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Guide: How to Clean a Keurig® Coffee Maker

Just when you are desperate for a cup of coffee – the descale light on your Keurig® illuminates. Or your brewer starts to do odd things like make a partial cup. Good news, these issues are usually solved by cleaning or descaling your unit. But, who wants one more chore? After all, you bought a Keurig® to make your life easier! Don’t worry, if you follow these simple steps, it will take very little time to clean your Keurig® brewer. Plus, your coffee will taste better, and your machine will last longer.

keurig k1500 coffee maker

How to Clean a Keurig® Coffee Maker

First, clean the exterior. The outside of your brewer should be kept sanitary. I have this on my chore list to do once a week. However, the frequency is completely based on how much your unit gets used. 

  1. Wipe down the entire brewer with a soft, damp cloth.
  2. Clean touchpoints with disinfectant. This includes the brew handle, buttons, and screen.
  3. Next, remove the drip tray and wash it by hand with warm soapy water (never in the dishwasher) and allow it to air dry.
  4. Remove the water reservoir and lid and clean both by hand.  Do not dry the interior of the water reservoir. Doing so may leave lint behind that will then end up in your coffee.

If you see grinds in your coffee, you should also clean the brew needle. The brew needle is the part that punctures the K-Cup® pod when you make a cup of coffee. Sometimes, it can become clogged. Clogged brew needles are especially common if you make tea and hot cocoa. Or if you use a My K-Cup® coffee filter.

removing drip tray from keurig coffee maker

How to Clean Keurig® Needle 

  1. Perform a water-only cycle by lifting and lowering the handle without a K-Cup® pod inserted. 
  2. Place a mug on the drip tray.
  3. Press the brew button. 

Hot water will dispense into your mug. In doing so, it will clean the needle and loosen any debris. 

What does descale mean on a Keurig®?

According to Google, the definition of descale is, “to remove a coating, layer, or incrustation from: to free from scale.” Water contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a variety of other minerals. When you descale a Keurig® you are removing the mineral build-up that has accumulated inside the unit. 

How do you descale a Keurig®?

There are two different ways to descale a Keurig®. Both need a descaling agent to assist in removing the mineral build-up. In the first method, you can use distilled white vinegar. This process may require extra rinse time to eliminate the taste and smell of the vinegar. As an alternative, you can use the Keurig® descaling solution. Keep reading to learn how to use both.

pushing brew button on keurig coffee maker

How to clean a Keurig® coffee maker with vinegar 

First and foremost, when we say “vinegar” we are referring to distilled white vinegar – not apple cider vinegar. Distilled white vinegar is a safe, all-natural cleaner that has been used in homes for years. It is extremely effective at removing mineral buildup on most surfaces. 

Directions

  • Power off and unplug your brewer.
  • Empty the water reservoir.
  • If you have a filter, remove it and set it aside. 
  • Pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into the water reservoir. 
  • Fill the rest of the way with fresh water.
  • Run a water-only brew cycle repeatedly until the reservoir is empty.
  • Disable the auto-off feature on your brewer if applicable. 
  • Allow the brewer to sit idle for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
  • Next, fill the water reservoir with water and run a water-only brew cycle a minimum of 12 times or until any trace of the vinegar is gone.
  • If you use a water filter you may replace it now. 

How to clean a Keurig® without vinegar – use Keurig® descaling solution 

To avoid the taste and smell of vinegar in your coffee, use Keurig® descaling solution instead. Cleaning with descaling solution is similar to the vinegar process with a few minor adjustments. 

  • Power off and unplug your brewer.
  • Empty the water reservoir.
  • If you have a filter, remove it and set it aside. 
  • Pour the entire bottle of descaling solution into the water reservoir. 
  • Fill the bottle with fresh water and pour it into the reservoir.
  • Run a water-only brew cycle repeatedly until the reservoir is empty.
  • Disable the auto-off feature on your brewer if applicable. 
  • Allow the brewer to sit idle for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
  • Next, fill the water reservoir with water and run a water-only brew cycle a minimum of 12 times.
  • If you use a water filter you may replace it now. 

How to Descale a Keurig® Mini

 
Watch this video to learn how to descale a Keurig® Mini coffee brewer:

Descale your Keurig® Mini brewer every 3-6 months.

Cleansing Rinse

  • Turn off and unplug your brewer before you begin.
  • Pour ⅓ of the descaling solution or ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar into the water reservoir.
  • Add water to the 10-ounce fill level.
  • Place your mug on the drip tray.
  • Lift and lower the handle (do not add a K-Cup® pod).
  • Press the brew button.
  • When the brew button is complete, discard the hot contents into the sink.

Internal Tank Soak

  • Repeat the cleansing rinse process. This time, when the brew indicator light turns solid, power off the brewer as it dispenses.
  • Let the brewer stand for at least 30 minutes.
  • Press and hold the brew button until the solution begins to dispense. Continue to hold the button until the reservoir is empty.
  • Discard the hot contents into the sink.
  • Perform a cleansing brew using 12 ounces of fresh water (do not add descaling solution or vinegar).
  • Repeat this step two more times.
hands on kitchen counter holding a dark brown coffee mug

How often to clean a Keurig® 

You should clean your coffee maker at least every three months. However, you may need to clean your unit more often if you are in a commercial setting or if you use non-filtered water. You should not use well or hard water in your unit. Anything other than filtered water has too many minerals and other dissolved solids that are certain to cause issues. 

How to turn off the descale light

The descale light should automatically turn off after you clean your Keurig® brewer. If it remains illuminated, you may need to repeat the cleaning process. This time, allow the vinegar or cleaning solution to sit in the coffee maker for at least 4 hours. If that does not work, try holding down the 8 and 10oz buttons at the same time (if your machine has them).

Additional resources:

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