Coffee makers including Keurig are prone to mold invasions due to the moisture in the internal water lines. A coffee maker can be squeaky clean on the outside while molds are thriving in the “hidden” parts such as the internal water lines.
Molds are also likely to grow inside the reservoir, filter basket holder, and drip tray. Moreover, a moldy coffee maker shows that you have a mold problem in your home or office.
What are the symptoms of Keurig molds?
Keurig mold symptoms include watery eyes, a stuffy nose, sneezing, and skin rashes, especially if you are sensitive to mold. You can also experience a sore throat, itchy eyes, coughing, and frequent sinusitis. Asthmatic persons may suffer shortness of breath, fever, wheezing, and chest tightness from exposure to mold.
The signs of Keurig mold include a musty or unusually earthy taste in your coffee and the onset of respiratory ailments, especially for people with a mold allergy or asthma.
Exposure to molds over a long period can lead to serious health problems in vulnerable groups such as kids, the elderly, and people with a suppressed immune system.
What are Molds?
Molds are a type of fungi that thrives in damp areas and spreads through spores. Molds can attack the damp areas of your house such as the bathrooms, laundry areas, and kitchen surfaces.
Molds can also attack home appliances and food – including poorly stored coffee beans. Some mold spores are airborne and they pose the biggest risk to your health.
Molds release toxins – mycotoxins – that can cause numerous sicknesses in humans and animals.
How Does Mold Get Inside Your Keurig
Molds can spread through humans, water, air, and animals. The spores of molds can attach to your hands and drop off in your Keurig.
Airborne mold can find its way from one corner of your home to your brewer. Molds can also spread into your coffee maker through the water as well as through moldy coffee beans, pods, and coffee filters.
Can Drinking Moldy Coffee From Keurig Make You Sick?
According to Healthline, drinking a cup of moldy coffee is unlikely to make you sick. The number of mycotoxins (mold toxins) that you are likely to ingest from a contaminated cup of coffee is not sufficient to cause any major complications.
However, ingesting loads of molds over a long period can cause poisoning.
Gary Rosen, Ph.D., states that in Europe and the US, the level of mycotoxins ingested through food and drinks such as by drinking moldy coffee is low enough for the body to cleanse it without damage.
Furthermore, Keurig’s internal hot water is likely to inactivate or kill most of the molds as temperatures above 140°F destroy most molds.
Although you are unlikely to get sick from drinking moldy coffee, knowing that you have consumed moldy coffee can cause nausea; which is a mindset issue as opposed to a health issue.
A coffee brewer that is contaminated with molds almost certainly has other harmful bacteria or algae.
Can a Moldy Keurig Make You Sick?
Yes. Although drinking moldy coffee is unlikely to cause sickness, touching or inhaling mold spores from your Keurig can make you sick.
People who have a higher risk of getting sick from the mold in a coffee maker or generally in your home include
- Kids and infants
- People with respiratory allergies
- People with serious respiratory conditions such as asthma
- People with a weakened immunity
- Individuals suffering from lung diseases
- The elderly
According to Gary Rosen, Ph.D., most mold-related problems are caused by inhaled molds as opposed to the molds ingested through food and drinks. A majority of the inhaled molds eventually find their way through the upper airways into the stomach.
Once in the stomach, the body absorbs the mycotoxins into the bloodstream. Rosen states that prolonged exposure to airborne mold can lead to serious health problems that include
- Stomach problems. The mycotoxins in the stomach destroy the beneficial gut bacteria and the cells that line the stomach leading to stomach problems.
- The destruction of gut bacteria in adults can trigger obesity and other problems such as reduced immunity, irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches
- Some indoor molds release toxins that cause cancer
- Some mycotoxins suppress your immunity and increase your risk of falling sick
- Mold can also eat your brain
- Molds can cause sinus problems such as fungal sinusitis
- Kids that are exposed to molds over long periods are likely to experience gut problems and neurological impairment and can suffer
- Stomach cramps
- Reduced attention
- Temporary memory loss
- Prolonged mold exposure can also trigger asthma in kids
- People that are allergic to mold can suffer full-blown asthma attacks. Asthmatic persons can also suffer chronic asthma attacks
8 Tips to Prevent Molds From Growing in Your Keurig
Tip #1. Clean Your Hands Thoroughly and Dry them Before Brewing
Your hands can spread mold from one part of your house to the coffee maker. Mold spores are present in our houses, offices, cars, and in the air: they are everywhere.
The spores attach themselves to your hands when you touch a contaminated surface and drop off to another object including your coffee maker.
Wet hands are better carriers of mold spores than dry hands. Therefore, ensure that you dry your hands properly.
To clean your hands
- Rinse your hands in running water to wet them
- Apply soap and rub your palms for the soap to lather
- Scrub your palms, the back of your hands, in between fingers and the lower arms for about 30 seconds
- Rinse your hands in running water
- Dry with disposable towels
Tip #2. Regularly Clean and Dry the Removable Parts
Clean the reservoir and the filter holder regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) in soapy water to remove any slime and bacteria. Also, clean the filter mesh screen at the base of the tank with a lint-free damp cloth.
Clean and thoroughly dry the drip tray, the K Cup holder, and the holder assembly when you are done brewing for the day.
Tip #3. Regularly Clean The Keurig With Vinegar To Prevent Mold
Descaling your Keurig at least once every three to six months will prevent scales from forming inside the channels. Some Keurigs have an auto-descaling light that warns you when descaling is due.
White vinegar eliminates mold when left to sit in the affected area for about an hour.
To flush your Keurig with vinegar:
- Fill the water tank with white vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:1.
- Perform brew cycles with the vinegar and without a K-Cup until the “Add Water” signal comes up
- Let the brewer sit for 45-60 minutes
- Drain the external tank and refill it with clean water.
- Run brew cycles with water only until the brewer is cleansed of the vinegar
Tip #4. Change The Charcoal Filter Frequently
An old charcoal filter is a perfect breeding ground for mold as it is usually slimy and saturated with trapped bad odors and impurities. This causes your coffee to taste musty or earthy. The coffee may also have an uncharacteristic bitterness.
The charcoal filter should be changed every two months for the best tasting coffee and to curb the growth of molds.
Using a charcoal filter for longer than two months can cause it to weaken and tear apart. The small parts can find their way into the water lines and cause clogging thus increasing the risk of mold as well as water dispensing problems.
Read our post about troubleshooting a Keurig that is not pumping water.
Here are the steps to change the Keurig filter cartridge:
- Pop the full filter assembly from the tank. Some Keurig series have the lower filter holder screwed into the bottom of the tank. In that case, remove the upper holder to expose the charcoal filter, then reach into the tank and remove the cartridge.
- Remove the old filter from the holder and discard it in a garbage bin.
- Soak the new filter cartridge in clean water for 5 minutes and rinse it before installing it on the holder.
- Refit the filter assembly back into the reservoir.
Read more about the types of water filter starter kits for Keurig.
Tip #5. Regularly Change The Water To Keep Mold Away
Water disinfectants such as chlorine can dissipate with time when water is left to stand over a long period of time.
If you rarely use your Keurig, water that remains in the reservoir is left standing for several days before your next brew. This can lead to a build-up of mold and algae in the reservoir and on the water filter.
We recommend emptying the reservoir and drying it properly if you are unlikely to use your brewer for more than four days. For frequent users, we recommend changing the water and rinsing the tank every four days.
Tip #6. Proper Storage of Coffee To Prevent Mold in Keurig
Whether you are using k-cups or regular coffee in your coffee maker, store the coffee properly to avoid moldy coffee beans and pods.
Molds that grow in your K-cups, preground coffee, and coffee beans will, eventually, spread to your coffee maker and other places within your house or office.
Dump any contaminated pods, coffee beans, or other food items to prevent re-infecting your Keurig with molds.
Tip #7. Keep the Reusable Coffee Filter Clean and Dry
When using a reusable filter in Keurig or any other coffee maker, clean the filter after use and dry it thoroughly. Leaving the used grounds in your reusable filter for long periods before cleaning is a sure way to attract molds.
Regularly soak the reusable filter in a solution of water and vinegar to remove coffee oils that build up over time.
Keep the filter in a damp-free pantry or inside your brewer after drying.
Tip #8 Maintain a Clean and Dry Environment to Prevent Molds From Growing
Molds easily spread from one area of your home to another. Cleaning your Keurig alone and ignoring the other areas of your home will lead to reinfection. Keep all your surfaces clean, dry, and well-ventilated to keep molds away.
Pay special care to risk areas and items such as the kitchen, refrigerator, food items, and garbage containers to prevent molds from thriving. Ensure there are no molds in the AC system.
Mold-resistant paint is a great choice to repel mold from your walls. Fix leaks in your pipes as well as in the roof, windows, and walls. Dehumidify the damp areas, and dry and ventilate the kitchen, laundry areas, and bathrooms.
How To Clean Mold From Keurig Water Reservoir
To better understand how to clean the mold from the Keurig water reservoir, let’s look at the components of the reservoir. There is the container that holds water, the lid, the filter holder, the charcoal filter, the mesh screen that is screwed to the tank’s bottom, and the hose that draws water from the tank.
The cleaning method that we employ should sanitize a Keurig and eliminate molds from all the components of the reservoir. It should also target other parts of the brewer where the molds might have spread to.
Steps To Remove Mold From Keurig Water Reservoir
Descaling your Keurig is the best way to remove mold from your brewer. Use 400ml descaling solution or white distilled vinegar 500ml for the best results.
If you are asthmatic or allergic to mold, you are better off putting on a face mask when removing mold from your Keurig.
Here are the steps to follow when descaling to remove mold from your Keurig
- Switch your Keurig off
- Remove the external tank and empty it. Remove the filter holder and cartridge from the reservoir
- Ensure there is no pod in the brewer.
- Pour 400 ml of descaler or a half-liter of white vinegar into the tank.
- Add clean water to the tank at a ratio of 1:1 to the descaler or vinegar
- Place an empty container on the drip tray and power the Keurig on
- Lift the handle and lower it back. Press a mug size on the menu and press brew.
- Run subsequent brew cycles until the “Add Water” warning is on.
- Leave the brewer to soak in the cleaning agent for about 45 minutes.
- Soak the drip tray and the mesh screen separately in a bowl of vinegar and water
- After 45 minutes, empty the descaler from the tank and rinse the tank thoroughly. Pour water into the tank up to the max level.
- Wash the filter screen and the drip tray under running water and put them back in the brewer
- Run the brew cycles again, this time using only water to rinse the descaler from the brewer. Repeat the water-only cycles to ensure there will be no descaler/vinegar taste in your coffee
- Replace the water filter cartridge with a new one. See the steps to change the cartridge here
You can now brew your coffee.
Keurig Coffee Stomach Problems: Are they Caused by Molds?
The most likely reasons for stomach problems when you drink Keurig coffee are:
Problems with K-Cups
Highly caffeinated and acidic K-Cups can cause you all manner of stomach upsets so you may want to swap the K-Cups with either decaf or regular low-acid coffee and check whether the tummy problem persists.
Alternatively, add a pinch of salt or baking soda to the brewed coffee to neutralize the acidity. Bear in mind that if caffeine is the culprit, adding salt or baking soda will not solve the problem.
Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach
Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can lead to GERD problems due to the caffeine and the acidity in coffee.
Charcoal Filter Problem
The charcoal filter in your Keurig removes chlorine residues from water. If the filter is damaged or not changed over a long time, you are likely to ingest chlorine residues which can cause stomach cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.
You may want to install an in-house water filtration system if your tap water is overly chlorinated or use bottled water for your coffee. Also regularly change the charcoal filter in your coffee maker.
Read about where to find the charcoal filter in Keurig
Keurig Mold Wrap Up
Mold in Keurig signals that you have a mold problem in your hands. You are at a far greater risk of falling sick from inhaled molds than from the mold that ends up in your coffee.
Healthy adults have a lower risk of suffering from Keurig mold sickness. Molds in your coffee maker are likely to cause respiratory issues in people that have asthma or respiratory allergy.
Prolonged mold exposure can lead to chronic sickness in kids and other vulnerable groups. Preventing mold from attacking your coffee maker requires a comprehensive strategy that aims to protect your home or office from molds.
FAQs About Keurig Mold Symptoms
Why Do I Have Black Specks In Keurig Water?
The main reasons for black particles in Keurig water are black chips from the charcoal filter in the reservoir and coffee grounds that seep through into the cup.
During shipping, the charcoal filter may suffer from shocks leading to chipping and dust sediments. These sediments will appear in your reservoir and might end up in your cup.
Be sure to soak the filter cartridge in water for about five minutes and then run water through the filter to get rid of the dust particles before installing the filter in your coffee maker.
If coffee grounds are showing up in your cup, clean the top and bottom needles of your brewer and run a brew cycle with just water to see if the problem is solved. If the black particles are still collecting in your cup, run a full descale process for your coffee maker.
How To Remove Algae From The Keurig Reservoir
To remove algae from a Keurig reservoir, start by shifting the coffee maker to an area where it is not exposed to direct sunlight. Then, empty the water tank and use baking soda to scrub the algae off the reservoir. You may also want to descale the Keurig to fully sanitize it.
If the whole kitchen is exposed to the sun, use a black covering such as matte vinyl to shield the Keurig reservoir.
Algae are photosynthetic and aquatic by nature. They thrive in environments where there is exposure to water and direct sunlight. Coffee maker reservoirs are usually made from clear plastic so they are prone to algae attacks if they are exposed to direct sunlight.