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How To Clean Your Keurig Without Vinegar

If you own a Keurig you already know about the one-cup convenience they offer.  You also understand just how mess-free and hassle-free they are, saving you tons of time in terms of cleanup.  However, occasionally even the Keurig machines can become scaled due to water deposits, and this scaling can begin to negatively affect the way your coffee tastes.  To remedy this problem, you will need to clean your Keurig from the inside out.

Most websites you read will probably tell you that “vinegar” is the only way to clean these coffee machines.  This is simply not true. Although vinegar can be a fantastic way to clean most types of coffee pots, this process usually takes a lot of time.  Why? Because you will have to flush the machine many times with water just to remove the vinegar taste. Even after all this flushing, some people will still experience a vinegar taste in their coffee, which can be quite unpleasant to say the least.

In the following article we will discuss a couple of sure-fire ways to clean and de-scale your Keurig Coffee Maker without the use of vinegar.  First, however, let’s talk about some of the reasons why it is so imperative to keep these coffee makers clean.

Why It Is Important to Deep Clean Your Keurig Coffee Maker

There are many reasons to keep your Keurig coffee maker clean, but they all boil down to three basic categories: Taste, Performance and Health.  Here we will discuss these three categories in more detail.


If you ever have occasion to stop in for a cup of Joe at your local café you may wonder how they do it—how they manage to turn out one great-tasting cup of coffee after another, coffee that consistently tastes better than the java you brew at home.  The answer to that question is really rather simple: they clean their coffee machines regularly, usually at least once per day. Over time, minerals such as calcium, as well as bacteria and other impurities, can build up within a coffee machine, including your Keurig.  These minerals, bacteria and particles can gradually begin to make coffee taste less than appetizing. If you have begun to notice an off taste to your coffee, it just might be time to clean the equipment with which it is brewed and made.


Nobody likes to waste money; and to ensure you waste as little as possible one thing you can do is ensure that all your appliances, large and small, are working correctly and working efficiently.  This, of course, includes your Keurig Coffee Maker. To keep this one-of-a-kind coffee maker working at its very best it is imperative that you clean and de-scale the machine. Over time, the same minerals that cause scaling, as well as coffee grounds, dirt and other debris, can cause your Keurig coffee maker to work at less than its optimal level.  These minerals and debris can cause your Keurig to brew much slower, which can negate the very reason you purchased a single-cup coffee maker in the first place. For this reason, too, it is vital to keep all the inner parts of your machine working properly and debris-free.


Along with affecting the taste of your coffee and hindering the performance of your machine, a dirty, scaled Keurig coffee maker can actually be a danger to your health.  If that last statement made you sit up and worry just a bit, perhaps it should. According to an international NSF study—a body that inspects machines like coffee makers for potential health hazards—“about half of all coffee makers had yeast and mold growing in their reservoirs.”  Moreover, “about one in ten of these machines were harboring coliform bacteria,” which can be extremely dangerous to your health. The study went on to say that “on average, home coffee reservoirs (like the ones found on Keurig coffee makers) have higher germ counts than both bathroom door handles and toilet seats”—two places in which germs most often are associated.

If you are thinking “Disgusting,” we do not blame you.  It is disgusting.

In addition to mold and yeast fungus, Keurig (and other) coffee makers are actually bacteria traps where some of the most dangerous substances can breed.  If you think about it though, it actually makes perfect sense, as coffee makers like the Keurig possess the very qualities these germs and bacteria love best—warmth, water, darkness and organic material, namely the coffee grounds.  Therefore, if for no other reason than your safety and that of your family, it is absolutely crucial to clean these machines on a regular basis to keep them free of mold, fungus, germs and bacteria.

DIY Keurig Cleaning Without Vinegar

Now that you know the absolute importance of keeping your Keurig coffee maker clean, you are no doubt wondering how to exactly accomplish this task.  Sure, you could reach for the white vinegar in the cupboard, but if you choose this method you better be prepared for multiple flushes and most likely a vinegary taste in your next half-dozen or so cups of coffee.  Instead of doing this, you may want to try one or both of the two cleaning methods outlined below: Cleaning with Citric Acid and Cleaning with Lemons.

Cleaning a Keurig with Citric Acid

For our first cleaning method, “Cleaning a Keurig with Citric Acid,” you will need to assemble the following ingredients:


  1. Citric Acid (Despite the technical name, citric acid can actually be purchased in small quantities at most grocery stores.  It can also be purchased in bulk at a number of online dealers or at big-box stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart).
  2.  Water
  3.  16-oz Mason jar
  4.  Measuring Cups
  5.  Measuring Spoons
  6.  Coffee mug


  • Step One:  Add one heaping tablespoon of citric acid to the bottom of a clean Mason jar.
  • Step Two:  Add one and one-quarter cups of water to the same Mason jar.
  • Step Three:  Secure the lid of the Mason jar tightly and shake the citric acid/water mixture vigorously until it is completely mixed.
  • Step Four:  Carefully pour the citric acid and water mixture into the water reservoir of your Keurig coffee maker.
  • Step Five:  Run your Keurig coffee maker as if you were brewing a cup of coffee, using your coffee mug to catch the runoff.  
  • Step Six:  Once the Citric Acid and water mixture has been run through your Keurig coffee maker, you will then want to run plain water through the machine in the same way to rinse away any leftover citric acid.  You may want to repeat this step 2-4 times to make sure the citric acid is fully rinsed away with no leftover smell or aroma.

Congratulations!  That’s all there is to this cleaning method.

Note:  This method can also be used to clean and de-scale regular coffee makers and coffee pots as well.

How often you clean your Keurig coffee maker is entirely up to you.  But if you want to ensure the proper taste and safety of your coffee, as well as the best efficiency for your coffee pot, we recommend you utilize this cleaning method about every 2-3 months for best results.

Cleaning a Keurig with Lemons

Another way to clean a Keurig coffee maker without the use of vinegar is to substitute lemons instead.  Natural lemon juice contains about 6 percent citric acid, which means it offers a more natural solution than the one outlined above and also one that is safer because the percentage of acid is much less.

Actually, the method for cleaning and de-scaling a Keurig with lemon juice is virtually the same as using diluted citric acid (or diluted vinegar), only a bit more difficult and time consuming, but the end result—a pleasant smell of lemons—appeals to some people.  One of the problems with using lemons to clean your Keurig is that you’ll need a lot of lemon juice to do the task properly. If you choose to squeeze your own lemons, you can expect to squeeze about 12 of them to adequately fill your Keurig reservoir. Of course, you can always buy prepared lemon juice which will cut the time considerably with the same result—and that is what we recommend.


Here is what you will need to clean your Keurig coffee maker with lemons:

  • Lemon juice
  • Large ceramic coffee mug
  • Water


  • Step One:  Fill the water reservoir of your Keurig coffee maker with a half and half mixture of lemon juice and water.
  • Step Two:  Place the ceramic coffee mug on the cup stand of your Keurig.
  • Step Three:  Without putting a K-cup into your Keurig, start the machine and run the brew cycle.  Empty the mug and repeat this process until you have totally drained the water reservoir of the lemon juice/water mixture.
  • Step Four:  Fill the water reservoir back up using only water this time.
  • Step Five:  Again run the brew cycle of your Keurig coffee maker, catching the water with the ceramic coffee mug.  Continue to run the brew cycle repeatedly until you have again drained the water reservoir completely. Continue this step until you can no longer taste any lemon in the water.

That’s all you need to do.  You are now on your way to a cleaner and better performing Keurig coffee maker, one that will offer great tasting coffee that will better preserve your health.

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1 thought on “How To Clean Your Keurig Without Vinegar”

  1. I did the citric acid cleanse and ran water about eight times through after. The next morning my coffee tasted soooo bad. Very much there was still a citric acid flavor! I ran water through that whole next day, and it came out fine. This definitely needs more than 2-4 times rinsing.


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