How To Descale Keurig K-Elite?(Tips and Tricks)

Keurig Coffee Maker
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Keurig K-Elite is one of the most popular coffee makers with an elegant design and unique features.

This Keurig model has a large water reservoir, offering 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 oz brew sizes. 

You can use K-Elite’s Strong Brew button to add extra strong and bold flavor to prepare the most delicious coffee.

Additionally, it gives you control over the temperature to optimize your coffee’s taste.

With all its wonderful features, it demands proper maintenance for its longevity.

To make things easier for you, it has a built-in maintenance reminder to remind you when to descale the brewer, which you may forget to do otherwise.

Descaling is the most straightforward and hassle-free method of cleaning your brewer and takes no longer than 45 minutes.

This guide will help you with all the possible queries you have in mind regarding descaling your Keurig K-elite. 

So let’s learn more about how to look after your favorite brewer!

What is Descaling?

For Keurig coffee brewing, water plays a crucial role. Nearly 99% of a cup of coffee is water, which influences the quality of your coffee and the performance of your coffee maker.

As water passes through your coffee machine, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, accumulate on the heating element. Months of mineral build-up can remain undetected in a machine because the heating elements aren’t visible.

You can keep your coffee machine in tip-top shape by descaling it regularly to remove calcium deposits and build-up.

You must descale your Keurig more often, primarily if you use “hard” water. Hard water damages coffee machines more because it carries a higher mineral content.

For your Keurig, you can use a descaling solution to help remove limescale from the surfaces that come in contact with water, like the water tubing and the heating element.

Why is Descaling Necessary for Keurig?

Even the most devoted coffee lovers can neglect their coffee machines for weeks, months, or even years without knowing how to maintain them properly. 

Mineral scale build-up can affect your machine’s working mechanisms, which affect your coffee in several ways.

You must clean your coffee maker regularly to avoid clogging its water tubing system. Clogging prevents water from reaching the optimal brewing temperature, restraining your coffee beans from extracting their full flavor. 

By making the coffee less flavorful and tepid, dirty machines compromise coffee quality.

Besides that, the build-up and gunk can permanently damage the heating element and the other internal parts; eventually, you may have to replace your Keurig with a new one. 

How Often Do You Need to Descale Your Keurig K-Elite Machine?

Keurig says you must descale your coffee maker every 3 to 6 months. The descaling timeframe is subjective to how much you use your brewer and how many cups of coffee you prepare daily.

The period for descaling also depends on the mineral content of the water you use in your coffee maker. If you use tap water with high mineral content, your brewer is more prone to calcium build-up and requires more frequent descaling.

Therefore, using filtered or bottled water is advisable to ensure your Keurig stays cleaner for longer.

How to Perform Descaling on a Keurig K-Elite?

Hopefully, you now understand how beneficial descaling is for your Keurig’s performance and the coffee quality.

The process is simple and quick, here is how to descale your Keurig K-Elite:

What you will need

Keurig descaling Solution

Step 1: Prepare your K-Elite

Before starting the descaling process, you need to perform some preparatory steps. You must remove the K-cup and the water filter from the brewer.

Open the machine head to eject the used K-cup from the pod holder and discard it.

Next, remove the charcoal water filter from the reservoir because it absorbs many minerals and other hazardous substances. So you must replace the water filter every time you descale your brewer.

Step 2: Clean the Exterior of the Coffee Machine

As important as cleaning the coffee maker’s internal components is, it is equally imperative to clean its exterior to maintain its outlook.

Use a microfiber cloth and partially dampen it with soapy water. Gently wipe the exterior of the brewer with a damp cloth. It will wipe off dirt and gunk, making the exterior squeaky clean.

Also, ensure that during the cleaning process, the coffee machine doesn’t directly come in contact with water; it can cause the exterior to rust or damage the brewer internally.

Tip: Avoid using harsh chemicals or sharp brushes to clean the brewer’s exterior; it will scratch its body and ruin its outlook.

Step 3: Prepare the Descaling Solution

Using Keurig’s descaling solution, you can quickly get rid of calcium deposits and gunk from the internal parts of the coffee maker. With citric acid as its main ingredient, the descaling solution makes sure to scrap off all residual substances, leaving the brewer clean.

Pour the Keurig descaling solution bottle into the reservoir and fill the rest with fresh water. You can also refer to the user guide given with the bottle of descaling solution for better understanding.

solution pouring is reservoir

Step 4: Start the Descaling Process

Switch on your brewer and press the power button. Activate the descaling mode on your Keurig K-Elite by opening and closing the machine head without inserting a K-cup.

Next, press the 12 oz brew button. Ensure you put a large cup on the drip tray to collect the descaling solution.

Keep repeating the same process till the brewer starts flashing the “add more water” light.

Let the coffee machine sit for at least 30 minutes while it is still on and there is the leftover descaling agent in the water reservoir. This step will dissolve any gunk and residue from the surface of the water reservoir.

Note: Turn off the auto-off option on your brewer so it doesn’t shut off automatically at any point during the descaling process.

Step 5: Run Cleansing Cycles

You must run several cleansing cycles to eliminate lingering descaling solution or other residual substances. 

Fill the water tank with freshwater and start the brew cycle by pressing the 12 oz cup size. Collect the water in a large mug and discard it in the sink. Keep repeating this process till the brewer runs out of water.

Refill the reservoir with fresh water and repeat this process at least once more. Ensure you run enough brew cycles to wash off any leftover descaling solution from the brewing system. 

How to Clean other parts of Keurig K-Elite?

If people tell you descaling your Keurig frequently is enough for its maintenance, that’s a false notion. Other parts of the coffee maker require a proper cleaning regime.

Let’s have a look at how to clean them:

Cleaning the Removable Parts 

Remove the brewer’s detachable parts: the water reservoir and the drip tray. Use soapy water to wash off residue and dirt from the removable parts, then rinse them under running water.

Use a microfiber cloth or let the removable parts sit for a few minutes to air dry.

Unclogging the Puncturing Needles

The exit and entrance needles pierce through the K-cup to let hot water pass and extract coffee into your cup.

If left unattended for days, the needles can get dirty and have dried-up coffee residue. Dirty and clogged needles will not pierce the K-cup correctly and, as a result, hinder the brewing process.

Here is how to clean the needles:

What you will need


  1. Turn off the brewer and unplug it.
  2. Open the machine head and remove the K-cup holder.
  3. Locate the entrance needle under the machine head. Straighten a paper clip and insert it into the needle.
  4. Move the paper clip around to remove coffee residue from the entrance needle.
  5. Detach the funnel from the K-cup holder by pressing it onto its side.
  6. Insert the paper clip in the exit needle and wiggle it around to loosen the coffee residue.
  7. Wash the needle and the K-cup holder under running water to remove residual substances.
  8. Attach the funnel back to the K-cup holder.
  9. Put the K-cup holder back into the brewer.
  10. The puncturing needles are now nice and clean.

Note: If you have Keurig 2.0, you can use the Keurig maintenance accessory tool. Watch the video demonstrating how to use it correctly.

How to Maintain your Keurig Coffee Maker?

Besides cleaning and descaling, here are some quick tips for maintaining your Keurig coffee machine:

Use Filtered Water

Use filtered water to avoid undesirable taste and smell in your Keurig coffee. Filtered water contains fewer minerals, decreasing the chances of build-up and contamination in your coffee maker.

Filtered water improves the quality of your coffee which is otherwise affected by the weird taste and smell of the tap water.

Use Charcoal water filters. 

Keurig doesn’t have built-in charcoal filters, but you can buy them separately. 

Install a charcoal water filter into your Keurig machine to remove impurities from the water and prevent the accumulation of calcium deposits and limescale.

Once you start using water filters, replacing them every two months or after 60 tank refills become necessary. If you don’t change the water filter often, it will become a breeding ground for bacteria and impurities.

Store your Keurig in a Cool and Dry Place 

Storing your coffee brewer in low temperatures increases the risk of damage to its internal parts. If the water freezes in the water reservoir or other parts of the coffee machine, it can affect its performance.

It would be best to store your Keurig coffee maker in a dry, cool environment like a pantry or storage closet. Remember to empty the reservoir and dry it thoroughly before storing your coffee maker.

How to Descale Keurig K-Elite without a descaling solution?

No descaling solution? No worries! Here are some interesting alternatives to descaling solutions.

Keurig Cleaning Pods

Keurig cleaning pods are similar to coffee pods except for containing a non-toxic cleaning agent rather than coffee. The cleaning agent in these pods descales the coffee machine quickly.

You can use these pods the same way you use any coffee pod. Ensure you run several cleaning cycles afterward so the brewer has no leftover cleaning agent.

Keurig cleaning pods

Citric Acid

Citric acid contains potent properties to help you clean your Keurig like any other descaling agent. Mix two tablespoons of citric acid with four cups of water to use it as a descaling agent.

Next, pour this mixture into your brewer’s water reservoir and run the brewing cycle. Once the brewer runs out of water, run several cleansing cycles with fresh water.

citric acid

White Vinegar

The acidic properties of white vinegar make it a great alternative to the descaling solution. Mix equal parts white vinegar with plain water and add it to the water reservoir of your Keurig.

Run a brewing cycle till your brewer shows the “add more water” message. Then, fill the reservoir with fresh water and run several cleaning cycles to remove any leftover vinegar taste or smell from the coffee machine.

White vinegar

Final Thoughts

Your Keurig coffee machine will generate funky odors and tastes if you do not descale it regularly. The build-up and debris can land in your cup or permanently damage your coffee machine.

Like me, I am sure you would also like your brewer to last 2 to 5 years rather than buying a brand-new Keurig brewer. After all, purchasing a Keurig is not a cheap investment, so it’s better to have a proper cleaning regime.

Hopefully, this guide will motivate you to give your Keurig the attention and love it deserves!


What happens if I don’t descale your Keurig coffee maker?

If you neglect to descale and clean your Keurig, it will accumulate build-up and gunk over time. The build-up will disrupt the water flow of the brewer, and the coffee will start tasting bad; the brewer will make weird noises and permanently damage any of its components.

Can you descale Keurig with baking soda?

Yes! Baking soda is an excellent alternative to store brought descaling solutions. Mix one-quarter cup of baking soda with enough water to fill the coffee machine reservoir. Use the mixture to descale your brewer. After the coffee maker runs out of water, refill it with fresh water and run cleaning cycles.

How do I get my machine out of descaling mode?

The simplest way of deactivating the descaling mode on your coffee machine is to press the same buttons you used to activate the descaling mode. If that doesn’t work, you can turn off the brewer, let it sit for a few minutes, and turn it on again, and it will exit the descaling mode.

Why is the descaling light on after descaling?

If the descaling light is still on after you have completed the process, there can be two reasons for it. If you have not rinsed the brewer with enough water or there is leftover residue in the coffee machine. Run a few brewing cycles with fresh water to turn off the descaling light. If the issue persists, reset your brewer.

Is the descaling solution toxic?

Descaling solutions are non-toxic. However, it is not entirely safe to consume. Swallowing can result in nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

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