How To Descale Your Dolce Gusto Picolo XS Machine (All Models)

Regularly descaling your Dolce Gusto machine is crucial to extend the life of the machine and to ensure it keeps producing high-quality and tasty coffee the way it was designed to.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process you need to follow to descale your Dolce Gusto coffee machine. The are several models of Picolo XS machine on the market and this guide works for all the following models:

  • Picolo XS Red – Delonghi
  • Picolo XS White – Delonghi
  • Picolo XS Black – Delonghi
  • Picolo XS White – Krups
  • Picolo XS Black – Krups

How Often?

The process should be undertaken a minimum of once every 3 months or 300 coffees to avoid long-term damage to your machine.

What Machines?

There are many makes, models and brands of Dolce Gusto coffee machines on the market. This guide is intended only for the Picolo XS range. If you have a different machine, please check out our other guides HERE.

What do I need?

Dolce Gusto offers their propriety descaling kit, which you can purchase from any Dolce Gusto machine retailer. We think this is a little expensive and prohibits people from descaling their machines as often as they need. We’ve reviewed the best descalers in this article here

Long story short: We recommend this multi-serving and eco-friendly alternative here on Amazon.

Extract from the Picolo XS Manual

What is ‘descaling’

All coffee machines build up deposits of calcium and lime over time. These come from tiny amounts of mineral salts that are naturally found in our water supplies. They’re completely harmless, and in fact, we need them to stay healthy, but they will build up in and damage hot water appliances over time.

Descaling” is the act of stripping these mineral deposits from your machine’s internal surfaces. To keep your Dolce Gusto machine functioning properly, you should remove these buildups by descaling regularly.

How often should you descale your Dolce Gusto Machine?

Most Dolce Gusto coffee machine manuals recommend that you descale your machine every three months or 300 coffees – whichever comes first.

That means if you use your machine often you may need to descale more frequently. Some examples of descaling frequencies are shown in the table below.

Number of coffees per dayRecommended descaling frequency
1-2Every 3 months
3-4Every 3 months
5-8Every 2 months
8-10Every month
examples of descaling frequencies based on use

The frequency of descaling also largely depends on what is known as your ‘water hardness’ – which essentially means how much mineral salts are present in your town or city’s water supply. Areas with high water hardness will require you to descale your machine more often, and areas with low water hardness can reduce the amount of maintenance required.

Some models of Dolce Gusto machine including the Picolo XS have a warning light that will turn orange to alert you that the machine needs to be descaled. 

How long will it take?

The entire process to descale your Dolce Gusto Picolo XS should take between 20 and 30 minutes.

What you will need.

To descale your Picolo XS machine, you’ll need a descaling solution kit. A two-pack kit that works for all machines costs about $20 from the Dolce Gusto website. Alternatively, we’ve created our own ecological product which you can check out here.

What you’ll need:

How to descale the Picolo XS

The descaling process can take you around 20-30 minutes. We recommend descaling first and then taking the extra time to also clean your extraction unit as this tends to build up with coffee residue over time.   

When mixing up the descaling mixture, make sure to read the instructions to determine the correct ratio of water to add. If using our Green Pods Descaler you’ll need to add 3-parts water for every 1-part descaler.

  1. Turn on the machine. Empty the drip tray and make sure that the last capsule has been removed from the tray. Place an empty 1 litre or bigger container under the spout.
  2. Fill the water tank with around 500ml of clean water and descaling solution. Mix thoroughly and return the tank to the machine.
  3. Turn the machine on as per normal. Inset the plastic descaling funnel into the capsule holder. If you’ve lost yours, one of our green pods works well, or grab a replacment off Amazon.
  4. There’s no ‘descaling mode’ with the Picolo as these are manual machines. To start descaling, push the lever all the way across to the right (HOT) side. The machine will start descaling,

  5. Pay attention, you’ll need to stop the machine once the water tank runs dry.
  6. Thouroughly rinse the tank, and refil the water tank with fresh water so we can perform a hot rinse.
  7. Repeating steps 4 and 5, push the lever all the way across to the right (HOT) side again and run until the tank empties.
  8. Rinse and refil the water tank again.
  9. Push the lever all the way across to the left (COLD) side this time to perform a descale of the cold water pipework. Run until the tank empties, and stop the machine once done.

  10. Remove the descaling funnel (or Green Pod) from the capsule holder. Rinse the capsule holder and replace in the machine.
  11. Congratulations!! You’ve successfully descaled your Picolo XS machine.

Make sure to put the plastic descaling funnel insert somewhere safe so you don’t lose it. Also, store the remaining descaling solution.

Congratulations: Your machine has now been successfully descaled!

Next: we recommend cleaning the injection pin, capsule holder, drip tray, and exterior machine to remove any coffee residue.

Cleaning Your Dolce Gusto Picolo XS

It’s hard to get in the habit of rinsing your Dolce Gusto machine after every use. Unfortunately, because of this, coffee sediment can build up in the spout of the machine over time and can even block the whole system.

To clean the coffee buildup inside the spout try straightening out a paper clip, pipe cleaner, or q-tip and scrape up around within the spout. Once done close the lever in rinse through a couple of times to wash out any particles that have become dislodged.

We also recommend using an old toothbrush to scrub the inside of the capsule holder clean from time to time to avoid this from happening. Again, once done close the lever in rinse through a couple of times to wash out any particles that have become dislodged.

Frequently Asked Questions:

We get a lot of questions about the descaling process. Here are some of the answers to these frequently asked questions.

How much descaling solution should I use in my Dolce Gusto Picolo XS machine?

Each descaling product comes at a different concentration, so you’ll need to read the instructions on the label to see how much to use, and how much water to add. In terms of the total amount of solution to mix up, we recommend making enough to completely fill the water tank on your machine.

How often do I need to descale my Dolce Gusto Picolo XS machine?

Nestle recommends that you descale your machine every three months or 300 coffees – whichever comes first.

That means if you use your machine often you may need to descale more frequently. Some examples of descaling frequencies are shown in the table below.

Number of coffees per dayRecommended descaling frequency
1-2Every 3 months
3-4Every 3 months
5-8Every 2 months
8-10Every month
Typical descaling frequency based on how many coffees you drink each day

Can you use vinegar instead of descaling solution?

Scientifically speaking, cleaning your Dolce Gusto machine vinegar is almost exactly the same as with a commercial descaler solution.

Unfortunately, however, vinegar tends to peel off the scale build up in flakes which could clog your machine causing irreparable damage. We’ve heard numerous cases of people having to throw out their coffee machine because of this. We’d recommend sticking with a commercial descaling product.

What is a descaling solution made of?

Descaling solution is generally an acidic chemical that is capable of dissolving mineral salts such as oxides and carbonates. Notable descaling agents include acetic acid, citric acid and lactic acid. These are all food safe chemicals, however citric and acetic acid do impart a more noticeable taste to the machine, thus lactic acid is typically preferred.

Can you make descaling solution?

You can make your own descaling solution using vinegar or citric acid, though we’d recommend using a commercial descaling product in a concentration that is proven not to damage your machine.

Can I use any descaler in my Picolo XS Machine?

Yes, in fact, you can use all descaling products in any brand of coffee machine.

What happens if you don’t descale your coffee machine?

Scale builds up inside the pipes restricting the flow of water. If this happens inside the heating element it prevents water from reaching its optimal brewing temperature. When this happens it’s impossible to extract the full flavor from the coffee pods and the flavor will become weak. Severe scale buildup can clog water flow completely, causing a machine to stop working

Is descaling solution toxic?

Our favorite Delonghi Eco-decaulk descaling solution is completely non-tox and ecofriendly. It’s made from lactic acid which is food safe in moderate doses. Other descaling solutions may use caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide which is highly toxic, so please check the label if unsure.

Can you descale with baking soda?

We don’t recommend using baking soda to descale your Dolce Gusto machine.

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