As is the case with most kitchen appliances, your Keurig coffee maker is going to need maintenance and cleaning from time to time. For the most part cleaning your Keurig is relatively simple, you wipe it down and make sure there are not excessive amounts of coffee grounds where the k-cups are placed. But when it comes time to descale your Keurig, things get a little more complicated.
What Does it Mean to Descale?
Over time, if you use hard water or if there are impurities in the water you add to your Keurig, there is the potential for your unit to have calcium buildup in the areas that use water. Descaling is the process of removing that buildup. The process itself is not complicated, but the trouble comes with what solution you use to descale your Keurig. There are a few homemade solutions you can use, and there is even an official Keurig descaling solution that Keurig sells themself.
The official Keurig descaling solution and the homemade solutions use some of the same ingredients. All of them are effective for descaling your Keurig, but the official Keurig descaling solution is definitely the most effective. Regardless of what you decide to use, it is important to consider what is in your descaling solution as some solutions have the potential to leave residue in your unit if you are not diligent, and that can affect the taste of your coffee.
Keurig Descaling Solution
Keurig sells its own descaling solution specifically designed for descaling your Keurig coffee maker. As such, it is the recommended cleaning solution to use on your unit. The Keurig descaling solution uses citric acid as the main active ingredient as well as silicic acid, bleaching agents, and phosphates agents. This solution works by turning calcium buildups in your Keurig machine into water soluble salts while simultaneously sanitizing your unit.
Using the Keurig descaling solution is safe, simple, effective, and should not leave any residue or aftertaste if rinsed appropriately. This solution will remove calcium buildup as well as kill bacteria that can grow in your Keurig.
Citric Acid Solution
The citric acid solution works much the same as the citric acid in the Keurig descaling solution. Calcium buildups, when exposed to citric acid, are turned into water soluble salts that can be easily washed away with water. The main difference between using a citric acid solution as opposed to the Keurig descaling solution is the lack of silicic acid, bleaching agents, and phosphates agents.
To make a citric acid solution for descaling your Keurig, simply mix one tablespoon of citric acid pellets with a gallon of water. If the scaling in your Keurig is especially bad, you can make a more concentrated citric acid solution by only using half a gallon of water instead. Regardless, you will need to thoroughly rinse your Keurig after using citric acid in it to help remove any residue or it will certainly affect the taste of your coffee.
Descaling your Keurig with a vinegar solution is a cost effective method that works just as well as using a citric acid solution. The main difference between using a vinegar solution as opposed to the Keurig descaling solution or a citric acid solution is the strength of this solution. Vinegar is a weaker acid than citric acid, so it will take several treatments using this solution to descale your Keurig. As this is a weaker solution though, it will also be easier to clean the residue out of your Keurig so it will not affect the taste of your coffee.
Making a vinegar solution is very easy. Simply mix a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar in a container, then it is ready to use. It is worth noting that citric acid, silicic acid, bleaching agents, and phosphates agents are not present in this solution as opposed to the Keurig descaling solution.
Lemon Juice Solution
As a citrus, lemon juice naturally contains some citric acid. Because of that this solution works more or less the same as using a citric acid solution, but it is mixed differently and is a little more mild. Additionally, the residue left behind by lemon juice is much less unpleasant than that of vinegar or citric acid if you do not rinse your Keurig thoroughly enough.
Making a lemon juice solution is simple. Just add an even ratio of lemon juice to warm water, then it is ready to be used.
Baking Soda Solution
A simple solution of baking soda mixed thoroughly with warm water is another effective method for descaling your Keurig. Simply run your Keurig through one cycle with your baking soda solution, then run it one more time with clean water.
To make a baking soda solution for descaling, mix ¼ cup of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water and mix it thoroughly. One special thing about using baking soda is that it can also be added to vinegar solutions and citric acid solutions to bolster them. When baking soda is added to these solutions they become more effective in regards to solution strength and speed of reaction.
While there are certainly options out there for descaling your Keurig coffee maker, the descaling solution sold by Keurig is your best bet. It is designed specifically for Keurig coffee makers and uses safe but effective ingredients.
In the Keurig descaling solution you will find citric acid, silicic acid, bleaching agents, and phosphates agents. The main active ingredient, citric acid, works by spoiling down calcium buildup into water soluble salts. The other ingredients help to safely disinfect the inside of your Keurig by killing bacteria.