How to Clean a Keurig

Cleaning a Keurig machine can be a lengthy chore that usually happens once in a blue moon… or it can be a super short and easy chore that you do once every week or two.

I’ve cleaned a number of Keurigs in my day and I know exactly what doesn’t work, what does work, and what works best.

In this guide we’ll cover in depth:

  • the process of cleaning out your K-Cup puncture needles so that clogs don’t happen and you get good flavor extraction
  • the process of descaling your water lines inside the machine with either dedicated descaling products or DIY household products
  • the internal cleaning of any and all coffee oils, grounds, or spills that lead to the buildup of bacteria and mold

You would be shocked at how gross the inside of a Keurig can get if you neglect to clean it out.

I’ve prepared this document for you in PDF form so that you can print it out for easier reference while working on your machine.

To get the PDF just drop your email address into the box below and I’ll get you your copy of the guide right away.

You can also expect to receive periodic emails that I know most Keurig owners will find helpful.

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Here are a few additional articles on the site that may be of interest to you. These are not formatted for PDF download so feel free to jump straight into the content.

You can also see why I think the most expensive Keurig sold today is not my favorite Keurig model here.

How to Clean a Coffee Maker With Vinegar
There are plenty of coffee maker cleaning and descaling products on the market, we’ve even reviewed the best coffee maker cleaners but there’s no doubt that vinegar is a popular option due to it’s disinfecting abilities, low cost, and food-safe benefits.

Why do I have to clean my Keurig?

There are several reasons as to why one might want to clean their Keurig. While the reasons may vary from person to person, there are naturally some of these are that much more common than some others. The main reasons as to why people usually clean their Keurigs are as follows:

  • It often happens that after being used for a really long time, the machine starts to give off a strange odor. This is generally the strongest indication of the fact that the machine needs to be cleaned, and this is the main reason as to why people usually clean their Keurigs.
  • Of course, not cleaning it for a long time makes it comparatively less hygienic, which by itself should be reason for just about everyone to clean it, and do that timely.
  • Finally, the machine’s overall durability also reduces because not cleaning it ultimately makes it run in a way and condition it’s not supposed to, increasing the overall wear and tear.

However, it must be kept in mind that while all of these are indispensable situations, it is still always the best option to clean your machine in a timely manner before any problems arise. That is something that we should all stick to, and that is what Gamble Bay Coffee recommends, because we believe that the first consideration is the one of health!

The need of being careful while cleaning.

Cleaning, though seemingly a minor thing, is actually a pretty major thing, because you expose your machine and thus yourself to several sorts of contamination. This makes it really important that you actually pay attention to the fact that you pay utmost care and attention when cleaning your machine.

So, for the sake of your health, which comes above everything else, please don’t forget to pay attention when you’re actually cleaning your machine. Take some time off other things that aren’t too important, and try to focus on following the steps properly and using the right things in the right way.

Related – If you’re serious about your coffee, don’t miss our guide to maintaining a super-clean coffee maker. Your taste buds will thank you!

How to clean my Keurig?

Well, there aren’t a whole lot of ways to clean your Keurig, to be really honest. There are only a handful, and even these mostly rely on just different ingredients for the same overall thing! Anyway, we’re going to present to you the most sensible method that you can use in order to clean your Keurig.

At the same time, we are also going to give you the best alternatives so that you can choose among them based on what seems to be the most reasonable to you, alright? So here are the main steps that you would like to follow!

Step 1: Turn off the power

The first thing that you might want to do is turn off the power to the machine. Safety must always be the primary concern, and you must always keep this in mind. So, before you start to do anything with any electronic appliance, don’t forget to turn off the power to it!

So, first of all, please turn off the power to the Keurig.

Step 2: Start with the water reservoir/tank

The water reservoir is one of the most overlooked parts, and so it’s really important that you begin with it. You might want to clean it with a soft cloth after emptying it and you might want to carefully clean as much of it as you can without damaging it. If your hand does not reach far into it, it is alright, don’t pry, because you don’t want to end up damaging it while cleaning!

Step 3: Descale the Brewer: Phase 1

Now, what you need to descale your machine is either the Keurig Descaling Solution or, as some people recommend, distilled vinegar (white).

First, you have to turn your machine on, and then you have to put in about one third (1/3) of the bottle of Keurig Descaling Solution or around 1 tablespoon of vinegar, if that’s what you chose. Now, after placing a comparatively larger mug in the drip tray, since you don’t want anything extra to splatter all over your table or counter-top, hold up the handle for about 5 seconds and then pull it back down, and push and hold the brew button until the machine starts the dripping.

Keep in mind: Do not use a K-Cup, do it while that slot is empty.

Step 4: Descaling it entirely

This part is simple if you did the last part carefully. You just have to repeat it all, except that you don’t make the solution come out this time. Instead, you let it sit inside for about half an hour or so, so as to ensure that the inside is properly descaled. This is a really important part of the whole cleaning thing.

Step 5: Cleaning up

Now, you might be wondering how this method is useful if you use vinegar, because the stench would remain there and would make several subsequent coffee sessions comparatively bad. But there’s no reason to worry, because you don’t have to let it remain that way.

There is a very simple way of removing that smell. All you have to do is run the machine, without any K-Cup, a couple of times, with fresh, filtered water. After doing it for about three times or so, you’ll realize that the smell is almost gone! So there would probably be no problem the next time you make coffee with it!

Step 6: Ensuring it all went well

When it all goes well, you might want to make coffee once to ensure that it all went well. If everything went well, the machine should be good as new and so should the coffee be. If some kind of problem still persists, you might want to think over it, because if you followed all the steps properly, it doesn’t seem to be because of cleaning.

Gamble Bay Coffee is here for you!

And as usual, please keep in mind that Gamble Bay Coffee is always here for you. We are always here for you to guide you on how you might be able to get the best machine and keep it in the perfect condition all the time. For example, in today’s article, we tried to show you how you might be able to clean your Keurig to continue making coffee that’s as good as it used to be when you bought the machine!

Now, we would like to thank you for being with us till this point. We thank you for reading the article entirely and attentively. We understand that despite our best attempts, we might have missed something, or that you might still have some queries for us. As we remarked earlier, we’re always here for you- and we love to hear from you! So, if you have any such things to ask us, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. We promise to try our best to help you find the best solution or answer for your query, so please do not think twice before reaching out to us!

How To Clean A Keurig K-Cup Machine

If you are anything like me, when you got your Keurig, you promptly unboxed it and put it on your counter without a lot of thought about reading the instructions. I know I looked at the small booklet and saw that there is a cleaning regimen but after my first cup of coffee, I forgot all about it.

If oil changes for cars are crucial, it goes without saying that regular maintenance and cleaning of your Keurig is just as important. Trust me; you don’t want to put a pod in and find that your whole machine has gone belly up when your morning caffeine fix is on the line.

If you use your machine once or twice a day, once every 3-6 months is probably fine. But if you use it more often, like in an office setting, once a month is the recommended frequency.

We really recommend people regularly use these cleaner k-cups but even if you choose to use vinegar you will still need to learn how to disassemble part of your machine to keep it running it’s best.

It is also quite simple. And regular cleaning will ensure that you are getting the best tasting coffee possible.

As a side note, you should wash your reservoir out at least once a week with hot soapy water and then dry it  thoroughly. Your water can get quite nasty in there if you just keep adding water to and never remove and clean it. Take my word for it, I once forgot to do it one week and went to clean it the next, and it was really slimy.

What To Use In Your Machine

There are several ways to fully clean your Keurig, we are going to cover a few of the ways in this post.

If you don’t mind the smell, vinegar is a cost-efficient and moderately acceptable descaler for your machine. You can use it full strength or dilute it by 50% with water. It does have a peculiar odor that does tend to fill your home so if that is a turn-off, there are better and more efficient descaler solutions. A 50% dilution is plenty if you want to use vinegar.

Keurig sells their own proprietary descaler, and other companies like Urnex, also make one for a little less that is good for 3 uses per bottle. These descalers are alkaline cleansers that work much like the detergents you use in your dishwasher or washing machine.

What To Do And How To Do It

Disassemble And Clean

The first thing you are going to do is unplug your machine. Just do it, it’s safer.

Take out the water reservoir and cover, the drip tray and its cover, and then open the top and remove the K-Cup portion holder.

Take the portion cup apart, separating the funnel from it. You can wash all of these in warm soapy water and dry well. Keurig says that the portion cup and funnel are top rack dishwasher safe, just make sure to wash the reservoir and cup rest by hand.

Next, take a clean paper clip and unfold one end and insert into the bottom of the K-Cup portion holder where the exit needle is.

Disclaimer, please be careful with the needles, they are sharp.

You can move the paper clip around in a circle to dislodge any particles or coffee grounds.

The final step is to insert the paper clip into the holes of the entry needle at the top of your brewer and move it around gently. Keurig brewers vary, but most have 2 holes in the entry needle, but some have 3. This is also a sharp needle so have a care and don’t poke yourself.

Once finished, put the portion cup back together by lining up the tabs on the side. Then put it back into your machine by lining up the tabs and marks and then finally lowering the lever all the way down. Replace the reservoir and fill with clean cold water and plug your machine in again. You can now run two cycles of water through to rinse out your machine; this will force any debris you dislodged out so don’t be surprised if there is some debris in the water.

If this is too much of a process for you, Urnex sells a cleaning cup pod that cleans the needles of the K-Cup holder. You can use a Urnex Clean Cup Pod once a week. It acts as a scale inhibitor if used this often and you won’t have to use a paperclip to clean your machine’s needles. If you have a broken machine, chances are, this cleaning procedure with the paper clip can often fix most machines and is Keurig’s go to cleaning measure fix.

If you want more visual help, Keurig has a great video to walk you through cleaning the needles.

Descale With Vinegar

After cleaning the needles, the next process is to descale the entire machine. The cheapest and most readily available descaler is vinegar. It is an acid that can dissolve mineral deposits and is fairly inexpensive.

Empty your reservoir and fill your machine halfway with vinegar and the rest of the way with cold water. Brew a 10 oz cup into a large mug without using a K-Cup until the entire solution has been run through the machine. Emptying the mug after each brew. Then empty the remaining amount and rinse it.

Fill your machine with clean cold water and run 12 brewed rinses of water through. You are now ready to use your machine again.

I tested this amount of rinses through my Keurig, and it worked. I used baking soda to check if there was any vinegar in it and there was a negligible amount of fizzing. The whole process took about 20 minutes from start to finish. You could do more than 12 rises if you want to be sure you have completely removed the vinegar.

Descale With A Keurig Or Other Descaler

If you would rather use a recommended descaling solution, the process is very similar.

Turn the machine off. If using the Keurig descaler, you must put the entire bottle into the reservoir then fill the bottle with cold water and pour it into the reservoir. Urnex only requires a third of the bottle in contrast, and then you fill the reservoir the rest of the way with water.

Turn the brewer back on and place a large mug under the machine. Brew a 10 oz portion into the mug, pour the contents out and repeat until the machine asks for more water.

At this point, Keurig says to let the machine sit for 30 minutes while still on. After 30 minutes, pour out the reservoir and rinse. Refill with clean cold water and run 12 rinse cycles through. Again, I think 12 is the minimum; it wouldn’t hurt to run a few more through after.

Cleanliness Is Close To … Good Coffee

Once you have a clean machine, you can rest assured that you have extended the life of your machine. It is also extremely important from a health standpoint. Your coffee should also taste better because old coffee grounds can get stuck and taint the taste of your newly brewed coffee.

And while it may take a bit of time to complete, it is best to do it often so that you don’t have to go out and buy another machine because you failed to clean it.

We hope this post reminded you to clean your machine and that it helped to demystify the whole process.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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