The smell of coffee brewing in the morning is one of life’s tiny joys. But over time, brewing those daily pots of coffee will take a toll on the machine—and on the taste of your cup of joe. So from time to time, it’s a good idea to give your coffee maker a good cleaning. Here’s how.
How to Clean a Keurig Machine
From time to time, rumors crop up that Keurig and other similar single cup coffee makers cannot be fully cleaned, and therefore harbor bacteria and mold. Yuck! Fortunately, they’re truly just rumors: While it’s true that single cup coffee makers can develop mold and other bacteria, it is not true that they cannot be thoroughly cleaned. Phew! So here’s what you need to know.
Keurig offers a Descaling Solution for cleaning its machines, though you can also use white vinegar and water. Check your manual for specific instructions for your machine, as instructions vary slightly from model to model. Keurig recommends cleaning your machine every three to six months.
Step 1: Empty water from reservoir and power off the brewer. Pour the entire bottle of Descaling Solution into the water reservoir, then fill the empty bottle with water and add that to the reservoir. Alternatively, use equal parts white vinegar and water in place of the Keurig Descaling Solution.
Step 2: Place a large mug on the drip tray plate and run a cleaning cycle using the largest mug size setting. Do not use a K-cup. Dump the contents into the sink.
Step 3: Repeat this process until the “add water” indicator comes on the brewer, then let the brewer stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, discard the solution and rinse the water reservoir.
Step 4: Refill the reservoir with clean water, place a large mug on the drip tray plate and run a fresh water cycle using the largest mug size setting. Do not use a K-cup. Dump the contents into the sink. Repeat until you’ve brewed 12 times, refilling the water reservoir as needed.
How to Clean a Drip Coffee Maker
Cleaning a drip coffee maker is as simple as brewing a pot of coffee—easier, actually, because there’s no measuring grinds and fussing about with filters.
How often you clean your machine depends on how frequently you use it; a good rule of thumb is to clean your coffee pot every 40-80 brews.
Step 1: Fill the carafe halfway with white vinegar and the remaining half with water. You’ll want to end up with a full pot—the number of cups depends on the capacity of your machine, but as an example, when I clean my 12-cup Mr. Coffee I use 6 cups of white vinegar diluted with 6 cups of cold water.
Step 2: Pour the vinegar and water solution into the water reservoir. Return the empty carafe to the warming plate and turn the machine on.
Step 3: All the pot to brew completely, then turn off the machine and allow the carafe to cool. Once the carafe is cool enough to handle, dump the brewed vinegar and water mix down the drain and wash the carafe with hot, soapy water.
Step 4: Refill the carafe with water and pour it into the water reservoir. Return the empty carafe to the warming plate and turn the machine on—this is the rinse cycle. Once the entire pot of plain water has brewed, allow the carafe to cool and wash it with hot, soapy water. Repeat if a vinegar smell lingers in the machine.
Step 5: Remove any parts, like the filter basket, and wash them by hand with hot, soapy water.
If you hate the smell of vinegar, however, this process is not going to be for you. Your kitchen will smell of vinegar as the pot brews! The bonus of using vinegar is that the fumes will also eliminate lingering cooking odors in your home, so if you can stand it use the vinegar. If you truly cannot stand the smell, there are commercial products like Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner that will work just as well and can be substituted for vinegar.