Last Updated on November 8, 2021 by John Moretti
Coffee machines are found in homes throughout the world, and nothing says “Good Morning” like that first cup of Java from your Nespresso machine. But have you ever made your cup of coffee and thought, actually, it doesn’t taste quite right? This is where descaling comes in.
Appliances that require or use (hot or heated) water are often subject to the build-up of limescale, which in coffee machines primarily affects:
- Brew Time
- Longevity of your machine
In a nutshell, if you want to maintain your machine and keep your coffee tasting good, you need to descale your machine regularly, and for that, you need a little bit of help. Today, you and I will discuss your top five liquid descaling options for your Nespresso machine and two non-liquid options.
NB: Depending on the hardness of your water (how mineral-rich it is), you can expect to need to descale your machine every three months or so. Less if you use filtered water.
There are 4 main types of descalers:
- Home remedies
Let’s talk about liquid descalers first, as these will be your best option for your Nespresso machine. These are probably the easiest to use. Descaling solution + water combined and added to the water tank, and then all you need to do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Watch here to see how to descale your Nespresso machine – instructions are model-dependent.
Best Brand Match – Nespresso Descaling Kit
Nespresso being the household name that it is, thanks to George Clooney, has its own descaling kit.
- This kit contains two single-use sachets of solution.
- It is reasonably priced.
- It takes approx. 15 to 20 minutes to complete the descaling process.
- Lactic acid-based with phosphates
- You’ll (generally) run the solution/water combo through twice and then rinse once with clean water.
- Pricing is consistent with the Nespresso brand.
Best Bulk Buy – Delonghi Descaler Ecodecalk DLSC500
Delonghi, a brand often associated with the Nespresso system, offers various sizes when it comes to buying your descaling solution. The internet and I agree that the 500ml option is the one to purchase.
- 500ml bulk buy = five uses, meaning it should last between 6 and 18 months depending on how often you need to descale.
- Suitable for both pod and bean to cup machines, which is good if you, like me, have two coffee machines in your house.
- This liquid option is reasonable in terms of pricing if you calculate per descaling session.
- 100% Lactic Acid, and Delonghi claims it is eco-friendly.
Best All-Rounder – Durgol Descaling Solution
If any name is synonymous with descaling, it’s Durgol. If there is the possibility of limescale in your house, then Durgol will have a product for you. This is also true for your single-use Nespresso pod machine.
- Durgol is a trusted and extremely well-known brand. Lavazza and Dolce Gusto, both offer descaling solutions manufactured by Durgol.
- Claims to be safe for all brands and types of coffee machine
- Sulfamic acid based
- Sadly, on the pricier side.
Best off Brand option – Universal Descaling Solution
Sometimes, you don’t want to buy a brand name, and that’s perfectly okay. An excellent choice for any brand of coffee machine, including your Nespresso machine, is the Universal Descaling Solution
- Easy to understand instructions, other solutions seem to have complicated infographics.
- Suitable for all machines
- Citric acid-based
- Excellent price point
- No aftertaste
Best for Descaling and Cleaning – Urnex Nespresso Machine Descaler Kit
Descaling is not cleaning. This kit from Urnex allows you to both clean and descale your Nespresso machine.
- This solution comes with one single-use bottle of descaling solution and one cleaning pod
- Biodegradable and phosphate-free
- The pod that comes with the kit helps to remove any coffee oil residue from the Nespresso dispensing spout.
- A good option if you want to do an all-around clean as opposed to just descaling.
We are moving on from liquid solution options and offering a bonus option for descaling.
Best Powder Option – Urnex Full Circle Espresso Machine Descaling Powder
The most important thing to know about powder-based descalers is that they must dissolve correctly, or they may cause blockages in your machine. Searches across the internet don’t appear to recommend a powder-based descaler much except for the Urnex descaling powder.
- This powder is dissolved in water and added to the water tank.
- It appears to be a combination of hydrogen peroxide and citric acid, which is easy to find in the grocery aisle, probably next to the bicarbonate of soda, and cheaper without the packaging.
- Two single-use packets
- Urnex offers descaling options in liquid, tablet, and powder form, so there are several options to choose from.
Is There A Best Tablet Option?
Tablet descalers, although readily available, do not seem to be compatible with Nespresso machines. Luckily, there is a wide variety of liquid options to choose from. You could probably try an off-brand tablet to clean your Nespresso machine in a pinch, but try to avoid it.
There are many tablet cleaning options available, like the Caffenu universal coffee machine cleaning tablets.
Best Home Remedies
Home remedies are another descaling option. If you must choose between citric acid and vinegar, then choose citric acid. It is less pungent and takes less time to rinse out. Nespresso does not recommend using vinegar at all as a descaling option.
Neat trick: If you are worried that you haven’t cleaned out your water dispenser thoroughly, take some of the water and add a tiny bit of Bicarbonate of Soda, it will cause a small (or large) reaction if there is still acid present, and you can do another rinse cycle.
What To Look For
Buying a descaling product doesn’t need to be complicated. Look out for the following:
- Is the descaling product Nespresso compatible?
- If you prefer something eco-friendly, go with an organic option like Citric or Lactic acid-based formulas rather than a Sulphur-based formula.
- Read the instructions of the product carefully. Most formulations are skin and eye irritants. Some may even cause breathing difficulties if inhaled excessively.
- Warranties, while the warranty is active on your Nespresso machine, stick to their branded descaling kit.
- Shop around, like pods, descaling solutions will have specials. If you are ordering directly from Nespresso or a Nespresso compatible manufacturer, they may offer savings on cleaning and descaling kits.
Pros and Cons
I’ve listed five well-known descalers, but there are many more out there. Each has its pros and cons.
- If you like biodegradable, then Urnex is for you. It is citric acid-based and appears to be made of biodegradable packaging.
- Durgol is a household name, but it’s expensive. You know that limescale will be a distant memory if you use Durgol.
- If you prefer to play it safe and you can afford to be brand loyal, then the Nespresso descaling kit is for you. Nespresso will also have the material and corrosion specs, so they are best placed to formulate the most compatible descaling solution for your machine.
- If you live in a hard water area or your machine just works hard, then the Delonghi descaler is for you. Bulk buying FTW.
- Finally, if you are residing in a small area of the world where online retailers don’t make deliveries and the neighbors think your coffee is the next best thing since sliced bread, then, by all means, make do with a citric acid home remedy, but do try and get a proper coffee appliance descaling solution if at all possible.
- Urnex is the brand to turn to if you are looking for a reasonably priced 2 in 1 option to descale and clean your machine once off. On the downside, it comes in single-use packages, one pod, and one bottle of solution.
Good To Know
Each Nespresso machine has its own way of accessing its descaling menu. Nespresso has several different Youtube videos dedicated to showing you how to descale your specific model. It usually involves pushing the Lungo and the Espresso button together for three seconds.
Though the Nespresso Vertuo, as an example, is different. More high-end models like the Vertuo will prevent you from making coffee until you descale your unit. Never fear; they will give you some warning lights and beeps a few cups before it grinds to a halt.
My final thoughts…
Don’t overthink it. It would be best if you descale regularly, so buy a descaling option that works for you. Your main takeaway should be that, if you enjoy good coffee, look after your machine by regularly descaling and cleaning it. It is absolutely worth the 15-30 minutes of your time.
Final Tip: Please make sure to consult the packaging when buying your preferred descaling option to make sure it is compatible.