee, and the strong smell and flavor will be difficult to get off your machine. 

What Can I Use to Descale a Nespresso Machine?

descaling nespresso machine

There are a few different products that you can use to descale a Nespresso machine. First and foremost, you should check with your machine’s manual to see if they recommend a specific type of descaler. It’s usually best to go with the recommended product. 

If it doesn’t specify, you can choose any commonly sold descaling solution. There are several options available both online and in stores that come with positive reviews and high praise. Many of these solutions use natural ingredients, too. 

Homemade Descaler

If you’re adamant about using your own ingredients or are simply interested in convenience and cost-savings, you might consider making your own Nespresso descaling solution with common home products. 

Citric acid is a powerful ingredient that can decompose limescale and mineral buildup. You can use this method by filling your water reservoir with 4 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of citric acid. 

Some DIY sites may recommend using vinegar, but it’s not the best choice in the world. While vinegar is a great cleansing agent, it also has a lot of acetic acids. This chemical substance is far too aggressive for coffee machines and can be corrosive.

It’s also difficult to get the strong vinegar taste and smell out of your machine following the cleaning process. 

Nespresso Descaling Kit

While there are many at-home remedies for cleaning a Nespresso machine, there are some descaling kits you can buy that will simplify the process. While these are convenient, we recommend sticking with a homemade remedy. Not only will it save you money, but you'll also know how to clean it in the event that you exhaust your descaling kit.

How to Descale Nespresso Machine

how to descale nespresso

These Nespresso descaling instructions will let you know exactly how to keep your machine free from scale and functioning properly. 

1. Prepare the Nespresso Machine.

Before you do anything else, make sure you remove any capsules that are currently sitting in your machine. You should also remove the capsule holder to be safe, washing that separately later on.

Be sure to set aside at least half an hour to complete the process, especially if it’s your first time descaling. Let everyone in the house know the machine will be out of commission for that time.

2. Prepare the Reservoir

Empty the water reservoir of any old, room temperature water and fill it just over halfway with clean, warm water. Top the rest of the reservoir off with your descaling solution. 

3. Place a Container Under the Spout. 

Before you start the process, remember to put a large mug, bowl, or plastic container under the brew head. You will be running the water and solution through the machine and out of the nozzle, so you must have something to catch it when it comes out. 

4. Run the Descale Process.

Many Nespresso machines have descaling modes that you can activate to make the process easier and more effective. 

If you have the Nespresso Pixie, Essenza, or CitiZ, you can turn on descaling mode by pressing and holding both buttons for three seconds. 

If you have the Nespresso U, press and hold all three buttons for three seconds to activate the descaling mode. 

Other models may have a descaling pipe, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual for additional information before getting started. 

If you can’t figure out the descale mode settings or your machine does not have a descaling mode, you can simply run a normal brew through your machine. Any one of these operations will pull the warm water and the solution through the machine to clean it. 

5. Repeat and Rinse Out. 

Nespresso specifically recommends running the solution through the machine multiple times. Doing so will ensure that your machine is sufficiently cleaned, so pour the solution back into the reservoir and run the cycle again two or three more times. 

After cycling through with the solution, run the process two or three additional times with clean water. We like this step because it rinses out all of the descaling solution, which might impact the flavor of your coffee. 

6. Enjoy!

Once you’ve finished the process, be sure to take your machine out of descaling mode using the owner’s manual. Brew yourself a fresh cup of coffee to celebrate a job well done! 

Final Thoughts on Nespresso Cleaning

how to clean nespresso machine

While perhaps a tad bit time-consuming, descaling a Nespresso machine isn’t a complex mission. Taking these steps to clean out your machine can lead to a long and happy lifespan, which means tons of great-tasting coffee for you and your loved ones. 

And if you’re following expert recommendations, you only need to clean your machine about once per year, so it’s not a very tasking job whatsoever. Use our guide to effectively clean your Nespresso. Meanwhile, we’re going to go make ourselves a steaming hot cup of coffee!

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Parker Russell is a coffee professional and the founder of Black Ink Coffee. As an expert in the field of coffee roasting, cupping (professional Q-Grader) and brewing, Parker has established Black Ink as brand that fuels the grind of dreamers.