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Smart Tips For Using Your Keurig

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Last year, for Christmas, I gave my married adult kids, my parents, and myself a Keurig machine. Even though I don’t drink coffee, we use it all the time. We have purchased some of the apple cider and hot cocoa cups, but honestly, I mostly use it as an instant hot water dispenser to add to my own Homemade Hot Cocoa mix and a myriad of other things.

Since I know there are a lot of Keurig owners out there besides me and my family, and after Christmas there will probably be a lot more…today we are sharing tips for using and caring for your machine.

Britta writes………   When it comes to coffee convenience, it’s hard to match a Keurig machine. They heat up very quickly, operate at the push of a button, and dispense your coffee right into your mug (meaning there’s no coffee pot to wash every day!). Personally, I love my Keurig Vue V600 machine! After receiving it as a gift last Christmas, it very quickly became a fixture on my kitchen counter. Not only do we use it every morning for coffee, but we’re constantly discovering great non-coffee things to use it for! So whether you’re a brand new Keurig owner or just thinking about getting one for your ktichen, I thought I’d put together a handy guide of everything you could want to know about owning a Keurig.

Caring For Your Keurig

“Cleansing Brews” – daily

Running regular cleansing brews on your Keurig machine helps to keep the needles that puncture the cups clean, which is important because they can get blocked up by cocoa, tea, or coffee residue pretty easily. Taking a couple of extra seconds each day to run a cleansing brew will help keep your Keurig clean and functional.

Keurig Tips

Once a day, simply place an empty Vue cup in the brewer and run a brew cycle into an empty mug, and discard the brewed water into the sink. (If you have a K-cup brewer, just run a brew cycle without a cup in the machine.) My husband and I do this right before we turn the machine off after our morning coffee. However, if you make a lot of powdered drinks (such as lattes or hot cocoa), you may want to do a cleansing brew between each beverage.

Keurig Tips

If you suspect that the needle in your Keurig may already be clogged, I’ve had great success with unfolding a paper clip and gently using it to clear the clog out of the hollow needle. Obviously I was taking the life of my Keurig into my own hands with this method, because I’m sure I could have done some serious damage, but it worked out incredibly well, so use this tip at your own risk. :-)

General cleaning – monthly

Keurig Tips

Once a month or so, you should clean the brew head of your machine. With some models, you simply lift the handle and pull the plastic part out. Mine has two buttons on the side that you press, then pull it out. Clean the brew head thoroughly by hand using warm, soapy water and a soft washcloth (don’t put it in the dishwasher!).

Keurig Tips

To clean the exterior of the machine, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the outside of your machine, and wash the drip tray thoroughly using warm, soapy water.

Descaling – every 3-6 months

Keurig Tips

Descaling your machine removes mineral deposits and greasy films that can form inside your machine. Descale your machine every 3 to 6 months or so (closer to 3 months for those with hard water) to ensure proper function and taste. (Tip: If you filter your water before using it in your Keurig, you won’t need to descale your machine as often!)

Keurig Tips

Keurig offers a “descaling solution” for purchase on their website, but this process can easily be done using plain old white vinegar as well. Simply fill your water reservoir with a 50:50 mix of white vinegar and water, then run several brew cycles WITHOUT a brew pod, dumping the water into the sink after each brew. Once the machine tells you to add more water, let the machine sit for at least a half hour (you can let it sit for up to a few hours if you wish). If you machine has an auto-shutoff function, make sure to disable it during this process.

Keurig Tips

After the waiting period, remove your water reservoir and dump the rest of the contents into the sink. Replace the reservoir on your machine, fill it with clean water, and run several more brewing cycles (dumping the mug out after each one), until the taste and smell of the vinegar is gone. You’ll probably need to do around 8-10 brews. 

Other Handy Keurig Tips

Using Your Own Coffee

Keurig Tips

Whether you’re concerned about saving yourself some money or saving the environment, many people are interested in using their own coffee in your Keurig machines. Luckily, there are a bunch of great reusable Keurig cups out there that make it easy to do! For Vue owners, I highly recommend this one. Not only can you fill it with your own coffee, but it also comes with an adaptor that lets you use regular K-cups in your Vue machine! This is a nice feature, because sometimes the Vue cups can be hard to find.

If you have a Keurig machine that uses K-cups, this stainless steel refillable cup is a great option!

Think Outside the Mug

Keurig Tips

To really explore all the benefits of owning a Keurig machine, think outside the coffee mug!

  • Make one-cup servings of things like instant oatmeal, noodles or jello for a snack that doesn’t require heating up the stove.
  • Create quick baby food. Add a bit of hot water to rice cereal (cool with a spoon or two of cold milk), Malt-o-Meal, instant mashed potatoes, or even fruits (like bananas) to puree. Note: always drain the excess water, and cool the food completely before serving it to a child.
  • Place an infuser of loose leaf tea or a few spoonfuls of hot cocoa into a mug. The hot water from the machine can “brew” these items just as easily as coffee for a quick, one-cup hot beverage. My favorite: Semi-Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix!
  • Create unique cocktails. If you’re looking for something a little stronger than your traditional cup of coffee, use different K-Cups or Vue Cups combined with your favorite alcohols to create unique coffee and tea flavored mixed drinks. CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE for lots of Keurig cocktail recipes.
  • Need some hot water to help dissolve a super-sticky mess? Brew a mug of hot water from your Keurig to dip a cleaning cloth in, instead of wasting water while waiting for the water from your faucet to heat up.

Reuse Your Cups

  • K-cups and Vue cups are not designed to be reused, but a “second pass” of the cups through the machine still brews a small (though weaker-flavored) cup of coffee. Just think of it as a “blonde roast.”
  • If you find yourself all out of cups, and haven’t purchased one of the reusable ones mentioned above, you can try this hack using an old one in a pinch.
Keurig Tips

Empty K-cups and Vue cups can also be reused in a number of ways around your home that don’t involve coffee:

  • Use them to start seedlings.
  • Use them to corral small items like buttons, paper clips, beads, etc.
  • Use them in the doll house or with Barbies for garbage pails, buckets, laundry hampers etc.
  • Cut a slit in the bottom, put a piece of paper towel inside, and use it to catch the mess of melting popsicles
  • Use them as tea party cups.
  • Use as forms for making your own small soaps.
  • Use hot glue to seal the hole at the bottom and use as small paint pots or glue pots at craft-time.
  • And much, much more………..

When in Doubt, Call Customer Service!

Keurig Tips

My experiences with Keurig’s Customer Service department have been nothing but excellent. My Keurig Vue started leaking water around 8 months after I got it, so I called Customer Service and they shipped a new water tank out to me very quickly. When the new tank didn’t fix the problem, I called them back and they had a whole new machine shipped out to me with little-to-no hassle on my part! So if you have an issue with your machine that you don’t think you can fix, I would recommend calling their customer service line instead of the store you got the machine from.

How do YOU Keurig?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

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Bright Ideas

  • Additional tip; I sprinkle baking soda in my bathroom tub drain, then with each cup of vinegar water I brew, I pour that down the tub drain to clean that out too (getting 2 jobs done in one cleaning project = win/win)

  • Here is a very handy tip to know if you live at high altitude. Because the k-cups are made at low altitude when you buy them up here they are puffed up like an air filled bag of potato chips. If you don’t prick them to let the air out when you put the k-cup in the machine and close it, the needle pierces the cup and the contents of the k-cup blow up into the needle. For this reason I keep a simple push pin near my machine. Just prick the k-cup in the center of the cup.

  • I have my Keurig next to the sink and when it needs refilled with water I use the hose on the sink to refill it….instead of bringing the reservoir over to the sink. My son-in-law taught me this simple time saving trick!

  • My water is so hard if I use it any coffee machine or hot pot lasts a year. I have the water softerner and clean the machine/pot with vinegar.
    The best thing I did to extend life is purchased a zero water dispenser.
    Since then I only use zero water in the machine and I am now on my 3rd year with my Kurig!!! We use it several times a day.

  • I use my Keurig as an (almost) instant hot water machine. If I’m boiling anything on the stove, I start with several large size portions of water from the Keurig. It takes about a min for the water to boil.

  • I have a separate cup, i put a tea bag in it and my “coffee ” machine brews my tea every morning. I can get about 4 or 5 days out of one t bag.

  • Received a keurig 2,0 for Christmas 2014. In January I bought a Reusable cup at bed and bath that clearly stated for use with the 2.0. After using it only three times my machine started to mess up (would pump the water). U called keurig for help who told me that the reusable cups are not approved by them and that my warranty was now null snd void. After a lengthy and not do nice conversation with a supervisor they decided they to send s new machine. I went to bed and bath to let them know that the cups which they sell right next to the keurig machines broke my machine and they said they had no other companies. I don’t know who or what to believe?

  • I pour the used vinegar back into the vinegar bottle and then put it in my laundry area. My towels always get a vinegar rinse — it gets out the soap residue (which is what causes towels to smell sour) and makes them soft. No need to dump that vinegar down the drain! (Of course, you do want to indicate on the bottle that this is used vinegar not for consumption.)

  • thanks. the information is very useful! I have been running the plain water through my Keuriq after every cup! Actually, I use a 12 0z cup..so I do the next to larger cup with my K-cup, then I remove the empty K-cup, dispense the smallest cup of water into my coffee cup! Perfect for me! I love my Keuriq! It was a gift from my daughter!

  • After owning my keurig for a couple of years the best thing i have come up with is GUM SOFT PICKS to clean the needle with.They are small picks with brushes(found in the dental care section) So now i keep a supply close by my Keurig.Thanks for all the tips i have read here today.

  • […] than a kettle. The article starts on a more practical note though: cleaning the machine.   Click for more perfect coffee. […]

  • I bought my Keurig just before Christmas and my family enjoyed the hot cocoa, coffee and Raspberry Ice Tea very much. We had a lot of fun trying everything.
    Thanks for the tips, looking forward to many more.

  • I like your ideas! I had heard about reusing the K cup for a second drink but then I was gifted a Keurig 2.0 and it won’t let you do that. Nor do they offer a reusable My K cup for the 2.0. I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed.

  • Hi! I have the Vue also and I love it! The link you had for the reusable Vue cup did not work. Could you please send me where I can buy one. Thank you so much!!!!!

  • I, myself, wouldn’t use a Keurig. I have an under the counter Black and Decker coffee machine that I LOVE. But, as with all wonderful things, it’s been discontinued. Wouldn’t you know it…………………..HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU………………….As a side note, I use a electric kettles to heat up water. Love it too………….

  • I can’t say enough about Keurig’s customer service. I’ve gone through three of them already and they send me new machines every time.

    Basically, Keurigs are glorified hot pots, but they’re worth every penny if you use your own coffee. The most-frequent complaint about Keurigs is that they brew weak coffee. We’ve always used French or Dark roast. Otherwise, the coffee tastes like brown water.

    I found Ekobrew brand cups (even the plastic ones) to be the best for holding in every single coffee ground particle.

  • I have used a K Cup machine in the past (at a business) and it made a good cup of tea. I have a question about using it for hot chocolate, especially your own mix. What makes it taste superior (or even different) from making the cocoa heated on the stove, or microwave (single serve, or not)? It just seems like the Keurig is complicating a simple mug of hot cocoa. Maybe it is a convenience factor?
    BTW thank you for adding the link for the reusable stainless steel K cup; I think if you are gifting this item the reusable cup would make a nice addition.

  • Beth Searce: You leave it set to desolve any remaining crud (scale) that may be in the machine. When you run the several cycles of hot water thru after it just does a better job cleaning.
    If you don’t shut off the Auto-Shut-Off feature it will shut the heater off and won’t clean correctly.
    (These are lessons I’ve learned.)

  • Thanks for the tips. If you use bottled or water from the water machine in store your machine will not scale up and will stay like new. Culligan said this water will actually remove the scale over time.

    • I don’t know about waiting to use it AFTER flushing the vinegar, but (BTW, my manual for the B-60 model says to use straight vinegar), mine says to pour the vinegar in and let it sit for about six hours to descale the inside of the machine.

      Other than six-hour cleanings or going on vacation, I don’t ever shut off my Keurig. It takes a little while to get hot enough when you turn it back on. It seems more efficient to keep it on all day.

    • bed bath and beyond has some models on sale right now! I just got a vue v500 for $49.99! they also had the v700 for $49.99 but it looked tampered with and they had the mini plus for $79.99 for red and green and $49.99 for yellow. but I think some of the mini pluses were recalled. the one I bought was originally $99.99! and it came with 8 kcups!

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