How to descale a Keurig coffee maker – expert tips for great tasting coffee

Descaling your Keurig coffee maker is an important part of maintaining and prolonging the life of your machine. Over time, mineral deposits from water can build up inside a Keurig, affecting the taste of your coffee and potentially damaging the internal components. By regularly descaling your Keurig, you can keep it working properly for years of great tasting coffee.

As a coffee expert with years of experience using Keurig brewers, I’m going to walk you through the entire descaling process step-by-step. I’ll also provide some pro tips and advice for getting the best results. With just a few simple tools and ingredients, you can have your Keurig running like new again in no time!

Why You Should Descale Your Keurig Regularly

Here are some key reasons why descaling your Keurig coffee maker is so important:

  • Prevents mineral buildup – Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium that get deposited inside your Keurig over time. This buildup can clog tubes, damage parts, and affect flavor.
  • Improves coffee taste – Scale buildup alters the brewing process, leading to weaker, cooler coffee. Descaling removes the buildup so your coffee tastes full-flavored and hot.
  • Extends the life of your machine – Letting scale go unchecked can cause permanent damage to tubes, heating elements, and other components. Regular descaling protects your investment.
  • Saves money – Replacing a damaged Keurig can cost over $100. The small effort to regularly descale saves you money in repair/replacement costs down the road.
  • Improves performance – Descaling removes blockages so water can flow properly. This allows your Keurig to heat water to the right temperature and brew cups faster.
  • It’s recommended – Keurig themselves recommend descaling every 3-6 months to keep your machine working its best. Following their advice is wise.

Knowing the benefits of descaling will hopefully motivate you to keep up with this simple maintenance. Next I’ll go over the basic supplies you need and the step-by-step process.

Supplies You’ll Need for Descaling

Descaling your Keurig is a very straightforward process that only requires a few supplies:

  • Descaling solution – This is a specially formulated cleaning solution that dissolves mineral buildup. Keurig’s official descaling solution is recommended but generic options work too.
  • Large ceramic mug – You’ll need a large mug that can hold at least 10 ounces of liquid to catch the descaling solution as it cleans.
  • Water – Have bottled distilled water on hand to rinse out the descaling solution when finished.
  • Old toothbrush or paper clips – Either of these can be used to gently scrub away stubborn scale if needed.
  • Keurig carafe – If you have a carafe model, the carafe itself is helpful for descaling.

That’s it! With just those basic supplies, you’re ready to thoroughly descale your Keurig. It’s a very fast and hassle-free process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Descaling Your Keurig

Without further ado, here is the full step-by-step guide to descaling your Keurig coffee maker:

Step 1 – Prep your descaling solution

Start by prepping your descaling solution according to the package directions. Usually you’ll mix equal parts descaling solution and water. Pour the solution into your large ceramic mug.

Pro tips:

  • Use fresh descaling solution and don’t reuse it.
  • Check the solution label for proper mixing ratios.
  • A 10 oz mug full is typically enough solution.

Step 2 – Empty the water reservoir

Lift up and remove the water reservoir from your Keurig. Pour out any water it contains. Doing this prevents accidentally diluting the descaling solution later.

Step 3 – Descale the water reservoir

Fill the empty water reservoir with your descaling solution up to the MAX FILL line. Then place the water reservoir back into the Keurig. This will allow the solution to run through the whole brewing system.

Step 4 – Place your mug and run a cleansing brew

Place your large ceramic mug on the drip tray below the dispenser. With your mug in place, run a cleansing brew using the largest brew size your Keurig model offers. This will pump the descaling solution through.

Pro tips:

  • For carafe models, run the solution through on the carafe setting.
  • Let the solution sit in the mug for at least 30 minutes if possible. This allows more time to dissolve buildup.

Step 5 – Repeat cleansing brews as needed

Examine your mug after the solution has run through. If you see heavy mineral residue, run additional cleansing brews with the solution to clear more buildup.

Pro tips:

  • Try running 2-3 full cleansing brews for a thorough descaling.
  • If residue persists, use a toothbrush or paperclip to gently scrub the dispensers.

Step 6 – Rinse out descaling solution

Once finished descaling, drain the solution from the mug and water reservoir. Rinse each thoroughly with clean water to remove all descaling solution.

Pro tips:

  • Use distilled or bottled water for rinsing.
  • Rinsing prevents residue of the solution from affecting coffee taste.

Step 7 – Rinse with fresh water brews

Fill the water reservoir to the MAX FILL line with fresh water. Without a mug, run a cleansing brew through just water. Repeat this fresh water cleansing brew 2-3 times.

Pro tips:

  • Multiple water brews help rinse away any lingering solution residue.
  • For carafe models, run water brews on both cup and carafe settings.

Step 8 – Wash removable parts

If your Keurig has a removable drip tray or reservoir, wash them in warm soapy water to finish the rinse process. Dry all parts fully before reassembling.

Step 9 – Reassemble and brew

After fully descaled and rinsed, reassemble your Keurig machine. You can now brew a fresh cup of coffee and enjoy the cleaned results!

Pro tips:

  • Run 2-3 cups and discard the water before drinking to purge any residual taste.
  • Consider using filtered water going forward to minimize future mineral buildup.

And there you have it – your Keurig coffee maker is now fully descaled using the proper expert recommended process!

Extra Descaling Tips for Tricky Problems

While the standard descaling process will work for most situations, sometimes you need to try additional techniques if mineral buildup is excessive or stubborn. Here are my pro tips for dealing with tricky descaling issues:

For thick internal buildup:

  • Brew hot water only to help dissolve residue inside.
  • Use a paperclip or toothbrush to gently dislodge stubborn internal scale.
  • Soak brew head and dispenser in a solution bath before rinsing.

For exterior mineral stains:

  • Mix a paste of lemon juice and baking soda. Gently rub on stained areas.
  • Never use abrasive scouring pads. These can damage the finish.
  • Rinse exterior with distilled white vinegar to polish and remove residue.

If flow is still slow after descaling:

  • Repeat descaling using 50% stronger solution.
  • Check inlet needle in brew head for blockage. Gently poke to clear.
  • Remove and soak water reservoir overnight in solution to clear tubing.

With a little persistence, you can tackle even the toughest limescale buildup. Just take your time and use an intensified descaling approach.

Descaling Frequency Recommendations

To keep your Keurig running optimally, you should descale it on a regular maintenance schedule. Here are my recommendations based on usage levels:

If you brew 1-3 cups per day:

  • Descale every 3-6 months.

If you brew 4-6 cups per day:

  • Descale every 2-3 months.

If you brew 6+ cups per day:

  • Descale monthly.

If you have very hard water:

  • Increase descaling frequency by 50%.

After prolonged non-use:

  • Always descale before using again after more than 1-2 months idle.

Adjusting the frequency based on your specific situation will ensure maximum performance and enjoyment from your Keurig.

FAQs About Descaling Keurig Brewers

Here I’ll address some of the most commonly asked questions about descaling Keurig coffee makers to provide further helpful insights:

How do I know when my Keurig needs descaling?

Some signs your Keurig needs descaling include:

  • Coffee tastes weaker or cooler than usual.
  • Brewing is slower than normal.
  • The exterior has limescale or calcium stains.
  • You regularly get “Descale” alert messages on the display.

What can I use if I don’t have official Keurig descaling solution?

You can substitute any natural citric acid based descaling solution. Common options are white vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid powder mixed with water. Always follow package dilution instructions.

Is it safe to descale my stainless steel Keurig models?

Yes, stainless steel Keurigs can be safely descaled using the standard process. The stainless steel will not be damaged by descaling solutions.

How do I descale a Keurig K-Cup or Vue brewer?

The process is the same as for other models. Just be sure to run cleansing brews on the largest cup size your specific brewer offers.

Can descaling improve low brewing temperature?

Yes, removing mineral buildup can help your Keurig heat water properly again for ideal brewing temperatures. Make sure to fully rinse after descaling.

How often should I replace the Keurig water filter?

For best results, replace the water filter every 2 months if you brew daily. This will minimize minerals entering the system needing to be descaled.

What’s the white chalky substance in my Keurig water reservoir?

That white chalky substance is calcium derived limescale residue from hard water remaining after descaling. Make sure to fully rinse the reservoir to remove it.

And there you have it – the top things to know about properly descaling your Keurig for the best tasting coffee possible. Follow my tips and you’ll have a cleaner, better performing machine.

Key Takeaways on Descaling Your Keurig

To summarize, here are the key tips to remember:

  • Descale regularly every 3-6 months to prevent mineral buildup.
  • Always use fresh descaling solution mixed per package instructions.
  • Run multiple full cleansing brews for a thorough descaling.
  • Fully rinse with fresh water after descaling to prevent residue.
  • Adjust descaling frequency based on your water hardness and brewing habits.
  • Try soaking brew head or using intensified solution for stubborn scale.
  • Replace water filters often to reduce minerals entering the system.
  • Watch for weak coffee, slow brewing, or scale stains as signs to descale.

Following this best practice advice, your Keurig coffee maker will run smoothly for years of quality coffee brewing. Enjoy the full flavor and optimal operation after each time you descale.