How to Clean a Keurig

Cleaning a Keurig coffee maker keeps the machine in top form

Under 2 hours

When a Keurig coffee maker pours slowly, delivers less than the amount of coffee you’ve ordered, has an odd odor, or even stops dispensing coffee altogether, it may need a deep cleaning. These symptoms can be caused by a buildup of scale, the result of regular use with water containing a lot of minerals.

Cleaning a Keurig coffee maker every three to six months will ensure that the machine remains in good working condition and that every cup of your coffee stays fresh and delicious. With the simple instructions below, you’ll find that cleaning your Keurig is a piece of coffee cake.

What You Need

Disassemble the keurig

• Unplug the Keurig. If necessary, wait 30 minutes for the machine to cool completely. 
• Disassemble removable parts of the machine for cleaning: the water jug, 2-part drip tray, and K-cup holder.

Clean external parts
Someone wiping out the water tank of a Keurig coffee maker

• Invert the machine over the sink and tap lightly on the base to dislodge debris and any trapped stale water.  
• Wipe the outside of the machine and set aside. 
• Add a small amount of mild dish soap to a basin of warm water. Use the soap solution to hand wash the removed machine parts.
• Rinse parts thoroughly then set aside to drain.

clean keurig brewing needles
Someone wiping the inside of a Keurig coffee maker

Be careful when cleaning the needles inside the Keurig as they are very sharp. Pay attention to the position of your hand relative to the needles at each step.

• Remove the K-cup holder from the machine. The bottom exit needle will be inside the holder.
• Turn the holder upside down and insert the tip of the straightened paper clip through the base of the needle toward the top. This should loosen any clog that is there.
• Rinse the holder with warm running water, then reassemble it.
• Raise the handle portion of the machine as high as it will go without forcing it. Look underneath to find the top needle. In a 2.0 model, there may be two needles at the top.
• Gently insert the tip of the paper clip into the holes in the top needle(s) and clean out any old grounds or debris that may be trapped there.
• Return the K-cup holder and press into place until you hear a click.
• Brew one cup of clean water through the brew system. Discard the water after it is collected.

clean internal parts
Someone pouring cleaning solution into the water tank of a Keurig

• Use descaling solution to clean internal parts. For purchased descaling solutions, follow manufacturer's usage instructions on the label to achieve the best result. To create a DIY descaling solution, use a solution of half water and half white vinegar.
• Fill the water tank with the descaling solution and brew the entire contents of the water tank, dumping each cup as it runs through the system.
• For a Keurig 2.0, there must be a pod in place to allow brewing. A spent pod can be inserted to complete the task.
• Once all the solution has been used, rinse the water tank and refill with clean water. Brew the entire contents of the tank again, dumping the water after each cup has collected. Repeat this step at least twice.

Tip: Test the last cup of clean water after it comes out of the brewer by sprinkling a half teaspoon of baking soda into the cup. If the soda fizzes, there are still traces of vinegar in the water; the rinsing process should be repeated one more time.  

change filter

The water filter on a Keurig should be changed every three to six months, depending on usage.

• Remove the water filter holder from the water tank and remove the spent water filter.
• Place the new water filter in a cup of clean water and allow it to soak for five minutes.
• Rinse the filter holder and inspect it. If needed, clean with a soft cloth and warm water.
• Remove the new water filter from the soaking water, then rinse under running water for 60 seconds.
• Reassembler the filter holder with the new filter in place, then place it back in the water tank.

prevent future buildup
A Keurig machine making coffee

You can prevent scale buildup and extend the time between cleanings with a few simple precautions.

• Use filtered or distilled water in the Keurig to prevent mineral deposits inside the device.
• Run a cup of plain water through the system after use if you are brewing anything but coffee or tea.
• If the Keurig will be unused for more than a day or two, unplug the machine, drain the water and dry the K-cup holder and the outside of the device.