How to Take Apart a Keurig to Clean and Descale It Properly

espresso machine - how to take apart a keurig to clean

How do you take your coffee? Cream? Sugar? How’s about some e. Coli and Klebsiella? Unless you learn how to take apart a Keurig to clean regularly, there is a chance your morning cup of coffee may have some unwelcome additions to it.

Coffee makers with their warm, wet interiors are prime breeding grounds for microorganisms like mold and bacteria. In 2015, CBS television stations took samples from single cup coffee makers and sent them to a lab at Loyola University in Chicago. The microbiologists at Loyola found bacteria including Staphylococcus and Bacillus cereus in the samples. Along with washing your hands and using filtered water, the lab recommends learning how to take apart a Keurig to clean to help cut down on the risk of infection from coffee-machine borne germs.

How to Take Apart a Keurig to Clean It: The Basics

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, 6 To 10 Oz. Brew Sizes, Black
  • BREWS MULTIPLE K-CUP POD SIZES: (6, 8, 10 oz.) - the most popular K-Cup pod brew sizes. Use the 6oz brew size to achieve the strongest brew.
  • LARGE 48 oz. WATER RESERVOIR: Allows you to brew 6+ cups before having to refill, saving you time and simplifying your morning routine. The water reservoir is removable, making it easy to refill whenever you need to.
  • DESCALING: An important part of cleaning your Keurig brewer. This process helps to remove calcium deposits, or scale, that can build up inside a coffee maker over time.
  • AUTO-OFF: An auto-off feature is easily programmed to turn off your coffee maker after it has been idle for two hours, helping to save energy.
  • SIMPLE BUTTON CONTROLS: Just insert a pod, select your desired cup brew size, and brew a great-tasting cup in under a minute.

Keurig coffee makers are single-cup coffee brewers. Before learning how to take apart a Keurig to clean it, we will review the parts of the Keurig coffee maker and learn how they work.

Parts of a Keurig Coffee Maker

The main parts of all Keurig coffee maker are the water reservoir, the drip tray, and the K-Cup pod holder. Some Keurig coffee maker models also include a water filter. When learning how to take apart a Keurig to clean, you need to know the parts that make up your machine so that you understand what you are cleaning and why.

Water reservoir

The water reservoir is a removable container of water. This is where the machine gets the water to heat for your coffee. In some models, this reservoir is a clear container that sits at the side of the machine. In other models, this is a removable container on top of the machine.

If you are unsure about where the reservoir on your machine is, consult your Keurig coffee maker manual or website for more information.

Drip tray

The drip tray is a platform on your Keurig that catches any spillovers when you accidentally brew too much coffee. Drip trays are removable for easy cleaning.

K-Cup pod holder

The pod holder is the piece that holds the proprietary K-cup in place during the brewing process.

Water filter

Some Keurig coffee makers come with a charcoal-based water filter that helps to filter tap water for a better cup of coffee.

How a Keurig Coffee Maker Works

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer, 6 To 10 Oz. Brew Sizes, Black

Keurig coffee makers are single-serve coffee makers. These machines brew single cups of coffee using K-cups which are pre-measured, packaged cups with a filter.

To use a Keurig coffee maker, open the coffee maker by lifting the brewer handle. Then, place the K-cup in the coffee maker and then close the lid.

When you close the lid, two needles pierce the K-cup in the top and the bottom. When you select your brew cycle, the Keurig coffee maker takes water from the water reservoir and heats it to the appropriate temperature.

The heated water then is injected into the pod through the entry needle. As the water passes through the coffee grinds in the K-cup, it then drips down into the cup below as brewed coffee.

Where to Clean Your Keurig Coffee Maker

When learning how to take apart a Keurig to clean it, you must realize that certain parts of your Keurig coffee maker are more prone to getting dirty than others. The drip tray of your Keurig is likely to see the most action, as it is one of the most likely spots to experience spillover and drips.

Always pay attention to how clean your water reservoir is. This is easy, as the water reservoir in most Keurig machines is clear. Dumping the water and rinsing it out between uses is a good way to ensure that the reservoir stays clean.

The pod holder is a very important area to keep clean, as it is where the brewing process takes place. Coffee grounds can get stuck in the needles, which may cause blockages. Additionally, coffee spills can happen and you should clean them immediately.

How Often Should You Clean Your Keurig

Cleaning your Keurig regularly is a good way to keep your coffee maker functioning optimally. Run a quick, water-only brew cycle after brewing something sticky like hot chocolate. This is to keep the sugar in the hot chocolate from gumming up the brewer.

Clean your Keurig coffee maker’s exterior and drip tray at least once a week or as needed to keep it looking pristine.

Mineral buildup and descaling

Over time, your Keurig may develop mineral deposits from your water. This may affect your water reservoir as well as the heating element. While non-toxic, this mineral buildup can change the taste of your coffee and affect your brewer’s performance.

To prevent mineral buildup, Keurig recommends that you descale your brewer every three to six months. A clue that you may need to descale is that your Keurig brewer is taking longer than usual to brew a cup of coffee.

More tips

Beyond regular cleaning, how else can you minimize the chance of bacteria breeding in your coffee maker?

Food and Wine magazine recommends dumping out the water reservoir between brewings. Leave the lid off to allow the container to air dry. By enabling the machines to dry thoroughly, you reduce the places microorganisms have to multiply.

How to Take Apart a Keurig to Clean It

taking apart keurig

Now that we have a good idea of what parts make up a Keurig coffee maker, and what they are used for, we can now go over how to take apart a Keurig to clean it.

  • 1
    Before you begin

Gather all of your supplies before you begin the disassembly and cleaning. You will need a Keurig coffee maker, a cleaning brush, a cleaning cloth, soap, water, a cup, vinegar, and access to a sink.

Next, turn off your brewer and unplug it from the electrical outlet. It will remain unplugged for the majority of the cleaning process.

  • 2
    Remove the water reservoir

Remove the Keurig water reservoir by first removing the water reservoir lid and then pulling up on the reservoir container. Use a soft cloth or paper towel to clean any spots of water that may drip from the reservoir as you remove it.

  • 3
    Remove the drip tray

To remove the drip tray from the Keurig coffee maker, you must first remove the drip tray lid, and then remove the drip tray itself.

  • 4
    Remove the pod holder

Use caution when removing the pod holder as it does contain a sharp needle. Lift the handle of your Keurig brewer, as though you were going to brew a cup of coffee. Take hold of the pod holder with one hand and then push up from the bottom of the holder with the other.

The pod holder has two parts: the pod holder and the funnel. Remove the funnel by grasping both sides of the assembly and pulling firmly. If you are detaching this piece for the first time, you may need a little bit of extra force. The Keurig video below can demonstrate how to do that if you are unsure.

  • 5
    Clean the surfaces of your Keurig coffee maker

Using a soft cleaning brush, brush away any loose coffee grounds and other participles you may see on your Keurig coffee maker. Take care to examine the coffee pod holder assembly, as this is the most common place to find loose coffee grounds.

With a soft cloth (or paper towel) and a gentle, all-purpose cleaner, clean the surface of your Keurig coffee maker.

  • 6
    Clean the needles

Use caution when cleaning the needles as they are sharp.

Find the entry needle on your Keurig coffee maker by lifting the handle on your brewer. The entry needle is a large, hollow needle that protrudes from this top assembly. Use a paper clip to dislodge any loose particulates.

Identify the exit needle tube at the bottom of your K-cup pod holder. Using a straightened paper clip, clean the exit needle tube by poking the paperclip into the tube and moving it around to loosen any coffee grounds or other particles.

  • 7
    Clean your pod holder

Once you have loosened any particles, clean your pod holder by washing it with hot, soapy water and a sponge. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and let dry.

  • 8
    Clean your water reservoir and drip tray

Fill a clean sink or basin with warm water and a teaspoon of mild dish soap. Soak your water reservoir, drip tray, and lids in the warm, soapy water for a few minutes. Wash and rinse all pieces thoroughly before setting aside to air dry.

The Today Show website recommends that you do not use a dry cloth with your reservoir as this may leave lint in the container that could end up in your coffee.

  • 9
    Reassemble your Keurig coffee maker

Once the water reservoir, drip tray, and K-cup pod holder assembly are dry, reassemble your coffee maker. Snap together the pod holder by replacing the funnel. Once completed, place the unit back in the Keurig coffee maker, aligning the arrows as indicated on the coffee maker.

Then, place the drip tray and its lid back in the coffee maker before replacing the water reservoir and cover. Finally, plug in your Keurig coffee maker and turn it on.

  • 10
    Descale your Keurig coffee maker

To descale your coffee maker, fill the water reservoir to the max line with white vinegar. Using the largest capacity brew setting on your coffee maker, “brew” a cup of vinegar in the machine, discarding the hot vinegar after the cycle is complete. Continue this process until you use up all of the vinegar.

Next, fill the reservoir with fresh water. Continue the brewing process with water until you have run two full reservoirs full of water.

Once this is complete, you are done cleaning your Keurig machine! Go forth and enjoy some delicious cups of coffee.

Putting It Back Together

Now that you have learned how to take apart a Keurig to clean it, you can quickly clean your Keurig coffee machine whenever you need to. Cleaning your Keurig regularly is an excellent way to keep it running smoothly, without having to worry about any mineral or particle build-up keeping you from your morning cup of coffee.

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