How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - 2 simple ways

by Brooke Fryer 6 min read

Coffee cup that says Begin

K-Cup brewing is a wonderful thing - no grinding beans, no filters, and no mess. Simply pop in an Angelino’s pod of your choosing, press brew, and 60 seconds later, you’re enjoying a cup of your favorite brew. You can even conveniently pour it into a tumbler and take it with you wherever you go.

But, with coffee making made so simple, it can be equally as easy to forget about the maintenance of coffee makers. That’s right, coffee friends, if you want to continue brewing delicious coffee, you need to perform regular upkeep on your machine - including descaling a Keurig coffee machine.

What Is Descaling?

So, what is descaling exactly? The water you use is full of minerals and other elements that, over time, can build up a layer of limescale on the inside of your Keurig. When this happens, not only is the taste of your coffee affected, but it can severely impact the functionality of your machine. Solution? Descaling a Keurig machine - the process of removing pesky mineral build-up in your coffee maker.

How Often Should I Descale a Keurig Machine?

You should descale your Keurig once every three to six months, depending on the type of water you use regularly. Unfiltered tap water, for instance, will require descaling more often than that of bottled or filtered water. Keurig sells its own descaling solution, but luckily you also have 2 simple (and natural) ways to descale your Keurig coffee machine to choose from. You probably already have the ingredients in your pantry! Take a look below.

Get Ready to Descale a Keurig Coffee Maker

Before you can begin the descaling process, you need to do a small amount of prep work.

  • Remove any K-Cups from the K-Cup holder.
  • Deactivate the auto shut-off.
  • Empty the water reservoir.

Now, you’re all ready to start the descaling process!

keurig and coffee cup

How Do I Descale My Keurig Coffee Machine With Vinegar?

Cleaning with vinegar is the go-to choice for many American households, and it works amazingly well as a descaling solution for a Keurig coffee maker! Just follow these steps:

  1. Fill the water reservoir half-way with distilled white vinegar, and half-way with filtered water.
  2. Place a large mug under the spout.
  3. Begin a brew for a cup of hot water. When complete, pour down the drain and brew another cup of hot water/vinegar. Repeat this step until your Keurig machine asks for more water. Note: Smaller Keurig machines that don’t have a removable reservoir should be turned off as brew begins so that water will remain inside the machine.
  4. Allow the remaining water and vinegar to sit for 4 hours inside the reservoir.
  5. When the 4 hours is up, pour the remaining vinegar solution down the drain and clean your water reservoir with soap and water.
  6. Fill the reservoir with clean water and run hot water brew cycles until your tank is empty again. This is to clear the remaining vinegar from your machine. Note: For smaller machines, run a hot water brew through about 6 times to flush the remaining cleaning solution out and avoid a lingering vinegar taste in your coffee.
  7. Enjoy your clean Keurig machine!

How Can Baking Soda Help Me to Descale a K-Cup Machine?

If you decide to use white vinegar as your descaling solution for a Keurig coffee maker, you can optionally add some baking soda to achieve better results.

First, it will provide additional help in cleaning the calcium deposits, allowing you to descale a Keurig coffee maker more precisely. What's more, it will serve as an indicator letting you know whether all the vinegar passed through the machine during the fresh water rinse cycle.

In order to achieve that, when the cleaning cycle is complete, you need to sprinkle some baking soda into the cup. If you notice it's fizzing, it means there is still some vinegar left in the tank requiring a fresh water rinse so as to avoid an unpleasant taste in your next cup of coffee.

How Do I Clean My Keurig Machine With Citric Acid?

lemons

The use of citric acid to descale a Keurig coffee maker is another extremely effective method. Citric acid is naturally derived from certain fruits, and you can purchase it easily from your local grocery store. Here’s how to use it to clean a Keurig machine:

  1. To prepare your citric acid descaling solution, take 1 tbsp of citric acid and combine it with 4 cups of water. Note: Smaller Keurig coffee makers, like the K10 Mini, are suited better for 1 cup of citric acid descaling solution.
  2. Pour your citric acid and water solution into the machine’s empty water reservoir.
  3. Place a large mug under the spout.
  4. Begin a brew for a cup of hot water. When complete, pour down the drain and brew another cup of hot water/citric acid. Repeat this step until your Keurig asks for more water. Note: Smaller Keurig brewers that don’t have a removable water reservoir should be turned off as brew begins so that water will remain inside the machine.
  5. Allow the remaining water and citric acid to sit for 4 hours inside the reservoir.
  6. When the 4 hours is up, pour the remaining solution down the drain and clean your reservoir with soap and water.
  7. Fill the reservoir with clean water and run hot water brew cycles until your reservoir is empty again. This is to clear the remaining citric acid from your machine. Note: For smaller Keurig machines, run a hot water brew through about 6 times to flush the remaining descaling solution out.
  8. Enjoy your clean Keurig coffee maker!

How Do I Keep My Keurig Coffee Clean for Longer?

Even though descaling Keurig coffee makers is really easy and doesn't take too much time, the less frequently you have to take care of it, the better for you and your machine. In order not to have to descale your Keurig coffee pot more often than necessary, follow these simple tips:

  • To reduce calcium deposits, always use filtered water - especially if you live in an area with hard water.
  • Do not pour liquids other than clean and fresh water into the water reservoir.
  • Wash the inside of the reservoir with warm soapy water.
  • Remember to remove water from the reservoir after 3-4 days and refill it with fresh water.
A coffee machine preparing fresh espresso

Where Can I Find Instructions on How to Descale My Keurig Model?

No matter if you want to descale K-Express Keurig, an Elite model, or a different coffee machine from that producer, the procedure will look very similar. In all cases, you can use citric acid, white vinegar, or baking soda (or a dedicated Keurig descaling solution, if that is your preference).

If you want to know how to descale K-Elite Keurig or another particular model, you can find detailed instructions in the manual added to your device. However, remember that despite the producer always suggesting their original descaling agent, you can always use white vinegar solution or another natural method we mentioned above.

How Do I Clean Keurig Coffee Maker Completely?

Apart from remembering to descale your K-Cup machine on a regular basis, you should never forget to clean such elements of it as:

Brewer Needle

Above the K-Cup holder, there is a needle with two holes at its base, allowing the water to enter. Take a paperclip and carefully insert it into each of the holes and move it around to get rid of any grime or ground coffee that could interfere with the water flow.

Pod Holder

Dismantle the pod holder, and remove the bottom funnel portion. Gently scrape any coffee grounds out of the tube, and use warm soapy water to wash both pieces.

A woman holding a water reservoir of a coffee machine

Water Reservoir

The water reservoir of your Keurig coffee machine should be washed once a week with warm water and soap. To prevent any lint particles from getting inside, let the interior of the tank air dry.

Mug Stand

A mug stand can be cleaned in a dishwasher, but you can also simply wash it by hand in warm water with soap.

Exterior

To make the exterior of your Keurig machine look neat, use a soft cloth soaked in warm water with dish soap to wipe down the dust or other contaminants.

How Do You Descale a Keurig Coffee Maker - The Bottom Line

All in all, it is not hard to descale a Keurig coffee pot - you just need to follow a few simple steps that don't require too much time or effort. The manufacturer offers a dedicated descaling agent, but it is not obligatory for you to buy it.

Instead, you can use a natural descaling solution that you probably already have at home - white vinegar (preferably with a bit of baking soda) or citric acid. Moreover, to keep your coffee maker as clean as possible, you should also dismantle the elements like the mug stand or the water reservoir and wash them separately. In this way, you will keep your Keurig coffee machine at top performance and help to prevent its breakdowns.

When you're ready, browse Angelino's alternatives to K-cups, choose from classic, decaf, or flavored coffee (including coconut macaroon, chocolate raspberry truffle, or French vanilla, for example), and enjoy delicious coffee from your machine whenever you like!

Two women talking while drinking coffee

Sources:

How to Descale a Keurig Coffee Maker. Tip Bulletin. Accessed 7/25/2023.

How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker the Right Way. Real Simple. Accessed 7/25/2023.

How to Descale a Keurig. Wiki How. Accessed 7/25/2023.

How to Clean a Keurig—All You Need Is 30 Minutes and White Vinegar. Architectural Digest. Accessed 7/25/2023.



Also in Welcome to Angelino’s Blog

Surviving War to Best Coffee in Hawaii: Berta's American Dream Story
Surviving War to Best Coffee in Hawaii: Berta's American Dream Story

by Abby Marasigan 2 min read

Read More
How to Properly Steam Milk
How to Properly Steam Milk

by Anne Franklin 5 min read

Read More
How Long Does Coffee Last in the Fridge?
How Long Does Coffee Last in the Fridge?

by Anne Franklin 6 min read

Read More