Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to descale a Keurig

The Keurig coffee maker has changed the way that people brew coffee. To ensure that your Keurig continues to provide you with tasty coffee, you have to descale it regularly. With our handy step-by-step guide, you can keep your Keurig clean and working effectively.

You should descale your Keurig every three months, and it takes about one hour to properly descale the machine.

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: Prepare your Keurig

Keurig Cleaning

Before we start, this is a good time to give some of your Keurig’s brewing components a quick soap wash. Try and dedicate at least an hour to this preliminary step. Unplug the maker, then remove the lid, mug tray, and K-Cup holder. Scrub the tray and holder with warm soapy water, then rinse and dry. Wipe down the lid and body of your Keurig with a damp soapy cloth, then give these pieces some time to air dry.

Once all components have dried, reassemble. Now, the descaling process can begin.

Make sure you empty your machine, and then clear out a nearby sink to create plenty of room. Pour whatever water is left in the water reservoir down the drain, and make sure there are no K-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 few hours.

Step 2: Prepare your descaling agent

Now you need an acidic descaler to run through your brewer so it can break apart the calcium deposits. 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 $15, which lasts for a one-time use. It’s an easy option that doesn’t require much effort, and by all accounts gets rid of scale. But according to customer reviews of the product, the solution tends to have a citrus odor that can be very hard to get rid of, and may even affect the taste of your coffee.

White vinegar: White vinegar is very cheap, readily available, and works great on scale. You’ll 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 a little while.

If you’re using 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 filled with half vinegar and half water — possibly even more vinegar than water for a really tough descaling job.

Step 3: Run your descaler through the Keurig

Set your Keurig for a normal, full cup of coffee — you can go larger if you have a thermos nearby, but a mug typically works best. (And again, make sure there’s no K-Cup inside.) Run the descaling solution 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 setting. 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 vinegar, but hang in there and keep going until the reservoir is empty.

By the end, 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 the reservoir with more solution and repeat the whole process, just to make sure.

Step 4: Flush the Keurig with fresh water

Leave your Keurig to sit (still powered on) for a while — 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. If you have a carafe setting, you can use that setting to speed up the process a bit. Once the reservoir of water is empty, fill it up again and continue doing the same thing. It will take a least two full reservoirs of water to flush out your Keurig, so prepare to get rid of a lot of water.

At this point, you may want to perform a taste test to see if you can taste any of the descaler remaining in the water. Don’t be afraid to flush it out a few more times, as the flushing can never be too thorough.

How to prevent scale buildup in your Keurig

Dorm room appliances Brita water filter

Generally, scale forms more easily from tap water. That’s why Keurig suggests you use filtered or bottled water 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. This will help your machine run better for longer, and the price of a filter will probably outweigh the frustration and hassle of dealing with scale in your coffee maker.

Editors' Recommendations