How To Clean A Keurig K-Cup Machine

If you are anything like me, when you got your Keurig, you promptly unboxed it and put it on your counter without a lot of thought about reading the instructions. I know I looked at the small booklet and saw that there is a cleaning regimen but after my first cup of coffee, I forgot all about it.

If oil changes for cars are crucial, it goes without saying that regular maintenance and cleaning of your Keurig is just as important. Trust me; you don’t want to put a pod in and find that your whole machine has gone belly up when your morning caffeine fix is on the line.

If you use your machine once or twice a day, once every 3-6 months is probably fine. But if you use it more often, like in an office setting, once a month is the recommended frequency.

We really recommend people regularly use these cleaner k-cups but even if you choose to use vinegar you will still need to learn how to disassemble part of your machine to keep it running it’s best.

It is also quite simple. And regular cleaning will ensure that you are getting the best tasting coffee possible.

As a side note, you should wash your reservoir out at least once a week with hot soapy water and then dry it  thoroughly. Your water can get quite nasty in there if you just keep adding water to and never remove and clean it. Take my word for it, I once forgot to do it one week and went to clean it the next, and it was really slimy.

What To Use In Your Machine

There are several ways to fully clean your Keurig, we are going to cover a few of the ways in this post.

If you don’t mind the smell, vinegar is a cost-efficient and moderately acceptable descaler for your machine. You can use it full strength or dilute it by 50% with water. It does have a peculiar odor that does tend to fill your home so if that is a turn-off, there are better and more efficient descaler solutions. A 50% dilution is plenty if you want to use vinegar.

Keurig sells their own proprietary descaler, and other companies like Urnex, also make one for a little less that is good for 3 uses per bottle. These descalers are alkaline cleansers that work much like the detergents you use in your dishwasher or washing machine.

What To Do And How To Do It

Disassemble And Clean

The first thing you are going to do is unplug your machine. Just do it, it’s safer.

Take out the water reservoir and cover, the drip tray and its cover, and then open the top and remove the K-Cup portion holder.

Take the portion cup apart, separating the funnel from it. You can wash all of these in warm soapy water and dry well. Keurig says that the portion cup and funnel are top rack dishwasher safe, just make sure to wash the reservoir and cup rest by hand.

Next, take a clean paper clip and unfold one end and insert into the bottom of the K-Cup portion holder where the exit needle is.

Disclaimer, please be careful with the needles, they are sharp.

You can move the paper clip around in a circle to dislodge any particles or coffee grounds.

The final step is to insert the paper clip into the holes of the entry needle at the top of your brewer and move it around gently. Keurig brewers vary, but most have 2 holes in the entry needle, but some have 3. This is also a sharp needle so have a care and don’t poke yourself.

Once finished, put the portion cup back together by lining up the tabs on the side. Then put it back into your machine by lining up the tabs and marks and then finally lowering the lever all the way down. Replace the reservoir and fill with clean cold water and plug your machine in again. You can now run two cycles of water through to rinse out your machine; this will force any debris you dislodged out so don’t be surprised if there is some debris in the water.

If this is too much of a process for you, Urnex sells a cleaning cup pod that cleans the needles of the K-Cup holder. You can use a Urnex Clean Cup Pod once a week. It acts as a scale inhibitor if used this often and you won’t have to use a paperclip to clean your machine’s needles. If you have a broken machine, chances are, this cleaning procedure with the paper clip can often fix most machines and is Keurig’s go to cleaning measure fix.

If you want more visual help, Keurig has a great video to walk you through cleaning the needles.

Descale With Vinegar

After cleaning the needles, the next process is to descale the entire machine. The cheapest and most readily available descaler is vinegar. It is an acid that can dissolve mineral deposits and is fairly inexpensive.

Empty your reservoir and fill your machine halfway with vinegar and the rest of the way with cold water. Brew a 10 oz cup into a large mug without using a K-Cup until the entire solution has been run through the machine. Emptying the mug after each brew. Then empty the remaining amount and rinse it.

Fill your machine with clean cold water and run 12 brewed rinses of water through. You are now ready to use your machine again.

I tested this amount of rinses through my Keurig, and it worked. I used baking soda to check if there was any vinegar in it and there was a negligible amount of fizzing. The whole process took about 20 minutes from start to finish. You could do more than 12 rises if you want to be sure you have completely removed the vinegar.

Descale With A Keurig Or Other Descaler

If you would rather use a recommended descaling solution, the process is very similar.

Turn the machine off. If using the Keurig descaler, you must put the entire bottle into the reservoir then fill the bottle with cold water and pour it into the reservoir. Urnex only requires a third of the bottle in contrast, and then you fill the reservoir the rest of the way with water.

Turn the brewer back on and place a large mug under the machine. Brew a 10 oz portion into the mug, pour the contents out and repeat until the machine asks for more water.

At this point, Keurig says to let the machine sit for 30 minutes while still on. After 30 minutes, pour out the reservoir and rinse. Refill with clean cold water and run 12 rinse cycles through. Again, I think 12 is the minimum; it wouldn’t hurt to run a few more through after.

Cleanliness Is Close To … Good Coffee

Once you have a clean machine, you can rest assured that you have extended the life of your machine. It is also extremely important from a health standpoint. Your coffee should also taste better because old coffee grounds can get stuck and taint the taste of your newly brewed coffee.

And while it may take a bit of time to complete, it is best to do it often so that you don’t have to go out and buy another machine because you failed to clean it.

We hope this post reminded you to clean your machine and that it helped to demystify the whole process.

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Brian Mounts

I have been working in the coffee industry since 2013 and have been a professional online publisher since 2009. I am the current owner of and I love all forms of coffee. I roast my own green coffee beans, grind them, and usually make my own coffee daily in either a french press, moka pot, or a pour over coffee dripper. I am a nut for equipment so many of my articles are reviews and comparisons of best selling coffee brewing accessories.

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