How To Descale Nespresso CitiZ Machines (Step-by-Step Instructions)

The Green Pods How to descale nespresso citiz 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.

Recommendation: Nespresso offers 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 which works out cheaper and better for the environment here on Amazon.

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

Why Listen To Us? Well, because we KNOW coffee! In fact, we make our own coffee, coffee machine cleaners, and reusable capsules which we've sold to over 41 countries. Our team ouf experts include Tristan (an engineer), Claire (a food writer) and Richy (a barista). So, whether you're looking for a recipe or repair guide, we've got you covered 💚

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.

The Green Pods descaling nespresso citiz machine

How often should you descale your Nespresso CitiZ 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 Does Descaling Take?

The entire process to descale your Nespresso should take between 10 to 15 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’ve created our own descaling product which gives you 4 doses and works out a little bit cheaper.

What you’ll need:

  • Descaling Solution (We recommend this one)
  • Clean water
  • A cleaning capsule or one of our Green Pods (empty), to clean the brewing unit (optional)
Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 Packets
Durgol Swiss Steamer, Descaler and Decalcifier for All Brands of Steamer Ovens, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
Best Overall
The Green Pods Eco Descaler - Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
Runner Up
De'Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 Packets
Durgol Swiss Steamer, Descaler and Decalcifier for All Brands of Steamer Ovens, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
The Green Pods Eco Descaler - Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
De'Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
2 Doses
5 Doses
4 Doses
5 Doses
Our Take: Expensive, Plastic sachets are wasteful.
Our Take: More expensive than other options
Our Take: Easiest to use as each dose is pre-measued. Great instructions. Good for the environment too!
Our Take: Good price, size, but knowing how much to use is confusing
Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 Packets
Nespresso Descaling Solution, Fits all Models, 2 Packets
2 Doses
Our Take: Expensive, Plastic sachets are wasteful.
Durgol Swiss Steamer, Descaler and Decalcifier for All Brands of Steamer Ovens, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
Durgol Swiss Steamer, Descaler and Decalcifier for All Brands of Steamer Ovens, 16.9 Fluid Ounces
5 Doses
Our Take: More expensive than other options
Best Overall
The Green Pods Eco Descaler - Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
The Green Pods Eco Descaler - Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
4 Doses
Our Take: Easiest to use as each dose is pre-measued. Great instructions. Good for the environment too!
Runner Up
De'Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
De'Longhi EcoDecalk Descaler, Eco-Friendly Universal Descaling Solution for Coffee & Espresso Machines, 16.90 oz (5 uses)
5 Doses
Our Take: Good price, size, but knowing how much to use is confusing

How To Descale The Nespresso CitiZ® (Step-By-Step)

entire process of descaling your Nespresso Essenza machine can be divided into the following three steps:

  1. Exterior clean
  2. Descaling Solution Rinse
  3. Fresh Water Rinse

Time Required: Approximately 15 minutes

Step 1: Exterior clean

Use a wet cloth with a small amount of detergent to wipe down the body of the machine. It’s important not to wash the machine in the sink, as water can get inside and damage the electronics as well as cause rust.

Keeping the exterior of the machine clean from just, grime and greasy build-up is essential to stop dirt from getting into the machine.

Step 2: Descaling Solution Rinse

Nest we need to mix up the descaling solution and run it through the 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 powder. Mix thoroughly and return the tank to the machine.

    The Green Pods Eco Descaler Descaling Powder being used

    The Green Pods Mixing descaler to descale nespresso 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.

    The Green Pods entering descaling mode in the Nespresso CitiZ
  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.

    Note: If you’re using our Green Pods Eco Descaler we strongly recommend you use the remaining half of the sachet and mix up a fresh batch of descaling solution. Even though Nespresso says to reuse the descaling solution we think this is a bad idea as you’re putting the chunks and grime back into the machine! Be safe and mix another 500ml batch
  6. Press the Lungo button again to resume descaling.
  7. Once all the descaling solution has passed through. Let the brewer stand for 5 minutes to allow the descaling fluid to take effect.

    The Green Pods descaling nespresso citiz machine

Step 3: Fresh Water Rinse

The next step is to rinse out any remaining descaling solution from the water reservoir.

  1. Rinse out the water reservoir and fill with fresh water until the water level reaches the MAX FILL line.
  2. Return the empty collection jug/mug onto the drip tray plate
  3. Press the Lungo button again to begin rinsing the machine
  4. Empty the contents collected in the mug into the sink.
  5. Rinse again by repeating steps 1 – 3.
  6. Exit descaling mode by pressing and holding the Espresso and Lungo buttons again for 5 seconds. The lights will stop flashing rapidly and become steadily illuminated, indicating the machine is ready to brew coffee!
  7. Congratulations: Your machine has now been successfully descaled!

Download: Get a copy of our descaling cheatsheet below.

How To Descale Nespresso CitiZ Machine Cheat Sheet


Watch: These are three steps you need to follow to descale your Nespresso Essenza Mini coffee machine. There’s also this video below from the Keurig youtube channel to help visualize the process!

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

CitiZ - Descaling

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.

clean vs blocked firsty nespresso machine

Descale Nespresso CitiZ: FAQ

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

Q. How much descaling solution should I use in my CitiZ 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 twice.

If you’re using the Nespresso descaler; use one sachet of descaler and half a liter (0,5 qt) of water.
If you’re using our Green Pods Eco Descaler; use half a sachet of power to 0.5L (0,5 qt) of water.

Q. 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.
1-2: Every 3 months
3-4: Every 3 months
5-8: Every 2 months
8-10: Every month

Q. Can you use vinegar instead of descaling solution?

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

In fact, if you’re in a real pinch, we created this guide here on how to do it.
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.

It also leaves a lingering taste in your machine, which makes your new couple of coffees taste like salad dressing.

We’d recommend sticking with a commercial descaling product.

Q. 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 acetic does impart a more noticeable taste to the machine, thus lactic or citric is typically preferred.

We use citric acid as the active ingredient in our Eco Descaler.

Q. 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.

Q. Can I use any descaler in my Nespresso CitiZ?

Yes, in fact, you can use any brand of descaler in any brand of coffee machine (even if these big brands would have you believe differently). Just make sure you follow the instructions on the packet to make sure you get the dilution ratio correct.

Q. 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 flavor will become weak. Severe scale buildup can clog water flow completely, causing a machine to stop working

Q. 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.

Q. Can you descale with baking soda?

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

Final Thoughts And Recommendations

It’s essential to descale your CitiZ every 3 months or 300 coffees – whichever comes first. This will not only increase the life span of your coffee machine, but also keep your coffees tasting great and fresh.

Descaling takes around 15 minutes and consists of 2 descaling runs and 2 rinse runs.

You can use any brand of descaling product in your Nespresso CitiZ, as long as you dilute it with the correct amount of water to the manufacturer’s instructions.

We recommend using our Green Pods Eco Descaler. Its comes with 4 sachets (1 year’s supply) which are perfectly portioned. Its environmentally friendly, and it’s also more cost-effective than the name-brand Nespresso Descaler.

You can get it from Amazon here.

The Green Pods Eco Descaler – Coffee Machine Descaling Powder
  • ✔️ ENJOY BETTER TASTING COFFEE: Infrequent descaling is the #1 reason your coffee is tasting bad. Descale and you’ll taste the difference.
  • ✔️ SAFE FOR YOU AND YOUR MACHINE: Our Eco Descaler is safe for all machine parts. It leaves no harmful residues and does not cause corrosion within the coffee machine.
  • ✔️ WORKS ON ALL COFFEE MACHINES: Designed and tested on all leading coffee machines including Nespresso, Keurig, Dolce Gusto, Caffitaly, Breville, Delonghi, and more.

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