Plus, here's how to know when it's time to give the appliance a good scrub.

By Karla Walsh
October 20, 2020
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There's a lot to love about the pod life. It makes getting your daily java fix uber-easy and much cheaper than the coffee shop competition. Plus, by the end of 2020, 100 percent of Keurig K-Cup pods will be recyclable.

But brewing the best cup of Keurig coffee does require a little bit of work: Your machine needs to be cleaned regularly to run at full steam and taste as incredible as the first cup you made in it.

Before we dive into how to clean a Keurig, here's how to tell that it might be time to give the appliance a good scrub:

  • You notice any "off" smells reminiscent of mildew
  • You spy mineral building up on any parts of the coffee maker
  • Your cup is not full
  • Your coffee takes noticeably longer than before to brew
Credit: Keurig

Most of these issues arise as the result of hard water buildup, which can be less of an issue if you follow Keurig website instructions: "We don't recommend the use of softened water or distilled water. Bottled or spring water works best when brewing with your Keurig."

This will likely lengthen the timespan between cleanings. Used as an average coffee fan might, it's best to clean the exterior of your Keurig once each week (or more if it gets splattered on). "Descale," or eliminate that mineral build-up on the interior, every 3 months or so. There is an indicator light that should notify you when it's time to spiff up the inside of your Keurig, but you'll likely be about to tell based on the steps mentioned above. Replace the filter every 2 months.

Credit: Amazon

Buy it: Keurig K-Select Coffee Maker ($109.99, amazon.com)

How to Clean a Keurig

Follow these manufacturer instructions for how to clean a Keurig (with a few bonus tips from those of us who have been there, tidied that.).

Exterior

Wipe off all surfaces with a wet soap sudsed cloth. Carefully remove the drip tray, dump it out, wipe it off, and slide it back into position.

Interior

  1. Unplug the Keurig machine and allow it to cool if it's still warm.
  2. Loosen any possible clogs from the needle that pierces the pods and the needle below the pod holder using a clean paperclip.
  3. Remove the parts of the Keurig machine you can take off, including the water reservoir and lid, mug stand, and K-cup holder. Wash these items in warm, soapy water and allow them to dry.
  4. Replace all these now-clean removable parts and plug the machine back in.
  5. Fill the water reservoir halfway full with white distilled vinegar, which is about 10 ounces on most machines. (You can also use a bottle of Keurig Descaling Solution; $12.99, target.com, if desired.) Fill the rest of the reservoir with water.
  6. Place a 12-ounce or larger mug on the mug stand and hit "Brew." Repeat until the water reservoir is empty, dumping out the mug as needed to avoid overflows.
  7. Allow the empty machine to sit for 30 minutes with the power on.
  8. Rinse the water reservoir well with soapy water, then clean water. Dry and fill with plain water.
  9. Complete 12 more "cleansing brews" to remove any residual vinegar or descaling solution from the machine.
  10. Brew your next cup as usual.