As an avid Keurig coffee drinker, you may have started to descale your brewer and wondered what exactly are the ingredients in Keurig descaling solution. You know you need to regularly maintain and descale your brewer, but how do you know it is safe to use and won’t affect your next coffee?
Why You Should Descale Your Keurig Regularly
It is vital that you regularly maintain and descale your Keurig machine. There are of course a few different options for descaling solutions that you can use: Keurig descaling solution, citric acid solution, lemon juice solution, white vinegar solution, and baking soda solution.
Any of these are effective mixtures to break up and dissolve the hard water mineral deposits. Pick the one that is the most convenient for you to regularly maintain and descale your brewer.
Keurig’s Descaling Solution
Keurig only recommends using its own branded descaling solution to get rid of the mineral buildup and scale in your brewer. This is repeated throughout the website and the provided user guide (Source: Keurig.com). It is not as clear what exactly are the Keurig descaling solution ingredients, but the breakdown is citric acid, silicic acid, phosphates & bleaching agents, and water. Citric acid is the key ingredient of the solution. All of these ingredients are designed to work together to break down the lime and calcium buildup.
To descale with Keurig’s descaling solution, you will pour the entire bottle into the empty water reservoir then fill the empty bottle with water and pour it in as well. Press the brew button to begin the descaling process.
One of the main advantages of the Keurig descaling solution is the convenience of actually using it. It does not require measuring or mixing beforehand, just pour the solution and water directly into Keurig’s water reservoir and start.
Citric Acid Descaling Mixture
Citric acid is a naturally occurring substance found primarily in citrus fruits. Its mild acidity makes it an effective and safe substance to use in multiple ways, including cleaning and descaling. It is also a chelating agent, which means it can effectively bond with and remove metals (Source: GreenCitizen.com).
It is specifically effective as a descaling solution because the citric acid reacts with the calcium carbonate buildup allowing it to break away and be rinsed off by water. Citric acid is also one of the main ingredients of Keurig’s solution.
You can make your own citric acid solution by mixing one tablespoon of citric acid powder in one liter of hot water (two tablespoons if you would like a more acidic solution). Once the citric acid powder has completely dissolved in the water, pour the solution into the water reservoir and begin the descaling cycle like normal. This is the best way to ensure the citric acid cleans everything it needs to.
Lemon Juice Descaling Solution
You can also use lemon juice to create a descaling solution. Lemons contain citric acid and would make an effective solution similar to the citric acid solution.
This descaling solution is made with a 1-to-1 ratio of lemon juice to water, and you can use either bottled lemon juice or freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Once thoroughly mixed, the lemon juice solution is run the brew cycle to descale.
One major advantage of using a lemon juice solution is that it has a more bearable taste and smell compared to other descaling agents. It could still affect the taste of your coffee if not completely rinsed out, but not as unbearable as some other solutions.
Vinegar Descaling Solution
Another efficient option for descaling your Keurig brewer is to make and use a white vinegar solution. Distilled white vinegar is considered an efficient and inexpensive cleaner for quite a few places in your home. Its mild acidity is what makes it an efficient cleaner. Using a diluted mixture of water and white vinegar, you can easily clean up grease, grime, and dirt.
To create a vinegar solution, mix together a 1-to-1 ratio of white vinegar to the water. The easiest thing to do is to fill the water reservoir halfway with vinegar and then fill it to the top with water. This white vinegar and water combination can effectively break down the scale buildup and deposits without harming the Keurig coffee machine (plastic tubing heater, etc.). Once the cleaning cycle has been completed, you will likely need to run the rinse cycle with just water more than once to ensure there is no lingering vinegar taste or bad smell left behind. It can make your coffee taste sour or bad if not thoroughly rinsed out.
You can also use a similar white vinegar mixture as a cleaning solution to use on the outside of your Keurig coffee maker as well. Use a cloth that is damp with the mixture to wipe down the outside of your brewer, like the top, the pod holder, the mug stand, etc.
Baking Soda Descaling Solution
To create a baking soda solution, you will need to thoroughly mix 1/4 cup of baking with 1 cup of warm water. You can then pour the solution into the water tank and run a descaling cycle. You will likely need to run a rinse cycle to clear out any remaining baking soda before brewing a cup of coffee.
Baking soda is advantageous to use because it does not leave behind an aftertaste and can neutralize any pre-existing odors. Plus, like white vinegar, it is likely that you already have this readily available in your home.
How to Descale your Keurig Brewer
After you decide which descaling solution to use, these are the descaling instructions to descale one of the traditional Keurig machines:
- Verify that the K-cup holder is empty and turn off your brewer.
- Empty out the reservoir and remove the water filter.
- Pour the descaling solution into the open reservoir.
- Turn the brewer back on.
- Place a large mug on the drip tray and press the flashing brew button to start the brew cycle. Continue to repeat the whole process until your Keurig brewer turns on the ‘Add Water’ light.
- Leave the brewer on and let the machine sit for 30 minutes. Wipe down the outside of your coffee machine with a damp cloth.
- After resting, empty any remaining descaling solution and rinse the reservoir out. This is also an excellent time to disassemble and wash any removable parts.
- Fill the water tank to the max line with only water. Press the brew button. Then, you’ll need to do a minimum of at least 12 rinsing brews using the largest brew size. (Note: It’s really important not to skip the final rinsing cycle step! If any solution is left inside, it might affect the taste of your next cup.)
- Replace the water filter and fill the water reservoir with bottled water or fresh water.
- Your coffee maker is ready to brew coffee using your favorite K-cup.
If you find that your coffee still has a bad taste after descaling, you will want to repeat these steps, especially if you might still have limescale buildup from hard water or lack of descaling.
Ingredients in keurig descaling solution FAQ
What is Keurig descale solution made of?
It is made up of citric acid, silicic acid, phosphates & bleaching agents, and water. Citric acid is the key active ingredient of the solution.
Is Keurig descaling solution just vinegar?
It is not just vinegar. Its ingredients consist of citric acid, silicic acid, phosphates & bleaching agents, and water. You can create your own homemade solution using white vinegar.
Can I make my own Keurig descaling solution?
It is possible to make your own descaling solution with a mixture of vinegar and water, citric acid and water, baking soda and water, or lemon juice and water.
What can I use instead of descaling solution?
If you do not want to use the descaling solution, you can make your own solution using vinegar, citric acid, lemon juice, or baking soda. Any of these mixtures is effective as a descaling agent to break down calcium deposits.
Is descaling solution better than vinegar?
This is usually a personal preference on whether to use white vinegar or a descaling solution because both are effective as a descaling agent. Keurig recommends its own solution for cleaning your coffee maker. However, vinegar is inexpensive and is in almost everyone’s home.
How do you descale a Keurig without vinegar?
It is essentially the same process to descale without a vinegar solution. If you choose not to use Keurig’s solution, then using either lemon juice or a baking soda mixture will provide similar cleaning qualities without the harsh smell or taste of vinegar. You can also use a citric acid mixture to descale your Keurig machine.
Can you descale with baking soda?
Baking soda can be used to descale Keurig coffee machines. One benefit of using this mixture is that it does not leave an aftertaste in your coffee and can neutralize any pre-existing odors from your coffee maker.
Can you use apple cider vinegar to descale a Keurig?
It is best to avoid using apple cider vinegar to clean or descale with. Although it might be possible to descale with, it could potentially damage your Keurig coffee maker. It would need quite a few extra rinses to completely get rid of the lingering apple cider vinegar taste and smell.
What happens if you don’t descale your coffee machine?
At first, you may not notice anything at all, especially if you do not use it all the time or exclusively only use bottled water. However, eventually not descaling will cause your brewer to start having problems when you attempt to use it.
Not descaling your coffee machine will cause mineral deposits to build up, which over time will begin to affect your entire experience. It might slow or stop the water flow, preventing you from brewing a full cup of coffee. Its limescale buildup will start increasing your electricity consumption which could affect how efficiently it runs and your brewing temperature.
It could put ground coffee in your cup or give your coffee a bad taste. And finally, depending on how long it has been since you last descaled, it could cause your brewer to stop working altogether.
How often should you descale your Keurig brewer?
Keurig recommends descaling your machine at least every three to six months (Source: Keurig.com). This can vary based on your personal use and water content. If you use hard water to fill your brewer or use your brewer multiple times a day, then you will likely need to descale your more often than recommended timing.
Can I use these solutions to descale my standard coffee machine?
You can use any of these solutions to clean and descale your non-Keurig coffee maker. These solutions are effective in dissolving any scale buildup from standing water.
It is not possible to completely prevent any and all limescale buildup from occurring even if use bottled or distilled water, water softening pellets, or consistently rinse with hot water. You will still need to regularly descale your coffee maker at least every three to six months.
Although Keurig coffee machines have a descaling light that automatically notifies you when it is time to descale, adding a calendar reminder on your phone will also ensure that your brewer is cleaned before the scale builds up enough to affect your brew.
When it does come time to descale, all of the mentioned descaling solutions are safe and effective to descale your machine. Keurig recommends that your use its own-branded solution; however, the homemade citric acid, lemon juice, white vinegar, or baking soda solutions are all effective to use as well. Each solutions’ mild acidity helps to dissolve the limescale or calcium carbonate from the machine. It is best to choose the most convenient or cost-effective solution for you to use consistently.
Whatever solution you choose, the most important thing is to ensure that your Keurig brewer is regularly descaled.