Don't avoid the grind - here's how I clean my Nespresso machine for perfect coffee

White Nespresso Vertuo machine with a cream mug on the cup holder in a kitchen.
(Image credit: Holly Cockburn)

Whether you take your coffee black, with frothy milk, with sugar, or even iced, it's safe to say it's often the first move you make in the morning. Ever since I invested in my Nespresso machine 3 years ago, I've been hooked, and with that comes the responsibility of making sure it's clean and well looked after. 

Sipped rapidly on my early commute or enjoyed pleasurably on a slow Sunday morning, I can't live without coffee from my Nespresso Vertuo machine. It's extremely easy to use, I simply pop the pod in the top and ensure the water tank is full before pressing the big button. Bar washing out the milk frother, I hadn't stopped to think about the grime that might have accumulated inside it. But just like any other small kitchen appliance, it can get mucky pretty fast - quite a gross thought when it comes to consumables. Luckily though, I  recently found that it's just as easy to clean as it is to use. 

There are two levels of cleaning to keep in mind - a weekly clean and a deeper descale. Here, I've run through each method of how to clean your Nespresso machine to ensure you keep it running in top condition, ready for tomorrow's coffee. 

How to clean a Nespresso machine

Per the advice on Nespresso's App and website, you should run the cleaning cycle through your machine weekly. This will help ensure that the filter is clean and removes any unwanted coffee build-up. By keeping on top of weekly maintenance, you stand a better chance of keeping your machine in great working condition. 

1. Rinse, clean, and refill the tank 

Before you start the process, it's wise to use this as an opportunity to clean your water tank. If you're anything like me, this isn't on the chore list as often as it should be. Empty any existing water, and clean it with washing-up liquid and a scrubbing brush. Then, refill it with warm water and place it back on the machine. 

2. Open the lid and eject the capsule 

It's recommended that you eject the capsule after each use, but I tend to leave mine sitting in the holder until I next load it up. This is a bad habit, admittedly, and something I need to remember to do as I'm rushing out of the house in the morning. Before you start your cleaning routine, maybe sure it's ejected into the holder - while you're at it, use this as an opportunity to empty any old capsules and clean out the pot. 

3. Rinse the cup support 

Whether it's dust or coffee granules, a lot of dirt and grime can build up in the cup support tray. Give this a quick rinse under the tap and dry off softly with a towel. 

4. Place a large glass on the support 

Get ready to start the cleaning process by placing a large glass on the support. You want it to be able to hold as much water as possible, so it's best to opt for a pint glass size as opposed to your favorite mug. 

5. Press the button 

The fussy bit is over - now all you need to do is press the big button on the top three times within the space of two seconds until it turns orange. Once it flashes orange, it should start to draw the water through the system into your cup. It's likely to come out as a murky brown color at first, so just keep emptying and refilling the cup until it runs clear.

6. Push the button once complete 

Once the water in the tank has flushed through the machine, you can go ahead and push the button once more to stop the process. This means the cleaning process is complete and you can enjoy your next fresh cup of coffee! 

How to descale a Nespresso machine

Descaling is a bigger beast, but it's still super easy. Nespresso advises you to purchase their descaling kit, which for around $10 is a safe bet. While users online have tried this process out with other products, it's always best to stick to the manufacturer's advice - especially with a hearty investment like a coffee machine. Guidance may slightly vary for different machines, however, this is advice on how to descale a Nespresso Vertuo model. 

1. Turn the machine on 

Make sure your machine is switched on at the plug and turn it on by pressing the big button on top. 

2. Eject the used capsule

Next, carefully lift the lid of the machine and eject the capsule into the container. Close it again and turn the machine off. 

3. Empty and clean the support and capsule container 

Pour the used capsules into your chosen recycling container, and wash out the pot with warm water and washing-up soap. While you're here, clean the cup support with the same method. 

5. Fill the water tank with the descaling solution 

Pour one unit of the Nespresso descaling solution into the water tank and add a minimum of 0.8l of water. 

6. Push the button

To start the descaling process, push the button and lever down simultaneously for three seconds. When it turns orange, this means it has entered the special functions feature. Press the lever down once to enter descaling mode. When it has turned to 'descaling', the orange light will flash once every two seconds.

7. Place a large container under the cup machine

Just like in the cleaning process, you want a large recipient under the water flow to catch as much liquid as possible. 0.8l is ideal, but a large glass that you can pour away and refill will also work.

8. Start the descaling process

To begin the proper descaling mode, push the button again. This will run the function and it will stop automatically once complete.

9. Clean the tank again and rinse

Clean the water tank once again to remove any remaining descaling solution, refill with drinking water, and place it back on the stand. Then, press the button to start the rinse cycle.

10. Exit descaling mode and leave to dry

Once this water has run through, exit descaling mode but pressing the button and lever down at the same time for three seconds. The green light will show once the machine is back in its normal working mode. Descaling is now complete - just leave it to dry for ten minutes before you enjoy your next coffee from a squeaky clean machine!

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Holly Cockburn

Holly is the Features Editor at Top Ten Reviews where she focuses on creating informative, how-to advice. She has a degree in English Literature and previously worked as a copywriter at Howdens, specializing in kitchens and trend-led interiors. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her exploring the best London bars and brunch spots, or planning the next budget-friendly city break.