Here’s how to clean a Keurig — or get yours working like new again.
If your Keurig is brewing slowly, shorting your cup, or won’t work at all, don’t throw it away until you’ve tried these tips first! This method has helped thousands of people clean their Keurig coffee makers and get them working like new, even when they thought them broken.
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 anymore?
I nearly did just that, too, when my Keurig wouldn’t work after I’d stopped using it for a while. Figuring it was broken, so I didn’t have anything to lose, I decided to try a few things to see if they helped. Sure enough, just 30 minutes later my Keurig was working better than ever. Here’s what I did.
How To Clean A Keurig (even if you think it’s broken)
The following steps work on all Keurig machines. If you own a Keurig 2.0 — and I don’t — you’ll need to keep an old, used pod to insert in the machine or it won’t pump water through in Step 7 at all.
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 that supports your cup. Open the top and remove the K-Cup holder. Wash these pieces with warm, soapy water and dry well.
3. Unclog the needles. Grab a paperclip and partially unbend it. 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:
If using a paperclip concerns you, commercial cleaning kits containing individual pods will accomplish this same step.
NOTE: One reader reports that you can contact Keurig at 1 (866) 901-2739 and they’ll ship you a free tool to do this. Personally, when my coffee maker isn’t working, I don’t want to wait for days to fix it. So I did the rest of this and, voilà, it worked like new again.
4. Turn and tap. Turn your machine completely upside down and, with the top open, give the bottom a few light smacks with the palm of your hand. Crazy as it sounds, this helps loosen debris. It’s best to do this over a sink since tapping will dislodge buildup that’s been preventing water flow within the machine and may lead to a rush of water coming out.
5. Clear the tube. Thought the previous step sounded crazy? This one’s even wackier, and yet it works! With the machine still upside down, 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 to dislodge scale buildup in the water line.
UPDATE: Some readers have asked if it’s safe to insert a pipe cleaner in this tube. I wouldn’t recommend it due to concerns that the wire within the pipe cleaner could puncture the water tube. Others have asked whether it’s sanitary to blow on it. You’ll be using vinegar to descale in a moment, and vinegar has germ-killing properties.
6. Wipe it down and reassemble. Grab a lint-free cloth and clean the cup holder and the outside of the machine. Return all of the parts to their places.
7. 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 harm the machine due to vinegar’s high acidity — keep it at a 50-50 mix, or use a commercial Keurig descaling product. Immediately begin running the vinegar-water through the machine until you’ve emptied the entire tank, dumping each cup as it brews.
Keurig 2.0 users: Your Keurig machine won’t run without a pod in the holder, so just insert a used one. By the time the liquid comes out, the vinegar-water will already have done its job, and it won’t matter if leftover coffee or tea drains along with it. You won’t be drinking this, anyway.
8. Run clean water through it. After you’ve run an entire tank of vinegar water, repeat the above step at least twice using only water. Check the final cup to make sure there’s no vinegar taste, and run more fresh water through if needed.
UPDATE: To test whether you’ve got all of the vinegar out of your Keurig, one reader suggests sprinkling a pinch of baking soda into the final cup of water: if it fizzes there’s still vinegar in the system, so you’ll need to run more clean water through it.
9. Maintain it. For most households, performing steps 7 and 8 above every three months will keep your Keurig working wonderfully. If your machine gets heavy use (in an office setting, for instance), you might want to perform all of these steps monthly.
Now that you know how to clean a Keurig and get yours running like new again, you can go back to enjoying your morning jolt of caffeine!