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Cleaning Your Keurig With White Vinegar

Reviewed by Professional Cleaner Jennifer L. Betts
Espresso cappuccino machine

To keep your Keurig in good working order, it's important to descale the unit between two and four times per year, in order to remove buildup. While you can purchase descaling solution sold under the Keurig name to do this, it isn't necessary. Instead, you can use white vinegar, a super-cheap ingredient that you probably already have in your cupboard.

How to Use White Vinegar to Clean and Descale a Keurig

It's very easy to use white vinegar to deep clean and descale a Keurig coffee maker. The only thing you'll need is white vinegar, some water, and the small appliance itself. Follow these steps when cleaning your Keurig using white vinegar.

  1. If there is an old K-Cup in the machine, remove it.
  2. Ensure that the water reservoir is empty.
  3. Remove the filter from the reservoir (assuming that your unit has one).
  4. Fill a large cup or mug with vinegar.
  5. Pour the vinegar into the reservoir.
  6. Place the cup or mug on the base of the unit so it will catch the vinegar as it comes out.
  7. Start the brew cycle, using a large cup setting.
  8. Allow it to run a full brew cycle.
  9. Discard the vinegar or use it for another cleaning purpose.
  10. Let the unit sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
  11. Fill a clean cup or mug with water.
  12. Pour the water into the reservoir.
  13. Place the cup on the base to catch the water as it comes out.
  14. Start the brew cycle.

Once the water has processed all the way through the reservoir, your unit will be clean, descaled, and ready to use.

Consider Cleaning Your Keurig Outdoors

While you can clean your Keurig in its usual spot in the kitchen, keep in mind that vinegar has a strong smell that gets even strong when it is heated (which will happen during the brew cycle). Because of this, you may want to take the unit outside prior to cleaning it with vinegar. Going through the cleaning process outdoors can help prevent your home from smelling like vinegar during the cleaning process and afterwards.

  • Just place it on an outdoor table near an electric outlet or an extension cord
  • Being sure it's not located in a spot where it could get knocked off and spill hot vinegar on people, pets, or plants.
  • This will help make sure that no one gets burned and that none of your plants are inadvertently damaged.

Getting Rid of the Vinegar Smell or Taste After Cleaning

Cleaning your coffee maker outdoors can help keep the vinegar odor for permeating your house, but the appliance itself may pick up a bit of a vinegar smell during the process. It's also possible that the first few times you run water through the reservoir after cleaning it using vinegar that the liquid will pick up a vinegar flavor. To prevent these issues:

  • Wipe the exterior of the unit down with your favorite cleaning solution that doesn't smell like vinegar.
  • Process another mug or cup full of plain water through the reservoir without using a K-Cup.
  • Taste the water after it processes through the machine.
  • Continuing to repeat the process until the water doesn't pick up any hint of vinegar when being processed through the reservoir.

Once the water is free from any vinegar flavor, you can once again use your Keurig to make the hot beverages of your choice.

How to Know It's Time to Clean Your Keurig

It's a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your Keurig with white vinegar once per quarter, or at least once every six months. Consider marking your calendar or putting it on your regular list of household chores. Beyond that, be on the lookout for changes in the amount of time it takes to brew your favorite beverages. If your machine starts slowing down, it may be time to use white vinegar to deep clean and descale it.

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Cleaning Your Keurig With White Vinegar