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How to descale a Keurig

Descaling a Keurig in seven easy steps

If that first delicious cup of coffee from your Keurig is now only a distant memory, dissolved in murky flavors and sluggish brewing speeds, it may be time to descale your Keurig. Even the cleanest water leaves trace amounts of minerals and other debris in the delicate lines inside your machine. These deposits can affect the flavor of your coffee and the speed at which it brews. Fortunately, descaling a Keurig is fast and easy. 

How a Keurig gets dirty

Although tap water is perfectly safe to drink, it contains minute particles of minerals that can build up over time. This limescale can block water flow and give your morning cup of joe an unpleasant taste.

Hard water is also naturally high in dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can build up and block the lines inside your Keurig faster. 

Investing in a filtered water jug can extend the period between cleanings. The carbon filter grabs most of the potential deposits and can prolong the life of your Keurig — or at least make it so that you don't have to clean it as often. These require regularly changing the filter, so the expense can add up.

If you use water straight from the tap, there's no way around it: you're going to have to descale your Keurig regularly.

How do you know when it's time to descale?

If you notice that your Keurig coffee machine is taking longer to create your caffeinated goodness, it might be time to descale.

Other signs it's time to descale your Keurig include:

  • A taste that is slightly off
  • Visible signs of deposits 

Even if none of these things occur, it's good practice to descale your Keurig once every three months. This keeps it in top working order and ready to go when needed. 

What you need

  • Water
  • Coffee mug
  • Commercial descaling agent (or white vinegar)

Descaling your Keurig

Step 1: Cleaning the machine and accessories

Start by cleaning the machine itself and any brewing accessories. This includes any reusable K-Cups, the mug tray and the lid. 

Wipe the lid down, and scrub the outside of the Keurig with a damp sponge. Rinse out the reusable K-Cup, and scrub it if needed. 

Allow the accessories to dry, and then reassemble your machine for descaling.

Step 2: Add your descaler

If you opt for a commercial descaler, follow the directions on that product for its use. If you are using white vinegar, plan on using one full cup of white vinegar per water reservoir. Add your descaler of choice, then fill the reservoir and replace it on the machine.

Step 3: Start descaling

Place your mug on the mug tray and start brewing. Brew and dump the water/descaler mix until the water reservoir is empty. You might notice the water moving through your Keurig faster than when you started. This is a good sign that the descaler or white vinegar is doing its job. 

If the water flow is still sluggish or mineral deposits are still obvious, add more white vinegar or descaler to another full reservoir of water and repeat the process. 

Step 4: Rest

Once the descaling is finished, let your machine rest for 30 minutes. This gives the vinegar or descaler time to dissolve any remaining limescale. 

Step 5: Clean the empty reservoir

While waiting for the descaling solution to do its job, take this opportunity to wash and completely rinse the reservoir. This removes any last traces of vinegar or descaler.

Step 6: Rinse completely

You'll need to rinse your Keurig's interior multiple times to ensure all traces of descaler or white vinegar are removed. Fill your reservoir with cool, clean water. If your Keurig has a carafe setting, use that to maintain a steady water flow. 

Dump each mug or carafe of water as it brews. This may take four or more full reservoirs of water, but it's worth it. 

Step 7: Test your descaling

For the final step, taste the last cup of water you run through your Keurig. It should be free from any trace of vinegar or other taste.

What you need to buy for descaling a Keurig

Brita Standard Everyday Water Filter Pitcher 

This 10-cup Brita pitcher filters water to extend the time between descaling. It's lightweight and has a filter that's easy to change. 

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Essential Values Store Keurig Compatible Descaling Solution and Keurig Cleaner

This two-pack gives you four cleanings. It's non-toxic and compatible with other coffee machines, too.

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Bosmarlin Large Stoneware Coffee Mug 

Descale in style with this 17-ounce, heat-safe stoneware coffee mug. It's available in six colors and comes in packs of one or two mugs.

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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