One of the key steps you can take to having great tasting K Cup coffee is to make sure your Keurig single serve coffee maker is cleaned on a regular basis.
Now we generally try to do this every three months or so and Keurig themselves recommend at least doing this cleaning process every six months (and the makers of Green Mountain Coffee know their coffee).
You can do the cleaning more often, but we have found it doesn’t result in any better tasting coffee and we tend to have better things to do with our time.
If descaling or a good clean of your brewer doesn’t address a particular problem you might be having, you might want to have a look at our article “Problem With Your Keurig Coffee Brewer?”, which has some of the more common problems, and solutions, that people have come across.
So on with the instructions in how to clean a Keurig.
Update: July 2, 2019
Since writing this guide some time ago we no longer recommend the use of vinegar in the cleaning of your brewer. Having looked into this more and having dealt with many questions on our site from readers with pump and solenoid failures, we believe a common cause of these faults is the use of vinegar in the descaling process. Vinegar is a corrosive agent for metal and electrical components and this cannot be good news for the more sensitive parts of your coffee machine.
What we have been using recently at home for our Keurig and other coffee machines is a product marketed by Keurig. This solution take all of the fuss out of the descale cycle and we believe are much kinder on the internal components of the machine. Priced at around $15.00 (at Amazon.com) they are more expensive compared to using some vinegar, but we feel money well spent compared to what other problems vinegar damage can cause.
So in the instructions below instead of using vinegar in any of the steps we use one of these cleaning tablets by placing it in the water reservoir and running it through the machine.
Things You Will Need
White vinegarKeurig Descaling Solution: and the most important ingredient is of course vinegarKeurig Descaling Solution, of which you will need about 48 – 90 ounces (depending on the size of your Keurig’s water reservoir). Any household vinegar will do the trick. We like to use the distilled ones and have found Heinz a good brand.
- 12 Oz Clean Mug: of course a clean one should be used and we find the glass ones the best as one can get a better idea of the quality of the rinse through. This helps to gauge how many cycles are going to be required. We like the Pyrex range.
- Timer: this will help us keep track of the drying process that takes around four hours. So a timer with an alarm is best and for us the bigger the number in setting it the better.
- Sink: did we mention a sink? Or something you can easily tip the contents from the brewer into from the rinse cycles. So get the kitchen bench clear of those dishes and have plenty of space around.
Three Easy Steps
Now that we have everything together we can start the descaling process. We’ll break this process down into three steps, being:
- Cleaning; and
- Step 1: turn the brewer on, and make sure you disable the auto-off feature. We don’t want it shutting down part way through the process. Consult your owners’ manual for your particular brewer.
- Step 2: empty any water that might be in the reservoir into the sink. If the water reservoir on your Keurig has an optional water filter, take it out for this process and put it to one side. Once everything is cleaned and rinsed thoroughly you can put the filter back in at the end of the descaling process.
- Step 1: fill the water reservoir to the top with white vinegar. I always like to let the vinegar sit here for a few minutes as it helps in the cleaning of the water reservoir too.
- Step 2: now take the large mug and place it on the drip tray and run a water only cycle, without a K-Cup pack in the portion pack holder. Tip the used vinegar in the mug into the sink and repeat the process until almost all the vinegar has been used or the “Add Water” message appears on your brewer.
- Step 3: OK, you can put your feet up from here for a few hours – well four hours to be precise. We need to let the brewing system stand for at least four hours. So set the timer and make sure the machine remains on for the drying process.
- Step 4: back after four hours? Hopefully you heard the timer alarm and we can carry on with the descaling. Tip any remaining water / vinegar from the water reservoir into the sink. Then rinse the water reservoir thoroughly with clean water (preferably use distilled water) to ensure any residue is disposed of. This make take a few rinses to make sure all the vinegar is removed from the reservoir.
- Step 1: fill the water reservoir with clean fresh water (again, you may wish to use distilled or filtered water).
- Step 2: place the large mug, we were using before, back on the drip tray and run another water only cycle (again without a K Cup portion pack in the holder). Pour the contents of the mug into the sink and repeat the process until all the water is used from the reservoir or the Add Water message is displayed on the brewer.
Sometimes this step needs to be repeated – there can be residual odors and/or taste. Remember though, it’s only vinegar and so small traces, if still present, are not harmful but rather just leave a rather bitter taste.
If the descale message is still present after these steps then repeat it. Sometimes, in particular if it’s been a long time since the last clean, a second process is needed. If the message comes up again after the second cycle then it’s probably time to call Keurig and have a chat. If you would like to get in touch with us then please use the Contact Us page and we can see what other steps you can take.
And that is it. Oh of course, we need to put the water filter back into the water reservoir before the first brew.