How Often Should I Descale My Keurig?

After a grueling day of work, you finally have time to make yourself a delicious cup of Joe. You measure out your coffee, add the perfect amount of water, and wait for it to brew. Once done, you take a sip of that long-awaited coffee and recoil. It tastes off—rancid, almost. 

What gives? It couldn’t be your coffee beans; they come from one of the finest coffee bean providers in the world. It isn’t your brewing method, either. That leaves you with one final culprit: a dirty coffee maker. 

Apart from clogging up the machine’s important components, mineral build-up from hard water can significantly affect the flavor of your coffee. Thus, you must regularly descale the machine to preserve the coffee taste and extend the longevity of your machine. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to clean and descale your Keurig coffee maker. We’ll also answer questions like, “How often should I descale my Keurig?” and “What are the benefits of a clean coffee maker?” 

Let’s dive right in!

a glass of liquid on a clean coffee machine
Photo by Zack Xavier on Unsplash

How Often to Descale Keurig Coffee Maker

Descaling is the process of removing mineral buildup from your coffee maker’s water lines, tank, and boiler. It’s an essential part of a coffee maker’s maintenance and cleaning as it not only extends the machine’s lifespan but also keeps your brewer running at peak performance.

According to a study published by the National Science Foundation, coffee makers belong to the top five germiest places in the home—up there with pet toys and remote controllers. 

Tests showed that more than half of the coffee makers’ reservoir contained traces of yeast and mold. These organisms can cause infections and allergic reactions, which could potentially make you sick. Therefore, you should always make time to clean your coffee maker. 

Keurig coffee makers must undergo a descaling process at least once every three months, depending on the mineral content of your area. The harder the water content, the more often you’ll need to descale your coffee machine.

Most Keurig coffee makers feature a descale light that blinks on when the coffee maker needs cleaning. The light won’t turn off until the machine is properly descaled. This feature is extremely useful for those who don’t keep track of their descaling schedule. 

How to Descale Keurig Coffee Maker

If you can’t remember the last time you’ve descaled your Keurig, it’s neigh time to do so. Descaling a coffee maker is relatively straightforward and won’t take any time at all. Here’s how: 

  1. Unplug the machine 
  2. Remove the water reservoir, drip tray, K-cup holder, and lid from the coffee maker. 
  3. Pop out the water filter and make sure the basket doesn’t contain coffee or coffee filters. 
  4. Rinse all the parts in warm, soapy water. 
  5. Add three to four cups of undiluted vinegar into the coffee machine’s reservoir, depending on how large your coffee maker is. You can also use a commercial descaler like the Keurig Descaling Solution in place of the vinegar. 
  6. Let the vinegar/descaler sit in the reservoir for 15 to 30 minutes. 
  7. Run the solution through two to three brewing cycles using fresh water as instructed by the descaling solution or until you can’t smell the vinegar anymore. 
  8. Wash the basket and carafe in warm, soapy water. Towel-dry exterior parts and air-dry the interior parts dry to prevent them from gathering lint from the towel. 
  9. Reinstall all the parts. 
  10. Wipe down the machine’s exterior with a microfiber towel or a damp cloth. 
  11. Plug the machine back in. 

And that’s it—you’ve successfully descaled your coffee machine! 

Descaling a Keurig espresso machine is much the same, except instead of running it through a normal cycle, you’ll have to run it through a descale cycle. 

The descale cycle runs in four phases and takes about 10 minutes in total. 

Ensure that you use a descaler intended for espresso machines as vinegar may damage your machine’s working parts. 

How Often to Clean Water Tank

The coffee maker’s water tank should be cleaned at least once a week, depending on the water hardness of your area. Remove the tank from the coffee maker and thoroughly rinse it inside out with warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry well before placing it back into the machine. 

Aside from the weekly cleaning, water tanks should also be descaled at least once a month to remove build-up calcium and limescale. Fill the tank about two-thirds full with a 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar. Run the machine in two to three cycles until the vinegar scent disappears. 

How Often to Clean Water Filter 

It’s recommended that you clean your coffee maker’s water filter every week to avoid coffee oils and mineral buildup. Clean the water filter with soap and water or a dedicated odorless cleaner. 

How to Clean a Stained Keurig Coffee Maker 

There are several tried-and-true methods to clean a stained coffee maker. 

The first method is to clean the coffee maker with baking soda. Make a paste with some water and scrub the stained surface with a clean cloth. 

For tougher stains, add half a cup of baking soda into the pot and add boiling water and leave it for an hour. Once the residue has loosened up, scrub the stained area with a non-abrasive sponge. 

If you don’t have baking soda, clean the stained coffee maker with lemon juice and salt. 

Add two tablespoons of lemon juice, three tablespoons of salt, and a cup of crushed ice into the carafe. Stir the ingredients for about two minutes with a spoon then pour it out. Scrub the stubborn spots with a sponge.  

If all else fails, use a commercial coffee stain remover to eliminate the stains. Follow the directions at the back of the product.

Benefits of a Clean Coffee Machine

Just as you wouldn’t cook food in a dirty pan, you shouldn’t make coffee in a dirty coffee machine. Built-up coffee oils and powdered ingredients turn rancid if not regularly cleaned, affecting the taste and quality of the coffee. Here are the benefits of a clean coffee machine: 

Extended Life Span 

By regularly maintaining and cleaning your coffee machine, there’s a higher chance of your equipment lasting longer. You wouldn’t have to worry about it breaking prematurely or buying a brand-new coffee maker months after you’ve bought the last one. 

Better Tasting Coffee 

No matter how expensive or high quality your coffee beans are, they won’t taste good in a dirty coffee maker. 

The oils from old coffee create gross-tasting residue in your coffee maker, greatly affecting the taste of the coffee. 

So if your coffee tastes metallic, bitter, or astringent, a deep clean is way overdue. 

Saves Money 

Cleaning your coffee machine regularly helps you avoid costly repairs and replacements, saving you money in the long run. 

Coffee Maker Cleaning and Maintenance Tips 

Here are some coffee maker cleaning tips to follow:

  • Discard the used coffee grounds immediately after pulling a shot to prevent particles from getting stuck in the portafilter. 
  • If you’re using a French Press, don’t let the coffee grounds sit in the coffee filter. Throw the grounds and rinse the carafe with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Scrub the interior and exterior of the carafe with a non-abrasive sponge and let dry. 
  • Rinse the water reservoir with warm, soapy water at least once a week, and descale the machine with vinegar or descaling solution at least once every three months. 
How to descale and clean a Keurig coffee maker. Tech Tips from The Lab.

Final Thoughts 

How often you should descale a Keurig coffee maker depends on the water hardness of your area. The higher the hardness, the more often you’ll need to descale the machine. 

Ideally, you should descale your coffee maker at least once every one to three months to prevent build-up. Cleaning your coffee maker extends its lifespan and guarantees a delicious-tasting cup of Joe every time.

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