How to Clean Keurig Without Descaling Solution (3 Options Available)

The last time I spoke about how to clean mold out of a Keurig, I remember mentioning the general cleaning of a coffee maker. Now, imagine the horror of waking up to fix your favorite cup of coffee, but your Keurig won’t work. This unfortunate experience might happen if you do not prioritize regular descaling of your coffee maker, leading to clogs that affect its functioning. However, it’s now possible to clean Keurig without descaling solution. How is that a reality?

Use citric acid or white vinegar to clean your Keurig when you do not have a descaling solution. Mix citric acid or white vinegar with water and run it through a cycle to brew cups of hot water until the reservoir empties. Then fill the reservoir with clean water and start another cycle to flush out the cleaning solution from the Keurig to prevent it from affecting the taste of your coffee.

Reasons for Descaling a Keurig

Descaling your Keurig is an integral part of the cleaning process after brewing coffee for a while. The continuous use of this machine leads to the build-up of calcium deposits inside the coffee maker. If the Keurig makes more than one cup a day or serves many people, the build-up occurs more frequently.

This build-up, when not removed, can affect the coffee maker’s performance and the quality of coffee produced. The descaling helps to remove the mineral deposits, allowing the Keurig to perform optimally.

When to Descale Your Keurig

Most Keurig coffee makers will inform you when to descale them. They do this using the ‘descale light. The light comes in handy as a powerful reminder when you’ve perhaps forgotten to clean your coffee maker.

However, you don’t have to wait for this light to remind you. Regular cleaning will allow you to remove the build-up to prevent stubborn scaling.

How to Clean a Keurig Without a Descaling Solution

There is no need to worry if you do not have the solution. Even without a descaling solution, you can still descale your coffee maker. Here are two options you can try:

  • Citric acid
  • White distilled vinegar


Before you start descaling your coffee maker, there are some simple steps to follow in preparation to use either of these homemade solutions.

This process involves the following:

  1. Please turn off the Keurig and unplug it from the power source, allowing it to cool.
  2. Remove the detachable pieces of the Keurig, such as the water reservoir, mug stand, and K-cup holder.
  3. Wash these parts of the Keurig and allow them to dry.
  4. Clean the outside surfaces of the machine with a damp cloth.
  5. Reassemble the machine.

Once you do this, you are ready to move on to the descaling phase.

Descaling the Keurig with Citric Acid

Citric acid with pieces of lemon

You derive citric acid from citrus fruits such as lemons and limes. It is suited for removing the mineral build-up in the Keurig due to its acidic properties. You may have this product in your household supplies as it has many other uses in your home. If not, you can easily get it at your local grocery store in powder form.

How to Clean Keurig with Citric Acid

You need the following ingredients

  • Citric acid powder
  • Water

After assembling the Keurig as per the instructions in the preparation stage, follow the procedure below:

  1. Mix two tablespoons of citric acid with four cups of water.
  2. Pour this mixture into the water reservoir of your Keurig.
  3. Position a large cup or mug at the base of the drainage spout and start the machine to brew a cup of hot water.
  4. Discard the water that contains the cleaning solution from the brewer.
  5. Repeat the process until the reservoir empties.
  6. If the tank is large, you may need to refill the reservoir with the citric acid-water mixture for multiple cycles to ensure the cleaning of all the areas.
  7. Once the reservoir is empty, fill it with water to the max line for a rinse cycle.
  8. Start the brewing process again to flush out the cleaning solution from the machine.
  9. Repeat the rinse cycle at least two more times.
  10. Replace the water filter cartridge.

After this process, you can brew your coffee with a clean, descaled machine.

How to Clean Keurig using Distilled White Vinegar

This cleaning solution is an equally effective descaling option when you want to clean Keurig without vinegar. A good example of white vinegar is Woeber’s Percent White Distilled Vinegar (pictured below).

FYI, this product does a good job in removing stubborn coffee stains from carpets as well.

Once you go through the preparation steps outlined earlier, follow this procedure:

  1. Fill the reservoir with distilled white vinegar to the halfway mark.
  2. Fill the remaining half with water.
  3. Position a cup under the drainage spout and begin the brew cycle.
  4. Discard the cleaning solution that comes out from the brewer.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the reservoir is empty.
  6. Fill the empty reservoir with clean water to flush out the vinegar-water cleaning solution and any mineral residue.
  7. Replace the water filter cartridge.

How Effective are These Methods Compared to the Keurig Descaling Solution?

The citric acid-water and the vinegar-water cleaning solution are just as effective as the descaling solution. Both mixtures work well to lift the mineral deposits to descale your coffee maker.

There is also the cost advantage factor. These ingredients have other uses in the home, making them readily available in most households.

The only disadvantage is the unpleasant taste and odor. These homemade descaling solutions may leave your coffee with a strange smell or taste if not rinsed out from the machine. The Keurig solution is specially formulated for this job, making it unlikely to leave a peculiar smell or taste.

It is essential to rinse the cleaning solution from the coffee maker through several cycles to prevent this contamination. Also, replace the water filter in your Keurig to reduce the chances of transferring this strange smell or taste to your coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Does my Keurig need descaling?

A: Most coffee makers require descaling and Keurigs are no exceptions. They need descaling every 3 to 6 months to prevent the build-up of calcium deposits that cause clogging. These clogs can affect the machine’s functioning.

Q: How do I clean Keurig without vinegar?

Mix equal parts of water and distilled white vinegar in the Keurig’s reservoir and run a cycle, draining the solution in the cup. You can also mix four tablespoons of citric acid in four cups of water and pour the solution into the reservoir. Run a cycle to allow the solution to drain in a cup or mug while cleaning the Keurig. Once the solution drains from the Keurig and the coffee maker is clean, run a water cycle to flush the remaining traces of the solution from the Keurig.

Q: How do I remove the taste of vinegar from my Keurig?

A: Fill the reservoir with fresh water and run a cycle, draining the liquid into a cup. Allow the water to drain completely. Let the Keurig rest for thirty minutes before making a cup of coffee.

Q: Do I change the water filter after descaling Keurig?

A: When using alternative descaling solutions to descale the Keurig, you can choose to remove the water filter before descaling to prevent contamination. If you don’t do this before, it is recommended to use a new one after descaling. The smell and taste of vinegar or citric acid can remain trapped in the water filter, affecting your coffee. The best option is to replace the water filter after descaling with vinegar or citric acid to maintain the integrity of the coffee.

Parting Shot

Regular cleaning and descaling of your Keurig are necessary to maintain the quality of coffee brewed in the machine. Now you know how to clean Keurig without vinegar. Alternatives such as citric acid powder mixed with water or distilled white vinegar are cheaper, safe, and easy to use. Every time you use these solutions, ensure that you rinse your Keurig thoroughly to flush out any chemical deposits out of your Keurig.

In the end, your coffee maker will produce coffee that has a pleasant taste.