How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker and Remove Scale Buildup

These easy-to-follow steps take little time and guarantee a better tasting cup of joe.

a plant and two pink mugs filled with coffee beside keurig coffee maker
Photo: Carson Downing
Project Overview
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

One of the main benefits of Keurig coffee makers is how convenient they are to use. It makes getting your daily caffeine boost on the way out the door as simple as a push of a button. But even with their convenience, it's essential to clean a Keurig coffee maker regularly if you want to keep your brew tasting top-notch.

There are plenty of signs that signal it's time to clean your Keurig. First, if you can see buildup on your coffee maker, it's time for a good scrub. Your coffee tasting off or some part of the device not working as it normally does are also signs it's time to clean your device. Regardless of the signs, you should clean a Keurig coffee maker every three to six months for the best results. If you use your coffee maker every day, plan to clean the machine about once a month.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Towel or cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Empty mug


  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Descaling solution (optional)


How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for your particular model of coffee maker. For general guidance on cleaning a Keurig, follow the instructions below. Before you start cleaning a Keurig coffee maker, make sure it has no pods in it.

  1. woman wearing plaid wiping down keurig with white towel
    Carson Downing

    Wash Keurig Exterior

    Before you begin to unclog or descale your coffee machine, you should give the exterior a good scrubbing. Wipe the exterior of the machine with a cloth dampened with an all-purpose cleaner.

  2. Wash Removable Parts

    The reservoir, drip tray and its cover, and the holder and funnel can be washed in the dishwasher. However, do not put the reservoir lid in the dishwasher. Alternately, you can place these pieces in a sink filled with hot water and about 1 tsp. dish soap. Let them soak 15 minutes, then rinse well and towel dry.

  3. cleaning keurig coffee maker with a toothbrush
    Carson Downing

    Clean Keurig Interior

    While the removable parts are washing or soaking, take a clean toothbrush and gently brush out any stuck coffee grinds in the K-Cup holder. While you're in there, use a damp cloth to remove any buildup.

  4. Remove Mineral Deposits

    If you notice any limescale deposits (white crusty buildup), simply soak part of your cloth in white vinegar, apply it to the affected area, and let soak for a few minutes. Wipe again and the white marks should disappear before your eyes.

  5. woman wearing plaid pouring water from pyrex measuring glass into keurig
    Carson Downing

    Run Vinegar Solution

    Place a large empty mug on the tray. Empty any water from the reservoir and remove the water filter if you have one. Refill the reservoir to the maximum line with a solution of distilled vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio. Turn your Keurig on, select the largest cup setting, and allow the vinegar solution to run through the machine as many times as it takes for "More/Add Water" to come on. Dump out the hot liquid from the mug in a sink after each brew.

  6. Let Sit and Rinse the Reservoir

    Let the Keurig coffee maker sit for at least 30 minutes. When time's up, take out the reservoir and rinse it with water to get rid of any vinegar residue. You might have to rinse it a few times.

  7. water pouring from keurig into pink coffee mug
    Carson Downing

    Run Keurig with Water

    Repeat Step 5 but with plain water to rinse out the vinegar from the machine. Again, place an empty mug on the drip tray. Pour water into the reservoir up to the maximum fill line. Use the largest cup setting and allow the water to run through the machine as many times as it takes for it to empty. Finish by re-assembling the Keurig coffee maker. Now you have a clean Keurig all ready to go for your next morning brew!

How to Descale a Keurig Coffee Maker

If you cleaned your Keurig following the steps above and your coffee is still not up to your standard or you still see buildup, try descaling your coffee maker using a  manufacturer-approved descaling solution ($14, Target).

Descaling is a process that breaks down and removes calcium deposits, or scale. Every model of Keurig has a different method for descaling. Keurig recommends descaling every three to six months for best results.

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