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How To Clean A Keurig Coffee Maker Using Vinegar

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I’ll be honest, I haven’t properly cleaned my Keurig coffee maker since I first received it as a birthday gift from my siblings five years ago. I’d estimate that I’ve used my Keurig every Saturday and Sunday since then for at least two cups of coffee each of those days. I’m not good at math, but that’s a lot of dirty cups of coffee!

Sure, I’ve scrubbed out my Keurig water filter and washed the K-cup holder, but I’ve never used Keurig’s descaling solution or cleaned out the whole coffee machine using vinegar.

In May 2015, KDKA-TV conducted a study by swabbing 29 Keurig coffee machines and sending them to a lab. The machines came back with millions of colonies of mold and bacteria, including E. coli. Scary!

Well, I don’t want to drink my coffee with a splash of E. coli, so I finally decided to learn how to clean my Keurig coffee machine. Part of the reason I hadn’t thoroughly cleaned my Keurig machine in the past was that I didn’t want to spend the money to buy the Keurig descaling solution. I also really don’t like the smell of vinegar and had never really understood how vinegar cleans since it’s so smelly.

Keurig recommends descaling, or removing calcium buildups, in their machines every three to six months. So I decided to clean my Keurig with and without vinegar to see which one worked best. If you don’t buy the descaling solution Keurig sells, you can either use a homemade vinegar solution or lemon solution to descale your Keurig coffee maker. These methods for how to clean a Keurig works on all models.

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First Steps To Clean A Keurig

How to clean a Keurig's removable parts

Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Before using vinegar or lemon on the Keurig coffee maker, there are a few removable parts on your Keurig that you need to disassemble first and learn how to clean separately. These items can be washed by hand in your sink using soap and water, and then dried with a cloth.

Cleaning Supplies You’ll Need:

  1. White Vinegar
  2. Water
  3. Large ceramic mug

Step-By-Step Keurig Cleaning Instructions:

  1. Add descaling solution. Fill the water reservoir with undiluted white vinegar.
  2. Prepare a mug. Place an empty mug on the mug stand.
  3. Start the machine. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the water reservoir is empty.
  4. Add more vinegar. Fill the water reservoir again with undiluted white vinegar.
  5. Start the machine again. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the Keurig is empty.
  6. Add water. Fill the Keurig again, but only with water this time.
  7. Start the machine again. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the Keurig is empty and you can’t taste any vinegar in the water.

How To Clean A Keurig With Vinegar

How to clean a Keurig with vinegar

Janine Ngai for LittleThings

Vinegar is a good Keurig coffee maker cleaning product because it consists of roughly 10 percent acetic acid, making it a tough cleaner to break down buildups. Acetic acid is used in descaling agents to remove hard deposits by chemicals in water.

Cleaning Supplies You’ll Need:

  1. White Vinegar
  2. Water
  3. Large ceramic mug

Step-By-Step Keurig Cleaning Instructions:

  1. Add descaling solution. Fill the water reservoir with undiluted white vinegar.
  2. Prepare a mug. Place an empty mug on the mug stand.
  3. Start the machine. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the water reservoir is empty.
  4. Add more vinegar. Fill the water reservoir again with undiluted white vinegar.
  5. Start the machine again. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the Keurig is empty.
  6. Add water. Fill the Keurig again, but only with water this time.
  7. Start the machine again. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the Keurig is empty and you can’t taste any vinegar in the water.

How to Clean a Keurig With Diluted Vinegar

How to clean a Keurig with diluted vinegar

Janine Ngai for LittleThings

If you really don’t care for the smell of vinegar, you can also learn how to clean your Keurig coffee maker using diluted vinegar with water.

Cleaning Supplies You’ll Need:

  1. White Vinegar
  2. Water
  3. Large ceramic mug

Step-By-Step Keurig Cleaning Instructions:

  1. Add descaling solution. Fill the water reservoir with half white vinegar and half water.
  2. Prepare a mug. Place an empty mug on the mug stand.
  3. Start the machine. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the water reservoir is empty.
  4. Add water. Fill the Keurig again, but only with water this time.
  5. Start the machine again. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the Keurig is empty and you can’t taste any vinegar in the water.

How To Clean A Keurig Without Vinegar

How to clean a Keurig with lemon juice

Janine Ngai for LittleThings

The best way to clean a Keurig coffee maker without vinegar is by using lemons. Lemon juice is about 6 percent citric acid. Acids, as we learned about vinegar, are a good cleaning agent.

The method for descaling a Keurig with lemon juice is the same as using diluted vinegar, but a little more difficult. The problem with using lemons is that you’ll need a lot of lemon juice to get the job done. Either you can take the time to squeeze a bunch of lemons (it took me 12 lemons to fill about half my 72-ounce water reservoir with lemon juice), or you can spend a bit more money and buy prepared lemon juice.

Cleaning Supplies You’ll Need:

  1. Lemon juice
  2. Large ceramic mug
  3. Water

Step-By-Step Keurig Cleaning Instructions:

  1. Add descaling solution. Fill the water reservoir with half lemon juice and half water.
  2. Prepare a mug. Place an empty mug on the mug stand.
  3. Start the machine. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug and repeat until the water reservoir is empty.
  4. Add water. Fill the Keurig again, but only with water this time.
  5. Start the machine again. Without placing a K-cup in the machine, run the brew cycle. Empty the full mug in the sink and repeat the process until the Keurig is empty and you can’t taste any lemon in the water.

Which Keurig Cleaning Method Is Best?

How to clean a Keurig best method

Janine Ngai for LittleThings

The vinegar method cleaned my Keurig coffee maker better than lemon juice, but I had to run water through the machine five times until there was no smell or vinegar taste. Even after that, I swear I could still taste a little in my coffee for the next few cups.

The lemon-juice method admittedly didn’t seem to clean my Keurig coffee maker as thoroughly, but it was a much more pleasant aroma and it took less water to remove the taste of lemon from my Keurig.

The happy medium for me is the diluted vinegar method. My Keurig machine seems to get just as clean as using full vinegar, but I don’t have to run water through the machine as much to get rid of the vinegar taste. I also don’t have to spend a ton of time squeezing lemons, even though it makes my kitchen smell super fresh!

How to Clean And Care For Your Keurig Regularly

How to regularly clean and care for Keurig

Janine Ngai for LittleThings

To properly clean and care for your Keurig coffee maker, you should try and do the following every week in order to make your machine last longer:

  1. Clean the removable parts (K-cup holder, mug tray, funnel, water reservoir, and lid) with soap and water.
  2. Check the exit needle for clogs and remove using a paper clip.
  3. Wipe down your machine with a wet cloth.
  4. Empty the water reservoir when not in use.

If you know a friend who owns a Keurig coffee maker, please SHARE these tips for how to clean a Keurig!




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