Nespresso Red and Yellow Light: How To Fix Your Vertuo Plus

Mike C
Written By Mike C

I've been writing about coffee and espresso machines for 3 years. My goal is to provide you with helpful content that you can trust based on my own personal experiences, information from manufacturers, and tips and tricks I've gathered from other coffee and espresso machine users.

I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Nespresso Red and Yellow Light: How To Fix Your Vertuo Plus

nespresso vertuo plus red and yellow light
Nespresso Vertuo Plus Red and Yellow Light

A Nespresso red and yellow light on your Vertuo Plus means it is time to descale your coffee maker. The water used to brew your pods contains minerals that build up inside your machine; descaling removes those minerals. If left untreated, these minerals can have a negative impact on the temperature and taste of your coffee as well as the machine’s water flow. If your Nespresso machine is not pumping water, it is because of this scale buildup.

Keep reading to learn more about how to descale your Nespresso machine, with step by step instructions for the VertuoPlus. To begin the process, you will need a descaling solution kit like one of those we review below.

How Often To Descale Nespresso VertuoPlus

In addition to weekly cleaning, Nespresso recommends you descale your VertuoPlus every 3 months or 300 capsules, whichever comes first. If your tap has “hard water,” meaning it contains higher level of minerals, then you should do this more frequently. If you are not sure about the level of minerals in your water, you can get a low-cost water testing kit.

The Nespresso VertuoPlus or VertuoPlus Deluxe has a light that will let you know that it is time to descale your machine. The light on your Nespresso will be half red and yellow, though it may look like a red and green light to some people. You can still use your machine a few times after this warning light turns on, but it’s best to descale soon as possible.

In my experience with my Vertuo Plus machine, I’ve found that the half red half green light usually doesn’t turn on every 3 months. I assume it is triggered by a certain number of brew cycles vs actually being able to sense when the internal components have mineral buildup. To be on the safe side, I descale every 3 months even if the half red half green light has not yet turned on.

If your Nespresso machine is not pumping water, that is another sign that it is time to descale your brewer. It takes around 20 minutes to finish the process. It cannot be stopped so be sure to start only once you have all of the supplies you need and have enough time to finish it.

Why Descaling Nespresso With Vinegar Is A Bad Idea

Nespresso warns that you should NOT descale your machine with vinegar. White vinegar contains 5-8% acetic acid. This specific type of acid can wear down metal and cause your machine to leak. As a result, using vinegar to descale your Nespresso can void the warranty on your machine.

nespresso descaling solution
nespresso descaling solution

Instead of damaging your machine by using vinegar, you can use one of these descaling kits to maintain your Nespresso VertuoPlus or VertuoPlus Deluxe. These kits contain safer and effective types of acids.

Nespresso VertuoPlus Descaling Solutions

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This is the official descaling solution kit made by Nespresso and the one that I use personally. Nespresso strongly recommends using only this descaler so I like using it because it makes me feel like I am protecting the investment I made in my machine. The primary cleaning agent in it is lactic acid. This descaling solution will gently eliminate the lime scale that has built up in your machine. Each pack contains 2 kits, so you’ll get two total uses out of it.

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Essential Values has a citric acid solution that is both odorless and powerful. Each bottle is good for two uses. A two pack will provide four doses. That’s a year supply if you descale your machine every three months. 

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The Impresa descaler is a top selling coffee machine descaler. It uses citric and sulfamic acids. Both are gentle on metal and aluminum. A pack has two bottles, each enough solution for two uses. That means four total uses, making this the best value generic descaler you can buy.

Nespresso Vertuo Plus Descaling Instructions

You need a descaling solution. Your user manual has directions on how to descale with a solution kit. If you would like to see an illustrated step by step on descaling Nespresso VertuoPlus, see pages 21-23 in the user manual.

Important note: You must complete each step within 2 minutes of the previous step. If you do not, the VertuoPlus will exit descale mode.

  1. Turn the unit on by pressing the button.
  2. Eject any used capsule. Push the lever down to close the lid.
  3. Push the lever for 3 seconds to turn the unit off. Empty the cup support and capsule container.
  4. Add the solution and water to the tank, following the steps on your kit. For the Nespresso descaler, you should use one packet and 0.5L or 17 fl oz of water. Do not add too much water otherwise you will make the solution too weak.
  5. While the machine is off, push the button and lever down at the same time for 3 seconds. The machine will turn on and you’ll be in the special functions menu. The light should be a steady orange.
  6. Press the lever down one time in the next 2 minutes. A blinking orange light will come on.
  7. Place a 20 fl oz bowl under the coffee outlet.
  8. Click on the button to start descaling. It will stop when the process is done. The tank should be completely empty.
  9. Empty and rinse the water tank and cup support. Then fill the tank with fresh water and put it back.
  10. Push the button again to rinse. It will stop when it is complete. Make sure the water tank runs dry. Do not stop the rinse cycle early.
  11. Press the button and the lever down for 3 seconds to exit descaling mode. The light should turn green.
  12. Let the machine sit and dry for 10 minutes before use.

What To Do If the Nespresso Red And Yellow Light Stays On After Descaling?

The descale light should auto reset if you followed the steps all the way through without interruption. You shouldn’t have to do anything. If the VertuoPlus Nespresso red and yellow light stays on, you may be wondering why your vertuo coffee maker is stuck in descaling mode. If your machine is relatively new or if you’ve taken good care of it in the past, there could be a simple solution.

  • Did you wait longer than 2 minutes in between any steps noted above?
  • Did you press the button and the lever down for 3 seconds to exit descaling mode?
  • Did you stop either the descale or rinse cycle before the tank was completely empty?

Most people usually make the mistake of waiting more than 2 minutes between steps or not letting the tank empty completely. If you think either of these apply to your situation, you can just run another cycle using only water (no descaling solution); the machine won’t know the difference.

However, if you have not been cleaning your coffee maker regularly, it would not be surprising if extra scale has built up inside your machine. Take a look at the questions below. If you answer yes to any of them, you’ll need to repeat the steps at least one or two more times using the descaling solution.

  • Have you been ignoring the descale light for a while?
  • Has it been a lot longer than 3 months since you last descaled?
  • Do you have really hard water?

How To Reset Vertuo Plus Nespresso Red And Yellow Light

Did you answer no to all of the questions above? If so, open and close the lid and see if that makes the light turn off. If not, you may need to reset it. Follow these steps:

  • Press the lever down for three seconds to turn it off.
  • Enter factory settings mode by pushing the button and the lever down together for three seconds.
  • A steady orange light will turn on to confirm that you are in the Special Functions menu.
  • Press the lever down three times to return to factory settings. Push the button to confirm.
  • An orange light will blink fast 3 times and then turn to a steady green, at which point the it is ready to use.
Nespresso Vertuo Plus red light

For future reference, save this page for a guide to other red light alerts your coffee maker may display.

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