How to Clean a Nespresso Machine in a Few Easy Steps

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No need to travel to Italy or even down to your corner café for an espresso thanks to your home coffee bar outfitted with a nifty Nespresso machine.

Maybe buying a Nespresso machine was a bit intimidating at first, but you made it through the learning curve. Now you’ll need to learn to clean your coffee machine if you want to keep that perfect morning infusion flowing.

Regardless of whether you have a Nespresso from the Original Line or the VertuoLine, natural oils and tap water residue (called scale) can build up inside your machine, resulting in off-flavored, tepid-temperature coffee, and a potentially clogged machine.

Nespresso cleaning is broken into two parts: Routine cleaning of the machine to kill bacteria and germs, and descaling to eliminate interior gunk and built-up minerals.

Routine cleaning is easy; descaling is a multi-step process that, depending on the model of your machine, will involve pressing one or two buttons to start the process.

If you can’t find your owner’s manual, or you just want a quick review of how to clean your machine, this guide can help. By cleaning it well and often, your machine can last a long time. Follow these steps for a clean Nespresso machine in no time!

Hand using towel to wipe down black Nespresso machine

Safety Warning

Never put any of the parts of a Nespresso machine into a dishwasher, regardless of the model you own, and never submerge the machine in water.

How to Clean a Nespresso Machine

Every time you run your Nespresso machine you're rewarded with a nice, hot brew. But if left uncleaned, that moisture and heat running through the machine can fester and turn into bacteria and mildew.

Giving your Nespresso machine a weekly cleaning will help eliminate any possible buildup of bacteria or germs in your machine.

Tools and Materials Needed

Step 1: Clean Drip Tray

Remove the drip tray. Empty any sitting water. Hand-wash it with mild dish detergent and a soft, clean cloth. Let it air dry, or dry the drip tray with a soft, clean towel. Replace the drip tray back in the machine.

Step 2: Clean Capsule Container

Remove the capsule container. Empty it of empty capsules (and maybe keep a few for a craft). Hand-wash it with mild dish detergent and a soft, clean cloth. Let it air dry, or dry the container with a soft, clean towel. Replace it back on the machine.

Step 3: Clean Water Tank

Remove the water tank and its lid. Empty any sitting water. Hand-wash the tank and lid with mild dish detergent and a soft, clean cloth, let them air dry or dry the parts with a soft, clean towel. Replace the tank and lid back on the machine.

Step 4: Wipe Down Capsule Detection Lens

Clean the capsule detection lens that’s accessible just inside the machine (location varies with each model). Take a soft, dry, clean cloth to wipe any smudges off of the capsule detection lens.

Step 5: Wipe Down the Exterior of the Machine

Lightly dampen the cloth and wipe down the outside of the machine. Focus on removing any build-up on the coffee draining outlet and the walls where the tank and capsule holder slide into. Do not use any soap, water, or abrasive cleaners or cloths to clean your machine.

How to Descale an Original Line Nespresso Machine

If your coffee is coming out slower than usual or the temperature of the coffee isn't very hot, it’s likely time for a descaling.

There are two lines of Nespresso machines that both use capsules to make the coffee: the VertuoLine and Original Line. Machines in both lines will need descaling to ensure fresh-tasting coffee.

The process to descale Nespresso machines takes about 20 minutes and should be done about every three to six months. Though there are many steps to descale the machine, each step is super quick.

Original Line Nespresso machines specialize in making classic espresso, and some models also have integrated steam nozzles and milk frothers for lattes and cappuccinos.

The scaling process of the Original Line typically requires pressing two buttons at once to start.

Step 1: Turn On Descaling Mode and Place Container

Set the machine to descaling mode by turning the machine on. Wait for the light to stop flashing. Next, hold both buttons on top of the machine down at once for at least three seconds. (Put half a thumb on each button so you can see when it starts flashing.) The machine is now in descaling mode. Place a large cup or bowl under the coffee nozzle.

Step 2: Mix Descaling Solution

Fill your water tank half full of clean water. Add descaling solution to the water. Place the lid back on the water tank. Put the water tank back on the machine.

Step 3: Start Descaling Process

To start the solution cycling through the machine, press the Lungo button only. The cycle takes about two minutes.

Step 4: Recycle Descaling Solution

Take the cup/container with the descaling solution off the plate and pour it right back into the water tank. Recycle it again by pressing the Lungo button only. (The button will blink as water cycles).

Step 5: Dispose of the Solution and Clean

When the second cycle ends after about two minutes, take the water tank, pour out the water/solution into the sink, and clean it thoroughly to remove any traces of descaling solution.

Step 6: Flush Machine With Water

Fill the now-empty water tank three-quarters of the way with clean water. Put the water tank and container back on the machine. Press the Lungo button only for a third cycle of clean water to run through the machine.

Note: If you use vinegar, you may want to run the machine for a fourth and fifth cycle of clean water just to make sure all the vinegar is gone.

Step 7: Turn off Descaling Mode

Exit the descaling mode by turning off the machine as usual.

pouring white vinegar into Nespresso water reservoir to descale

How to Descale a VertuoLine Nespresso Machine

VertuoLine specializes in making authentic espresso in addition to a variety of other types of coffees. Nespresso VertuoLine cleaning and descaling typically requires pressing one button to start the scaling process.

Tools and Materials Needed

Step 1: Prepare Machine

Open your machine and eject used capsules. Close the machine and keep the lever unlocked. Empty the capsule container of used capsules and empty the drip tray of any standing water.

Step 2: Mix Descaling Solution

Measure 17 ounces of clean water and fill the water tank. Add descaling solution (either Nesspresso’s product, vinegar, or citric acid) to the water in the tank.

Note: When using vinegar to clean, use a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water in the water tank (ie: 8 ½ ounces of each). Place the filled water tank onto the machine.

Hate the Smell of Vinegar?

If you’re using vinegar and want to mask the smell, add a tablespoon of lemon juice (pulp-free) into the vinegar/water solution when descaling your machine.

Step 3: Program Machine to Descaling Mode

Turn on the machine by pressing the top button. After the button’s light has stopped blinking (for 15 seconds), enter the descaling mode by holding the same button down for at least seven seconds. The button will begin to blink very quickly. Quickly turn the top lever to the lock symbol. Turn the lever to the unlocked position. Hold the button down again for seven more seconds while in the unlocked position.

Step 4: Put Container Under Nozzle

Place a large bowl or container that holds at least 20 ounces of liquid under the coffee outlet/nozzle.

Step 5: Start Descaling Process

Now with everything in place, turn the lever to the locked position and push the button to begin the actual scaling process. The descaling solution will flow through the machine. Wait until it’s done flowing, which takes about two minutes or so.

Step 6: Dispose of Descaling Solution

Empty the container, water tank, and drip tray into the sink and give them a thorough rinse.

Step 7: Flush Machine with Water

Fill the water tank halfway with fresh water and place the tank back on the machine. Press the button on top to send the water through the machine to rinse. Wait until the dripping has completely stopped.

Note: If using vinegar, you may want to run two more cycles of clean water through the machine.

Step 8: Exit Descaling Mode and Let the Machine Dry

Hold down the button on top of the machine for at least seven seconds until it stops blinking quickly and becomes a steady glow. Let the machine dry for 10 minutes before using it. 

hand pulling open Nespresso capsule container

More Nespresso Machine Care Tips

Here are some more tips to help keep your Nespresso coffee machine in tip-top shape and cleaner for longer:

  • It may seem pesky, but rinsing and replacing the water reservoir daily will help keep mineral buildup at bay and will reduce the frequency at which you'll need to descale your machine. Make sure you thoroughly dry it with a towel before returning to the machine.
  • Eject capsules from the pod holder right after brewing. Doing so can help prevent coffee grounds from getting stuck, which can lead to burnt or bitter coffee.
  • Empty out the capsule collection container often. Even after the capsules are spent, coffee will still leak out of them and leave residue on the container. For that same reason, also be careful when emptying the container—the last thing you want is a coffee stain down your white blouse as you head out to work in the morning.
  • Be extra careful when cleaning the capsule detection lens. This part of the machine plays an important role in scanning capsules to determine how much water is needed for the upcoming brew.
  • Nespresso sells descaling kits specially designed for the company’s machines, but you can use ingredients found in your pantry for descaling, as noted in this guide.
  • Nespresso has a special machine assistance section on its website that helps you learn more about how to clean and troubleshoot your particular model.

Do you have any tips for cleaning your Nespresso machine? Comment below; we'd love to hear them!

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