turquoise keurig coffee machine with cream sugar on white countertop

How to Clean Your Keurig Machine and How Often You Should

If your Keurig coffee machine serves up multiple cups daily, you definitely need to read this post. While drinking coffee has health benefits, using your Keurig machine daily without routine cleaning and maintenance can lead to awful consequences.

turquoise keurig coffee machine with cream sugar on white countertopPhoto: TheKitchen, JoeLingeman

Cleaning Your Keurig is a Must

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 (Nespresso, etc.) makes better-tasting coffee.

How to Clean a Keurig

Wash removable parts and reassemble

First, unplug the machine. Next, disassemble your Keurig taking note of where things go. While there are many Keurig models, 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.

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 microfiber or other dish cloth, clean and wipe down the machine’s exterior with a damp, soapy cloth. Rinse then buff dry using a microfiber or other towel.

Reassemble the machine making sure you get everything back into its proper place.

How to Descale a 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 just up and slow, painful death. But don’t worry, you can descale a Keurig using a few different methods:

Keurig Descaling Solution

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 liquid is mostly citric acid, water, and inert items like silica and bleaching agents. Hmmm….

DIY Keurig Descaling

There are two homemade options to effectively descale a Keurig machine that are definitely cheaper than the pricey stuff from the manufacturer, and quite possibly better and faster, too.

Citric acid

Citric acid offers a simple homemade way to eliminate any scale formed in a Keurig. Prepare a citric acid solution by combining one to two tablespoons of citric acid (more or less depending on how long it’s been since you descaled your Keurig) with about four cups of water. Stir to dissolve, 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. Then check out more ways to use citric acid to clean and brighten your home.


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!


How Often Should I Descale My Keurig?

The general answer from the folks at Keurig: Once every 3 to 6 months. And that leaves a big question mark in my mind because 3 to 6 months is quite a range.

A better answer 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 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 (RO) system, descaling every five to six months may be sufficient.


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9 replies
  1. Cally R Ross says:

    There’s a replaceable filter in the bottom of my Keurig water reservoir that should not be involved in the vinegar process… I learned the hard way to remove it before running vinegar.

  2. Karla says:

    I have used the vinegar method on my Keurig, not as often, but when the descale light comes on. I usually make only 1-2 cups almost daily and one of my Keurigs has been going for close to 10 years and the other one maybe 7-8 years (used infrequently in our 2nd home). Not going to spend $23 on cleaning solution when i can do it for pennies!

  3. Deb R says:

    Rather than pouring the used vinegar down the drain after it goes through the Keurig, I pour it back in the bottle, put it by my washing machine, and use it in the rinse water for my towels.


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