Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker!


Your coffeemaker. 

It used to be a honkin’, fandangled-looking thing that required a lot of added effort and dexterity at ungodly morning hours to produce a perfect cup of hot coffee. So here’s the detailed cleaning and descaling how-to tutorial for your Keurig Coffee Maker!

Coffee is the liquid antidote to an early morning and that morning treat you savour, be it while reading the paper, checking emails or commuting in to work.  My morning cup of Cinnamon Pastry coffee (I know, you want one) would not be possible without my Keurig coffeemaker.  My husband and I received our Keurig as a gift 3 years ago and it’s been quite the popular appliance ever since.

A Keurig, Tassimo or Nespresso all do the same thing; brew you one perfect cup of coffee (or tea, or hot chocolate, or a latte ad infinitum).  Despite the neat little packages the single serve beverage comes in (either a K-cup or pod), coffee grinds and sugars do escape and hard water deposits form in the machine’s innards.  This can only mean one thing, a cleaning is needed so that it continues to produce your AM elixir for years to come.

While it may seem daunting at first, it’s an easy process once you know how to clean each part. Also, some of these parts are dishwasher safe which makes our job even easier. Ok, no time to waste, let’s get started.

Required Products &Tools

  • Cleaning toothbrush

  • Pure white vinegar

  • All-purpose cleaner, dish liquid

  • Microfiber cloth

Beginners Luck

Begin by taking the machine apart, remember to always unplug it first!


  • Reservoir and lid (empty out the reservoir)
  • Drip tray and drip tray cover
  • K Cup holder & funnel (this takes some work & be careful, there’s a sharp needle on the end of this!).  It is important to note that these two pieces actually come apart.  I’ve separated them before and didn’t see the use so if you would like to do so, go ahead, or you can take my word and leave them assembled for the cleaning process.

Wash Up Time

These removable parts can be soaked in a sink filled with hot water and about a teaspoon of dish liquid.

A quick note, the lid for the reservoir should not be placed in the dishwasher.  I’m not sure why but it specifies that it should be wiped with a cloth, so just keep that tidbit in mind.

If you are soaking them, leave them in the sink for 15 minutes or so and then gently wipe the interiors with a rag or sponge.

Rinse well and towel dry.

Clean Machine

Now, moving on to the actual unit.  This is simple to clean, most of it can be cleaned with a microfiber cloth and some all-purpose cleaner.

While the parts are washing or soaking, take your (clean) cleaning toothbrush and gently brush out any stuck coffee grinds in the K Cup holder.  If these aren’t removed, they’ll  eventually inhibit the machine from working properly.

While you’re in there, use a damp cloth to remove any build-up from the K Cup holder.

Finish the job off by wiping the exterior with a cloth and all-purpose cleaner.

If you notice any lime scale deposits (white crusty buildup), simply soak a part of your cloth in white vinegar, apply it to the affected area and soak for a few moments.

Following that, wipe any scaly build up away and you’ll see the white lines disappear before your eyes.  Finish up by taking all the washed parts and re-assembling the Keurig; It’s pretty straightforward stuff.

White Vinegar Strikes Again

It’s now time to run that exciting descaling brew.

Nothing is more exciting than a steamy, hot cup o’ vinegar!

It is so important to descale, because limescale will build up on the heating elements and inside the machine’s tubing.  The machine has to work harder to heat your beverage (because of the limescale build up) and will take more energy to do so and further, use more energy to make one cup of coffee and maybe conk out your motor faster  (that’s a crazy waste of money right there on the old energy bill).

Anyway, to do this, fill your reservoir half way with white vinegar.

Brew several ‘beverages’ with no K cup in the holder to clean the reservoir and tubing until the vinegar runs out. The vinegar will break down the calcium deposits.

When that’s done, remove the reservoir and rinse well.

Refill it with water and run more brews of water through to rinse out the reservoir and tubing and get rid of any vinegar. When you don’t smell vinegar anymore, you know you’re in the clear.

Do it many times, or else you will taste vinegar in your coffee, or worse, your coffee will curdle if milk is added (I’ve had this experience, it’s bad, bad news).

This will take about 15 minutes and is admittedly quite boring.

That’s it – the straightforward and simple way
to keep your Keurig machine clean and caffeinated.

3 More Things You Should Know!

1) If you are going away for over a week, don’t leave water in the reservoir. It’ll evaporate and leave the mineral deposits behind that clog the system.

2) If you brew something sticky like a hot chocolate or iced tea, run a cleansing brew of just water and no K Cup through after you’ve made your drink. This will rinse out any sugar crystals that would otherwise be cakey or create a blockage.

3) Use distilled water – they suggest this because regular tap water has calcium or other minerals that can leave deposits in the reservoir and machine over time. The deposits clog the heating coils and that means your machine has to work harder, longer and use more energy. If you don’t use distilled water you will have to clean it more often to keep it going strong.

If you found this helpful please share it on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, it really helps us out.

Let us know about your coffee maker cleaning experiences or questions.  Thanks for checking this out!


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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. common sense people,after reading all the comments i believe that in some cases the vinegar loosens build up and then it clogs up further in the system because it cant thoroughly do the job. this probably happens in machines that are the most in need of cleaning. it is also my opinion that vinegar isnt nearly as effective as keurig descaling solution seeing how the solution has >50% Citric Acid

    That means that more than half the solution is made up of citric acid. It’s a great cleaning agent that comes from nature, so you can feel comfortable using this cleaning your Keurig.
    <3% Silicic Acid.

    Less than 3% of the solution is silicic acid. Silicic acid is “a weakly acidic colloidal hydrated form of silica made by acidifying solutions of alkali metal silicates.” This is a stabilizing agent.
    <5% Phosphates and Bleaching Agents.

    Phosphates are salts containing phosphorus and other compounds. Phosphorus is a naturally occurring compound. These are cleaning agents included in the descaling solution. and as far as using the dishwasher to clean any plastic parts,just dont take the chance,these things are way too expensive to take the chance on warping parts so bad they cant be used anymore !! oh yeah,if you taste vinegar after using it to clean your kuerig go get the descaling solution and use it as instructed.

  2. Old on people- Melissa- you are completely wrong about the water reservoir an lid being dishwasher safe.
    Read it again-
    It clearly says- NOT dishwasher safe.
    Your message could cause people to ruin their expensive coffee maker.

  3. As I quickly learned after using vinegar for the first time and googling the words “vinegar taste” is that it may NOT be possible to get rid of the taste. I’ve run through 25 times and still heavy vinegar taste.
    Otherwise I love the Keurig but I use those $2.00 Cafe Cups that are refillable. Work great, easy to clean under faucet and I can use ANY coffee.

  4. Cleaning it this way you are missing the fact that the vinegar should sit in the machine for at least 12 hours after you run a couple of cups through the brew cycle. Read the Keurig manual people. It takes more than 15 minutes.

  5. I’ve always cleaned my Keurig with vinegar but hadn’t put any parts in the dishwasher before so thought this sounded great! Until I removed my sparking clean, melted and warped water resevoir from the dishwasher afterwards. Maybe only “top rack safe”?, however most top racks aren’t low enough to accomodate such a large item. Anyway, use this tip with caution.

  6. I’ve always cleaned my Keurig with vinegar but hadn’t put any parts in the dishwasher before so thought this sounded great! Until I removed my sparking clean, melted water resevoir from the dishwasher that is! Maybe only “top rack safe”?, however most top racks aren’t low enough to accomodate such a large item/ Anyway, use this tip with caution. I am now on the hunt for a replacement water resevoir 🙁

  7. We would never use distilled water as it has such a “flat” taste. Instead, We simply use either our Britta water filter or from the frig dispenser as both are filtered. Some Keurig units also have filters that need replacing periodically. Lastly, inside that removable cup holder is that “needle” you mentioned. One should unfold a small paper clip and insert it from the bottom to the top of the needle since it’s a small hollow tube. This can serve to remove any built-up deposits of coffee dust or debris. This needle is the one that punches those holes in the K-cups. Then follow the rest of Melissa’s instructions.

  8. Best thing to do with a Keurig is to throw it away! Those little K cups are killing our environment and the cost is astronomical!

  9. I have a Keurig that is a single cup only so the water reservoir is not detachable. Are you familiar with best way to clean those?

  10. Great video lots of helpful hints. One thing you might want to add after you’ve cleaned your Keurig is if your dispensary is getting slow and not filling up your cup, you’ll need to burp your Keurig. After you have disassembled hold your Keurig upside down and slap the bottom. Don’t be shy, this machine is tough. Put it back together after cleaning and you’ll be back to a full steady stream of coffee in your cup!

  11. Never ever tell anyone to use distilled water for drinking. It has all the minerals stripped from it. Minerals we need. Read the distilled water bottle it says right on it not for human consumption. People have died from drinking distilled water.

    • Completely untrue. I made all of my kids’ formulas with distilled water, on the specific instructions of the pediatrician. They all grew up just fine.

      • You are both about as right as the other.

        What Mine2kno said is not “completely untrue”. It is true that you should not drink distilled water regularly. It will dilute your body and cause mineral imbalances. In your case, you added minerals and other good things in the formula you made. Your pediatrician simply wanted you to start with a pure substance so that you have no issue with contamination.

    • You are both about as right as the other.

      Yes, it is true that you should not drink distilled water regularly. It dilutes your system because there are no minerals, like you mentioned. However, that only occurs when you are drinking only distilled water and not when you are adding things to it. Also, most people do not drink *only* coffee with distilled water.

  12. It was time for me to clean my Keurig so I watched your video. Very very disappointed after I took my carafe out of the dishwasher and it was warped. You said it was dishwasher safe and evidently it is not.

  13. Worked for me with my KEURIG ONLY USE DISTILLED water since day one use a lot of vineger in this house and Thanks for all your tips.

  14. Great instructions. Thanks!! I use white vinegar on EVERYTHING for cleaning mixed with a little bit [2 tsp] of dish soap and R.O. water Vinegar to water ratio is 2:1. Strong, yes. Stinky, yes. Effective, YES!! I live in AZ and we have incredibly hard water so it’s a necessity!! [R.O. water for those who do not know is Reverse Osmosis water. Dasani, etc is R.O. water {Brita is NOT}] I also use R.O. water when making my coffee, not Distilled as I think that the Distilled gives it a ‘flat’ taste. But maybe that’s just me. 🙂 Love your blog!!

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