I still remember when the Keurig first came out. I circled mine with such awe and reverence…photographed it…blogged about it…told (and retold) my friends about that wonderful moment when I first brought it home. Unfortunately, I didn't clean it or read the "recommended maintenance" tips. Luckily, Keurigs are actually hardy little appliances, and if you perform these simple DIY maintenance tasks, yours can last you for years and years!

How hard is your local water?

One factor that will influence how much maintenance your Keurig requires is the "hardness" of your water. Basically, the harder your water is, the more minerals it has in it.

More minerals = more buildup = more cleaning to do.

Descaling explained

Descaling is the process of removing calcium and other mineral deposits (also known as "scale") that can build up inside your Keurig's brewer as time passes.

Keurig recommends descaling your brewer every 3-6 months, depending on your water's hardness rating and how often you use it (hard/frequent = every 3 months; soft/rarely = every 6 months).

3 Steps to cleaning your Keurig

There are three main steps to follow when cleaning and descaling your Keurig.

  • Step 1: Prepare your Keurig.
  • Step 2: Clean the insides and parts by hand.
  • Step 3: Clean the brewer system with vinegar and rinse.

1. Prepare your Keurig for cleaning.

Here, you’re ensuring it will be safe to clean and descale your Keurig.

  1. Power off your Keurig (and let it cool if needed).
  2. Remove any K-Cups that are still lodged in the holder.
  3. Pour out any water remaining in the brew reservoir.

2. Clean the insides and parts of your Keurig by hand.

Now you’ll give those parts that require it a good manual cleaning and visual once-over.

  1. Remove the K-Cup holder (taking care to avoid the sharp little spikes inside) and give it a good cleaning with a toothbrush and warm water and a bit of soap.
  2. Remove the brew cup holder (avoid the sharp, little spike there too), turn it over to dislodge any grounds in the underside holes, and clean it the same way.
  3. Remove the drip tray, dislodge any grounds or debris in the holes (a toothbrush is good for this too), and clean it the same way.
  4. Now look above the K-Cup holder and you’ll see a small upper piece with a few holes in it. Use a toothbrush or straight pin to clean out those holes.
  5. Use a soft, damp sponge or cloth to wipe the exterior and parts of the Keurig, removing stains, grounds and other debris.
  6. Replace all the moving parts that you had removed for cleaning and be sure they’re all in their proper places and positions.

3. Clean the brewer system with vinegar and rinse.

Once the manual cleaning is complete, it’s time to descale your Keurig. To do this, you will use white vinegar and water. This last part takes four hours, so be sure you do it when you’ll be home for some time!

  1. Plug your Keurig back into the electrical outlet.
  2. If needed, turn off any automatic shut-off settings that are currently enabled (this will allow your Keurig to remain on for the entire four hours of cleaning).
  3. Fill the water reservoir with distilled white vinegar.
  4. Place a mug beneath the spout to catch any draining vinegar.
  5. Set your Keurig to brew water-only cycles.
  6. When you see the "Add Water" prompt come on, allow your Keurig to sit for four hours with the vinegar inside.
  7. During this time, the vinegar will descale the entire inside of the brewer system, removing mineral deposits.
  8. After four hours, pour out any remaining vinegar and refill the water reservoir with fresh, distilled water.
  9. Again, run water-only brewing cycles until you see the prompt "Add Water" come on.
  10. Pour out the remaining water.
  11. Your Keurig is now clean, descaled and ready to use again!

Note: If you still taste any hint of vinegar in your brews, just run another water-only cycle using fresh distilled water—this should dispel the remainder of the vinegar.