If you own a Keurig coffee maker, you know the drill: place your mug on the tray, pop in a pod, and push a button. As you never have to measure your grounds, it’s the easiest and most consistent way to brew a cup of coffee. But sometimes, a Keurig rebels: it pours really slow, or only fills up half of your cup — or even worse, refuses to fill it at all. When this happens, it’s a sign that it’s wash time. Without regular cleaning, a Keurig’s parts can clog up, preventing the machine from doing what it does best: speed-brew a delicious cup of coffee without any mess.
Fortunately, maintaining a Keurig is easy. Just follow this simple cleaning routine once a week and then, a just-as-simple descaling routine once every 3-6 months (more on this in just a bit) to ensure a perfectly brewed cup of coffee every single time.
Step 1: Make it safe and take it apart
After turning off the Keurig and unplugging it from the wall, take off its removable parts. Depending on which model of Keurig you own, this could include items such as the lid, tray, water reservoir, milk steamer and K-Cup holder (check your Keurig’s manual to be sure.) Now, remove the funnel from the K-cup holder.
Step 2: Use the paper clip to unclog the K-Cup holder
Poke your paper clip into the short tube underneath the K-cup holder. Wiggle it around to dig out any built-up gunk. Be careful since this is where the pod-piercing “exit needle” is.
Step 3: Use the paper clip to unclog the ‘entrance needle’
Carefully (sharp needle alert!) poke your paper clip into the two holes next to the entrance needle (toward the top of the machine) that punctures your K-Cup. Again, dig out any built-up gunk.
Step 4: Wash removable parts
Place the removable parts in a sink of warm, soapy water and gently clean them. If your Keurig is a model with dishwasher-safe parts, the top rack of a dishwasher is another way to go.
Step 5: Gently scrub stubborn spots
If there’s any stubborn grounds or stains that refused to clean up with soapy water, dip a soft toothbrush into white vinegar and gently scrub them off.
Step 6: Rinse and dry
Rinse the parts thoroughly and allow them to air dry before attaching them back to the machine. Don’t dry them with a towel, as they might collect lint.
Step 7: Give your Keurig a final wipe
Using a dry or slightly damp cloth, wipe down your machine, including the areas you just scrubbed, until it looks as good as new.
After cleaning, how to descale a Keurig
Descaling a Keurig machine—the process of removing calcium deposits, or ‘scale’—is important for several reasons. First, scale buildup will cause clogs that your weekly cleaning routine isn’t strong enough to clear. Clogs in a Keurig machine lead to bad, inconsistently brewed coffee. More importantly, the deep cleaning that your machine gets as you descale it helps to prevent bacteria and mold from growing inside of it. Descaling a Keurig doesn’t require a lot of preparation: a coffee mug, access to a sink, water and a bottle of Keurig Descaling Solution or white vinegar are all that you’ll need.
Before you start understand that, depending on which model of Keurig you own, the descaling process can take between 2–4 hours to complete. Fortunately, it a job that only needs to be done once every 3–6 months, depending on how often you use your machine. A more advanced model will alert you on its display when it’s time.
1. Start by emptying your Keurig
Pour out any water in your Keurig’s reservoir and remove the water filter. If your machine has one, and make sure the K-Cup holder is empty.
2. Next, pour descaling solution or white vinegar into the reservoir
If you are using Keurig Descaling Solution, pour the entire bottle into the reservoir. Next, fill the empty bottle up with water. Pour the water from the bottle into the reservoir.
No descaling solution? No problem: fill up the reservoir with a mixture of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water. For extra-heavy scale buildup the ratio can be 2/3 white vinegar to 1/3 water.
3. Set your mug on the tray and hit brew
Pretend that you’re brewing the worst cup of coffee, ever: Place a coffee mug on your Keurig’s tray. Move the machine’s handle up and down or push the start button, depending on which model of Keurig you own. hoose 6 or 10 ounces (depending on the size of the mug you’re using) and let the mug fill up with the cleaning solution.
4. Empty your mug in the sink and start again
Empty your full mug into the sink and “brew” another cup until the Keurig’s reservoir is empty. If you notice that the cleaning solution isn’t flowing out of the Keurig as strongly as you suspect it should be by the time your last mug of yuck has been served up, it likely means that scale buildup still remains. In this case, repeat Steps 2–4 before moving on.
5. Wait 30 minutes
Leave your machine on and let it rest for half an hour. Any residual calcium scale buildup will break down during this time.
6. Finally, rinse it out with fresh water
Thoroughly rinse and fill the reservoir up with fresh water. The inside of your Keurig needs a rinse before you start using it to make coffee again, too. To do this, hit brew and start filling and emptying your mug, just like you’ve been doing with your cleaning solution, until the reservoir is empty. Once the reservoir is empty, refill it one final time and brew hot water into your mug until the Keurig’s water supply is spent.
Congratulations! Your Keurig coffee maker is, now clean, descaled and ready to serve up perfect coffee once again!
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