Nespresso descaling: How to clean a Nespresso machine and other coffee makers

Descaling Nespresso Delonghi, Vertuo and other coffee makers is key to maintaining their perfect condition. Discover how to clean your coffee machine with our simple guide below.

Updated 18 September 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time7 minutes

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To get the best results from your coffee machine you need to make sure to descale it regularly. As Nespresso machines tend to be somewhat different from other coffee makers and have their own idiosyncrasies how to clean a Nespresso may not be readily apparent.

Read on for our step-by-step guide to find out how to descale a Nespresso machine – as well as ways to clean and descale other types of coffee makers.

When cleaning and descaling a specialist product like Nespresso, it's important to refer back to the Nespresso descaling instructions to be sure that you don't void your warranty.

What you need for Nespresso descaling

Before you get started descaling Nespresso Vertuo, Expert or other machines, there are a few things you will need.

  • A descaling product. We recommend you use a descaling product designed specifically for Nespresso.

  • A one litre container. Check that will fit under the spout.

  • Fresh water

A Nespresso descaling product

Descaling a Nespresso machine: A step-by-step guide

Regardless of which Nespresso model you are using, the steps for descaling are very similar. Remember that to keep your machine in tip-top condition you should descale every other month. The cleaning process lasts 20 minutes (and will require your attention), so make sure you have enough time before you start. Follow the following steps for how to clean a Nespresso machine.

1. Switch on your Nespresso.

2. Remove all the capsules from the pod bay and any used ones in the tray.

3. Empty the drip tray (and give it a wipe down while you’re at it).

Nespresso drip tray being cleaned

4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to correctly make up the descaling solution.

5. Pour this mixture into the water tank of your Nespresso.

Pouring descaling mixture into a Nespresso machine

6. Place a bowl or other container with a one-litre capacity beneath the coffee spout.

A bowl being placed under a Nespresso machine’s spout

7. Set your Nespresso to begin its descaling programme – find the relevant way to start the descaling programme for your machine in our handy guide below.

8. When the mixture has finished running through your Nespresso, pour it back into the water tank.

9. Run the mixture through your Nespresso two further times.

10. Discard the mixture and clean the water tank.

Pouring away Nespresso descaling product

11. Fill the water tank with clean water and load it into the machine.

12. Using the same guide below, press the relevant button(s) to start the cleaning cycle again. This step is important as it removes any traces of the descaling product.

13. Once the water has run through the machine, switch off the descaling programme in the same way as you switched it on.

A guide to Nespresso descaling programmes

Each different Nespresso machine can have its own way of doing things, so check the model you have and then see below to find out how to activate its descaling programme and start the cycle before following our guide for how to descale Nespresso machines.

  • Citiz/Essenza/Pixie/Inissia: Hold down both buttons on the machine for three to five seconds until they blink at short intervals. Press the Lungo button to start.

  • U-machine: With the sliding door closed, hold down all three buttons together until the machine beeps. Open the sliding door, hold the buttons down for a further three seconds until the machine beeps again and the buttons flash. Close the sliding door to start the programme.

  • Lattissima: Attach the hot water tap and the descaling light will come on. Press the espresso button to start.

  • Maestria: As you turn on the machine hold down the espresso button until the middle light is a steady orange. Press the Lungo button to start.

  • Prodigio: With the machine on, hold down three coffee buttons for six seconds – the machine will beep and the buttons will blink. Make sure the slider is closed and then press any coffee button to start descaling.

  • Creatista: Rotate the dial to select ‘maintenance’, then select descale. Follow all the on-screen prompts.

  • Expert: With machine off and slider closed, press the brewing button for six seconds (both dials will flash). On the recipe dial select Ristretto and press the brewing button (Ristretto icon will blink while you are in descale mode). To start the cycle, press the brewing button.

  • Vertuo: With the machine on and the lever in the ’unlocked’ position, hold the button for seven seconds until it blinks rapidly. Confirm descaling mode. To start your Nespresso Vertuo descaling programme, turn the lever to the left to lock it and press the button.

  • KitchenAid: Turn the brew button to the left position and hold for six seconds until the light blinks. Then rotate the dial until the light blinks above the first right position. Press the brew button to start the cycle.

  • Atelier: Press the Lungo and Ristretto buttons for three seconds until they blink. To start the descaling cycle, press them both again.

Are you more of a tea drinker? We also have a guide on how to clean and descale a kettle.

How to clean Nespresso milk frothers?

Cleaning Nespresso milk frothers, such as the popular Aeroccino, is essential to maintain both the performance and hygiene of your milk-based coffee creations. Here's a straightforward guide on how to clean them effectively:

  1. 1

    Unplug and Disassemble: First, ensure the frother is unplugged and completely cool. Disassemble the frother by removing the lid, frothing whisk, and other removable parts.

  2. 2

    Rinse Immediately: After each use, rinse the frothing whisk and lid under warm, soapy water to prevent milk residue from drying and becoming stubborn to clean.

  3. 3

    Wipe Down the Interior: Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the interior of the frother. Avoid submerging the base unit in water.

  4. 4

    Clean Removable Parts: Wash the removable parts in warm, soapy water. For stubborn milk residues, use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub. Ensure thorough rinsing to remove all soap residue.

  5. 5

    Air Dry: Allow all parts to air dry completely before reassembling. Make sure there is no moisture left before storing the frother.

By following these steps regularly, you can enjoy consistently frothy and delicious milk for your Nespresso coffee drinks while preventing the buildup of milk residues and bacteria.

Cleaning other kinds of coffeemakers

Washing up liquid, a sponge and a glass beside a kitchen sink

The combination of minerals in water and oil content in coffee means it's crucially important to both to clean and to descale a coffee maker in order to keep it in top working order.

You will need:

  • White distilled vinegar or lemon juice

  • Fresh water

  • Washing-up liquid and a sponge (if hand washing)

Cleaning a cafetière (French press)

A rinse may do if you’re in a hurry in the morning, but you’ll want to give your cafetière a thorough clean once a week to stop the build up of grime.

  1. 1

    Get rid of any used coffee grounds. You could save them for the compost – we have tips here on how to make your own compost. If there are stubborn grounds that won’t budge, use a wooden spoon to remove them. Don't use a metal one as this could scratch up the glass.

  2. 2

    Strip down your cafetière. To make sure you clean it thoroughly it needs to stripped to its individual parts. For most cafetières, all these parts can be put into the dishwasher.

  3. 3

    If washing by hand, use a soft sponge and warm water. Thoroughly clean each part of the cafetière. If you wish, you can use washing-up liquid.

  4. 4

    Always ensure you properly rinse the cafetière out. This will ensure that you have no leftover soap residue that might spoil your coffee.

Cleaning a drip coffee maker

You’re probably rinsing the coffee pot every time you use it, but what about the rest of the machine? There are plenty of spots in the maker that yeast and mould find attractive, so make sure to give it a proper clean whenever possible.

  1. 1

    Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning.

  2. 2

    Removable parts can be washed in warm water and they are generally dishwasher safe.

  3. 3

    To descale the machine, empty the coffee pot and remove any coffee granules from the filter.

  4. 4

    Fill the coffee-maker’s reservoir with a homemade descaling solution, mixing one part white distilled vinegar to two parts water.

  5. 5

    Switch on the coffee maker, as if making a cup of coffee.

  6. 6

    Let the cycle run.

  7. 7

    Allow the mixture to sit in the pot for around 15 minutes, before pouring away.

  8. 8

    Brew two cycles in your coffee maker using just water. This will clean away any leftover taste from the vinegar.

Cleaning a one-cup coffee maker

Keeping your one-cup coffee maker clean requires a very similar method to that of a drip coffee maker.

  1. 1

    Make a mixture of one part white distilled vinegar to two parts water.

  2. 2

    Pour your mixture into the reservoir.

  3. 3

    Brew a cup as normal.

  4. 4

    Leave to sit for 15 minutes and then discard.

  5. 5

    Brew two cycles using water only, allowing it to sit for 15 minutes between each cycle (if you there is still a vinegar smell, run another cycle with water to get rid of it).

Cleaning a pour over coffee maker

If you make your coffee using a pour over such as a Chemex or a V60, then maintenance is relatively easy. To keep the coffee maker spick and span, clean it every time you use it.

  1. 1

    Remove filters and any sediment immediately after use. Without this step, they may leave stains, or worse – your next cup of coffee may have a taint to it.

  2. 2

    If you have a Chemex, remove the wooden handle. You simply untie the leather cord and it pops off.

  3. 3

    Pop it in the dishwasher. As pour overs are generally made of glass, ceramic or plastic, you may be able to use a dishwasher, but always check the product instructions to make sure.

  4. 4

    If hand washing, use warm water with a bit of washing-up liquid. If the coffee maker is beaker shaped, use a brush with soft bristles and a long handle to get in all the corners.

  5. 5

    Leave to dry. When drying, don’t leave the coffee maker flush to the surface as the lack of airflow can encourage condensation, smells and even mould. Lean it on a clean piece of cutlery so it sits at a slight angle.

Cleaning coffee equipment without using soap

Some coffee aficionados don’t ever like to use soap as it can leave an aroma that is hard to get rid of. Here’s the alternative method:

You will need

  • Ice (enough to fill your coffee maker)

  • A couple of lemon slices

  • 125g of salt

  • Running water


  1. 1

    Remove filter and any sediment.

  2. 2

    Remove the wooden handle if using a Chemex.

  3. 3

    Fill the beaker with ice and the lemon slices, then add in the salt.

  4. 4

    Swirl around for a couple of minutes.

  5. 5

    Dump it all out.

  6. 6

    Rinse under running water.

  7. 7

    Dry as in step 5 of the instructions for cleaning a pour over coffee maker.

Cleaning an Aeropress

As the plunger-style coffee maker is made of plastic it is generally very easy to clean.

  1. 1

    After using, remove the cap. Make sure you eject the coffee grinds by pushing the plunger all the way down.

  2. 2

    You can run the Aeropress through the dishwasher. Make sure you only use the top shelf.

  3. 3

    Alternatively, give it a simple rinse. The plunger - and the compression it creates - cleans out the chamber every time it is used.

  4. 4

    Clean the seal every few months. You want to remove the seal from the plunger and give it a good rinse in warm water and an all-purpose detergent.

  5. 5

    Store your Aeropress with the plunger pushed all the way through. This helps retain the integrity of the seal so it will last longer.

How to descale a coffee machine

Did you know hard and soft water can affect your coffee machine in different ways due to their mineral content?

The vinegar method

  1. 1

    Create a mixture of half vinegar and half water.

  2. 2

    Run this through the longest cycle available on your coffee machine.

  3. 3

    Dispose of the solution.

  4. 4

    Run 4-5 cycles with just water to fully remove the vinegar.

The lemon juice method

  1. 1

    Mix together one part lemon juice with one part water.

  2. 2

    Run the solution through the longest cycle on your coffee machine.

  3. 3

    Dispose of solution.

  4. 4

    Run two cycles using only water to remove the lemon taste.

The citric acid method

  1. 1

    Make a solution with one part citric acid to twenty parts water.

  2. 2

    Run through on the longest cycle on your coffee machine.

  3. 3

    Dispose of the solution.

  4. 4

    Run two water-only cycles to remove traces of the citric acid.

Image of a clean coffee machine

Which coffee machine is the fastest to descale?

The speed at which a coffee machine can be descaled can vary depending on the specific model and descaling method used. However, certain coffee machines are designed with quick descaling features to minimize downtime. For example, some machines utilize descaling programs that efficiently and rapidly remove limescale buildup. These programs often involve a combination of descaling solution and water, which is circulated through the machine to dissolve and flush out mineral deposits. It's recommended to refer to the manufacturer's instructions or product specifications to determine which coffee machine offers the fastest descaling process suited to your needs.

So, whether you're descaling a Nespresso machine or want to know how to clean a coffee machine, we've given you all the step you need. Now, you can be sure to keep your coffee maker in the best condition to make the perfect cup every time.

Accidentally spill some coffee while cleaning? Not to worry, head straight to our guide on how to remove coffee stains.

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