Ultimate Guide to the Dreaded Keurig Descale Light

Last Updated: January 27, 2023
Author: Nick
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Keurig Descale Light - Feature

The Dreaded Keurig Descale Light is not turning off? No problem! We’ve got you covered! 

Keurig prides itself in being the coffee maker that serves you coffee shop-standard cups, instantly. 

Not to mention that it looks hella good on your kitchen counter, too along with the k cup coffee rack. 

But owning such a treat of a coffee machine means greater responsibility, too.  

You might have noticed that after months of use, your coffee maker may have started to produce a flat and weak cup of coffee. 

Or perhaps, it’s even emitting weird gurgling or vibrating sounds, with the descale light that stays on and won’t turn off. 

Your Keurig coffee maker isn’t broken! 

The thing is, you might just have missed some maintenance measures and your coffee machine is calling you to go and have it cleaned. 

A Keurig coffee machine price is no joke. It’s quite a fortune so we owners want to keep it in pristine condition for as long a time as possible. 

That’s why in this comprehensive guide, I will let you in on the steps to turn off that descale light in your Keurig coffee maker as we also cover: 

  • What’s the purpose of the descale light?

  • What is your Keurig coffee maker telling you? 

  • The things you’ll need to keep your Keurig in the best shape and prolong its life

  • Alternative solutions

  • Coffee maker tips and tricks

  • And lots more! 

We’re just of one blood in here, really. You didn’t buy a Keurig if you’re not a big coffee fan. So if you’re looking for more ways to prolong your coffee maker’s life, this article is for you! 

Prepare your hot cuppa joe. 

And let’s deal with that Keurig descale light to get you brewing! 

Why Does the Keurig Descale Light Stay On? 

For long-time Keurig coffee machine maker users, the descaling light is one dreaded signal. 

When your Keurig descale light stays on, it means one thing: your baby needs some cleaning already. 

The signal comes on when your coffee maker detects something that’s clogging the normal water flow inside.  


...some clueless users tend to ignore it. But you might pay greatly for that. When your coffee machine stays clogged and dirty inside for longer, it might lead to malfunction and eventually, being unusable altogether. 

You don’t want that, do you? 

So, the bottom line is, when you see the descaling light on, your coffee maker is telling you to have it clean NOW. 

There might also be other reasons. What you want to do first before making any step is determining what makes your Keurig descale light on. 

Why is My Keurig Descale Light On?

Now you know that a descaling light that stays on means the normal water flow might be restricted or the pathway is clogged. 

And these clogs are what we call the scales. 

These are simply a build-up of calcium and other minerals inside your coffee maker. 

What causes this mineral build-up? 

Well, it tends to happen if you’re using hard water at home to make your coffee in your Keurig. 

It can also come from mineral water (duh) or spring water, so you’d do well to use only soft water when using your Keurig. 

These minerals may look like no big deal for now but they will eventually build up inside until it’s great enough to restrict the normal flow of water. 

It can make your coffee taste awful or it can make your coffee maker stop working altogether.


Your Keurig actually doesn’t have a sensor inside that can detect when you’re running out of water. But it can detect if the water isn’t running as fast as it is supposed to. 

Aside from this… 

...if you’re using a reusable or refillable K cup, you might want to check its placement as well. 

Some reusable cups are made to give more room for water flow compared to others. It could also be that the cup is packed way too tightly and that’s causing the restriction of the normal flow of water, causing the Keurig descale light to stay on.    

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What Causes Scaling on a Keurig, and How to Prevent It?

Wondering how it happened that your friend who has the same Keurig coffee makers isn’t having the same problem with the Keurig descale light as you have? 

Well, it’s in the water. 

Your friend might be using soft water and you’re using hard water. 

Hard water contains minerals like calcium which particles can build up in coffee machines over time, turning into what we call the scale that clogs up your coffee makers. 

Mineral water, spring water, and even filtered water can cause a scale build up.  

In case you’re wondering… 

...nope, scale buildup isn’t toxic or harmful to your health but it can make your coffee taste flat and just plain bad, or worse, hamper the performance of your machine that will eventually turn it into unusable garbage after some time.  


What to do When the Keurig Descale Light Stays On and How to Prevent It? 

Now if your Keurig descale light just won’t turn off, it’s not the end of the world. 

There are some easy steps you can do to take your coffee pod machine to its pristine condition. 

But take note. 

If you’ve ignored that descale light for so long, you may have to do the descaling process several times. 

It may sound intimidating, but the truth is, it’s simply washing and rinsing out the insides of your Keurig machine! 

For this, we use the Keurig official descaling solution.

The great thing about this Keurig Descaling Solution is that it doesn't have a strong smell to it, unlike vinegar, which can leave a strong smell and possible aftertaste in your machine!


You can peel off the labeling from the descaling solution to find the descaling procedures. It took me a while to figure this out! It’s well hidden! 

Now, remember… 

...there’s an exit needle along with the other components so be vigilant and careful if you don’t want to end up with bloody hands and a messy Keurig machine. 

You can descale your Keurig coffee maker with the simple process below which can be applied to the classic Keurig machine.  

  • Shut off your Keurig machine and make sure that it’s unplugged to avoid any accidents.

  • Make sure that the water reservoir is completely empty. 

  • Now, your Keurig machine has a water filter where your water passes through before running through the coffee grounds. Take that water filter out of the machine. 

  • Check if there’s any coffee pod left inside. It should be empty of any K cups. 

  • Take your Keurig descaling solution and pour it into the water reservoir.  

  • Now that the Keurig descaling solution bottle is empty, fill it up with water and pour it into the water container along with the descaling Keurig solution. 

  • Now plug your machine back in and turn it on.  

  • Put a big mug or coffee cup underneath the K cup holder, press the Brew button and wait for the liquid to flow down. 

  • It should dispense the water the way your Keurig dispenses the coffee. 

  • If the Keurig descale light does not turn off, continue doing the process several times. 

  • That way, the descale solution inside the machine goes through all the scale build up, calcium particles, and other mineral deposits clogging the waterways. 

  • You’d know that it’s done once the “add more water” warning appears. There might be remaining solution inside the water tank. 

  • Now, the descaling solution is coating the inside of your coffee machine. 

  • Pour the remaining solution into the sink.  

  • Leave your machine for about 30 minutes so it can soak in Keurig’s official descaling solution and dislodge scale build up.  

  • Rinse the water container very thoroughly, then refill it with clean and fresh water. 

  • Now let the water run through the machine to wash out the descale solution. 

  • Do this for 12 rinsing cycles to make sure there’s no mineral deposit or gunk left. 

Now your coffee machine should be free from scale buildup and give excellent performance. 

What if your Keurig is a Keurig Duo? 

If the Keurig Duo descale light is on, all you have to do is: 

  • Shut off your Keurig machine and make sure that it’s unplugged to avoid any accidents. 

  • Make sure it doesn’t have any K cup, coffee and water filters, or water inside,  

  • Pour Keurig’s official descaling solution to the water tank.  

  • Follow up with the same amount of fresh water. 

  • Power your machine back on and place a large mug underneath the k cup holder. 

  • Press the pod button and brew a 12 oz cup. 

  • Once done, empty the descale solution in the water cup.  

  • Next, press the carafe button and brew a 12-cup carafe. 

  • Once done, empty the contents of the carafe, and press and hold the heating plate button to turn it off. 

  • Let the machine rest for 30 minutes, without powering off. 

  • Rinse out the carafe and the water reservoir, and fill the reservoir with fresh water. 

  • Brew a 12-cup carafe, and repeat the cycle 3 times. 

  • Next, press the single serve button and brew a 12 oz cup. Repeat this process 3 times. 

  • Press both 8oz and 10oz buttons at the same time, holding them for 3 to 5 seconds.  

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Keurig recommends using their own Keurig coffee maker descale solution. 

But for some, it might come off as very expensive.  

Now it’s still not the end of the world. 

You can actually make your own descaling solution! 

What Can I Use in Place of the Keurig Descaling Solution? 

Now if you don’t want any store-bought solution touching your coffee maker, well, you can actually make do with some home remedies. 

Note: This is actually stronger than the solutions you can buy in the grocery store, but it will take a longer amount of time. 

All you need is vinegar and/or lemon juice! 

Why vinegar and lemon juice? 

What you really need is citric acid that is instrumental in dissolving and scraping off all ground coffee gunks and mineral build ups in both the water reservoir and to the innermost parts of your Keurig K machine. 

If you read the label of the keurig official descaling solution, you will see citric acid as one the main ingredients. 

Aside from these alternatives, you can also use a homemade descaling solution made from citric acid powder if that’s what you have at home.  

How Do I Descale My Keurig with White Vinegar? 

Just like how Keurig recommends you to descale your Keurig baby every 3 months with the Keurig descale solution, it’s also the same with vinegar.  

You’d want to wash it up with vinegar every 3 months, as well, to maintain a clean interior and a healthy performance for your machine. 

Some people also do a vinegar descaling weekly.  

Here’s how you do it: 

  • Make sure that the power on the machine is turned off. 

  • Check if there’s a K cup or pods left inside. Make sure it’s empty. 

  • Remove all water from the water tank. 

  • Now fill the water reservoir with white distilled vinegar.  

  • Wondering just how much vinegar to use? The water to vinegar ratio should be 1:1. 

  • If the capacity of the water reservoir is 14 ounces, that means you need 7 ounces of white vinegar to 7 ounces of tap water or fresh cold water. 

  • Follow the above instructions for descaling with the descale solution and leave it to soak the machine up. But instead of 30 minutes like with the descale solution, do it for 4 hours. 

  • If the Keurig descale light stays on, just repeat the process with just water. For the Duo, remember to press 8oz and 10oz buttons at the same time, holding them for 3 to 5. 

How Do I Descale My Keurig with Citric Acid? 

As mentioned earlier, citric acid is the main ingredient to a squeaky clean keurig coffee machine, not to mention that it’s readily available in most home kitchens nowadays. 

Many people don’t actually know this, but citric acid has similar cleaning properties as vinegar.

To prepare the descaling solution just add 1 to 2 tablespoons of citric acid powder to 4 cups of fresh water, then add this mixture to the water tank.

Then go through the descaling mode again for a squeaky clean coffee machine!

Citric acid is the main ingredient in Keurig’s own descaling mixture so if you’re looking to be more practical and want to have a descaling ingredient to have in your house ready at all times instead of a bottle of solution, then a bag of citric acid may just be your best bet. 

Cleaning the Keurig Exit Needle 

In case you haven’t noticed yet, your Keurig coffee machines actually have a whole needle in them! 

Keurig coffee machines work with needles in a way that it pierces through the K cup (refillable K cups). It lets the water in to pass through the coffee grounds inside the pod, and then through the Keurig exit needle at the bottom of the K cup to deliver you a ready-made cup of coffee.  

Because of that… 

Exit needles can get clogged too! 

A telltale sign the needles are clogged is if you see grounds spill over the k-cup holder. 

So it’s not only the water tanks and the insides of your Keurig that need some love. You have to clean the needle as well. 

You can buy needle cleaning tools like this one. Just make sure it’s compatible with you Keurig Model! 

But you can also try cleaning it yourself! 

So how do you do that? 

It’s very simple. There’s a hole in the needle if you look closely enough. That’s where most gunks clog up. 

You’ll want to take a paper clip or a sewing needle and push it through the hole. This should dislodge any grinds and gunks that have built up inside. 

Then put the component under running water to rinse.  

If you are unable to clean the needle, relatively cheap replacement parts can be purchased. Just make sure you select the replacement part appropriate for your Keurig model. 

If you are not sure which one to get, don’t be shy and leave us a comment! We’ll be happy to help! 

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions – Keurig Descale Light 

Can You Reset a Keurig?

Whenever things go wrong with our machines, a good push of the reset button will often save the day. But unfortunately, the Keurig coffee makers don’t have a reset button. 

But you can still do something about it. 

For a Keurig mini, it’s as simple as turning off the unit and unplugging it, then letting it rest for about 2 hours.  

But for more complicated Keurig units, such as the Keurig 2.0 which is powered by an internal computer, you’ll need to tweak some settings. 

The most basic step is to check the settings and reset any settings that don’t look right.  

You can also check if there’s any automatic features that are turned on.  

Then reset the display. 

You can also detach all the components such as the water tank while letting the unit rest for a couple of hours. 

How often should I descale my Keurig?

Keurig itself advises its users to descale your single cup coffee maker every 3 months. 

Are some kinds of water worse for a Keurig?

As I’ve mentioned above, you’d do well to avoid hard water, mineral water, spring, and even filtered water, as they have minerals that can cause a calcium or mineral buildup over time.  

Keurig Descale Light - Bottom Line

Bottom Line 

As a coffee lover, we know that coffee machines, such as the Keurig machines, are literally life. Because we need them to make our different types of coffee drinks every day!

Your precious Keurig delivers coffee shop-standard coffee anytime you need it, with less waiting time. 

That’s why you have to expect that maintenance will certainly not be a joke. 

It will pay you well to invest in the maintenance and care of your little baby, especially if you want it to last for many years.  

And of course, always mind the water.  

It’s the element that passes through your machine all the time, so watch out for the kind of water you are using. 

I hope this guide comes in handy for you.  

What’s your experience with your own choice of descaling solutions? How about the alternatives? 

Let me know!   


2 comments on “Ultimate Guide to the Dreaded Keurig Descale Light”

  1. As we know coffee is a guilt-free addiction, and an awesome coffee maker can make your day better.

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