How to clean your Nespresso machine

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Regular cleaning and descaling of your Nespresso machine is a must. Not only will this result in a better tasting cup of coffee, it will also lengthen the life of your machine.

There are some quick and easy daily maintenance tips to keep your machine at its best, but you should also periodically deep clean your machine and aim to run a full descaling cycle about every three months, or 300 brew cycles. Cleaning and descaling instructions may vary between Nespresso models, so always check your user’s manual for particulars before you begin.

The difference between cleaning and descaling

Regular rinsing and cleaning of your machine will keep it running smoothly, ensure you’re brewing delicious coffee, and deter the growth of yeast and mold. I recommend you do a quick rinse cycle before and after every brew (time permitting), and/or a thorough cleaning of your machine once a week.

If you want to add a cleaning capsule for a deep clean of the brewing head and inner components, there are several products on the market. If you keep up with daily rinsing, they aren’t particularly necessary.

Caffenu Cleaning Capsules Compatible with Nespresso Originaline Machines, Quick and Powerful Cleaner for Brewing Chamber. Exits Through Spout. Not for Vertuo. Food Safe, 5 Cleaning PodsCheck availability

Descaling your Nespresso machine is a different process, and very important. The minerals in your water can leave deposits behind that build up over time, eventually clogging up your machine and adding an unpleasant flavor to your coffee. Descaling uses a citric acid solution to remove mineral buildup, which keeps your machine working smoothly and your coffee tasting its best.

The descaling process does take a bit of time and attention, but it’s needed only every few months, and even less if you keep up with daily and weekly maintenance. 

Daily Nespresso maintenance 

I highly recommend daily rinsing of your Nespresso machine, as well as emptying and rinsing your water tank every day, or least every other day. If you do these few quick steps, not only will deep cleaning and descaling be required less frequently, but you’ll enjoy a much better tasting cup of coffee on a regular basis and prolong the life of you machine. 

Rinse before and after you brew

If you rinse your machine before you brew, it ensures all coffee machine components are thoroughly warmed, as well as rinsing out any coffee oil or other residue that could end up in your coffee. As a bonus, the hot water that runs through heats up your cup, which will keep your coffee warmer as you drink it.

Rinsing again after you brew is even better, because it immediately removes oils and coffee residue while the machine is still warm and particles are easily rinsed out. This is a fast and simple addition to your coffee routine. Since Nespresso machines heat up and brew coffee in under a minute, adding another minute is likely doable, and definitely worth it. 

  1. When your machine is ready to brew, place your cup under the brew head.
  2. Press the lungo (Original line) or brew (Vertuoline) button on your machine. This will run a quick brew cycle without coffee, filling your cup with hot water. 
  3. Dispose of the rinse water, and replace your cup under the brew head. 
  4. Insert your chosen capsule and brew as normal. 
  5. Place another receptacle under the brew head and repeat step 2. 
  6. Enjoy your delicious Nespresso beverage. 

Empty and rinse water reservoir daily

This may seem like a pesky task, but it is the best defence against mineral buildup. If you pair this with a daily rinse cycle, you will greatly reduce oil and mineral residue and will likely need to deep clean and descale far less frequently.

Simply empty the machine’s water tank when you’re done brewing for the day, rinse it with tap water, and towel dry. If you’ve given it a good rinse after emptying, there should be no need to rinse it again in the morning. Just fill and brew. To reduce water waste, try to only add as much water as you might need for each day, but ensure the water reservoir is at least a quarter full before each brew. 

Deep cleaning your Nespresso machine

The frequency of deep cleaning will depend on how well you maintain your machine on a daily basis. If you’re rinsing and wiping the machine daily, do a deep clean as needed. If you have a hectic lifestyle during the week, you can certainly keep your water reservoir topped up and skip the daily rinse cycles. Do a deep clean once a week and keep up with your descaling schedule. Your machine should be just fine.

1. Water reservoir

Empty the water reservoir. Clean inside and out with soapy warm water. Rinse thoroughly with warm tap water, and dry with a soft towel (this is preferable to air drying as an added step to deter mineral buildup). 

2. Drip tray

Nespresso machine drip tray
Your drip tray will gather sludge if you don’t take care of it. (© Otto Schlappack | Creative Commons)

You should be rinsing your drip tray on a regular as-needed basis, but it’s good to give it a periodic wash with soapy water. Dry with a soft towel. 

3. Capsule collection drawer

Spent capsule compartment of a Nespresso Pixie
Spent capsules collect in the compartment of a Nespresso Pixie.

Same goes for the used capsule container. It needs to be emptied frequently, and rinsing should accompany this task. During your deep clean, give the drawer a good soapy wash and rinse under warm running water. Towel dry. 

4. Wipe machine

Ensure the machine is unplugged. Using a soft cloth with warm water, give the entire machine a good thorough wipe. For obvious reasons, do not submerge the machine or cord in water. 

5. Replace components

Once you’ve thoroughly wiped the entire machine, return all clean and dry components to the machine.

5. Run a thorough rinse cycle

Fill the water reservoir with at least a litre of fresh water. Place a large container (about a litre if available), under the brew head.

  • For the Original line: run 4 “lungo” brew cycles of water.
  • For the Vertuoline: press the brew button quickly three times. This will activate the rinse cycle of the machine, which will run for 2-5 minutes. 
  • Discard water from collection container. 
  • Your machine is now thoroughly clean inside and out, and you’re ready to brew. 

How to descale your Nespresso machine

Descaling is an important part of keeping your machine running well, and your coffee tasting delicious. Nespresso recommends you descale your machine every three months or 300 brews, whichever comes first.

Several factors influence how often your machine actually needs to be descaled:

  • how hard your water is (hard water has more minerals)
  • whether you rinse your machine and water reservoir daily
  • how often you use your machine
  • how often you give it a thorough deep cleaning

It’s a smart idea to descale your machine before one of your deep-cleaning sessions. You might as well combine efforts to save time.

1. Prep your machine

Ensure spent capsules have been released, and empty the capsule collection drawer. 

2. Add descaling agent

Add the descaling agent and directed amount of water (see packaging for instructions) to the water reservoir. Nespresso sells a descaling solution kit, but any commercial descaling intended for coffee machines will do. Place the container you used to measure the water under the brew head. This will ensure your water collection container is the right size. 

Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 PacketsCheck availability

3. Run descaling cycle

This is the tricky part and is specific to each machine model. Check your user manual for instructions on how to enter descaling mode, and what to do once you get there. For many of the machines it is some form of pressing the button and lever together for three seconds, and then pressing the lever, and then the button. A descaling cycle typically runs for 15-20 minutes and requires a few refills. 

4. Exit descaling mode

Your machine will stop when the descaling process is complete, but it does not automatically exit the descaling mode. To do so, push the lever and button together for three seconds. This will return you to brewing mode. This will vary for some models, so again, check your user’s manual before you begin. 

5. Discard descaling solution

Discard the water with descaling solution from the collection jug. It is perfectly safe to go down your kitchen sink (might even help descale your pipes). Ensure the container you used to collect the water is thoroughly cleaned with soap and water.

5. Run a thorough rinse cycle

If you’re adding descaling to your deep-cleaning routine, you can now start the Deep Cleaning Your Nespresso Machine steps from the beginning. If this is a standalone descaling, you now need to thoroughly rinse your machine, which is identical to Step 5 in the deep clean process listed in the previous section. 

Regular cleaning and descaling of your Nespresso machine might seem like a pesky task, but it’s the best way to prolong the life of your machine and treat yourself to the best possible cup of coffee. Most of the daily steps take just a few extra seconds to complete, and even a weekly deep clean will only take you a few minutes.

Descaling really is important to stay on top of, particularly if you have hard water or don’t empty your water reservoir regularly, but it’s up to you how often you think your machine needs it. The more love you give to your Nespresso machine, the more you will get in return. 

Image at top: © CoffeeRank | Creative Commons