What Can I Use Instead of Keurig Descaling Solution?

Descaling your Keurig coffee maker is an essential part of making sure your machine continues to run smoothly. But Keurig descale solution is expensive! So what can I use instead of Keurig descale solution?

In place of the Keurig descaling solution, you can use citric acid powder (the primary ingredient in their solution) and water, lemon juice and water, or white vinegar and water. White vinegar and water are by far the least expensive option. Citric acid is often located by Vitamin C tablets in stores.

It is recommended that you descale your machine every three to six months. Not descaling can also cause your brewer to not pour the full amount.

You may find yourself needing to do it even more often if you live in an area with hard water.

But before you go grab a jug of distilled water for your Keurig, think again! Click here to read a comprehensive guide on the best and worst types of water to use in a Keurig coffee maker. I not only look at distilled but tap and reverse osmosis too.

Using the Keurig solution on such a frequent basis can get very expensive. Luckily, there are a couple of methods you can try instead of buying the solution from Keurig.

Let’s look at these in more detail.

How do I descale my Keurig without solution?

If it has been at least three months since your Keurig machine was last descaled, you may see that dreaded little “descale” light come on soon.

Even if the light is not on right now, you should mark your calendar as a reminder to clean and descale your machine. This way you won’t run into any unwanted issues and won’t have to fight stubborn buildup that’s been left too long.

You don’t have descaling solution on hand?

No need to panic. There are a few different options for descaling your Keurig coffee maker. These include using:

Sometimes though, even after descaling, that darn light still won’t go off!

In those cases, you’ll need all my super ninja tips in this recent article. I get into every hack, secret, and official remedies the Keurig world has to offer. Just click that link to read it on my site.

In this article, however, we will mainly focus on the white vinegar method.

How do I descale my Keurig with vinegar?

To descale your Keurig with vinegar, turn off the machine and allow to cool. Fill the water reservoir with 50% water and 50% white vinegar. Run brew cycles until the fill light comes on. Repeat brew cycles with water only to remove any vinegar residue.

But don’t worry. I’ll get into each specific step below.

Using a homemade white vinegar solution is one of the cheapest options for descaling your Keurig machine without the branded solution. It may even cost you nothing the first few times since you probably have white vinegar lying around your house somewhere anyways.

To descale your machine with a white vinegar solution, you will need to gather supplies.

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Clean cloths
  • Dish soap

Now, let’s walk through the steps to this process:

  1. Turn off your machine, unplug it, and allow it to cool completely. This will help to ensure your safety and reduce the risk of electrocution and burns.
  2. Remove any pieces that are easily detached. These include the water reservoir and lid, mug stand, K-cup holder, and drip tray (if applicable to your machine).
  3. Wash all the removable pieces with dish soap and warm water. Be sure to dry them completely with your clean cloths.
  4. Clean all over your machine’s surfaces with a damp cloth. Pay special attention to areas that can accumulate coffee grounds and other gunk, like the pod holder and puncture needle.
  5. Put your machine back together. Plug it in only when you are sure everything is dry.
  6. Fill the water reservoir halfway with white vinegar and top it off to the fill line with water.
  7. Place a large mug on the tray and start a brew cycle without a pod. Repeat this process until the reservoir is empty, dumping the brewed water between each cycle.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with only water to flush out any remaining vinegar taste and mineral residue.

After you’ve gone through this process, you should be able to brew a cup of coffee with a machine that is just like new.

But if that still doesn’t work, are the urban myths about hitting your Keurig true?

Click here to read a recent article I wrote on the so-called “slap and burp” method on Keurig coffee makers. I not only cover whether it works, but also if it’s dangerous or will void your warranty.

Is Keurig descaling solution better than vinegar?

Keurig’s descaling solution is the best and most consistent descaling product available and does typically produce better results than other brands or homemade solutions. But other methods do work and are usually less expensive.

There are definite cost advantages to using white vinegar to descale your Keurig coffee maker. However, there are also downfalls when compared to Keurig’s own descaling solution.

The Keurig descaling solution is specifically formulated and marketed for use with Keurig machines. This means that the ingredients have been tested and perfected, resulting in the best descaling method for Keurig machines.

You will also want to keep in mind that if you need to take advantage of your machine’s limited warranty, Keurig may give you a little bit of trouble if they know you’ve run vinegar through your coffee maker.

They may not immediately throw out your claim, but it may take a bit of work to convince them to cover your machine if you don’t use their branded solution.

However, don’t take this to mean that the white vinegar solution doesn’t work.

There is a reason so many people are turning to this method over the branded solution. It is very effective against mineral deposits and buildup.

While cost is a major advantage to the white vinegar method, a common complaint is that it may leave a bad taste in your coffee. The Keurig solution, on the other hand, is less likely to leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

But vinegar isn’t the only thing that can make Keurig coffee start to taste bad.

Mineral buildup inside the machine and water lines can cause your coffee to taste slightly off, as described in this recent article. So if your coffee flavor isn’t what it used to be, check out all my best tips on maximizing the flavor of your Keurig coffee.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do I make my own descaling solution?

You can make your own Keurig descaling solution with a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar, by using 1-2 TBS of citric acid powder with a full water reservoir, or a 50/50 mix of water and fresh lemon juice.

So let’s get into the details of each of these:

The first is with powdered citric acid.

This is the primary ingredient in Keurig’s own descaling solution. Simply add 1-2 tablespoons of citric acid to a full reservoir of water. The process for descaling with this solution is the same as previously described.

You can also create your own solution using lemon juice.

It isn’t the most preferred method just because of the time it takes to prepare and the number of lemons required. However, it is a good, natural way to descale your Keurig.

To create a lemon juice solution, you need a one to one ratio of lemon juice to water, adding up to about a cup of lemon juice.

Pour this solution into your Keurig’s water reservoir and top it off to the fill line with water. Follow the descaling instructions previously described.

Sometimes a Keurig can get clogged due to the water filter being clogged.

But are Keurig water filters universal? Click the link to read my comprehensive article! I get into whether you have to buy the expensive Keurig ones or if you can buy the cheap knock-offs on Amazon and still get the same level of filtration.

How do I get rid of descaler or vinegar taste?

Get rid of vinegar or descaling solution in your Keurig by running your Keurig through an entire cycle of water only, brewing cup after cup with no coffee pod inserted.

So let’s look at how to do this in greater detail.

After running your Keurig brewer through a descaling cycle, you want to make sure to flush those lines really well. You just took the time to descale it to help your coffee taste better. The last thing you want is a residual chemical or vinegar aftertaste.

Flushing the Keurig with water should do the trick to get rid of any leftover descaling solution or vinegar taste. If you have done this and still have a bad taste afterward, try running a full tank through again.

In some cases, when you still have that aftertaste despite running 2-3 cycles of water through it, you may need to look at cleaning out some other parts of the machine.

Try running a Keurig rinse pod or replacing the water filter, which may be trapping excess vinegar. Remember too that any time you descale, you want to remove the water filter from the water reservoir first.

You also want to make sure you are descaling regularly. If you are waiting too long, one descaling cycle may not be enough to break up all the residue. As such, the taste of solution or vinegar may stick to the inside of the machine more.

Some may ask if putting hot water into the Keurig tank will help with either the brewing temperature or to get rid of any unwanted taste from the water lines.

As stated in this recent article, pouring hot water into your Keurig probably won’t do much for making the coffee hotter.

In fact, hot water may do more harm than good. When it is from the tap, hot water typically has more minerals in it, which can lead to more buildup. Also, because the external tank is plastic, you may end up damaging the reservoir.

Just click that link to read more on my site.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, we have answered all of your questions about descaling your Keurig coffee maker without using the branded solution. Using white vinegar, citric acid, or lemon juice, you can achieve the same results with a fraction of the cost.

Descaling is often the main reason for a Keurig to stop working. But it’s not the only reason.

Click here to read my comprehensive article on all the possible causes of a Keurig that barely drips. I get into each reason, how to identify if that’s the issue, and how to fix it.

Be sure to follow your specific Keurig model’s descaling instructions before you run a cycle. You may need more or less water and solution depending on the machine you have.

Keep your Keurig clean and descaled regularly so you can enjoy your favorite cup of coffee whenever you need it.

Photos which require attribution:
White House White Distilled Vinegar 64oz by Wilma Barnes and Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker by Destiny Phillips is licensed under Public Domain

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Jeff Campbell

2 thoughts on “What Can I Use Instead of Keurig Descaling Solution?”

  1. I belabored why my Keurig was not dispensing a full cup of coffee for some time. Finally used my head and ask on the internet. There it was, more information than i wanted. Thank You


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