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Yes, You Have to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Maker Every Three Months

Good Housekeeping logo Good Housekeeping 10/8/2021 Lauren Smith McDonough
Learn how to clean your Keurig coffee maker that uses k-cups, including how to clean Keurig needles and descale your Keurig machine with and without vinegar. © bjs Learn how to clean your Keurig coffee maker that uses k-cups, including how to clean Keurig needles and descale your Keurig machine with and without vinegar.

Owning a Keurig means you no longer have to think about wrangling filters and ground coffee beans every morning. But many of us are probably guilty of not thinking about cleaning it either — and that thing can get dirty. Like all coffee makers and pod coffee systems, Keurigs can serve as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and mold if not regularly cleaned. Grossed out? Us too.

We asked Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, for advice on how to maintain your go-to morning machine. Start by buying the following cleaning essentials, then follow the timeline below for how often you should clean every part of your brewer.

What you'll need:

a close up of text on a white background: How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker the Right Way © Hearst Owned How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker the Right Way

Every week:

Ideally, you'll want to wash the removable parts of your machine on a weekly basis.

  1. Unplug the machine.
  2. Disassemble the water reservoir, lid, mug tray, and K-cup holder.
  3. Clean the mug tray and K-cup holder in warm soapy water.
  4. For the water reservoir and lid, remove the water filter, then wipe the surfaces with a damp, soapy cloth.
  5. Rinse the reservoir and lid with water and let air dry — you don't want to dry it with a cloth since this could leave lint behind.
  6. Wipe down the exterior surface with a wet sponge.
  7. Replace all the removable parts and plug the machine back in.

Every two months:

Replace the water filter cartridge to keep your coffee fresh every other month.

  1. Start by soaking a new cartridge in fresh water for five minutes, then rinse it for 60 seconds.
  2. Wash the mesh of the lower filter holder.
  3. Insert the cartridge into the upper filter holder, and snap on the lid.
  4. Finally, put it back into your reservoir and lock it into place.

Every three to six months:

Descale your machine to remove hard water minerals that can build up over time, which could affect how well it works.

  1. Begin the descaling process by filling the reservoir with 16 ounces of white vinegar or Keurig's Descaling Solution. Pour in 16 ounces of clear water.
  2. Start the brew cycle without a K-cup and let the machine run as usual, using a mug to catch the liquid.
  3. Keep repeating this process until the ADD WATER indicator is illuminated.
  4. Let the brewer rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Empty and rinse the reservoir thoroughly. Fill it to the MAX line with fresh water and perform 12 rinsing brews using the largest cup size to remove any traces of vinegar or descaling solution.
  6. Brew coffee as usual.

As needed:

When you see grounds in your K-cup holder, remove them with a sponge to prevent them from ending up in your beverage tomorrow morning. If you're having trouble brewing, there may also be coffee grounds stuck in the needles, which punch the entrance and exit points the water flows through.

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To clean Keurig needles, first unplug the machine. Then, Keurig recommends carefully using a paperclip to clear away any clogging debris lodged in the needles before rinsing. (See where to find them in this video.) For a Keurig 2.0, you can use the Keurig brewer maintenance accessory instead.

As long as you follow these steps, you won't have to worry about anything other than coffee being in your morning brew (well, unless you like yours with milk and sugar, that is).

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