How To Clean A Keurig (even if you think it’s broken)

How to clean a keurig from HousewifeHowTos.com
I wonder how many people have thrown away their coffee makers because they didn’t know how to clean a Keurig, particularly one that doesn’t pump water any more?

I nearly did just that, having stopped using my machine for over a year because I’d decided the disposable K-Cups were too expensive. Then one day I found a reusable insert for my Keurig that would let me use my favorite coffee or loose tea and, after bringing it home, eagerly powered up my machine. How frustrating to find it wouldn’t make a cup!

Article continues below

Fortunately, after a half-hour of effort, I got my machine up and running again. Here’s how.

How To Clean A Keurig

  1. Unplug it. I can’t emphasize this enough: unplug the thing!
     
  2. Disassemble it. Remove the water tank and its lid, along with the stand your coffee cup rests on. Then open the top and remove the K-Cup holder. Wash these pieces in warm, soapy water and dry well:
     
  3. How to clean a Keurig by washing these parts
     

  4. Unclog the needles. Grab a paperclip and partially unbend it. Then, with the Keurig’s top open, carefully insert the free end of the paperclip into each of the three holes along the needle that pierces the K-Cup. Jiggle the paperclip around then remove it. Don’t worry about harming your machine: there are no working parts here, just holes that get clogged with scale and debris. Like so:
     
  5. How to clean a Keurig by opening the spout
     

  6. Turn and tap. Turn your machine upside down and, with the top open, give the bottom a few light smacks with the palm of your hand. Crazy as this sounds, this helps loosen debris.
     
  7. How To clean a Keurig that will not pump water
    Put a straw over this spout and blow. Hard.

     

  8. Breathe into it. Thought the previous step sounded crazy? This one’s even wackier, and yet it works! Turn the machine upside down and put a drinking straw over the spout. Wrap this juncture with a paper towel to make it as close to air-tight as possible. Now, blow as hard as you can into the straw to force air through the Keurig spout. This helps dislodge debris and opens the water line.
     
  9. Wipe it down and reassemble. Grab a lint-free cloth and clean the cup holder, then the outside of the machine. Return all of the parts to the machine.
     
  10. Descale it. Fill the water tank with half water and half white vinegar. (You may have been told to use straight vinegar, but that can actually harm the machine due to vinegar’s high acidity. Just keep it at a 50-50 mix.) Now, run the machine without a K-Cup until you’ve emptied the entire tank. Dump each cup of vinegary water after brewing.
     
  11. Run it some more. Repeat the above step using only clean water in the tank. Check the final cup of water to make sure there’s no vinegar taste. Run more clean water through if needed.
     
  12. Maintain it. Performing the two steps above on a monthly basis will keep your machine running well. Should you ever notice your Keurig brewing too slowly or making smaller cups than usual, perform the entire process to get it working like new again.

Now that I know how to clean a Keurig, and I’m using these reusable K-Cup inserts, I’m in love with my machine all over again.

(Got a regular coffee maker, too? Here’s how to clean it.)


Equipment I Use For This:
   

Comments

  1. Heather-Joan Carls says

    Thanks for this. We just got our Keurig in January and we bought the reusable k-cup because we knew we couldn’t afford to always by the k-cups. Lately, the Keurig has been jipping me on my coffee. We always use the button farthest to the right to brew the coffee. We have a Pure water filter on our tap because we live in the city and we use that water in our Keurig because you’re suppose to use purified or bottled water in your Keurig or your going to break it. Anyways, how do you get the k-cup holder out of it? How much loose tea do you put in the k-cup? Can you use tea bags in the k-cup? I haven’t even used tea in the Keurig? Thanks for this. I will definitely be using this today to clean our Keurig. I look forward to your answers. Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Heather! It’s infuriating when the Keurig short-cups you, isn’t it? Gotta be honest, I don’t always use purified water on mine because sometimes I’m just not awake enough, so that might be why mine clogged to begin with. Then again, if something’s going to be higher maintenance than I am in the morning before I’ve had my coffee, it won’t last long. LOL

      You didn’t say what model yours is, but with my Keurig removing the K-Cup holder involves a bit of jiggling and then the thing pops out. The holder is actually a plastic insert — mine has a white arrow painted on it — so you just grab by the raised edge, twist and lift. (Really technical instructions there, right?)

      As for loose tea, my reusable filter has a “fill to here” line, so I…fill to there. You can’t use tea bags, but if you have a tea you like that’s in bags I suppose you could cut them open and dump them in the holder. Then again, microwaving is probably easier.

      I buy my tea loose, in bulk and organic, with a Subscribe & Save discount via Amazon. My favorite is this one, which combines chamomile, cranberry, roobios, rosehips, hibuscus and orange peel. It’s divine!

      • Scott says

        We just run it without a k-cup in it. It dispenses hot water and we just dip the tea bag right in the hot water. Sure it’s not much different but it’s easier and faster than nuking the water.

  2. Heather-Joan Carls says

    Hi Katie! Thanks for getting back to meツ We have the Special Edition K69/K65 single serve. I set mine up the night before so since I am always the first one up I just have to push down the handle, press the button, go to th’s bathroom and when I come back, it’s done and I just put the creamer and sugar in and I am good to go.
    I inspected the reusable cup and saw the fill line. I don’t buy loose tea. Too expensive right now. I would ♡ to and I know it would be best and open up a whole new world for me but right now I got my ‘stash’ of Twinnings and Bigelow. I do have loose leaf of Earl of Gray from Twinngs(I just bought it first the tin. I ♡♡♡ tins!) . I willl also try opening the tea bags. Your tea doesn’t come out weak from not steeping for 3-5 minutes, Katie?
    I will try removing the K-Cup holder like you said…yes too easy lolツ and give it a go. Daily I give the whole machine a wipe down because it seems a lot of dust settles on it for some reason and there is always coffee residue in the K-Cup chamber.
    I pray you and your family have a very blessed Easter. Thank you staying around and conversing with me on this. I really appreciate thisツ

    • says

      These steps should work with your model, from what I’ve been able to see online.

      I agree, loose tea is a bit expensive. That link I’d given you is actually one of the better deals I’ve found. But, yes, it does come out rather weak in the Keurig. Sometimes at night, or when I’m brewing a cuppa for my son, that’s what I want. Otherwise, I’d rather go with an infuser and use my electric kettle. :)

      I hope you and your family enjoyed a wonderful Easter, too!

      • Heather-Joan Carls says

        I am going to purchase an infuser as I did try the tea in the Keurig and didn’t really care for it either. Again, thanks for these tips. You’ve been most helpful ツ and I have ordered the tea you suggested-I cannot wait to try it!

      • jackie d says

        OMG! I am amazed! I thought my Keurig was broken but this worked! Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!

  3. Eric Veritas Blair says

    Forget the Keurig! I went old school and got a percolator and bean grinder best coffee I ever had! I got a 9 cup Corningware at a flea market, there’s tons of them on Ebay cheep.

  4. April_sunshine says

    Loved this post! I had tried vinegar with water and flipping the machine upside down. I even attempted to unclog the needle and still the machine would only drip water. I found this post and followed your method step by step and would you know I can now make fresh coffee. It seems there was a lot of coffee grinds clogging the needle. I even saw some debris shoot out the straw as the machine was brewing. No longer need this cleaner solution, taking unopened bottle back to the store. Thanks so much!!

  5. Lane Lester says

    I’m not a housewife; I’m an old geezer. But your how-to sure saved me a heap of trouble. I’ve had my Keurig for a few months, and today the pump seemed to die. I had seen this article copied on Lifehacker, so I followed your instructions. I had to vary them because I have a Vue model. The needles have grooves, not holes, but they had gunk on them that needed scraping. I ran through about a quart of vinegar water, and now the machine seems to be working fine again. Thank you very much.

  6. Scrapnsewsue says

    I like my keurig very much. I have had 2 pumps die within the first year of owning them. Both never indicated to be cleaned by showing the “descale” command. Keurig is fantastic to deal with and both times shipped me a new machine within days. I use softened water that is also filtered from my refridgerator. The 3rd machine has worked for two years now. I think it is a new improved and better pump. It is much quieter. These cleaning tips are spot on. A good pump can’t pump well through clogs. :). Good day!!

  7. Loretta says

    The owners manual with the Keurig also recommends running the vinegar cycle every few months to help keep it running well, not that anyone ever reads the owners manual :-p

  8. Crystal says

    I really thought the motor was gone bad in ours but followed your cleaning instructions and voila! It works again! Unbelievable! I used the paper clip and nothing felt clogged or came out. Maybe it was the 5 or so smacks on the bottom that did the trick :) Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. bebe says

    My Keurig just gave out on me right before heading to work today. All day I been thinking about this darn thing. So, immediately when i got home i Googled my issue and your site popped up. Followed your instructions and lone behold it started working again!!!! THANK YOU for sharing and saving me the cost of buying new one!!!

  10. madje says

    I would think blowing air into it would cause contamination since the mouth is generally full of bacteria. Also, the Keurig site says to never turn the machine upside down.

    • says

      This is where common sense comes into play, Madje. After you blow into the tube, you’re running vinegar and water through the machine. Vinegar kills bacteria, so there’s no concern there.

      As far as not tipping it upside down: it fixes the thing. That means you don’t have to buy a new one. Is it any wonder why Keurig would say not to tip it upside down, then?

  11. says

    Hi Katie,
    Just wanted to thank you for a great post and let you know that I used part of your cleaning – the paperclip – to fix our new Keurig 2.0 machine. It wasn’t quite 2 months old and stopped brewing – no water coming out! After running the paperclip through the holes a couple times, the water now flows nicely! The Keurig 2.0 has a hot water feature which I ran a few times and you could see the old grounds that were clogging the needle, in the bottom of the cup.
    Thanks again for the post.
    -Mark

  12. Hot T says

    Thank you. I have a hot cup of tea. My Keurig was out for about a month. After descaling it didn’t work….but the paper clip did the trick. Thank you

  13. Donna says

    Thank you so much for the amazing tips! I had tried descaling twice through and it just would not unclog. After sticking the paperclip through the needle holes and tipping it upside down and banging it to loosen anything else in there, it worked like new!

  14. Jaimee says

    Awesome! My husband’s Keurig started making a strange grinding noise and refusing to brew a couple months ago. I was afraid that the pump, or some other inner workings, had quit on us. I followed your instructions and it works again! Just in time too since my mom sent hubs some k-cups and a carousel for Christmas. Thank you! :)

  15. Michael says

    Thank you so much for this easy fix! I had just about given up on my machine all together. I’d see other tips on how to fix the issue, but they didn’t work for me. I followed you steps (except the straw blowing, I didn’t have a straw) and it worked like a charm! So glad I don’t have to replace my machine!

  16. connie says

    My Keurig is one year old Model K70 and the blue light will not go off, I get 1/2 cup of coffee, even tho it’s set right, and it grinds like no other. Yes, I have cleaned it also.

  17. CMU teacher says

    Thank you for this! I wonder how many Keurigs hit the scrap heap when this could save them and keep the coffee flowing!

  18. CC says

    This totally worked. Was going to throw out the machine altogether. We did the vinegar thing multiple times, but we didn’t try the paper clip, the tapping it while upside down or blowing through the straw (fyi,,, couldn’t blow into it at all, but was able to suck out a ton of stuff)… not sure which of those three things worked, but totally works perfect now. I had to run probably 6 cycles of crap out of it (hopefully not mold, just grounds???) and it seems to work perfect now.

    Very helpful.

  19. Fred Homan says

    I have a Keurig cup holder that use mini filters ( like Mr. Coffee filter ) put filter in cup , put coffee in filter quarter inch from top or less. Put cap on cup. Put cup in Keurig , make coffee.

    Here is what’s nice , take filter and coffee and throw away. Clean cup for next brew..

  20. Dale says

    Great idea… any tips on how to fix one that won’t turn on? This is my second one to quit and I won’t be fooled again… If it can’t be fixed it’ll join the other one in “rip-off heaven”.

  21. Richard says

    Our Keurig is 3-4 years old. Many times I have done the first steps you suggested when it wouldn’t pump. None of them worked this time. I tried the straw trick and its pumping faster than it has in years. Great idea! Thank you.

  22. says

    Thank you for these instructions. Our Keurig stopped brewing, and Keurig customer service was of absolutely no help. I followed the steps here, and it’s brewing like a champ! Thanks again!

  23. Jeff Cantwell says

    Thank you for this article. This is our second Keurig, but this one is fancier. It was only a couple months old before it did the bad things you described. So I followed your steps and it works better than new. You rock.

      • Katie Berry says

        Remove the water reservoir, tilt the machine so the magnet touches the basin again, refill the water reservoir and replace it without moving the magnet. That should take care of it. If not, contact Keurig. There’s a reason they stopped making that model.

  24. Dawnn says

    It was the straw blowout and the hitting it on the bottom that made it work! Thank you! I tried two of the other methods and it still didn’t work until I used your two tricks! Best post on how to clean a Keuig!

  25. gale says

    I tried the banging & the paper clip unclogging… still no water
    Just how hard do U have to hit it – I have giving it the hardest sacks I can 3 themes now & still no water flows.
    Please advise. thank U.

  26. Christina says

    I havent used my machine for a while and i went with the normal descaling process. I used straight vinegar and ran it down till the reservoir was down to add water’ stage. Then i added several cups of water and ran that thru back down to the add water stage, I did this a few times then I let it sit over night. I was worried that it grew mold in the internal tank from sitting so long bc i have read that could happen. Now this morning I’m finishing up the process of rinsing a day it’s giving me problem. Not ‘brewing’ even when it says it is. And sometimes water is coming out of the nozzle and back into the tank. This wasn’t happening last nite. It was going fine. I hope I didn’t screw it up!

    • Katie Berry says

      Straight vinegar can corrode plastic and rubber, which is why I’d recommended mixing it with an equal part of water. I’m afraid you may need a new machine.

  27. Jill Nicholson says

    Our Keurig is telling use to add water and the reservior is full…it keeps telling use to prime..any idea on what to do.

  28. Dave says

    I used the descaling process suggested, on this web site, and my Keurig works great now. I was about to discard the Keurig because the machine kept saying descaling but the pump wasn’t putting out much vinegar to clean it out . Everything works great now!

    On another note, I have been using my own coffee for years because I hate spending forty cents or more on a k-cup. I have even seen some Starbucks K-cups for around seventy-five cents each. I figure my cup of coffee cost is about a dime. I also have found a few boxes of k-cups with expired dates and discovered the k-cups are just fine. I have also used the k-cup twice (small cup size) and added a little instant coffee to enhance the coffee strength. I decided this was too much hassle even for this retired guy.

    I really like being able to have a fresh cup of coffee whenever I want one!

    • Katie Berry says

      I love being able to have a cup on demand, too. I only drink one or two cups most mornings, so the K-Cup expense isn’t too bad, especially since I can always find coupons then stock up when they’re on sale.

  29. Lori says

    Thanks for the suggestion to “turn and tap” the machine (Keurig 2.0 in my case)… Great therapy for both me and machine. Our pump seemed to stop working yesterday and into today (even after having turned off and unplugged the brewer overnight), and giving it a few good taps over the sink cleared the blockage (coffee grounds, I think) and started the flow! I had to hold the machine upside down for a ‘few’ minutes while the water “pulsed” out (very important to unplug the brewer for this reason). Interestingly, the water was still steaming, I guess from our having tried again to make coffee shortly before applying this fix, so be mindful of that, too… Now were are back in action, just in time for the next “case of the Monday-s!”

  30. Katrink says

    Thank you so much for this article, I do not know exactly which step makes the difference, the tap on the bottom or blowing air, but I follow your instructions and it works perfectly every time. Thank you again!!!

  31. Kevin says

    Thanks for the tip. I ran a gallon of vinegar through the machine with no luck. The paper clip trick worked magic. I was thinking I was going have to replace. Now I’m good to go!

    • Katie Berry says

      Hey Kevin, I’m glad to have helped! The vinegar works for some, the paper clip works for others, and the whack on the bottom works for the rest. Combining the three is a great way to get your Keurig working again because, let’s face it, who wants to buy a new one every three to six months?

  32. Sheryl says

    Bought a Keurig from a yard sale and didn’t work initially. I’d cleaned it already.. But once I did the unclogging and the rest of the steps.. low and behold – it works.. Not bad for $10.00
    Thank you..

  33. lorraine says

    We haven’t tried your techniques yet, so when we do I will send along a comment…Thanks for the tips

  34. Sheila says

    When you say put a straw over this spout, where exactly are you talking about. In the picture, I’m not seeing a spout. Thanks.

    • Katie Berry says

      There’s a spout on the side where your water reservoir is. Remove the reservoir, turn the machine upside down, slip a straw over the spout, and blow.

  35. says

    Trying this with my 2.0 today and will report back. However – do the 2.0’s have a spout to put a straw onto and blow? :)

    Thank you for the detailed instructions!

  36. Ginny McBride says

    Sometimes my coffee comes out and just explodes all over the kitchen. I have coffee grouund everywhere. DId twice yesterday. made a cup of a different kind this morning and it worked fine. hope your cleaning method will cure the problem.

  37. Barbara says

    THANK YOU!!! The straw did it. I’ve had my B70 for about 5yrs. Actually, I was googling to find ways to make coffee using-up my k-cups without the keurig. Thank you.

  38. Jeannie says

    My Keurig reads “brewing” but no water comes out. I’m trying to descale it but it won’t work if I can’t get the darn vinegar/water to filter through. Any suggestions?

  39. Noemi Echevarria says

    Hi Katie, I need help after follwing the steps to clean my Keuric , The add water light stays on even when the tank is full, I have tried everything that shutting it ,unplugging, and notbing..the lights power,add water stays on…Hopeful that someone knows. Please

  40. Noemi Echevarria says

    Hi Katie, After following the steps to clean my Keuric as your directions ,I need help getting the add water light to go off and the machine to work like it was working prior.Bc the light stays on the water doesn’t heat up or other lights to work.. Hopeful someone can help. Thanks

    • Katie Berry says

      Hi Noemi,
      I don’t know which model of Keurig you have, but sometimes if you fill the water tank and then VERY CAREFULLY tip it toward the side the power lights are on you’ll reconnect the magnet that tells it you’ve added water. If that doesn’t work then it might be time to either call Keurig (1 (866) 901-2739) or buy a new one.

      But don’t buy the 2.0. That one doesn’t let you use any k-cups but theirs, and they’ve since realized what a stupid marketing decision that was. (That’s why you’ll find the 2.0 on sale everywhere these days.) Buy an older model, or wait until August when the next version comes out.

  41. says

    You saved the day!!! We were on the verge of buying a brand new one today but decided to browse around to see if there was a fix and here it is. Took a couple minutes to breeze through the steps and BAM!! Keurig works like a charm now. THANK YOU!!!

  42. Betty says

    I was about to give up on my Mini Brewer but did what you suggested with the paper clip and now water is coming out perfectly again! I have had mine for about 4 years now and we have become close friends! LOL. I have been extremely happy with its performance and longevity.

    • Katie Berry says

      I’m so glad it helped you! You’re the first reader with a mini-brewer who’s left a comment to let me know the paper clip trick works with the mini, too. Thank you for taking the time to let me know that!

  43. dave cohebn says

    The paper clip part worked for me. Perfect. Thank you. Just unclog the three holes on the top pin. They are on each three sides of the pin. Force it. Go deep. Wipe clean with a paper towel and do it over and over. Works great!

  44. allen lizakowski says

    The example shows to use a paper clip to clean the nozzle. DO NOT USE A PAPER CLIP. You will possibly rupture the soft plastic elbow above the spout, and you will get an internal leak. It will temporarily work, but it will eventually destroy your unit with a slow leak dripping internally on the components. Use a blunt plastic toothpick or something similar. The real culprit that stops flow totally is the pressure valve located under the hood of your unit, and if you remove the screws that holds the top on (mine is a k60), that you can see when you open your unit, remove the top, and squeeze this valve, it will start flowing again, and then you can run your vinegar through the unit.

    • Katie Berry says

      Allen, that really depends on the unit. With mine, there are no screws to remove so I’ve used a paper clip and have done so for three years without problems. A previous commenter suggested to “really cram it up there” but I don’t think much pressure is needed; just enough to break through any crusted coffee grounds. You’re right that a blunt plastic toothpick would work, too, assuming one doesn’t break it off in the hole.

  45. Lydia says

    My Keurig had been sputtering and pumping slowly emitting half cups of coffee for a few days. I found your site and followed your directions to a T and am again enjoying my coffee with the same quality of when I first bought my machine. Thanks a million, I will pass the info onto all my friends

  46. James Leitzman says

    My Kuerig “special edition” played dead on me also. I was so frustrated and I don’t give up easily….so, on my own, after running a vinegar cleanse, I took the cup plate and water reservoir off and turned that puppy upside down and shook it hard for a few minutes. After several clear water cycles it came back to life! This was before I read your excellent cleaning procedure! I now go through your cleaning suggestions whenever I descale, just to be confident that I am maintaining the machine properly. Thank you for your effective advice as I am sure it has helped many besides me!

    • Katie Berry says

      I’m glad you got it working again, James! I’m afraid if I took mine apart I’d never get it back together. LOL

  47. Michael says

    Skip the straw and use a can of compressed air instead. Cover up the prong on the base when air comes out, and that will force the stuck water out of the system. Otherwise this guide is spot on.

    • Katie Berry says

      That’s definitely one way to do it, if you happen to have a can of compressed air to hand. Thanks, Michael!

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