Why You Should Clean Your Keurig ASAP

Get the most out of your single-serve coffee maker—and the best-tasting coffee—by learning how to clean a Keurig the right way.

ATLANTA, GA -- FEB 14, 2014: Close-up of woman inserting single-serve K-cup Foldger's coffee into a Keurig coffee maker. ; Shutterstock ID 176711798; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home Rob Hainer/Shutterstock

If your Keurig is serving up K-cup goodness for more than one person, more than once a day, read on. Sure, frequent coffee drinking does have its benefits, but using your Keurig daily—without taking the time to care for or clean it—can have some pretty icky side effects.

Learn how to clean a Keurig, and improve the (already amazing!) experience of brewing with a single-serve machine.

Why Do You Need to Clean a Keurig?

Cleaning a Keurig is a safety precaution. Like any other type of coffee maker that becomes moist in a closed, confined space, Keurigs can grow mold if they’re not properly drained, rinsed and cleaned. Aside from keeping mold and bacteria at bay, your Keurig should be cleaned on a regular basis so that it can perform to the best of its ability. A quick clean-up will remove the mineral buildup in the machine that affects the taste and quality of the coffee being brewed.

How to Descale a Keurig

Scale forms when calcium hardens and mineral deposits dry up within water. When you fill up a Keurig with water that has a high level of mineral content, it can cause buildup in the brewer and prevent it from working correctly.

You can descale a Keurig using a few different methods:

1. Vinegar and Water

Once the Keurig is turned off and unplugged, take apart the Keurig and wash all the removable parts. The drip tray and pod holder should be rinsed in warm, soapy water, but the K-cup filter accessory and the water reservoir can both be sanitized in the top rack of the dishwasher.

While these parts are drying, wipe down the surface of the Keurig with a damp microfiber cloth. Place all the parts back in the Keurig, and plug it in.

Fill the water reservoir to the halfway mark with white distilled vinegar, which is key to removing scale buildup, and fill the other half with water. Begin the brew cycle sans K-cup, and repeat until the entire reservoir is empty. Once the water reservoir is completely empty, repeat with plain water to flush out the vinegar taste.

(Seriously, what can’t vinegar clean!?)

2. Keurig Cleaning Solution

Keurig has created and officially approved their own Keurig Descaling Solution ($9), which is made for all Keurig 2.0 and 1.0 K-cup coffee makers. Unplug and turn off the machine, then fill the water reservoir with one part Keurig Descaling Solution and one part water. Place a coffee mug underneath the dispenser, and brew one cup of hot water. Pour the water out once it’s done, replace the mug and repeat this step until all the water is gone out of the reservoir. Rinse the water reservoir, fill it up with fresh water, brew another cup of hot water and pour it out.

3. Citric Acid

Like vinegar, citric acid is great for sanitizing a Keurig, and a simple homemade way to get rid of any scale that’s formed. Prepare a citric acid solution by combining 1 to 2 tablespoons of citric acid with about 4 cups of water, and pour it into the water reservoir. Place a coffee mug underneath the drainage spout and brew a cup of hot water, then pour it out and repeat the step. Fill up the water reservoir with water again, and keep brewing until there’s nothing left in the reservoir.

See how the Keurig compares to other coffee-making methods.

How Often Should You Clean a Keurig?

Keurig highly recommends descaling a Keurig coffee maker every 3 to 6 months. This should help prevent calcium deposits or scale buildup from occurring. The other parts of the Keurig should be given more attention, though. If you brew a K-cup every day, then the Keurig’s exterior, cold water reservoir, drip tray and pod holder should all be cleaned once a week.

Plus: Here’s a clever way to store all those K-cups in your cabinet.

Next, check out this DIY pour-over coffee maker project.

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Originally Published on Taste of Home

Taylor Murphy
A freelance writer well-versed in a variety of topics, with six years of experience writing print and digital content for newspaper outlets, online publications and magazines. My bylines have appeared on GoodHousekeeping.com, HouseBeautiful.com, RedBookMag.com, Cosmopolitan.com, MSN.com, StyleCaster.com, in Dr. Oz The Good Life and other best-selling national women's lifestyle magazine publications. I'm currently a freelance copywriter at Today's Business, a digital advertising and marketing agency.