How to descale your Nespresso CitiZ coffee machine

Regularly descaling your Nespresso 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 Nespresso® CitiZ machine.

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

There are many makes, models and brands of coffee machine on the market. This guide is intended only for the Nespresso CitiZ made by De’Longhi. If you have a different machine, please check out our other descaling guides here.

Nespresso offer their propriety descaling kit, which you can purchase from any Nespresso machine retailer. We think this is a little expensive, and prohibits people descaling their machines as often as they need. You can pick up our Green Pods Descaling solution here which works out cheaper.

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 hot water appliances over time.

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

How often should you descale your Nespresso Machine?

Nespresso 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 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

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 Nespresso machine like the VertuoLine have a warning light that flashes to alert you that the machine needs to be descaled. Unfortunately, the CitiZ doesn’t have this feature.

How long will it take?

The entire process to descale your Nespresso should take between 20 and 30 minutes.

What you will need.

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

What you’ll need:

  • Descaling Solution
  • clean water
  • A cleaning capsule or one of our Green Pods (empty), to clean the brewing unit

How to descale the Nespresso CitiZ®

The descaling process can will take you around 20-30 minutes. We recommend decaling 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.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to descaling your Nespresso CitiZ coffee machine:

  1. Turn on the machine by pressing any button. Empty the drip tray and make sure that all capsules have been removed from the slot and tray. Place an empty 1 litre or bigger container under the spout.
  2. Fill the water tank with clean water and descaling solution. Mix thoroughly and return the tank to the machine.
  3. When both buttons stop blinking, you are now able to activate the descaling program. Press and hold down both buttons (small cup and big cup) for around three seconds to enter into descaling mode.
  4. When the buttons begin to blink at short intervals the descaling program has been activated. Press the Lungo button (Big Cup) to begin the descaling process.
  5. When the mixture has run through the machine, pour the mixture back into the water tank. We want to run the operation for a second time to clean everything thoroughly. Press the Lungo button to repeat the process.
  6. When the descaling solution has been through the coffee machine twice, you may discard the mixture (down the sink is fine) and thoroughly rinse out the water tank with fresh water.
  7. Fill, and insert the tank back into the machine. Then press the Lungo button to rinse your machine.
  8. Once this is done, press and hold both buttons for 3 seconds to exit descaling mode.

Congratulations: Your machine has now been successfully descaled!

Next we recommend cleaning the capsule holder of your machine to remove and coffee residue.

Cleaning Your Nespresso CitiZ

It’s hard to get in the habit of rinsing you’re Nespresso 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.

Coffee grinds can also get built up against the spikey pyramids inside the capsule mechanism that are used to pop open the foil lid of the coffee capsules. This can result in a blocked or stifled flow as the water has trouble passing through the pods.

We recommend using an old toothbrush to scrub the inside of the capsule mechanism 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’s some of the answers to these frequently asked questions.

How much descaling solution should I use in my CitiZ Nespresso 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 CitiZ Nespresso machine?

Nespresso 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 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

Can you use vinegar instead of descaling solution?

Scientifically speaking, cleaning your Nespresso machine vinegar is almost exactly the same as with 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 Nespresso 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 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 Nespresso CitiZ?

Yes, in fact, you can use it for 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 thermoblock (Nespresso’s heating element) water won’t be able to reach its optimal brewing temperature. When this happens it’s impossible to extract the full flavor from the coffee pods and the flavour will become weak. Severe scale buildup can clog water flow completely, causing a machine to stop working

Is descaling solution toxic?

Our Nespresso 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 Nespresso machine.

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