Descaling… it’s something that needs to be done, and yet somehow you can’t help the feeling of dread that surfaces when you see that blinking light. Like servicing a car, descaling a Nespresso machine is essential to keep your coffee machine operating at its best and churning out great-tasting coffee.
Thankfully, Nespresso has made the descaling process straightforward, with all of their machines having a descaling program. So don’t panic if that descaling alert has popped on, and read our guide to Nespresso descaling for step-by-step instructions.
What is Descaling?
You can think of descaling Nespresso machines as performing a deep internal clean. While most of the other routine cleaning tasks focus on the exterior or removable parts, descaling cleans the internal components. But, you may ask, why does this need to be done?
As you will likely know, water is an essential component of coffee. However, water (even filtered water) contains minerals like magnesium and calcium which, over time, can build up inside the coffee machine and form limescale. If left unchecked, this mineral build-up will negatively impact the performance of the machine and also the taste and temperature of the coffee.
Nespresso recommends descaling every 3 months or every 300 capsules, whichever comes first. Most Nespresso machines have a descaling alert to notify you when this is due; this is usually a blinking light, or on the more upmarket Nespresso machines, an on-screen alert or app to notify you.
Descaling involves running an acidic solution through the Nespresso machine to strip away any limescale. We recommend using the Nespresso descaling kit, which contains a lactic acid solution, to gently eliminate any built-up limescale. The solution is diluted in 0.5 L of water and added to the water reservoir. The descaling process takes around 15-20 minutes to complete.
Signs That Your Nespresso Machine Needs Descaling
Asides from a blinking light indicating your Nespresso needs descaling, there are a few other symptoms that may indicate descaling is due.
If you notice any of these, the first step in diagnosing the problem should be to descale your Nespresso machine to see if that solves the problem.
How to descale a nespresso machine
So without further ado, here are the instructions for how to descale your Nespresso machine. No matter what model you have, the process is the same. The only difference will be in how you activate the descaling mode.
Nespresso Descaling Instructions
What you will need:
- Prepare The Coffee Machine. First, lift and close the lever to eject the used capsule. Next empty the used capsule container, drip tray, and water tank. Replace the used capsule container and the drip tray.
- Make Up The Descaling Solution. Make up the solution according to the instructions. If you are using the Nespresso Descaling Kit this involves filling the water reservoir with 0.5L of water and then pouring in one pack from the Nespresso descaling kit. Replace the water reservoir back into the machine.
- Place A Container Under The Coffee Outlet. Don’t forget this step! Place an empty container, with a minimum volume of 1 liter under the coffee outlet to collect the used solution.
- Start The Descaling Process. Turn the coffee machine on and put it into descaling mode. How this is done will vary depending on the Nespresso machine model, if you are not sure how to do this, refer to your manual. The descaling process will begin and the machine will run the descaling liquid through the machine. The process takes around 15 minutes to complete.
- Run A Rinse Cycle. Once the descaling process is finished, discard the water from the reservoir, drip tray, and container. Rinse and clean these parts thoroughly with warm water to remove any residue solution. Refill the water tank with clean water and reassemble the machine. Replace the empty container under the outlet and push the start button. This will start the first rinse cycle where the machine runs fresh water through it to remove any remaining solution.
- Run a Second Rinse Cycle. Once the rinse cycle is complete, repeat step 5 again and perform a second rinsing cycle. This is important to ensure no solution remains in the Nespresso machine which can contaminate the coffee.
- Exit Descaling Mode. Once the second rinse cycle is complete, exit the descaling mode. Rinse and clean the water tank and drip tray, fill the water with fresh drinking water and reassemble the machine. Wipe the machine down with a damp cloth. Leave the Nespresso machine to dry for 10 minutes before use.
Can You Make Your Own Descaling Solution?
While we recommend you use the Nespresso Descaling Kit which is designed for Nespresso coffee makers, there are other options. You can make your own descaling solution using either lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar.
A Guide to Nespresso Descaling Alerts
If you have a more basic Nespresso machine like the Essenza, Pixie, Inissia, or Citiz you will find that they do not have a descaling alert built in. While it can be hard to remember when to descale your Nespresso machine, you should aim to do this a minimum of once a year. Preferably every 3 months or 300 capsules used as Nespresso recommends. If you have one of the other Nespresso models they will have an alert to notify you when this is due. We have summarized the descaling alerts below:
A Guide To Nespresso Descaling Modes
Each Nespresso model has a different way of activating the descaling mode and starting the cycle. If you aren’t sure how to do this, check which Nespresso machine you have, and see below for a quick guide on how to start the descaling mode.
Nespresso also has a superb website here with a ton of resources including manuals for each of the different Nespresso machines, cleaning and descaling instructions, and video tutorials. If you get stuck we recommend you check it out.
Citiz/ Essenza/ Pixie/ Inissia: Hold down both buttons on the machine for 3-5 seconds until both lights blink quickly and simultaneously. Press the Lungo (large cup) button to start the descaling program.
Essenza plus- Press and hold the Espresso, Lungo, and Hot Water buttons for five seconds until all the lights start blinking simultaneously. To start descaling press the hot water button.
Gran Lattissima: Turn the machine on and attach the descaling pipe to the front of the machine. The descaling light should start blinking. Press the Flat White button to start.
Lattissima One: Turn the machine on and attach the descaling pipe to the steam connector. Press the espresso button to start descaling.
Lattisima Plus: Turn the machine on and insert the descaling pipe into the steam connector. Press the Cappuccino button to start the cycle.
Lattissima Touch: Place the descaling pipe into the steam connector. Press the warm milk button to start the descaling cycle.
Creatista: Rotate the dial to select maintenance, then select descale. Follow the on-screen prompts.
Creatista Pro: Select descale on the screen and follow the prompts.
Expert: With the machine off, press the brewing button for six seconds. On the recipe dial select Ristretto and press the brewing button. The ristretto icon will blink while you are in descaling mode. Start the cycle by pressing the brewing button.
Vertuo, Vertuo Next, or Evoluo: Turn the machine on. Unlock the lever with the head closed. Press and hold the button for seven seconds until you see the light start blinking orange quickly. Turn the lever to the left to lock it and then turn it back into the unlocked position. Press and hold the button until the light turns off then starts blinking again. These steps need to be completed within 45 seconds. Lock the lever. To start the descaling program, press the button once. The light will blink continuously throughout the descaling process.
Vertuo Plus: While the machine is off, push the button and the lever down simultaneously for three seconds. An orange steady light indicates you have entered the special functions menu. Press and release the lever once to enter descaling mode. To start the cycle press the button once- an orange light will blink throughout the descaling process.
Nespresso Descaling- Final Thoughts
While the thought of descaling your Nespresso machine can seem daunting at first, don’t worry! In reality, Nespresso descaling is a simple and straightforward process with the most difficult step being remembering how to start the descaling program. There are plenty of resources and guides to help walk you through it. We hope this guide has given you the confidence to try descaling yourself.
Remember descaling is a key step to maintaining your Nespresso machine and keeping it producing the perfect cup of coffee. We recommend using the Nespresso Descaling Kit, however, at a push you could use a homemade solution with lemon juice or citric acid.