How to descale a Keurig and enjoy full cups of coffee again

The symptoms of dreaded Keurig scale are unmistakable: Slower pours, settings that no longer work, stinky build-up, and a half cup of coffee when you really needed that full cup.

Scale precipitates out of hard water—water with a lot of minerals in it—and then attaches to the inside of the Keurig, gradually clogging up its tubes (the same thing can happen to your plumbing, too). More advanced Keurigs will often tell you when it is time to descale, but it’s generally a good idea to do it every six months or so if you use regular tap water. Here’s how to descale a Keurig when the time comes.

Note: This is about descaling specifically. If you want to give a dirty Keurig a thorough cleaning, check out our guide on how to do that as well.

Step 1: Get your Keurig emptied and ready

Keurig Cleaning

Clear out all the coffee and empty the Keurig. Clear out a nearby sink to create plenty of room, too. Pour whatever water is left in the reservoir down the drain, and make sure there are no cups left inside the brewer. Find a large mug to use for draining, and make sure no one is going to need their coffee fix for the next couple of hours.

Step 2: Prepare your descaling agent

Keurig Pouring Descaler

Now you need an acidic descaler to run through your brewer so it can break apart the scale. There are two popular descaling choices, both with pros and cons.

Keurig Descaling Solution: Keurig sells its own descaling solution that you can buy for around $13, which lasts for a single use. It’s an easy option that doesn’t require much effort, and by all accounts it does get rid of scale. But if you read the reviews on both Keurig’s own product page (where it scores only three stars) and on Amazon, you find that the solution tends to have a citrusy odor that can be very hard to get rid of, and may even affect the taste of your coffee for days to come.

White vinegar: White vinegar is very cheap, readily available, and works great on scale. The only downside worth noting is that you need at least several cups for a good cleansing, which means you may have to go out and buy some more specifically for this project. Also it is vinegar, which means your kitchen or break room may reek of that vinegar smell for the rest of the day.

With the Keurig solution, you will want to empty the entire bottle into the reservoir, and then fill the rest with clean water. For white vinegar, you want your reservoir to be around half vinegar and half water, possibly even more vinegar for a really tough descaling job.

Step 3: Run all your descaler through the Keurig

Flushing Keurig

Arrange your Keurig settings for a normal, full cup of coffee — you can go larger if you have a thermos nearby, but a mug typically works best (again, make sure there’s no K-cup inside). Run the descaling mix through and wait for the cup to fill.

If your Keurig has a bad scale problem, it may not be able to fill up a full cup even on the right settings. That’s okay, the solution takes a little time to work. Continue filling cup after cup and pouring them down the drain. If you used the white vinegar solution, the room is really going to start smelling like acidic vinegar about now, but keep going until the reservoir is empty.

By the end of the reservoir, the water should be pouring more smoothly and filling up cups with a bit more ease. If you don’t notice any improvement at all, you may want to fill another tank with more solution and repeating the whole process, just to make sure.

Step 4: Flush the Keurig with fresh water

teflon water supply dangerous faucet

Leave the Keurig to sit for a bit while still on, around 30 minutes. This gives the acid time to break down remaining scale inside the brewer. Now carefully clean the reservoir and wipe down the inside to remove all traces of the vinegar/solution. When finished, fill up the reservoir with clean, fresh water. It’s time to flush out all of the descaling solution from the system.

Once again, set the Keurig for a full cup and start running cup after cup of water through the brewer, dumping each away. Once the first reservoir of water is empty, fill it up again and continue doing the same thing. It will take a least two full tanks of water to flush out your Keurig, so prepare to get rid of a lot of water.

At this point, you may want to do a taste test to see if you can taste any of the descaler remaining in the water. If you can, don’t be afraid to flush out a couple more reservoirs of water, as the flushing can never be too thorough.

Final tip: Preventing scale

Generally, scale forms more easily from tap water. That’s why Keurig suggests you use filtered or bottled water when possible to fill up the brewer and help keep scale problems to a minimum. Bottled water is a pricey option, but you may want to consider buying a simple water filter to use solely for your Keurig, if scale has been an ongoing issue for you.

Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Outdoors

Drink what nature provides with the best water purifiers

Looking for reliable water purification? Staying hydrated is important, especially when you are hiking or camping far from civilization. Check out our picks of the best water purifiers for your camp, backpack, or pocket.
Smart Home

PicoBrew launches professional-grade brewing appliances, new distiller at CES

PicoBrew has been a leader in the home brewing industry for years, but at CES 2019 the company went pro with the Z Series, a new line of professional-grade brewing appliances aimed at craft breweries and restaurants.
Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Smart Home

Ring security camera catches man licking the doorbell for hours

A family in Salinas, California had their Ring camera capture something pretty unexpected: a man licking the doorbell outside of their home for more than three hours. The incident took place around 5:00 a.m.
Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Contemporary review

Tired of carrying around keys? Make keyless entry so easy that all you have to do is have your phone nearby to open the door. It’s a little pricey, but sleek lines and simple features make the Kwikset Kevo Contemporary a great choice for…
Smart Home

GHSP makes a (back)splash with its touchscreen concept kitchen

One of the coolest concept kitchens from CES 2019 came from GHSP. It created a backsplash entirely made of touchscreens. That means the control panel for your kitchen is accessible no matter where you are.
Smart Home

Airbnb says sorry to guest for how it dealt with undisclosed security camera

An Airbnb guest recently found a surveillance camera in his rental apartment that hadn't been properly disclosed in the listing. The firm admits its initial response to the guest's complaint was poor, but has since made amends.
Smart Home

Thinking of buying an Instant Pot? Here's what you need to know

The Instant Pot is a powerful kitchen appliance that does everything from pressure cook to to slow cook to steam. Heck, you can even make yogurt in it. Here's all you need to know about the magic device.
Smart Home

Want a smarter home? Ditch the keys with these great smart locks

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.