Single cup coffee makers like the Keurig are awesome little gadgets that make getting that all-too-essential cup of caffeine in the morning just a little bit easier. Unfortunately, the warm, moist environments inside a coffee maker make optimal breeding grounds for nasties like Clostridium. Not cleaning your coffee maker can lead to some nasty additions to your morning cup, including bacteria and mold. Experts agree that an excellent way to mitigate this risk is to clean your coffee maker regularly and thoroughly. Dont know how to clean a Keurig one cup coffee maker? Don't worry. It's easy!
First, you have to know the parts of your machine, and how they come apart. Then you should have a cleaning solution in mind. Finally, it's important to know how to put it all back together again.
About the Keurig One-Cup Coffe Maker
Before we learn how to clean a Keurig one cup coffee maker, let’s take a look at the history behind the revolutionary machine and some of the differences between them.
A short history
The word “Keurig” in Danish means “excellence.” According to an article from Good Housekeeping in 2016, former college roommates John Sylvan and Peter Dragone chose the name after searching through a Danish-English dictionary.
The Keurig coffee maker was initially a commercial coffee maker for offices in 1997. However, the company began marketing the home version in 2003.
Comparison of Keurig mini vs. other Keurig models
Most Keurig coffee makers are “single-cup” coffee makers. Unlike other conventional coffee makers, which can brew carafes of two or more servings per brew cycle, Keurig coffee makers are designed to produce only one mug of coffee per brew cycle.
Larger Keurig brewers like the Keurig K-Elite can hold up to 75 ounces of water in a removable water reservoir, making it simple to start brewing a single serving of coffee.
However, the most compact Keurig brewers don't have a removable reservoir. For these smaller brewers, you add just as much water as is needed for each cup you will brew.
Know Your Keurig: Parts of a One Cup Coffee Maker
Before you can learn how to clean a Keurig one cup coffee maker, you have to know your machine. What are the parts? How do they fit together? Which parts can you submerge in water?
The compact Keurig brewers have fewer pieces than the larger ones. The pieces will vary between models, but most of the compact Keurig brewers will have the following parts.
The brewer handle is the main part of the brewer. You lift the handle to expose the K-cup pod holder. The top portion of the brewer handle has a needle which pierces the top of the K-cup as part of the brewing process.
The K-cup holder is the part of the machine that holds the K-cup in place. This removable piece also has a needle that pierces the bottom of the K-cup as part of the brewing process.
The water reservoir holds the water the machine will use to brew your coffee. In compact coffee makers, this water reservoir is not removable and only holds water for a single brew.
Depending on the model, the water reservoir may also include a removable water level indicator. This piece easily allows you to check how much water is currently in the coffee maker.
Located on the exterior of the machine, the drip tray catches any spillover from the brewing process. The drip tray has two parts: the tray that catches the liquid and the lid that the cup sits on. You may also remove this tray to accommodate larger cups in your Keurig coffee brewer.
When to Clean
Before learning how to clean a Keurig one cup coffee maker, it might help to recognize when your Keurig may need a deep clean.
When to clean your coffee maker
Ideally, you should clean your Keurig coffee maker as needed to keep your coffee germ-free and tasting great. Mop up any spills on the exterior as soon as they happen to avoid coffee or other beverages drying into a sticky mess onto your Keurig.
If you use your Keurig coffee maker regularly, set aside an hour or so to clean it about four times a year or approximately every three months. Regularly deep cleaning your Keurig coffee maker will help minimize the risk of bacteria and other microorganism growth as well as lessen the chance of mineral deposits
What are mineral deposits?
When water evaporates, it may leave behind trace particles of the minerals that dissolved in the water. Unfortunately, these mineral deposits may build up and can impede the function of your coffee maker by clogging the internal mechanisms.
Mineral deposits are a common problem in coffee makers, mainly if you live in an area with hard water. If you are finding that your Keurig coffee maker is taking longer to heat up or is steaming more than it usually does, the chances are that you may have mineral deposits inside your coffee maker.
Mineral deposits are not the only reason you should clean your coffee maker. Here are two situations when you should consider cleaning your coffee maker.
Aside from coffee, Keurig K-cups allow you to brew other hot beverages in your coffee maker, including hot chocolates and iced-tea blends. Since these cups often contain sugar, they are stickier than the standard coffee cups.
If you brew a lot of these sugary drinks, brew a cup of water without a K-cup through your brewer immediately afterward to prevent a sticky build up.
During the cold and flu season, you can even brew medicine in your coffee maker! While this hot drink can make you feel better while you are sick, you do not want to take medication when you don't need it.
For optimal safety, always clean your brewer after making a medicinal drink to ensure that no traces of medication are left behind.
What You Need
To make cleaning and descaling your coffee maker easier, assemble your supplies before you get started. It's also helpful to have access to a sink and running water while you're cleaning.
Descaling your one cup coffee maker is the most critical part of the in-depth cleaning process. Vinegar is a natural, all-purpose cleaner that effectively eats away at any lime and mineral build up. I recommend using distilled, white vinegar as this is the cheapest solution and most common for cleaning use.
Alternatives to vinegar
The downside to using vinegar in the descaling process is it that it has a strong odor. If you're not a fan of using vinegar in your cleaning, you do have other options.
Keurig offers a descaling solution for use with its coffee makers. You can also find other similar descaling solutions by searching for “descaling coffee maker solution” on Amazon or other online retailers.
For a natural descaling solution, try lemon juice instead of vinegar. You can substitute lemon juice in the same proportions as vinegar in the following steps.
Another natural descaling solution is baking soda. To use baking soda, dissolve 1/4 cup of baking soda in 1 cup of water. Use this solution as you would vinegar in the following steps.
Interior cleaning supplies
To clean the pod holder assembly, you will need a soft sponge, warm water, and dish soap. A drying rack or soft drying cloth will also come in handy.
Exterior cleaning supplies
To clean the outside of your Keurig, you will need a soft cleaning cloth and your favorite all-purpose cleaner. If you do not have a cleaning cloth, you can use paper towels.
An alternative to cloth and all-purpose cleaner is a dampened sponge with just a drop or two of dish liquid.
While optional, these next few items can help you give your Keurig an extensive cleaning.
The first optional item is a clean, straightened paperclip. You can use the paperclip to dislodge any grounds that are stuck in the needles of your Keurig coffee maker. Alternatively, you can use a toothpick or a thin skewer.
The next is a small, soft brush, like an old or cheap toothbrush. If you have multiple cleaning toothbrushes, make sure to use one that is used to clean only food-safe surfaces.
Step by Step
With all of your supplies ready and assembled, you're finally ready to start cleaning your coffee maker! Cleaning your Keurig is a straight-forward process involving descaling the interior, taking apart the machine, cleaning the exterior, and then putting it all back together again.
- 1Turn off and unplug your machine
To safely clean your Keurig brewer, you must always turn it off and unplug it before beginning. You will plug it back in for the descaling process.
- 2Open the machine and remove the water level guide
To start, open your Keurig machine by lifting the handle. If the built-in water reservoir has a floating water level guide, remove this and set it aside.
- 3Do a primary cleaning of the brewer handle and funnel
Brush away any loose particles from the handle and funnel area with a cleaning toothbrush or clean, dry cloth. You can also do a quick once-over clean of this area if you would like. However, you will be cleaning it more thoroughly later.
Identify the hollow needle in the brewer handle. Use your paperclip and carefully poke it into the needle hole to loosen any particles.
Identify the hollow needle in the K-cup funnel in the lower half of the brewer handle. Use your paperclip again, poking it into the needle hole to loosen any particles that may be present.
- 4First descaling brew
Close the brewer by putting the handle down and plug the machine back in. Put a large cup onto the drip tray.
Open the brewer and pour 10 ounces of distilled, white vinegar, or other descaling solution of your choice, into the water chamber. Close the brewer and run a brewing cycle. Let all the vinegar brew through the machine into the cup. Discard the hot vinegar.
- 5Second descaling brew
Open the brewer and pour in another 10 ounces of distilled, white vinegar or other descaling solution. Close the brewer and let it sit for 30 minutes. As the descaling solution sits, it will dissolve any deposits that are remaining in the brewer.
After 30 minutes are up, open and close the brewer again, place a cup in the drip tray. Start a brew cycle and then allow the vinegar to brew into the cup. Discard the hot vinegar.
- 6Rinsing brew
Open the brewer and fill with 10 ounces of cold water before closing again. Place a cup into the drip tray and run a brew cycle. Discard the cup of hot water and repeat this process two more times. That makes sure that all the descaling solution rinses away.
- 7Turn off, unplug, and cool
Once the rinsing brew cycles have completed, turn off and unplug the machine. Wait about 5 to 10 minutes to allow the machine parts to cool before handling.
- 8Remove the drip tray
Identify and remove the drip tray from the coffee maker. Discard any liquid in the drip tray and set aside to clean.
- 9Remove the pod holder
Lift the handle and identify and remove the K-cup pod holder assembly from the brewer handle. Consult your Keurig coffee brewer manual if you're finding it difficult to remove.
- 10Clean the brewer
Using your cleaning toothbrush, brush away any remaining particles in and around the handle and assembly.
If you notice any mineral build-up or build-up from coffee or other brewed beverages, you can clean this off with a soft cloth dipped in water or vinegar. Once clean, dry thoroughly with a soft cloth or paper towel.
- 11Hand wash parts
Wash the drip tray, K-cup assembly, and floating water level in hot, soapy water. Take care with the K-cup assembly as this piece contains a sharp needle. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. You may set aside these pieces to air dry or dry with a lint-free towel.
- 12Clean the exterior
Move onto cleaning the exterior of your Keurig brewer. Making sure the handle is down and the brewer shut, spray the brewer lightly with your favorite, all-purpose cleaner. Alternatively, you can clean the exterior with a damp sponge.
Using a soft, lint-free cloth or paper towel, wipe the machine dry.
- 13Reassemble the brewer
Once the pieces are dry, reassemble your brewer. Replace the drip tray, K-cup assembly, and water level in their proper places. Plug the brewer back in, and you're done!
Putting It Back Together
After you're done cleaning your coffee maker, set yourself a reminder on a calendar to repeat this in about three months. Knowing how to clean a Keurig one cup coffee maker helps you enjoy a cup of delicious coffee in the morning. Doing a deep clean gives you peace of mind knowing you are doing your part to keep any unwelcome additions out of your coffee.