How to Clean a Keurig in a Few Simple Steps

Coffee maker and coffee bar on white kitchen counter.

Arbor & Co.

Keurig brewers are the ultimate in convenience for many coffee drinkers. The single-serving pods will brew up a cup of coffee or tea in seconds and leave little in the way of clean-up. And, at under a dollar a pod, it can pay for itself and eventually be cheaper than a coffee shop brew.

But, even the most convenient brewing options need cleaning occasionally. To keep your machine working you’ll want to make sure you’re doing some simple, regular maintenance. Done regularly, it won’t add much more time to your day and will keep your coffee tasting great in the meantime. While Keurig models differ, all have the same basic components and can be cleaned the same way. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Keurig?

Most Keurigs just need a quick clean about once a week. You’ll want to do a deeper clean, including descaling the machine, once a month. Some simple troubleshooting, like a weaker brew, may also be solved with a bit of investigation and a quick clean.

Read on to find which kinds of cleaning you should be doing, and when. 

Woman holding cup of coffee

Home by Polly

Things You’ll Need: 

  • Dish soap 
  • All-purpose cleaner 
  • Non-abrasive dishcloth
  • Vinegar or descaling solution 
  • Clean metal paperclip 
  • Toothbrush or bottle brush (optional) 

For Cleaning on Weekly Basis:

On a weekly basis, you simply need to wipe down and rinse your Keurig. You can do this when you’re wiping down your counters since you’ll already have everything you need: A gentle counter spray or soap, and a clean towel.

Step 1: Unplug and Remove Drip Tray

Start by unplugging the machine and removing the water reservoir and drip tray. Then, apply a bit of soap or some cleaner to the cloth and wipe down the Keurig, paying attention to any areas that might get dirty, like the hand. Never submerge the rest of the machine, or use an excessive amount of water to clean it. 

Step 2: Rinse Drip Tray

Once you have done that, move on to cleaning the reservoir and drip tray. Both are dishwasher safe, but you may find it easier to simply wash it with warm, soapy water and rinse well. Set out both to dry, or gently towel-dry them.

Note that Keurig advises against drying the inside of the reservoir. Lint could get inside, which would affect both the taste of your coffee and the performance of the machine.

Step 3: Run a "Cleansing Brew"

Replace the drip tray and refill the reservoir and you’re almost good to go. Keurig next recommends running a “cleansing brew.” Using a mug to catch the water, run one brew on the largest setting with no pod. 

For Cleaning Every 3 to 6 Months:

Minerals can also build up in your Kuerig, leaving a white residue that can affect how the machine runs. The buildup, or limescale, can be removed via a process called “descaling.” 

Keurig recommends doing this every 3-6 months. If you have hard water (with a high mineral content) or brew frequently (like with roommates or a family) you’ll want to do it more frequently. 

Step 1: Run Brew Cycle With Vinegar

To descale your Keurig, all you need is distilled white vinegar or Keurig’s own descaling solution. Simply fill up the reservoir and run brew cycles until there is no more vinegar left. The acidic nature of the vinegar or descaling solution will help break up the mineral deposits and keep them from building up more in your machine.

Step 2: Empty Reservoir and Run Several Cycles With Water

Once you have emptied the reservoir, fill it back up with water and run several brew cycles until the reservoir is empty again. This will help remove any remaining taste from the descaler and set you up to enjoy a fresh cup. If the vinegar flavor lingers, you may need to run the rinse cycle a few more times. 

If you have particularly hard water, you can also use filtered or bottled water in your Keurig. Just note that they do not recommend using distilled water. The reason may surprise you: Most Keurig models have an “add water” feature. The sensors that detect how much water you have (and when you need to add more) actually work via electric currents. Distilled water has absolutely no minerals in it, so electricity can’t be conducted through it. Even when full, with distilled water, the sensors would think the reservoir was empty. (Science!) 

Rustic DIY Coffee bar

For Cleaning the Filter:

There are a few other times Keurig recommends cleaning your filter. First, if you switch drinks, or have a sweet drink like iced tea or hot chocolate, you should do a water-only cycle to help clear the brewer and remove any taste that may carry over into your next cup. If you generally only use one flavor K-pod, you can skip this. 

If your brewer isn’t functioning properly or your brew size or taste is inconsistent, you may have some blockage. This often happens around the entrance and exit needles that piece the pods, allowing the hot water to flow through and out them.

Step 1: Open the Machine

First, unplug your Keurig and remove and open the machine. Lift the handle to review the pod holder, and you can simply pop the pod holder out. This may require a bit of pushing from the bottom, especially if this is the first time you’ve removed it. The pod holder actually comes with two parts: a funnel and a pod holder. Twist them to pull apart.

Step 2: Use a Paperclip to Clear Grounds

Unbend a clean paperclip and gently insert the tip into the tube at the base of the pod holder. Rotate it around, clearing any grounds that may have gotten caught around the exit needle. The paperclip won’t go all the way through, so don’t try to force it.

Step 3: Rinse the Pod Holder and Funnel

Once that is done, carefully rinse both the pod holder and funnel with water to remove any other stuck grounds. Let dry. 

Step 4: Remove Residue Around Entrance Needle

Next, using the same paperclip, try to remove any residue around the entrance needle. This is attached to the top of the lid and cannot be removed. While the pod holder is removed, you can also check for any grounds that may be caught around the lid. You can loosen it with a dry towel, clean toothbrush, or bristle brush. Once the pod holder and funnel are dry, re-attach them and place them back in the lid. 

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