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How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine (12 Easy-to-Follow Steps)

Collage of illustrations on how to descale a Keurig coffee machine.

Coffee lovers the world over will tell you that the first cup of coffee in the morning is the cup that tastes the best. The Keurig Coffee Machine delivers that delicious cup of coffee but also needs love and care, like descaling, to continue giving you satisfying flavor and aroma day after day.

Descale a Keurig Coffee Machine by emptying the reservoir and removing the filter. Pour the descaling liquid into the reservoir and turn the machine off. Press the 8 and 12-ounce buttons and then push the large K button. After descaling, do a rinse cycle and fill the reservoir with clean water.

Descaling your Keurig Coffee Machine is essential to ensure your coffee maker keeps brewing delicious, hot, fragrant coffee. Fortunately, it isn’t a complicated process and can be done in 12 easy-to-follow steps and takes about 30 minutes.

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 11: Fill up the Reservoir With Fresh, Clean Water

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Even if you do not brew copious amounts of coffee and the descale light doesn't warn you, descale your machine every 3 – 6 months.

If your machine does not have the descale reminder option, check for the following signs that it is time to descale:

  • Your coffee is warm and not hot when the machine dispenses it
  • Your machine becomes noisier
  • It takes longer to brew a cup of coffee
  • Your coffee mug takes longer to fill
  • The brew does not taste as good as it usually does
  • You notice white chalky residue inside your machine
  • Your coffee tastes strange
  • There are bad or mildewy odors coming from the machine

Materials

  • Descaling solution
  • Measuring cup
  • Large mug
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • New carbon filter available to replace the old filter

Instructions

Step 1: Empty the Reservoir

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 1: Empty the Reservoir

The first step in cleaning your Keurig coffee machine is to empty the water reservoir. It is easy to remove the reservoir; lift it. Don't spill any water on the machine's electrical or mechanical parts; ensure the water is not hot when you remove the water storage tank.

Top Tip

To successfully descale your brewer remove any coffee pods left in the basket.

Step 2: Take Out the Carbon Filter

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 2: Take Out the Carbon Filter

After emptying the water reservoir take out the carbon filter. The carbon filter purifies the water and removes chlorine, odors, and other harmful chemicals. To remove the carbon filter, press the clips that hold it in place and remove it.

Replacing your carbon filter is just as important as descaling your coffee machine and impacts the longevity of your Keurig coffee machine.

After emptying the reservoir and removing the filter, start the descaling process. You must use a new carbon filter when you have descaled your machine. More modern versions of Keurig machines allow you to set a reminder to notify you when to replace your filter.

Top Tip

Preferably descale your coffee machine after every 2nd filter change. Descaling ensures that the machine is clean and the water filtering through your reservoir into your coffee machine is free from calcium and mineral residue.

Carbon filters affect the taste of your coffee, and a dirty filter will weaken your coffee brew. The temperature will be tepid and not hot.

It's the ideal time to change your filter when descaling your coffee machine. Keurig suggests changing your filter every two months or sooner if you brew multiple cups of coffee daily. The filter is effective for up to 60 reservoir fills.

Step 3: Pour a Descaling Solution Into the Reservoir

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 3: Pour a Descaling Solution Into the Reservoir

Use a pre-mixed descaling solution or mix your own to clean your machine. Add 6 ounces (one medium-sized cup) of descaling solution to the reservoir. White vinegar is an excellent descaling solution, and it is cost-effective.

Keurig sells a specialized solution for descaling your coffee machine. Other brands offer similar products. Bear in mind that if you don't use the recommended descaling solution, it may impact the manufacturer's guarantee on your Keurig machine.

Coffee machines accumulate lime scale, a build-up of calcium, and a host of other germs. The solution you use needs to cut through all the debris in your coffee machine. If the solution you use doesn't have an acidic base, it won't be effective.

Without regular descaling, mold may develop, and bacteria will lurk in your coffee machine. Not only is this a health hazard, but it will damage your coffee maker.

Step 4: Measure the Water

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 4: Measure the Water

After adding the descaling solution, measure an equal amount of water; always ensure that the ratio between the descaling solution and water is 1:1.

Step 5: Add the Water to the Descaling Mix

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 5: Add the Water to the Descaling Mix

Suppose you use the Keurig descaling solution, empty the whole bottle into the reservoir and add the same amount of water. If you are making a white vinegar and water solution, use equal parts, considering the amount of liquid your model's reservoir takes.

Step 6: Leave the Machine Plugged In

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 6: Leave the Machine Plugged In

The coffee machine should remain plugged in throughout the process, don't unplug it. Unplugging it may damage your machine.

Step 7: Switch the Power Off

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 7: Switch the Power Off

As strange as it may sound, turn the power off to start the descaling process. Keep your coffee brewer and settings the same during the descaling process.

Step 8: Start the Descaling Process

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 8: Start the Descaling Process

After you have switched the power off, you are ready to start the descaling process:

  • Press down the 8 and 12-ounce buttons simultaneously for three seconds.
  • The large K button will light up, indicating that the machine is in descaling mode.
  • Press the K button, and the descaling process will begin.

It is imperative to refrain from doing anything to your coffee brewer while descaling, as this will disrupt the process. Do not push any buttons or remove any part of the machine.

Repeat the process several times If the K-button remains on. If it does, press the K button again until the 'add water message' appears.

Check that the reservoir has adequate water in it. However, if it does not, fill it up with the correct solution of descaler and water. Let the process run its course, and do nothing other than press the K-button when it flashes.

Step 9: Place a Measuring Jug Under the Dispenser

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 9: Place a Measuring Jug Under the Dispenser

Place a measuring jug under the coffee dispenser to collect the descaled water filtering through the coffee maker.

Top Tip

Remember to keep an eye on the measuring jug collecting descaled water and ensure it does not overflow. Because the process runs through a normal cycle, you will have plenty of time to empty your jug.

Step 10: Run a Rinse Cycle

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 10: Run a Rinse Cycle

As soon as the cleaning process is complete, the descaling light will turn off and an 'add water instruction' will appear. Run a rinse cycle to rid your machine of any remaining vinegar or descaling solution. Failure to do this will give you a vinegary-tasting brew for a while.

Step 11: Fill up the Reservoir With Fresh, Clean Water

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 11: Fill up the Reservoir With Fresh, Clean Water

Once you have descaled and rinsed your coffee machine, wash the reservoir thoroughly with dishwashing liquid and water; rinse the container well and then dry the reservoir.

Fresh water from the tap or bottled water works well for brewing coffee; however, distilled water isn't suitable as it is light, and your machine may not register that there is water in the reservoir. If you use bottled water, check that it does not contain minerals that may leave residue behind in the water system.

Hard water is full of minerals, too, that create residue in your machine sooner than softer water does. Should the water in your area be mineral-rich, the best solution is to use bottled water or descale your coffee maker more often.

Step 12: Replacing a Carbon Filter

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine - Step 12: Replacing a Carbon Filter

When the descaling process is completed, your will need to replace the carbon filter. Follow these five steps to replace the filter:

1. Soak the new filter in a cupful of water for about five minutes.

2. Rinse the new filter for 1 minute to remove any remaining carbon residue.

3. Rinse the carbon filter holder and the clip that secures the filter.

4. Put the new carbon filter into the filter holder.

5. Clip it in place.

If you own one of the newer Keurig coffee maker models, adjust the dial alongside the filter to set a reminder to replace the filter in your machine.

Notes

Taking Care of Your Keurig Coffee Machine

In addition to descaling your machine and changing the filter, there are a few other ways in which to take care of your coffee-making investment:

  • Wipe the outside of the machine down regularly with a soap and water mixture. Ensure the mixture isn't too soapy, and do not slosh it around on your machine. Always unplug your coffee machine when you clean it. It is imperative to completely dry your coffee maker before connecting it to an electric point again.
  • Another place that accumulates germs and grime is the drip tray. Use a toothbrush and brush inside the tray to remove any dirt.
  • The needle valve punctures the coffee pod from the top to open it and from the bottom of the pod to allow the coffee through into the coffee basket. To complement the descaling process, clean the needle valve and basket every time you descale your machine. There are several Keurig models, so check the instruction manual to ensure you clean yours correctly.
  • Using a micro-fiber cloth will round the cleaning process off by polishing the outside of your Coffee Machine.

Your Keurig coffee machine will now be as good as new and ready to brew delicious coffee whenever you want.

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Resources:

How to Descale a Keurig Coffee Maker

How to Descale your Keurig® Coffee Maker

How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker the Right Way

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