How to Clean Your Keurig (Because You Probably Don’t)

It's the adult thing to do.

July 23, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

For way too many years as a young adult, I didn’t bother cleaning my coffee machine. I know: It’s embarrassing. I just didn’t really understand why I had to. My coffee tasted fine (or so I thought), and didn’t it basically clean itself each time water ran through it?

But recently, thanks to an impromptu decision to deep-clean my kitchen appliances, my life changed forever. The next day, I was shocked at how much greater my coffee tasted!

As it turns out, Keurigs and drip coffee makers can get mineral build-up in their inner workings, not to mention harbor all sorts of harmful bacteria (yeah, gross), which will not only make your brew taste weird, but will also compromise the lifespan of the appliance (and your health!).

Bottom line? If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned it, your Keurig probably needs to be cleaned. Here’s how to do it the right way—your mornings will never be the same again.

How to Descale a Keurig

The process of cleaning the inner workings of a coffee machine is often called descaling. (“Scale” is another term for calcium deposits, which build up in the pipes of your Keurig over time.)

What You’ll Need:

Step 1: Prepare the Machine

First, you’ll want to unplug your Keurig and take off the water reservoir. Empty it out, then remove the water filter.

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Top Comment:
“The Keurig descaling solution is mostly citric acid, I think. You can get powdered citric acid at your local Indian grocery for less than $2. I've found it does a great job of cleaning out the Keurig without the lingering smell of vinegar.”
— tinybanquet

Pro tip: Sync up your filter-changing schedule with your descaling schedule to make maintenance easier. Filters should be changed every two months or 60 tank refills.

Step 2: Fill the Reservoir

If you’re using vinegar to clean your machine, fill the water reservoir about halfway with white vinegar, then fill the rest with water. If you’re using descaler, pour the whole bottle into the tank, then fill up the rest of the way with water.

Step 3: Run the Machine Multiple Times

Plug your machine back in and turn it on. Place the ceramic mug underneath the spout, then start the brew cycle using the largest setting your cup can accommodate—the larger the cup, the faster the process will go. You’ll want to run these cycles without a K-cup in the machine.

Once the brew is finished, empty the cup into your sink, then run another cycle. Repeat until the water tank is empty.

Step 4: Let It Rest

Let your machine rest for 30 minutes so the inner workings can soak. You can leave the power on for this step.

Step 5: Rinse with Fresh Water

Remove the reservoir and rinse it out. Fill it with fresh water, then run a few more cycles to remove any lingering vinegar taste.

If you’re using descaling solution, Keurig recommends running at least 12 more cleansing brews to ensure all the chemicals are removed. Wondering how often to descale a Keurig? The manufacturer recommends every three months.

Team Coffee

Cleaning Every Part of Your Keurig

It’s just as important to clean the outside of your Keurig. Here’s how to clean every part of your coffee maker:

Pod Holder

Remove the pod holder from the machine, and detach the bottom funnel portion. Use a paperclip to gently scrape any coffee grounds out of the tube on the pod holder, then wash both pieces with warm, soapy water.

Brewer Needle

The needle above the K-Cup holder has two holes at its base where water comes in. Gently insert a paperclip into each hole and move it around to dislodge any grounds or grime that may be blocking water flow.

Mug Stand

This piece is top-rack dishwasher safe, but you can also wash it by hand using warm, soapy water.


You should wash out your Keurig reservoir once a week using warm, soapy water. Let the interior of the tank air dry to avoid getting any lint particles in it.


Wipe down any exterior parts using a soft cloth, dish soap, and warm water.

How to Cleanse Between Cups

Have you ever noticed that if you make, say, a cup of hot cocoa in your Keurig, the next cup of coffee kind of tastes like chocolate? Flavors can carry over between brews, and if you want to prevent this, you need to use the Keurig Rinse Pods. They look just like regular K-Cups, but all they do is wash out any lingering flavors.

Keurig recommends using a Rinse Pod weekly. Just pop one into the machine and run an 8-ounce brew cycle. You’ll then want to run a cycle with fresh water before you make your next cup of coffee. Which, naturally, will be amazing.

When’s the last time you cleaned your coffee maker? Let us know in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • BeeBait
  • Susan Gray
    Susan Gray
  • Melissa Snell
    Melissa Snell
  • tinybanquet
  • Monica Bland
    Monica Bland


BeeBait July 25, 2019
I put a post-it note on the back of my coffee maker with a cleaning date. Much like when you get your car oil changed and they put a little due date sticker in your window. When I go to fill the reservoir I see the post-it...
Susan G. July 25, 2019
I have the simple Keurig that does not have a reservoir. What are the instructions for cleaning?
Melissa S. July 25, 2019
I just want to know what that pink mug is in the picture, PLEASE!!
Monica B. July 26, 2019
Monica B. July 26, 2019
Found it! seems to be new so maybe will be more available in coming months.
tinybanquet July 23, 2019
The Keurig descaling solution is mostly citric acid, I think. You can get powdered citric acid at your local Indian grocery for less than $2. I've found it does a great job of cleaning out the Keurig without the lingering smell of vinegar.