How To Clean a Nespresso Machine in 7 Simple Steps

updated Feb 13, 2024
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There are things we all rely on to get us through the day. For me, as soon as my feet hit the floor, I’m thinking about my coffee. I’ve shared my love for (or obsession with, if we’re being honest) my Nespresso here before. Over the pandemic, when curling up in the corner chair at my favorite local coffeeshop just wasn’t an option, my little home espresso and coffee maker became even more vital. Plus, there’s something special about brewing your own steamy cup in the comfort of your kitchen. All this is to say that it gets a serious workout.

After more than two years of daily use, I’m embarrassed to say I had never actually cleaned my Nespresso machine. I noticed it was slow to start sometimes, and that I had to hit the start button more than once some days. It turns out that — guess what? — you really should be cleaning this thing! And if need be, even descaling it! When in doubt, read the owner’s manual, am I right? 

Well, I don’t actually still have the manual for my VertuoPlus, but luckily, Nespresso’s website has super-detailed instructions, including videos, on how to care for their entire lineup. There’s even an actual cleaning cycle you can run with no equipment or supplies other than water, and it only takes a few minutes. (I feel really silly that I didn’t know that.) When I saw the murky-looking water gushing out during that cycle, I was honestly relieved and surprised to learn that I hadn’t ruined my machine. Here’s what I did learn.

Note: If you have questions along the way, check the Nespresso site, as your directions could be slightly different depending on the model you have. Again, this is for cleaning Nespresso’s popular VertuoPlus, though the steps should work for most models.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

How To Clean a Nespresso Machine

What You’ll Need

Credit: Sarah Crowley

1. Clean the water tank

Remove the water tank from the machine and clean it with a gentle dish soap (don’t put this or any parts in the dishwasher, submerge them, or use anything abrasive), then rinse it well under running water. Refill it with fresh water and put it back in place on the Nespresso. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. Clean the cup support

Remove the cup support shelf and clean it like you did the tank, then set it aside to dry.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

3. Clean the capsule container

Eject or remove any used capsules, then wash the capsule container with dish soap.  

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. Wipe down the capsule head

Using a damp dish cloth, wipe the capsule head well.  

Credit: Sarah Crowley

5. Wipe down the machine

Wipe the outside of the machine with a damp cloth, and use a gentle cleaner if you like. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

6. Run the machine’s cleaning cycle

Set a container that holds at least four cups under the head. Press the start button three times, quickly, within two seconds and wait for the cycle to run. It takes about five minutes for three cycles of water to run through. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

7. Reassemble

Put the cup support and capsule container back into place. 

Descaling Your Nespresso Machine

For good measure, I also ran a descaling treatment, which is a solution you add to the water tank and run through the machine to remove limescale that comes from lime in your water. (Note: This stuff smells a little harsh, but you then run another cycle of fresh water after the treatment, which got rid of the chemically smell.) 

How often should you be descaling? I reached out to Nespresso, and Machine Specialist Brian Mulay offered the following rule of thumb: “Nespresso coffee machines are state of the art and, like any appliance, regular cleaning is essential. Over time, water used during brewing may cause internal mineral build up, which can affect the flow, temperature, and overall performance of your machine. Nespresso recommends you descale your machine on a regular basis, every three months or every 300 capsules (whichever comes first).”

Credit: Sarah Crowley

How To Descale a Nespresso Machine

If it’s been three months (or you’ve gone through 300 capsules), it’s time to descale the machine, which is different than simply cleaning your Nespresso machine. Here’s how:

  1. Get the machine ready: Eject any remaining capsules and turn the machine off by pressing the lever down for three seconds. (The lever is on the lid; it’s what you push to put your capsule in!).
  2. Add the descaling agent: Fill the tank with one packet of descaling agent and 28 ounces of water.
  3. Run the cycle: Press the button and lever at the same time for three seconds, then press the lever, then press the button. (This can be tricky!). The descaling cycle will run and it will take about 15 minutes. The machine will stops when it’s done.
  4. Run a cycle with just water: Empty and clean the water tank, and refill it with fresh water, then replace the tank and press the button to run through a cycle of clean water. The machine will stop when it’s done.
  5. Exit the descaling process: Do this by pressing the button and lever at the same time for three seconds. Let the machine dry for 10 minutes before you use it again.