As with all coffee machines and, indeed, anything that uses water, Nespresso machines need a regular clean to remove limescale. There’ll usually be a warning light that comes on to let you know that it’s time to do the job, after which you can follow our guide on how to descale a Nespresso machine.
When you turn on a Nespresso machine, you will see a status light that goes green when the machine has warmed up and is ready to go. If you get a red or orange light, then it’s a sign that either there’s no water in the machine or it needs descaling. On some machines, such as the Nespresso VertuoPlus, the status light is half orange and half green.
1. Choose your descaling fluid
You need to use descaler in your Nespresso machine. Nespresso sells its own version, which comes in a pack with two sachets, but you can use any commercially available descaler instead, just make sure that you follow the instructions on the amount to use. We’ve used Nespresso descaler here for this guide.
You can use alternative substances, such as lemon juice or vinegar. We don’t recommend using vinegar, because of the horrendous smell it causes. Lemon juice can work, but you need a fair amount of juice, which will probably work out more hassle than using descaling fluid.
2. Add the descaling liquid
Next, you need to add descaler into the water tank of your machine. Nespresso recommends that you add 0.5-litres of water to a sachet of descaling solution. Don’t go overboard with the Vertuo range, as these have much bigger water tanks and you don’t want to dilute the descaler too far.
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Once you have your descaling fluid, place the water tank back in place and make sure that you have an empty receptacle big enough to take all of the water, placed under the spout (you can remove the drip tray if required). As the machines run water and descaler through in bursts, you can use two containers, and switch them out when one is full.
3. Put your machine into descaling mode
First, make sure that there’s no capsule inserted by opening and closing the machine, then turn it off. For some machines there’s a physical power button, for others you have to press and hold a button, such as with the VertuoPlus where you press and hold down the lever on the front.
Next, you need to put the machine into descaling mode. How to do this differs from machine to machine, so you’ll want to refer to the manual or download this from the Nespresso website.
For example, with the Nespresso VertuoPlus, you have to hold the button down and simultaneously press down on the lever on top for three seconds. Then press down on the lever. With the Nespresso Pixie machine, you have to turn on the machine and then press and hold both coffee buttons (espresso and lungo) for three seconds until the lights start blinking.
Next, you need to press the button to wash the cleaning fluid through the machine. With the VertuoPlus this is the only button; for the Pixie, press the Lungo button. Check your machine’s manual to make sure that you’ve got it right. This will run the cleaning fluid through the machine, which will stop when the tank is empty.
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4. Rinse with cold water
Next, you need to rinse the machine out with cold water, so make sure you have an empty water container under the spout that can take the full amount of water the machine holds. If you don’t have one big enough, you can use two and swap one out when it’s full and the machine is on pause between dispensing water.
With a regular Nespresso machine, you need to rinse twice. Each time fill the cold water reservoir to the top and then press the button you used to run the cleaning cycle to flush through the water. Repeat for the second run of cold water.
If you have a Nespresso Vertuo machine, you get a larger water reservoir, so you only need to flush the once with the full water capacity.
5. Take the machine out of descaling mode
Once done, you need to take the machine out of the descaling button. This is usually the same button combination you used to put the machine into descaling mode. So, for the VertuoPlus, it’s down lever and the main button together for three seconds; for the Pixie, it’s both the espresso and lungo buttons for three seconds. Check your machine’s manual for the right details.
Once out of descaling mode, you can add capsules and make coffee in the normal way and you won’t need to run the machine in descaling mode until the maintenance light comes up.