You've Been Cleaning Your Keurig Wrong This Whole Time

Whether you like it light and sweet, strong and bold, or pumpkin spiced, coffee is an integral part of all our lives. It not only helps us wake up in the morning, but it's also a catalyst for bringing people together. The New York Times notes that enjoying the brew has become a social ritual that unites us through coffee breaks at work and visits with friends over sweets and gossip. It's uplifting and jovial even in the banter with your favorite barista on an early Sunday morning coffee run. 

With all the joy that a simple cup of Joe brings us, you'd think we would treat its preparation with kid gloves, but we don't. Instead, we stumble into the kitchen, blurry-eyed and barely awake, shove a Keurig cup into the machine, and anxiously await that first brew. But when was the last time you actually cleaned the vessel that makes your coffee? No, wiping off the finger smudges by the "on" button doesn't count.

Not cleaning your Keurig can make you sick

Like any appliance, your Keurig needs to be cleaned and properly maintained if you want it to last. But it's more than just ensuring your coffee tastes good, it's also a matter of health. According to Keurig, you should clean your machine every three to six months to prevent calcium and scale deposits from clogging it up. While these naturally occurring minerals in your tap water are non-toxic, they can cause your beloved brewer to stop working, and that's not something you want to happen at 6 A.M. on a Monday morning. 

Simply descaling your machine is not enough, however. You're also going to want to give your Keurig a good vinegar cleaning every few months. CBS DFW swabbed a bunch of Keurigs for an investigative report, and what they found was a whole lot of mold and bacteria that could make you really sick to your stomach — both literally and figuratively. Thankfully, you don't need to toss the Keurig in the trash because you haven't cleaned it in forever. It's easy to get it back into showroom-new working order.

How to properly clean your Keurig

Per The Kitchn, the first thing you want to do before attempting to clean your Keurig is to unplug the machine. You want the coffee to be a jolt to your system not an actual electrical current. Then, disengage the water reservoir, and all other removable parts like the mug stand and K-cup holder. Wash these in warm soapy water and thoroughly dry them. Next, wipe the machine surfaces with a clean, damp cloth with close attention paid to the area around the K-cup holder, which can accumulate loose coffee grounds. Once all the parts are dry, reassemble your Keurig and plug it back in.

Next, you want to prepare the cleaning solution, and run the Keurig. To do this, fill the water reservoir halfway with distilled white vinegar (via Good Housekeeping). The vinegar will both clean and descale the machine. Fill the rest of the water reservoir with fresh water. Place a large ceramic mug that can hold the contents of the largest coffee setting on the mug stand. Run the Keurig without a K-cup, and keep repeating the process until the reservoir is empty. Remember to empty the mug after each cycle so it doesn't overflow (via Food52).

Finally, you want to rinse out the machine, according to The Kitchn. Simply fill the empty reservoir with fresh water and run the Keurig until it's empty to get rid of the residual vinegar taste. Your machine is now clean and ready to use.