When it is time to clean your Keurig brewer, you may wonder, “Can you clean a Keurig with vinegar?” Of course, you know that cleaning is important, but you may be hesitant about the vinegar taste affecting the flavor of your delicious cup of coffee.
In this article, we will answer the question of whether you should use vinegar to clean a Keurig, as well as discuss some other cleaning solution options and why it is important to keep your Keurig clean on both the outside and the inside.
Cleaning with vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is an inexpensive household cleaning option. You can use it to clean your dishwasher, microwave, or even your shower head. It is also an easy way to clean your Keurig brewer.
To answer the question, yes, you can clean a Keurig coffee machine with vinegar. When you clean or descale, you’re deep cleaning the inside components to keep the machine running well.
White vinegar works well for cleaning your Keurig because of its acidic nature. The acid in white vinegar causes it to dissolve mineral buildup. However, vinegar is not a strong acid, so you don’t have to worry about it causing damage to your machine. You can also dilute the white vinegar more by mixing it with water.
The white vinegar and water combination will effectively remove scale buildup but will not harm the machine’s plastic tubing, the Keurig’s heater, or the tank.
A Keurig coffee maker is an excellent option for preparing a wide array of beverages at home ranging from coffee to tea to hot chocolate. However, you do have to upkeep them, or else problems can arise. Therefore, make sure to clean the machine both inside and out regularly.
This does not have to be a complicated process. Ensure that you rinse the machine regularly and descale your Keurig every few months.
Why you should clean your Keurig regularly
It would be best if you cleaned your Keurig regularly. If you do not keep it clean on the inside, mold, germs, or bacteria can grow. This will not only affect the taste of your coffee, but it can also negatively affect your health as well.
Cleaning the Keurig is known as descaling it. In this process, vinegar breaks down calcium deposits accumulated on the inside over time. By removing these buildups, your coffee will taste better, you’ll remove harmful bacteria, and you’ll extend the machine’s lifespan.
Minerals in your water cause scale buildup. Even city water that has undergone filtration often still has minerals in it. Even softened water can have minerals in it. Over time, the minerals accumulate inside the machine and can clog the Keurig lines.
When the minerals in the water come in contact with the metal components of the Keurig, they leech out and cling to the metal. This is what is called “scale” or “scale buildup.” Regardless of the type of clean water you use, whether it is city water, well water, filtered water, or bottled water, scale buildup can occur.
Scale buildup is not toxic, but it will build up over time and cause the lines to get clogged. That is why cleaning your Keurig with vinegar or some other descaler to flush out the lines is so important.
You may be wondering if it would be better to use distilled water instead for your coffee maker since distilled water does not have any mineral content. However, Keurig does not recommend doing so due to the taste. Water with minerals tastes better. For better-tasting coffee, Keurig recommends using bottled water that is not softened (1).
How to descale the Keurig coffee maker
First, gather the following items: white vinegar or descaling solution, water, a cup, and a clean sponge or paper towel. Once you have gathered these items, you are ready to start the actual cleaning process.
Descale the machine using vinegar
The first step is to empty the reservoir. To do this, turn off the Keurig coffee maker, empty the water reservoir, and remove any filters. You should not have a K cup inside while you are cleaning the machine.
Next, create a mixture that contains equal parts of white vinegar and water. Again, it would help if you only used distilled white vinegar for this cleaning process. Do not use other types of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar. Those can damage your machine and contribute to clogging the line as they have sediment and debris in them.
Add the water and vinegar mixture to the water reservoir up to the max fill line and turn the machine on. Press the cycle button to start the process. This will cause the water and vinegar solution to run inside the Keurig machine.
Place the empty cup beneath the spout so that the cleaning solution will drip into the cup once it has made its way through the machine.
Depending on how dirty the inside of the machine is, you may have to run the solution through numerous times. If there is significant scale buildup inside, you should run another cycle of the descaling solution or water and vinegar mixture. Keep doing this until the machine’s add water indicator lights up.
Then, let it sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer the mixture sits inside the machine, the more scale the vinegar will be able to dissolve. However, do not let the mixture sit inside the Keurig for more than three hours.
A Keurig alternative
If you do not want to clean your machine with vinegar, you can opt to buy a descaling solution instead as an alternative option. According to Keurig, their descaling solution is the best way to keep your Keurig clean. It is also odorless, which some people prefer over the smell of vinegar.
The Keurig website has instructional videos showing how to use the Keurig brand descaler to describe your machine.
Flush the system
Once you have finished descaling the machine, you must flush the system out with water. This is essential to avoid a vinegar taste residue in your coffee. Run three cycles of plain water through the water tank and machine to ensure that any remaining vinegar is flushed out.
The output water should be clear and look like clean water when the system is properly flushed out. In the end, you should not smell any vinegar. If you do, continue flushing out the system with water.
Clean the outside
The water and vinegar allowed you to clean the inside of a Keurig brewer, but it is also important to clean the external pieces as well. First, the removable parts should be disassembled and cleaned with warm, soapy water. These include the water tank, lid, coffee pod holder, and drip tray.
Warm, soapy water is needed to remove coffee oils that may have spilled out and any mold buildup in the water tank or drip tray. Be sure to rinse these items thoroughly to remove any buildup or oils.
Finally, be sure to wipe down the exterior of the Keurig coffee maker with a dish sponge or a paper towel and some mild soap and water. To avoid lint in the coffee maker, you should let the water tank air dry.
How often to deep clean your machine
You should descale your Keurig every two to three weeks if you are using your Keurig daily or nearly daily. If you use it less often, you can go longer between cleanings. However, you should descale it at least once per quarter at a minimum.
Do not wait until the machine stops working to implement the descaling process. Failure to regularly clean the inside of the system will cause negative effects on the machine’s durability, functionality, and lifespan. Mineral buildup in the reservoir can cause the internal seals to corrode, resulting in the machine being clogged with hard water buildup.
Make plans to clean the removable parts at least once per month. Check the tray and outside of the Keurig for any spills that can easily be wiped up after each use.
You should use the water in the water filter within a week. If it has sat stagnant for longer than a week, mold could grow in it. Therefore, you should replace this water. Therefore, if you plan not to use your Keurig for a while or you are going to store it, be sure to empty the water reservoir and let it air dry fully.
Other cleaning options
While vinegar is very effective at cleaning the inside of the Keurig, other options are available.
One such unique option is to use denture tablets. To do so, put half of a denture tablet into the chamber where the K Cup typically goes. Then run the machine for at least three cycles. This will clean up any residue that has built up in the system. Once the cleaning water is coming out clear, be sure to run a cycle of just water to flush out the lines.
Another option is to use citric acid. You can add one tablespoon of citric acid crystals to a gallon of water. The result will be mildly strong acid. This is better than using a stronger acid, even if you have to descale the machine a few times. Stronger acid could corrode the Keurig’s metal parts and cause more damage to the machine.
If you choose the citric acid option, you will need to run several cycles of citric acid and then multiple cycles of plain water. The number of cycles required depends on how much buildup is in the machine. However, it is better to run too many cycles of water to flush out the system as opposed to not enough.
Which cleaning option should you use?
If you opt to use the Keurig descaler, you will combine the cleaning solution with water in a one-to-one ratio. The cleaning solution offered by the company contains citric acid, silicic acid, phosphates, bleaching agents, and water. Citric acid makes up about 50% of the solution and is a great natural descaling agent.
According to Keurig, this type of cleaning solution will descale the machine and remove calcium and other mineral deposits that have accumulated on the internal pieces of the Keurig.
This is the preferred cleaning method, and it is effective for the descaling process. However, there are drawbacks. The Keurig descaler is more expensive, and chemical residues can be left behind.
On the other hand, if you opt to use distilled white vinegar, there will not be any chemical residue left behind. White vinegar is a natural, effective, cheap option to use to descale a Keurig. However, you must be aware that this method is not recommended by Keurig and may void your warranty.
How to know when it is time to clean your machine
Some Keurig models have a descale light that comes on when it is time for the machine to be cleaned. This serves as a helpful reminder to do a cleansing brew. In addition, the descale light lets you know that the scale buildup has reached a certain level and may negatively affect the operation of the machine.
Before the buildup triggers the descale light, you may notice other signs that it is time to clean out the machine to keep your coffee tasting fresh. For example, slow water flow can indicate buildup accumulating in the line. Also, if you notice it taking longer for your Keurig to brew a cup of coffee, it is time to clean it out.
You may also notice the pump struggling or making more noises than you are used to hearing with your Keurig coffee maker. This could also be a sign of a clogged line. However, other things could be causing this problem, such as a faulty coffee pod or an obstruction from the coffee filter.
To confirm that the problem is water flow, do the following steps. First, remove all K cup pods. Then, make sure that the top needle is clean. This is the needle puncturing the top of the K cup so coffee grounds could clog the needle. To clean it out, insert an unfolded paper clip into the needle. You should also remove the K cup pod holder and run the Keurig without the holder or a pod to flush out the system.
If, after doing all this, you notice that your Keurig still has poor water flow where the water just dribbles out, you will need to descale the machine completely.
How to avoid build up in your machine
To avoid scale buildup, consider using bottled distilled water. This may slightly affect the taste of the coffee, but it will reduce the frequency with which you need to descale your Keurig coffee maker.
Another option is to use bottled spring water. This type of water has minerals, so it will taste better than distilled water. However, there are fewer minerals in it than in normal water. This will slow the buildup of scale in the machine. It should also be noted that Keurig recommends spring water.
Can you clean a Keurig with vinegar FAQ
If I have hard water, should I clean my Keurig more often?
Yes. The hard water will cause buildup in the lines and negatively affect the taste and quality of coffee the Keurig produces. If you have hard water, descale your machine once per week.
Can I clean my Keurig with essential oils?
No, you should not use essential oils in your Keurig. Doing so will cause buildup to accumulate inside your machine.
My coffee takes a long time to brew. Is my Keurig broken?
There are a few things to check. One, make sure the needle that punctures the K cup is clean. You should also descale the machine to clear the lines from any mineral buildup that results from the type of water used in the Keurig coffee maker.
Does Keurig support using vinegar to clean the coffee maker?
No. According to the manufacturer, the best way to clean your machine is to use Keurig’s descaling solution. Using other cleaning methods may void the product warranty.
Related Keurig Reading
(1) – https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/factsheet/softening.html