It’s essential to clean a Keurig because it can be a health hazard if not cleaned properly. Like any coffee maker (or espresso machine), Keurigs can grow mold if not properly drained, descaled and cleaned. Cleaning keeps mold and bacteria at bay but also removes the mineral buildup in the machine that affects the coffee taste and quality. A clean Keurig makes better-tasting coffee. These are the steps to clean the machine:
STEP NO. 1: Unplug the machine. Next, disassemble your Keurig, taking note of where things go. You should be able to remove the water reservoir and lid, the drip tray and the pod holder. Careful! You’ll see a pointy needle-like spike in the top assembly, which does not come off, so don’t try to remove it. In fact, be careful to avoid poking yourself.
STEP NO. 2: Thoroughly wash and dry the removable parts using hot, soapy water. Alternatively, you can run these parts through the dishwasher, a good idea if they are particularly skanky. In the meantime, using a damp, soapy microfiber or other dish cloth, clean and wipe down the machine’s exterior. Rinse and then buff dry using a microfiber or other towel.
STEP NO. 3: Reassemble the machine, making sure you get everything back into its proper place.
Next, it’s time to descale your Keurig. When you fill a Keurig reservoir with water with a high mineral content level, over time, this will result in a buildup of hardened calcium and mineral deposits, known as scale. That impacts the taste of your coffee but also prevents the machine from working properly. If it is not cleaned and descaled regularly, you should expect your Keurig to face a slow, painful death. But don’t worry, you can descale a Keurig using a few different methods.
It should be noted that the manufacturer recommends only one method to descale your machine: its proprietary Keurig Descaling Solution. You can purchase this online or possibly at the store where you purchased your machine.
Interestingly, the Keurig Descaling Solution is mostly citric acid, water and inert items like silica and bleaching agents. Hmmm …
There are two homemade options to effectively descale a Keurig machine that are definitely cheaper than the pricey stuff from the manufacturer, and possibly better and faster:
Citric acid offers a simple, homemade way to eliminate any scale formed in a Keurig. Prepare a citric acid solution by combining 1-2 tablespoons of citric acid (more or less depending on how long it’s been since you descaled your Keurig) with about 4 cups of water. Stir to dissolve, and then pour it into the water reservoir. Leaving the K-cup holder empty, place a coffee mug underneath the drainage spout, brew a cup of hot water, pour it out and repeat the step until the reservoir is emptied. Fill up the water reservoir with water a second time and keep brewing until there’s nothing left in the reservoir.
You can find citric acid at spice shops, in your grocer’s canning aisle or on Amazon.
Like citric acid, plain white vinegar is great for sanitizing a Keurig, and a simple, homemade way to get rid of any scale that’s formed. Fill the water reservoir to the halfway mark with plain white vinegar. Fill the other half with water. Begin the brew cycle, leaving the K-cup holder empty, and repeat until the entire reservoir is empty. Repeat by filling the reservoir with plain water to flush out the vinegar taste. Is there anything that vinegar can’t clean? Well, yes, there are a few things, but look at all the ways vinegar works so well to make your life easier!
The folks at Keurig say you should clean your machine once every three to six months. And that leaves a big question mark in my mind because three to six months is quite a range.
A better answer perhaps is to assess your use and the water source you use to brew coffee in your Keurig. If you make coffee several times a day and live with hard tap water, every three months is not often enough; you may need to descale once every month. Check routinely for hard water deposits and let that be your guide.
If, on the other hand, you use bottled water or have a reverse osmosis system, descaling every five to six months may be sufficient.