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How to Descale and Clean a Keurig (Vinegar vs Solution)

Uh-oh, your Keurig coffee maker isn’t working right. Maybe your coffee is weak or cold or has an off-taste. Sounds like it’s time to learn how to descale your Keurig.

Luckily, using this guide, the process couldn’t be easier. A few quick steps and some handy pro tips, and you’ll have your favorite Keurig coffee back in no time.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Dish soap
  • Clean cloths
  • White vinegar or Keurig descaling solution
  • Clean, fresh water
  • Large mug

AT A GLANCE

TIME

45 minutes to 4 hours

NOTE

For the descaling process, you can choose either vinegar or Keurig descaling solution. Vinegar is cheaper, but the descaler is more effective, faster, and guarantees you won’t have any lingering vinegar tastes or odors.

How Do You Descale a Keurig Coffeemaker?

Descaling your Keurig is an essential part of keeping it running efficiently. The same goes for similar coffee makers. It’s a super-easy job. Just follow these Keurig cleaning instructions.

STEP 1: Clean the coffee maker

Unplug the machine and remove the water filter if you have one.

Pro Tip: If your Keurig coffee maker has a water filter, change it every 2 to 3 months.

Wash all the removable parts of the coffee maker in warm soapy water, including the drip tray, water reservoir and lid, and the K cup holder. 

Rinse thoroughly.

Clean the piercing needle with the special Keurig tool and wipe the machine’s exterior with a damp cloth. 

Reassemble the machine with all the removable parts such as the drip tray, pod holder, leaving out the water filter.

STEP 2: Descale the Keurig

We recommend descaling every 3 to 6 months, or more, if the coffee machine is getting heavy use or your home has hard water (1).

Impurities in water, and use of harder waters, can result in calcification and buildup on interior components of your coffee machine that affect taste.

Lucky for you, we have a solution:

Pro Tip: To find out if your home’s water has high mineral content (hard), fill a clear container with water, add a few drops of soap, and shake vigorously. If it fails to get sudsy, then you probably have hard water.

Here’s a quick video:

How to clean Keurig with descaling solution

Pour the entire bottle of descaling solution into the reservoir, then add an equal amount of clean, fresh water.

Put the large mug under the spout, run a brew cycle, and discard the hot water. Repeat the process until the reservoir is empty.

Let the brewer stand for 30 minutes with the power on.

Remove the water reservoir and rinse it thoroughly, up to 10 times, to make sure no descaling solution remains. Reinstall the water reservoir and the water filter if you have one, and let them air dry.

How to clean Keurig with vinegar

Fill the reservoir with a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water. Then run brew cycles until it’s empty, as with the descaling solution.

Let the machine stand with the power on for 4 hours, rather than 30 minutes.

After rinsing the water reservoir thoroughly, refill it with fresh water and run brew cycles until it is empty. This extra step makes sure to get rid of any leftover vinegar taste or smell.

Pro Tip: If your Keurig doesn’t have an automatic reminder to descale, be sure to note the date of descaling in your calendar.

How to descale a Keurig
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Final Thoughts

Similar to what Keurig recommends, we suggest to descale your machine every three to six months. If you make sure to do so, it can make a big difference in the quality of your K cup of coffee and the longevity and efficiency of your machine. Now that you know how quick, easy, and inexpensive it is, you can now brew a cup and enjoy delicious java for years to come!

FAQs

The descale light means water is not flowing normally through your Keurig. This is often the result of limescale buildup, which you can fix by descaling. It would be best if you did it regularly.

If you don’t descale your Keurig, it won’t work correctly as the water flow will be disrupted. Brewing will take longer, and the machine may sound louder. It can also impact the taste and temperature of your coffee.

Compared to Nespresso, Keurig machines are less expensive and make larger, weaker coffee. Keurig’s plastic K Cups also end up in landfills more than Nespresso’s recyclable aluminum capsules.

  1. Clayton, L. (2019, May 22). How to Descale Your Automatic Coffeemaker; and Why You Should. Retrieved from https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2014/03/automatic-coffee-maker-descale-how-to-clean.html
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I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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