The Keurig coffee maker has changed the way people brew coffee. To make sure your Keurig continues to deliver great-tasting coffee, you need to descale it regularly. With our handy step-by-step guide, you can keep your Keurig clean and in good working order.
You should descale your Keurig every three months and it takes about an hour to properly descale the machine.
Note: This is specifically about descaling. If you want to deep clean a dirty Keurig, also check out our guide on how to do it.
Step 1: Prepare your Keurig
Before you begin, this is a good time to quickly wash some of the components of your Keurig. Try to devote at least an hour to this preliminary step. Unplug the manufacturer, then remove the lid, mug tray, and K-Cup holder. Scrub the tray and stand with hot soapy water, then rinse and dry. Wipe down the cover and body of your Keurig with a damp, soapy cloth, then air dry these parts.
Once all components are dry, reassemble. Now the descaling process can begin.
Make sure to empty your machine and then clean a sink nearby to create plenty of space. Pour the water that is left in the water tank down the drain and make sure there is no K-cup left inside the infuser. Find a large mug to use for draining, and make sure no one will need their coffee solution for the next few hours.
Step 2: Prepare your descaler
Now you need an acidic descaler to go through your brewer so it can break down the calcium deposits. There are two popular descaling choices, with pros and cons.
Keurig descaling solution: Keurig sells its own descaling solution which you can purchase for around $ 15, which only lasts once. It’s a simple option that doesn’t require a lot of effort and by all accounts eliminates the scale. But according to customer reviews of the product, the solution tends to have a citrusy smell which can be very difficult to remove, and can even affect the taste of your coffee.
White vinegar: White vinegar is very cheap, readily available, and works great on a large scale. You will need at least several cups for a good clean, which means you may need to go out and buy more specifically for this project. Also it is vinegar, which means your kitchen or break room may smell that vinegar smell for a little while.
If you’re using the Keurig solution, you’ll want to empty the entire bottle into the tank, then fill the rest with clean water. For white vinegar, you want your reservoir to be half filled with vinegar and half with water – maybe even more vinegar than water for a really tough descaling job.
Step 3: Run your descaler through the Keurig
Set your Keurig for a normal, full cup of coffee – you can go taller if you have a thermos nearby, but a mug usually works best. (And again, make sure there’s no K-Cup inside.) Run the descaling solution through and wait for the cup to fill.
If your Keurig has a bad balance issue, it may not be able to fill a full cup even with the correct setting. It does not matter, the solution takes a little time to work. Continue to fill cup after cup and pour them down the drain. If you used the white vinegar solution, the part is really will start to smell like vinegar, but hang in there and continue until the tank is empty.
At the end, the water should flow more smoothly and fill the cups with a bit more ease. If you don’t notice any improvement, you can fill the reservoir with more solution and repeat the whole process, just to be sure.
Step 4: Rinse the Keurig with fresh water
Leave your Keurig stationary (while turned on) for about 30 minutes to allow the acid to completely dissolve any scale left inside the brewer. Then clean and wipe the tank thoroughly to remove all the vinegar and solution. When you are done, fill the water tank with clean water to start rinsing off the descaling solution completely.
Again, program the Keurig to make a full cup and run several cups of water into the brewer. Make sure to throw out each of these items. If your Keurig has a carafe setting, go ahead and select it, as this will keep the water flow constant. Once the tank is empty, fill it up and start the process again. We suggest that you fill the tank at least twice for successful cleaning of your Keurig. Before you start, make sure you can catch and throw out the water.
After cleaning the machine, test the taste of the water and see if you detect traces of descaler. You can never over-rinse your machine, so if you feel it isn’t clean enough, feel free to run the process as many times as needed.
If you read your Keurig instruction manual, you will notice that it recommends always using filtered or bottled water. This is important because tap water contains more minerals and other contaminants that can make tartar buildup worse. We recognize that the constant purchase of bottled water can get costly, so if you can’t do it, we recommend purchasing a filtered water jug specifically designed for your Keurig machine. Using filtered water will extend the life of your Keurig. We also believe that the expense of the filter is worth the investment, as it will ultimately save you time and money in the long run.