Keurig coffee machine

How to Fix a Broken Keurig and Stop the Coffee Jones

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If your K-cup machine is not working properly, don’t throw it out until you have tried these steps to fix a broken Keurig.

This method solves the problem of half-filled cups, sputtering, brewing loudly, or not brewing at all. Once it is working again, you’ll want to deep-clean and maintain it on schedule to keep it working like new.

Fixing a Broken Keurig

These steps work best when you do all of them, since a Keurig that isn’t working correctly often has more than one clog.

Fixing broken Keurig by unclogging the needle

Step 1. Unclog the Needle

Let your Keurig cool for at least 30 minutes before you clean the needle. Then, unbend a paperclip and open the Keurig top.

Slide the end of the paperclip into each of the needle’s holes and jiggle it around to break up any hardened grounds clogging the needle.

This is often the only fix your broken Keurig needs. So, work that paperclip. And you don’t need to worry about puncturing anything: this area is all plastic.

Step 2. Dislodge Clogs

Remove the water tank and set it aside. Then, standing at the sink, turn your Keurig completely upside down over the basin and smack it with your hand.

Many readers have reported water gushing out of their machine at this point as the smacking breaks up hardened sediment that kept the Keurig from working right.

Showing the location of the water line on an older Keurig is at the top and on a newer Keurig is at the bottom
Locate the water line on your broken Keurig. On older models, it is at the top (upper left photo) and on newer ones, it is at the bottom (upper right photo). Put a straw on the tube, wrap it with a cloth, and blow.

Step 3. Dislodge Clogs in the Tube

Next, it’s time to clear clogs in the tube. Put the machine upright again and stick a drinking straw over the spout located beneath the water tank.

Wrap a towel around the base of the straw to seal the opening, then blow on it to send air through the spout and dislodge clogs in the water tube. Repeat until you feel air move through the machine.

Now you’re ready to deep clean your Keurig and get all that sediment out of it. (Plus your spit.)

How To Clean It

To clean your Keurig, you’ll need mild dish soap, water, white vinegar, baking soda (bicarbonate), and an old toothbrush.

1. Descaling

Some Keurigs need a pod to run, but a used one works fine. Fill the water reservoir with equal parts cold water and white vinegar to create a descaling solution.

Plug in and turn on your Keurig and start brewing cups, one after the other. Dump and brew another until you empty the tank.

2. Rinse and Repeat if Needed

When you’ve gone through all the descaling solution, rinse the tank and repeat the process with plain water. On the last cup, add a tiny pinch of baking soda to the brewed cup.

If it fizzes, there’s still some vinegar in the system so repeat with a fresh tank of water. No fizz? Your Keurig’s clean as a whistle inside, so let’s do the outside now.

Fixing a broken Keurig starts by washing the disassembled parts

3. Clean the Removable Parts

Give all the removable parts of your Keurig—the water reservoir, the lid, the pod holder and the cup stand—a bath in warm, soapy water.

Use an old old toothbrush and some baking soda to scrub any white mineral residue or lime buildup. Rinse everything, dry it with a soft cloth, and you’re ready to brew.

Tips to Keep it Working Well

Once you’ve put effort into fixing your broken Keurig and cleaning it, keep it working well by washing the removable parts weekly. Then do a the vinegar run-through once a month.

If it sees a lot of use, because you use it in an office or drink as much coffee as I do, you may need to clean it more often. Using filtered water helps.

Signs it’s time to clean your Keurig include slow brewing, half-filled cups, sputtering, or if the machine seems louder than usual.

Pro Tip

Unplug and dump the water out if you’re not going to use your Keurig for more than a couple of days to avoid hardened mineral deposits. Then leave the lid open to dry out and prevent mold.

Troubleshooting Common Keurig Problems

Below are some other common problems with Keurig machines and the solutions.

Unseated Reservoir Magnet

Remove the water reservoir and look on the side where it touches the machine. Make sure the magnet is flat against the side of the tank and at the bottom of its channel. Reseat the reservoir properly.

Keurig Shuts Off Unexpectedly

See if the green Auto-Off button is in service. This setting turns the machine off after 2 hours of no use, or 90 minutes in a Keurig mini. Press the black Auto-Off button to disable this feature.

Keurig Won’t Turn On

If your Keurig doesn’t turn on, you can often fix it by unplugging the machine for several minutes, then plugging it back in. Hold the ON button for five seconds. This will often purge the water line and reset the machine.

If these steps don’t fix your broken Keurig, contact their customer support. They’re fantastic.

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741 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.

    1. Katie Berry 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!

    2. 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.

    3. Janet Hamil says:

      I use the tea bag – works fine

    4. Katie Berry says:

      Lately I’ve been using the Double Bergamot Earl Gray cups. They are delicious!

    5. Just stuff the tea bag in the holder. The round tea bags are best for this. My tea comes out tasting delicious.

    6. Katie Berry says:

      It’s that easy? I’ll have to give it a try. Thank you, Diana!

    7. To remove the the insert put your finger on the bottom of the insert and push up.to put back line up white lines at the top .. Look at both before taking apart so easy ..

    8. Katie Berry says:

      You’re right, Rosa. That’s exactly how to do it.

    9. please help me says:

      What if the coffee machine doesn’t even brew in the first place

    10. Katie Berry says:

      That’s kind of the entire point of these steps. Have you followed them? All of them?

    11. Laura Finn says:

      Thank you so much for helping me unclog by Keurig! I followed your instructions exactly and it now works perfectly. My hubby, who isn’t a coffee drinker, ask me if I would brew him a cup soon after I cleaned it. Apparently I did not let the vinegar water solution mixture run completely thru. , so his coffee tasted like vinegar. LOL! He told me that was only shot at getting him to enjoy a cup of coffee. He said he will never try it again.. so people, make sure you get all the vinegar out before you pour yourself some coffee

    12. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad it helped but sorry about your husband’s coffee!

    13. This is why the Tassimo is superior.

    14. I have had a keurig for a while and decided to try the tassimo. What a hassle it was to make a coffee. I only made one then sold it and kept using my keurig.

    15. If the Tassimo is superior, why are you reading about Keurigs?

    16. Katie Berry says:

      You won the internet!

    17. Charlene Wolf says:

      My coffee keurig does not give a whole cup of coffee It seems that the water is not getting through to pod I don’t know how to tell it to you I have taken it apart and cleaned it but nothing seems to work.

    18. Katie Berry says:

      If you’ve tried each and every one of the steps, including the turn & tap as well as the straw trick, then it’s probably just dead. If it’s still under warranty, Keurig will replace it for free.

    19. I just had a similar problem today. It had plugged up during the regular cleaning and no water would come out. I did all the standard cleanings but still no water came out. I took the machine covers off and removed the lines from the check valve. I first made sure water was coming from the tanks. Sure enough, water everywhere. I then used a turkey baster (a glass one) filled it with water and attached it to the line leading to the pump. I pushed the water in and used the bulb to pull water in and out. I pulled out an amazing amount of scale out of the machine, close to a quarter cup. One note here, I had the vinegar/water solution in the machine and it had soaked for about 5 hours before I started this. I continued this with fresh water each time until there was no more scale in the water. Ran it and it works like new. There was so much scale built up I think it had just completely plugged the machine up with the heavy white scale. I ran 3 reservoirs through the machine and it’s working great again.

      I love my Kurig this was my first and I must admit I neglected it. I have a new one now and this one is just a back up so I had no reservations about ripping it apart to try and fix it. It was worth the time. I think this one is going in my office now.

    20. How did you take the machine covers off without breaking them. And you don’t mean the base do you?

    21. Katie Berry says:

      No one is suggesting to remove the covers! The parts you see in the photo are all removable. The water tank is the one you remove to fill before making coffee. The lid is the one on the water tank. The base in most Keurigs does come off should be removed and cleaned regularly, anyway, since it catches drips. Check your owner’s manual and you’ll see the parts of your machine that can and should be removed for cleaning.

    22. Thank you!! You saved me from replacing my keurig ????

    23. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad I was able to help, Jenny. 🙂

    24. Rachel Renaud says:

      Hello so I tried to clean my Keurig and now when I plug it back in it’s stuck on 12oz. Nothing else lights up and it won’t turn on? Any suggestions?

  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

    1. Katie Berry 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!

    2. 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!

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

    4. Cheryl C. says:

      I am a tea snob, and make my tea the old fashion way – in a tea kettle. So did not expect much from a “coffee machine” to make my tea. But let me tell you how happy I was when we got the Keurig…it was as great for tea as it was for coffee. I use loose tea in the reusable cup and it is fast and easy. I have also used tea bag in the cup as well, but loose tea is the best way to drink tea (told you I was a tea snob) and there are a few companies on-line that have a huge assortment and they are pretty inexpensive compared to many of the tea places I used to frequent for my loose tea purchases. Try “Enjoying Tea” on-line. They have the most amazing Creme Earl Grey! They also have discounts all the time and with each order you get a 15% coupon/password to enter each time you order until it expires, usually a few months. Love the Keurig, but have used a French press as well for tea. I cannot wait for the weather to cool off so I can start enjoying my tea every evening! Cheers!

    5. Katie Berry says:

      I love tea, too, Cheryl. Iced or hot, winter or summer – I love it all! Will definitely check out the Creme Earl Grey. Thank you!

    6. I agree the The Twinings Tea is definitely the best tea ever & love trying all the new flavors that come in the Kcups.

  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.

    1. IndianaJoes says:

      Absolutely! We bought a small Farberware percolator and have never looked back. Fast, hot, tasty coffee.

    2. Katie Berry says:

      I completely agree about the superiority of percolated coffee. I’m just incredibly impatient.

    3. Eric Veritas Blair says:

      I found starting with hot water cut brew time in half. Good things come to those who wait 😉

    4. I follow the “cold water only for all cooking” because hot water contains lead. It takes longer but if it keeps the lead out, it’s worth it.

    5. Eric Veritas Blair says:

      Hot water only contains lead if you have lead in your pipes.

    6. Katie Berry says:

      Hot water is more likely to loosen lime and other mineral buildup in the hose, though. OTOH, I suppose you could look at it that as a form of vitamin supplementation. OTOH, ugh.

    7. Starting with cold water makes the coffee taste much better. I believe the instructions tell you to use cold water too. I’ve been using my percolator for 30 yrs, love it!!

  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!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re quite welcome. Thank you for taking the time to let me know it helped!

    2. HI! i have used this method before, (except the straw part, guess I missed that) and it always worked. However, I am descaling right now for the THIRD time in 12 hours, letting it sit for 4 hours like the manufacturer said. Still it says descale. This will be the only time descaling after trying the paper clip and straw tricks though. I don’t know what else to try…..

    3. ralph Pastor says:

      I have a B70 and without a coffee pod the hot water comes out, seemingly ok. I ran vinegar through it, did the paper clip thing, removed the top hood plastic and tested the check valve and looked at the hoses leading up to the water feed needle. Removed the bottom and looked at the motor and more hoses. Cleaned the inlet from the tank and everything I could find that would come apart easy enough. The problem remains. I can run water but when a pod is inserted it starts out ok then after about 5 seconds it starts to run slower and slower to the point it only drips
      The straw trick is interesting because the over flow tube that brings water back to the tank has a check valve so if you try and push air through that it won’t go through. Perhaps you can explain what I am doing wrong?
      The fault seems to be lack of pressure to push the water through the pod. Or perhaps the check valve is clogged so bad it won’t work in either direction.

  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.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Very glad it helped, Lane!

    2. Shauna Wade says:

      Mine doesn’t have that pump thing to blow the straw through so I think that part would be important why doesn’t mine have that? Is there another place it might be I’ve looked all over and I don’t see it. it’s starting to put out water which it was only two drops before but it’s still not doing it fully I have soaked it and ran through cycles for three days. Suggestions.?

    3. Katie Berry says:

      The newer models don’t have the water intake tube at the top. Descaling it with vinegar, cleaning the needle nozzles, and he turn-and-tap should help.

  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!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Keurig does have great customer service! My machine has never nagged at me to clean it, either. My other coffee maker, OTOH, seems to nag at me every couple of days. Ugh.

  7. 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

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You read manuals?! ;-P

  8. OMG! You’re a genius! Thank you for helping me fix my machine.
    I have an unhealthy attachment to my coffee.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad to have been of help! I can’t start my day without coffee, and the Keurig makes it so darned convenient. I really do love that thing.

  9. Lindsey Whitney says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You are so very welcome!

  10. 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!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You are so welcome! I would hate mornings without my Keurig, so I’m glad to help others keep theirs alive. Enjoy. 🙂

    2. Leslie A Gorman says:

      Thank you so much!!! My husband was on Amazon getting ready to buy a new machine when I found this!!! It worked perfectly!
      Mmmmm coffee!

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Glad to have been of help!

  11. 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!!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re so welcome!

  12. Tiff and Erik says:

    thank you!! good advice!! it works again!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Very happy to hear it!

  13. 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.

    1. Katie Berry 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?

  14. Yay! This just saved my Keurig! Thanks so much for the tips!

  15. 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

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