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How to descale a Keurig(and how to keep it clean)

Descaling is the process in which you try to remove every mineral built in your Keurig, normally limescale. This limescale is common debris in brewers, and it is most easily formed when the tap water you use to brew drinks contains a high level of minerals.

Fortunately the process of how to descale a Keurig is quite easy.

Keurig K-Elite Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, With Iced Coffee Capability, Brushed Slate

Scale appears as a hard white substance building up in coffee makers. This buildup, after certain period of time, will be likely to clog lines or breaking intp small pieces. Initially, this will result in poor-tasting coffee, and eventually, it can lead to your coffee maker grinding to a halt.

How to descale a Keurig

Here are detailed steps to descale a Keurig:

  1. Set up your machine as if everything were ready to brew a fresh cup of coffee. Make sure that every part is properly placed
  2. Add citric acid power(1 to 2 tbsp) mixed into one 1 liter of water into the water reservoir(fill up as much as you can)
  3. Start a brewing cycle and place a cup to catch the liquid
  4. Once the brewing cycle is finished, discard the liquid and replace the cup
  5. Repeat brewing and discarding the solution as many times as needed to remove the scale
  6. Fill the reservoir with water
  7. Repeat brewing and discarding process but now with plain water(twice for good measure). This process is to make sure that no acid remains in the machine and is flushed out
  8. You’re good to go! Enjoy some coffee.

What Keurig Descaling Solution to use?

While we suggest using citric acid as a descaling solution. If you want, you can try another kind of descaling solution such as the ones manufactured by Keurig.

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But in case citric acid solution doesn’t work for you, you can try vinegar. Vinegar is not really recommended though for two reasons:

  • Vinegar is very pungent and the smell takes a long time to go away
  • Vinegar can mess with the rubber tubes inside your Keurig

Keurig descale light stays on?

What if you clear the Keurig, clean it up, but the descale light still stays on? So what next?

There is a really weird method called the “Slap and Burp method”:


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  1. Remove the reservoir and drip tray
  2. Hold the base upside down and slap it hard a few times(seriously)
  3. Put everything back together

Usually a couple of slaps does the trick. This is a very unlikely solution but it works!


How to keep your Keurig clean?

Cleaning and descaling Keurig is easy but it would be better if we can minimize the time to do this while our machine stays clean. I mean it would be much better if we can keep our machine clean without much cleaning and descaling. And below are some tips.

Maintenance schedule for your Keurig

Every week, you should remove all the removable parts of your Keurig and wash them thoroughly.

Every month, you should clean the needle and flush out the machine with water.

Every 3 months, you should run a descaling cycle. Run it every month if you live in an area with hard water.

Tip #1: Don’t let water sit in the machine

Never allow water to in water reservoir longer than 7 days, or you are unintentionally building up deposits in the machine and as a result, it will take you longer time to clean and descale when you want to use the machine again.

More seriously, this bad habit can contribute to building mold in your coffee maker which can cause sickness.

Tip #2: Use filtered water

It is recommended using filtered or distilled water to make coffee as it can minimize the mineral built up.

Or you can invest in a simple water filtration pitcher to remove annoying chemicals and tastes out of tap water.

Tip #3: Clean after making sticky drinks

Remember to make a brewing cycle with hot water once after you have made sticky drinks hot chocolate or sugar cookie coffee. This brewing cycle functions as a cleansing brew, so do not add any K-cup in the K-cup holder.

The reason why sticky drinks are noted here is that sugar leaves much unwanted debris in the machine than minerals do. And you might make condition for the unwanted pests to visit your Keurig if you leave it with a sweet sugary mess.

Above is the must-be-known knowledge when it comes to descaling a Keurig coffee maker. Once you follow it with care, cleaning and descaling Keurig will become much more simple and effective than ever. Are you ready to start now?

Keurig says descale but won’t brew to start the process

Sometimes, if the scale buildup gets too high your Keurig machine will throw an error and show you a message “descale.” But when you try the descaling process, it won’t brew – so what do you do then?

The first thing you should try is to clean the exit needle.

The exit needle is located in the bottom of the K-Cup holder. If the exit needle is clogged, then the machine won’t be able to start. To clean the exit needle, insert a paper clip or a needle and work it around to loosen the debris and pick it out.

You won’t be able to poke the needle through since the open is not on the bottom, it is on the side.

This should solve the descale issue on your Keurig.

However, if you’re still running into issues, you can remove the water tank and check that there are no blockages in the connection between the tank and the pipes that go into the machine.

Any blockages here will also have to be cleared.

If that still doesn’t do the trick, then you’ll have to contact Keurig support

Frequently asked questions

What can I use in place of Keurig descaling solution?

Use some homemade citric acid solution. Mix one tablespoon of citric acid powder with one liter(one quart) of water. You can also use some vinegar diluted with water.

Is descaling solution better than vinegar?

Yes, as vinegar tends to be quite pungent and leaves an odor that takes a long time to go away.

Last update on 2020-09-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.