One thing that Keurig coffee makers have in common with all coffee makers - they need to be cleaned regularly…
And they also need to be descaled! This means that the buildup from hard water must be removed. If it isn’t removed, your coffee isn’t going to taste very good, and it could cause problems with the machine itself.
In this complete guide (with pictures and videos), we show you step-by-step how to descale a Keurig 2.0. We also show you how to clean all Keurig coffee makers, including how to clean a Keurig 2.0.
Let’s get started!
Cleaning Your Keurig Coffee Maker
Yes, we know that this article is supposed to be about descaling your Keurig coffee maker. But, if it isn’t properly cleaned, there really is no sense in bothering with the descaling process.
There are actually three steps involved in cleaning these coffee makers: cleaning the removable parts; cleaning the internal parts; and descaling. So, let’s start at the beginning, and find out how to clean a Keurig coffee maker. Later on, we will offer some tips on how to keep the coffee maker as clean as possible in between regular cleanings.
There are a few items that you will need in order to clean and descale your coffee maker, and you probably already have most of these items in your kitchen already. You will need the following:
Cleaning the Removable Parts
The first step in the process is to clean the removable parts of the Keurig or the Keurig 2.0 coffee maker. Obviously, the first thing you need to do is unplug the machine. Never take a Keurig coffee maker apart, or clean it while it is plugged in, as there is a risk of severe shock.
You should be working in an area that is clutter-free, and well-lit. Once you have unplugged the machine, here are the steps you need to follow in order to clean it:
Remove Lid & Water Reservoir
There are instructions beneath the lid that tell you how to clean the lid with nothing more than a damp cloth. The reservoir is dishwasher safe. When you take out the water reservoir, be careful to make sure that you don’t lose the O-ring. Without this O-ring, the coffee maker will leak when used after cleaning.
Remove K-Cup Holder and Funnel
Now you can easily slide out the K-cup holder and the funnel. This is where the needle that punctures the K-cups is located, so be careful not to poke yourself with it.
Remove Drip Tray and Drip Tray Cover
If your model has the drip tray and cover, it needs to be removed. Again, these parts are dishwasher safe.
Even though some of the parts are labelled as being dishwasher safe, we still recommend that you wash them by hand, as dishwashers can tend to be hard on plastic. The plastic can turn cloudy, and the water can get so hot in a dishwasher that it can warp the reservoir.
Let the parts soak for about 10 minutes or longer in warm, soapy water, wipe clean, rinse with clear water, and towel dry. Never scrub the parts, especially the reservoir, and only use a soft cloth to clean it, as it is made of acrylic and can scratch easily.
Cleaning the Machine
Now that you have cleaned the removable parts, it is time to work on cleaning the machine itself. The first step in this process is to clean the K-cup area with a soft toothbrush. Use the toothbrush to get rid of coffee grounds that are still in and around the holder space for the K-cups. Once you have this area cleaned, you can move on to the following steps:
Clean K-Cup Area
Using the paper clip, or the Keurig 2.0 Maintenance Accessory, it is time to clean the K-cup area. If you are using a paper clip, you will need to use the clip to push into the holes that are located in the needles that pierce the K-cups.
These holes get clogged with coffee grounds and mineral buildup, so they need to be cleaned out regularly. Another option is to use a straight pin or a thin needle. If the water line gets clogged during this step, push the paper clip inside to clear the line.
You can also turn the entire machine upside down and tap it lightly on the bottom to knock out debris that is clogging the machine. If you are using the Keurig Maintenance Accessory, the process is slightly different.
Make sure the machine is turned off, and fill the silicone bulb on the accessory with clear water. Place the accessory where you would place the K-cup, and raise and lower the handle four to five times. This will loosen coffee grounds and make them easier to remove.
Clear the Water Line
Now it’s time to clean the water line. Find the water line spout, and attach the straw to it. You may have to hold onto the end of the straw to make sure that it is on tight. Blow some air through the straw, which will remove debris in the water line.
Make sure you blow on the straw good and hard.
Clean the Outside of the Machine
The next step is to clean the outside of the machine, using the paper towel or microfiber cloth with some all-purpose cleaner. It is easiest if you spray the cleaning solution directly onto the cloth rather than the machine, and it ensures that there will be no cleaner getting into areas where it shouldn’t.
You can also use soapy water to clean the machine, and a damp cloth for rinsing. You may have to get in and really scrub some parts, and this is often easier to do with a soft toothbrush.
Clean Water Reservoir and Mesh
Take out the water reservoir, and empty it completely. If your machine has a water filter, remove it now. Run clear water from the tap over the mesh filter to get rid of any debris.
This is an area where you will find a lot of scaling, which is a white-ish film. Put some white vinegar on a paper towel and wipe the area clean. It may be necessary to soak the area with vinegar for a couple of minutes before wiping it down.
How to Descale a Keurig 2.0
Now that you have cleaned the machine and all of its parts, it is time to learn how to descale your Keurig 2.0 (and other Keurig coffee makers). Whether you use vinegar or the Keurig descaling solution, the process is pretty much the same.
Before we start, let’s talk about what descaling is, and why you need to do it periodically.
What is Descaling
If you live in an area where there are a lot of minerals in the water, such as calcium and magnesium, you likely have hard water. This is going to leave a white, filmy buildup on any type of coffee maker, including all Keurig models. If your water has a high level of minerals, once it evaporates, you will be stuck with this film that can be difficult to clean off.
When a coffee maker gets too much of this scale, it can greatly affect the quality of your coffee, considering the fact that it is mostly water. The harder the water, the more damaging it can be to coffee makers, because it has a lot of these minerals that can build up and destroy the heating elements inside the machines.
It is a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning and descaling your Keurig coffee maker at least once every month or two. If you do not descale the machine, there are a few ways that the mineral buildup can affect the machine, and your coffee.
When there is too much scale on the machine, it can affect the temperature of the water. Your coffee will be hot, but not nearly as hot as it should be.
When your coffee is not able to reach the optimal temperature, the full flavor of the coffee beans is not going to be extracted.
If there is a lot of mineral scale in your Keurig, it may result in less coffee coming out, so you get what is referred to as a short cup.
If you do not clean mineral scale buildup, it can clog the machine. Over time, this can cause the coffee maker to stop working all together.
Descaling Your Keurig Coffee Maker
Whether you have the Keurig 2.0, or another model from the same brand, you need to make sure that you descale it regularly. This is a relatively simple process that can make or break your coffee experience, and that is important if you have hard water.
It is a good idea to get into the habit of descaling your Keurig every couple of months. Keurig recommends that you do it every three to six months, but it won’t hurt to do it more often. If you do happen to forget about it, most Keurig models have a light that will come on when the machine needs to be descaled.
Keurig Descaling Solution
While Keurig recommends that you use their descaling solution, it may not be the best thing to use all of the time. We recommend that you alternate between solution and vinegar cleanings, so you are using vinegar twice, and then the solution the next time, and repeat this pattern.
The problem with the Keurig Descaling Solution is that it is citric acid-based, so it tends to leave behind a chemical taste, even after you have done several water only brews. But, if you have been cleaning your Keurig with vinegar only, and you find it isn’t working to get the clogs out, you may need to use this stronger descaling solution to fix the problem.
There are descaling solutions offered by other brands, but many of these are even more acidic than the Keurig solution. Over time, they can actually end up damaging your Keurig machine by causing damage to the inside parts. Make sure that you follow all of the manufacturer’s directions if you are using a descaling solution instead of vinegar and water.
There are a few different processes for descaling a Keurig coffee maker, depending on whether vinegar or Keurig Descaling Solution is used, and the model of your machine. Let’s take a look at how to descale your machine with the Keurig solution, and two ways to do it with vinegar.
Descaling Your Keurig 2.0 with Keurig Descaling Solution
It takes less than a couple of hours to descale your Keurig 2.0, and it is a necessary thing to do regularly, especially if you have hard water. The first step in the process is to turn the power off on the brewer.
Next, take the following steps:
- 1Empty water reservoir
- 2Remove filter
- 3Add 1C Keurig Descaling Solution to water reservoir
- 4Fill reservoir to top with water
- 5Run a brew cycle
- 6Repeat brew cycle until reservoir is empty
- 7Turn off the Auto Off feature
- 8Let brewer sit without brewing for ½ hour
- 9Fill reservoir with water and run a brew cycle
- 10Repeat brew cycle at least 10 times
- 11Replace filter
How to Descale a Keurig 2.0 with Vinegar
The following instructions are for Keurig coffee makers with no drains on the bottom. You will need a large mug, and a large jug of white vinegar (64 ounces).
- 1Turn off the Auto Off feature
- 2Drain the water reservoir and put reservoir back in place
- 3Pour enough vinegar to fill mug into reservoir, and put the mug in place
- 4Raise and lower bar as if you were putting in a K-cup (do not put in a K-cup)
- 5Press “Brew” and let the machine brew the vinegar
- 6Dispose of the vinegar, put mug back on the drip plate
- 7Repeat until “add water” light comes on, leave brewer on for four hours
- 8Dispose of the vinegar and rinse well
- 9Fill reservoir with water
- 10Use the brew cycle with water, repeat until “add water” light appears
Here are the instructions you need if your machine does have a drain on the bottom. You will need a coffee mug, water, and a 48-ounce jug of white vinegar.
- 1Unplug machine and place in sink
- 2Drain the water reservoir and put reservoir back in place
- 3Remove charcoal filter from Water Fill Area if your model has one
- 4Place brewer with drain facing down in sink, or if no drain, empty the reservoir
- 5Put the cap back in place
- 6Plug in and turn on
- 7Fill reservoir with vinegar
- 8Lift lever but don’t insert a K-cup
- 9When light comes on, push lever down, put mug in place, and push “brew”
- 10Repeat until “Add Water” light comes on
- 11Turn off automatic shut off, leave coffee maker on four hours with vinegar still in
- 12Turn off and allow to cool
- 14Fill with water and turn power on
- 15When light comes on, put mug in place and repeat steps 8-10
- 16Drain water and replace charcoal filter
Tips for Keeping Your Keurig Clean between Cleanings
If you take steps to keep your Keurig clean between cleanings, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about, as it will be relatively clean all of the time. Here are a few ways that you can keep your Keurig clean.
Drain the reservoir
Never leave water in the reservoir for more than a few days. As the water evaporates, mineral deposits will build up, and you will have to descale the machine more often than normal.
Also, you could end up with mold growing inside the machine, which is going to end up making you sick. Make it a point to drain the water reservoir every five to seven days.
Use distilled water
We mentioned earlier that it is a good idea to always use filtered water for your coffee. You can even take that a step further and use distilled water. Some say that this is not healthy, as there are no important minerals in distilled water. If you are worried about this, stick with filtered water instead.
It still has fewer minerals than regular tap water.
You can also install a filter directly onto your tap. This does need to be changed periodically, but as long as you do so, you can be sure that you are only drinking filtered water. Sure, you can go out and buy bottled water, but this is going to get pretty costly after a while.
Yes, you will have to spend some money on a tap filter or a water filtration pitcher, as well as replacements, but this is still a lot less expensive than buying bottled water, and it’s much better for the environment, seeing as how there are no plastic bottles to dispose of.
Clean after making sticky drinks
You can make more than just coffee in your Keurig 2.0, including hot chocolate, caramel apple cider, etc.
These tend to be sticky drinks, so it is a good idea to get into the habit of running a plain water cycle right after making one of these drinks. This is going to keep any sugar from crystalizing and clogging up the machine.
Replace the Filter
Your Keurig 2.0 has a replaceable water filter that should be replaced at least once every two months, or after every 60 tank refills. The brewer has a water filter alert, which lets you know when the filter needs to be replaced. You can set the alert by going to the settings, then pressing water filter reminder. Press enable, and then press save. The indicator on the machine will come on at the time you have selected, showing a message that says, “time to replace the water filter”.
Press continue, replace the filter, and then press yes to set the reminder for the next time.
Replacing the water filter on a Keurig 2.0 is easy. First, remove the filter holder that is located at the reservoir. Open the holder, and get rid of the old filter. Rinse off the mesh that is on the lower part of the filter holder.
Soak a new filter in water for five minutes or so, and then rinse under lukewarm running water for another minute. Place the new filter into the filter holder, and close the holder. Now you can set the replacement reminder date so you won’t forget to replace it again in another couple of months. Put a filter holder in the reservoir, pushing down until it is in place.
Now you have all the information you need to help you keep your Keurig 2.0, or any other Keurig coffee maker clean, so you always have fresh, great tasting coffee every time. It only takes a few minutes to clean your coffee maker each day, which is going to make the monthly descaling even easier.
The cleaner your machine is, the better your coffee is going to taste. If you let the cleaning slip, you are going to end up with a machine that is clogged and producing inferior tasting coffee.