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How to Clean Your Nespresso Machine with Vinegar

Nespresso owners know that regular cleaning is key to keeping your brews delicious. Letting things slide is one of the big mistakes home espresso brewers should avoid: germs and scale will start to build up, blocking the flow and messing up the taste profile of your coffee. It’s natural to turn to vinegar as the go-to cleaning solution; it’s affordable, easily available, and there’s no lack of success stories of people cleaning and descaling all kinds of kitchen appliances with it. If it works for your countertop, oven, kettle, and even fridge, why not your coffee maker? Interestingly, Nespresso doesn’t recommend that users clean their machines with vinegar and warns that it may cause damage.

Vinegar could potentially do more harm than good. Distilled white vinegar is the type we usually use for cleaning, and it’s a diluted acetic acid at a concentration of 4%-6%. This solution can react with the aluminum and rubber parts in a Nespresso machine, such as the seals, rings, and tubings. The damage may not be immediately visible but, over time, it can break down those delicate parts and chip away at your Nespresso’s lifespan. Plus, vinegar has quite a pungent and persistent odor. It would work perfectly for cleaning something like a glass stovetop, as you can easily neutralize or get rid of the smell afterward, but the delicate details of the Nespresso machine are not that straightforward. You may have to reclean it multiple times before your coffee no longer smells like vinegar.

How to safely clean your Nespresso machine

person lowering coffee pod into espresso machine

As with other machines, it’s best to stick with the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning methods. For everyday cleaning, a quick wipe with a damp cloth is all you need, per Nespresso. Wipe the inside and outside of your steam wand and milk container after every use, and wipe the drip tray and capsule container as you see fit. If your model contains the Rapid Cappuccino System, it can be hand-washed in mild soapy water or on the top rack of your dishwasher.

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Your Nespresso also needs a descaling every now and then (about once or twice a year), and Nespresso sells its own kit and solution just for that. The solution is formulated to remove buildups while ensuring the safety and longevity of your coffee maker — and we’d say the price of a couple dollars is small for great coffee and peace of mind. If the official kit is absolutely out of reach, then the lactic-acid solutions from other espresso maker brands found online or in hardware stores may still be a better choice than vinegar.

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