Expert Tips: Cleaning Your Keurig With Vinegar & Descaling Solution

7 min read FEB 26, 2023

Making a fresh cup of coffee in the morning without any effort should be a given - an easy task to start your day. For many people, the convenience of a Keurig coffee maker often provides this comfort. However, if not regularly maintained through descaling the machine, it can stop functioning and cause frustration - as those who have seen that unnerving "PRIME" message can attest to.

Descale your machine every three months with either vinegar or Keurig's descaling solution to keep your favorite morning brewmaster running smoothly. Follow these seven straightforward steps for absolute convenience every time.

Reason For Cleaning your Keurig coffee maker

Regular maintenance of your Keurig coffee maker is important to ensure that it continues to work effectively and efficiently. The water contains trace amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals with each refill.

The amount and type of each mineral will depend on where you live; some areas have water that is considered "hard" due to the high concentration of these minerals.

When the water heats up inside the Keurig machine, a chemical reaction occurs, which causes these minerals to leach out from the water. This leaves behind a residue on the metal components of the machine that builds up over time into chunks called scale.

Depending on where you live, this could be calcium scale, limescale, or another form. If not regularly cleaned, this buildup can cause damage to your machine by causing permanent wear and tear or resulting in blockages within your coffee maker.

How often should you clean your Keurig?

While that "Prime" message may seem like a gentle reminder from your Keurig coffee maker to descale, it is instead a sign of trouble and something that needs to be dealt with immediately. Luckily for those who remember to perform regular maintenance, some Keurig machines will send out an automatic reminder well before the "Prime" message appears.

However, if yours doesn't have this notification ability, it is advised that users descale their machines every two or three months as a preventative measure. A more frequent interval may be necessary for those with hard water and heavy machine use.

Many people will swear they can taste a difference in their coffee when there is scale buildup. However, that may be more of a psychological than a physical change. In reality, scale buildup seldom alters plain water's flavor, so it definitely won't affect your coffee much. However, it will make your Keurig less efficient over time if it isn't descaled as needed.

To know for sure whether or not it's time to describe your machine, do an internal inspection with a flashlight and be honest about what you see. Then follow the manufacturer's recommendations to ensure your coffee machine continues performing at its best!

Cleaning and Descaling Your Keurig

When cleaning your Keurig coffee maker, it's important to have the right supplies and equipment on hand. To get started, you'll need white vinegar or a specialized descaling solution made specifically for Keurig machines, water, and a heat-safe container such as a coffee mug or similar.

Before beginning the descaling process, it's also beneficial to take some time to clean the outside of your Keurig. Ensure the machine is unplugged and off before using a damp paper towel or dishcloth to carefully wipe it down. If possible, you may also wish to remove the drip tray and water reservoir to give them a proper wash with soap and water. When everything else is taken care of, it's time to clean up the inside!

1. Begin by filling the water chamber of your Keurig with a mixture of white vinegar and room-temperature water. The proportions should be about even; half the tank can be filled with vinegar, and the other half should be filled with water.

2. Place a large, heat-safe container or mug under Keurig's brew head to collect the liquid as it pours out.

3. Start brewing without inserting any coffee pods, selecting a cup size if necessary. This will begin the cycle of cleaning the machine with vinegar and water.

4. Once you've completed a full brew cycle, dispose of the liquid that has been collected in your mug or container, then repeat steps 3 and 4 until all of the liquid in your Keurig's reservoir has been used up.

5. After running through all of these cycles, fill up your Keurig's reservoir one more time with fresh water and run 1-3 cycles to rinse out any remaining traces of vinegar or descaling solution from inside your machine.

6. When you've finished running these last few cycles and emptied the water chamber again, your Keurig should now be completely clean and free from scaling buildup due to mineral deposits in its system! Enjoy your freshly descaled machine!

Vinegar vs. Keurig's descaling solution

If you're attempting to rid your coffee machine of limescale buildup, it can be difficult to decide which descaling solution is better. Fortunately, both options are reasonably effective and have a minimal negative environmental impact. Of the two, though, Keurig descaling tends to be more powerful and shows results sooner while requiring fewer cleaning cycles. That means less time spent scrubbing and more time brewing cappuccinos!

It is important to remember that the warranty on your machine can be voided should it malfunction during the warranty period if you have not cleaned it with the Keurig descaling solution. Although vinegar is cheaper than the official product in terms of cost, its use could mean far higher costs if your machine needs repair or replacement over the course of your warranty's lifespan.

To help you make an informed decision, here is a comprehensive list of the pros and cons. Keep reading to learn more.


Vinegar is a popular household cleaning solution that has been around for centuries and is especially useful in tackling tough-to-clean surfaces like sinks and showers. Plain white vinegar -- not the colored versions or those derived from apple cider, rice, or other sources -- is usually the most widely available variety and tends to be relatively inexpensive.

As a bonus, vinegar is non-toxic and environmentally friendly, so you can use it confidently around your home and family. However, it isn't as powerful of a descaler as some other solutions, so if you have hard water buildup in your pipes or appliances, then you may want to look into another option. It's also important to note that Keurig does not officially recommend using vinegar in any of their machines; doing so could void your warranty.

Keurig Descaling Solution

Keurig offers a specialized descaling solution that is ideal for cleaning their range of automatic, manual, pod, and K-cup, as well as commercial machines. This solution is formulated to provide the most thorough cleaning for all the coffee makers in the Keurig family. Not only can it be used for Keurig's machines, but it can also be used to descale other kitchen appliances like tea kettles.

The descaling solution from Keurig is readily available online and can be found in certain grocery stores. It may, however, cost a little more than other solutions on the market. To get the best clean possible, using Keurig's descaling solution is ideal as it has been designed specifically to work with all of their model coffee makers. Furthermore, this formula is developed to preserve your machine's performance and help extend its life span.


It is essential to clean and descale your Keurig coffee maker to keep it running at peak efficiency, brewing the delicious and aromatic cups of coffee you savor. Descaling your machine every two to three months with Keurig's Descaling Solution is a great way to keep your refreshment station working like clockwork. Don't be tricked by all its convenience – if regularly maintained, your Keurig should be an efficient utility around your kitchen. Neglecting regular upkeep will become more hassle than ever before, not just in the form of shorter life expectancy but also in real warranty considerations. So don't skip out on descaling; keep it running as smoothly as possible!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is it safe to clean a Keurig with vinegar?

While vinegar is a non-toxic and environmentally friendly substance, Keurig does not officially recommend its use in any of its machines. Moreover, the use of vinegar could void your warranty. Therefore, it is generally not recommended to use vinegar in a Keurig.

How often should I descale my Keurig?

You should descale your Keurig every three months or after every 200 uses. This will help ensure the machine runs efficiently and properly by removing any built-up calcium deposits from water usage.

Is it necessary to use a descaling solution?

Yes, a descaling solution is recommended to keep your machine running smoothly and efficiently. Not only will this help maintain the machine's optimal performance, but it can also help extend its life span. Descaling solutions work to remove built-up calcium deposits that can cause problems if left untreated.

Are there any alternative solutions to descaling my Keurig?

You can use white vinegar or citric acid solutions instead of a descaling solution. However, these alternatives may not be as effective as the specialized product designed by Keurig and could void your machine's warranty. It is best to consult your manual before using any other solution than the one recommended by the manufacturer.

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Bo Czajko

My keurig stopped working after descaling with solution from keurig. Not happy.