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Your Keurig coffee maker has a build-up of gunk. Here’s how to clean it properly

Keep your Keurig coffee maker clean so it brews at its best.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Coffee makers get dirty the more you use them, and Keurig pod coffee makers are no exception. Over time, this build-up can negatively impact the performance of your caffeine machine. With enough mineral buildup in the inner workings, your Keurig might even stop working. Cleaning it regularly is a simple way to avoid this unpleasant situation.

In addition to the brewing system, drip trays and water tanks also require frequent love and attention. Even the exterior of your machine will collect nasty stains, fingerprints, and other marks of grime. Here’s how to fix those issues before things get too out of hand.

Wipe the exterior of your Keurig coffee maker with a damp cloth.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Step 1: clean the exterior

Start by wiping down the outside of the brewer. Keurig actually recommends you do it daily. First, make sure the coffee maker is turned off and unplugged. Then use a damp cloth to wipe off dust and other debris from the exterior of the machine.

Pay special attention to the area on the front, just below the coffee dispenser. This section usually attracts a lot of splashes and drops.

If the drip tray on your Keurig coffee maker looks like this, it’s time to clean it.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Step 2: wash the drip tray

Another part of the coffee machine that is prone to dirt is the drip tray. Liquid from spills often stays inside unnoticed. Coffee drops can evaporate here too, leaving stains. A quick hand wash in the kitchen sink will eliminate this mess in a jiffy. Lukewarm water and dish soap will do the trick. Perform this cleaning task daily.

How to clean your Keurig drip tray

After a quick hand wash in the sink, the drip tray looks great.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Step 3: clean the water tank

Here is another daily cleaning task. This is to give the same hand washing treatment to the water tank. Make sure to remove the water filter first if your machine has one. Depending on your brewer, your tank is safe to throw in the dishwasher.

The pod holder was the dirtiest area in my K-cup test brewer.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Step 4: Check the pod holder

The dirtiest section of my test Keurig K-Classic Infuser was his pod holder. The grounds, soil and dried coffee had formed a noticeable amount of crud here. To solve this problem, I removed the pod holder and separated it into its two main parts. Then I gave them a water rinse and a good scrub with a damp cloth.

You can also use a paper clip to remove debris from inside the brewer outlet needle. The exit needle is inside the pod holder. Be careful because this needle is sharp. Be aware that Keurig recommends that you clean the pod holder weekly.

How to clean your Keurig water cycle

Run a water brew cycle only to rinse your Keurig coffee machine’s brew system.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Step 5: Flush the System

Keeping your Keurig machine’s brewing system clean is essential. Dirty equipment can lead to unwanted flavors from the last brew. Enjoying a pumpkin and spice latte in your unique Sumatran origin isn’t ideal. Pieces of dirt or other debris could also cause blockages or even malfunction.

To clean everything, run a daily water-only brew cycle in the machine. Make sure there is enough water in the tank and that the pod chamber is empty. You can run any cup size cycle, as long as the cup you are brewing into is large enough to accept liquid.

And if you’ve never descaled your coffee maker, or it’s been three months since you did, consider doing so. According to Keurig, you should perform the procedure quarterly. You can use either vinegar or the company’s own special descaling product. Keep in mind that this is a long process requiring at least 45 minutes (4 hours with vinegar).

However, descaling will remove all mineral deposits (often present in tap water) that could cling to the internal components of your coffee maker. This in turn ensures that your coffee maker is brewing at its optimum temperature.

Once you have completed all of these steps, wipe down the brewer again to remove any excess moisture. It should now be ready to brew in great shape.