This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our full disclosure policy for details.

You + Sharing This = Awesome!

What to do when the Keurig descale light is on

If there’s one thing I love more than anything it’s a nice hot cup of coffee. We’ve had a Keurig for nearly a decade in one form or another and love it! But there is always the same problem, the Keurig descaling light comes on and won’t shut off. Here’s what to do when your Keurig descale light stays on.


Why is my Keurig descaling light on?

The descaling light will come on your Keurig display whenever there is enough build up inside of your Keurig machine or the water flow slows or clogs. Unfortunately you won’t be able to see what this looks like as the build up happens inside the brewer. But there are hints that can show you that this build up occurs.

The most visual one is that the water reservoir can get build up and sediment will start to accumulate at the bottom or the water reservoir. Another hint is that there can be a white film building up on the sides of the reservoir as well.

Another reason the light is on can be that the water flow is plugged and your machines default setting this to put on the descale light.

Bottom line: When the descale light comes on your Keurig, it means there is build up inside the Keurig and needs to be removed.


What causes scaling on a Keurig?

Scaling on your coffee pod machine can be caused from the minerals that are in your water. If you have hard water you may find that the particles of calcium and scale build up much faster than a friend’s house who has softer water.

Scale is non-toxic but it can hinder the performance of your machine, for that reason it’s best to run a descaling of your coffee machine every few months.

The easiest way to prevent build up inside your Keurig is to descale it every 1 to 3 months. The fastest way is to use the Keurig descale solution, but if you’re looking for a homemade cleaning solution you can use white distilled vinegar.

Check out more of our top cleaning tips here.


Cleaning the Keurig exit needle

Before you descale your coffee machine, you will want to check if the water has stopped coming out for other reasons. You may not need to descale your Keurig just yet. The entrance and exit needle may be plugged.

This is the needle that punctures the top and bottom of your coffee pod. From time to time coffee grinds can make their way up into the needle clogging the water line and preventing water from getting out. To remove the coffee grounds and gunk build up use a paper clip and push it into the Keurig needle holes. This will usually dislodge any grinds that have been there. Then you can run the water through rinsing out any of the grinds that are stuck. Usually after you do this, run two of the largest cup settings through your machine without a K Cup in them to flush out any remaining grinds.

However if that doesn’t work it’s likely you need to descale your Keurig.


How to fix the Keurig descaling light staying on

If you’re sure that there are no other blockages in the needle or anywhere else you will need to descale your coffee machine. The easiest way to do this is to use the descaling solution that Keurig sells. It contains citric acid and you need to handle it with care.
Here are the steps to descale your Keurig coffee machine.

Keurig descale light stays on_ Use this

  1. Turn off your Keurig and unplug it
  2. Empty the water reservoir
  3. Remove the water filter inside your Keurig reservoir
  4. Remove any pod that is in your machine
  5. Use the Keurig descaling solution inside the machine the clearing out any buildup as per the instructions on the bottle
  6. Turn on the machine and put a coffee cup underneath your Keurig
  7. Run the Keurig through so that all the descaling solution goes through and the “Add more water light comes on”
  8. Dispose of the scaling solution down the sink
  9. Leave the scaling solution in the tank for 30 minutes to an hour so that it can soak in the internal tank and work it’s magic.
  10. Rinse out the water reservoir once all the scaling solution is run through and refill with fresh water
  11. Run a full water reservoir through to flush out the solution. Do this 12 times to ensure there is no residue of the descale solution.

There you have it. It’s the easy way to descale your Keurig. However there is another way that we have used. If you prefer a natural way you can do what we do and descale your Keurig using vinegar. Personally I prefer to use vinegar as it doesn’t have the health warnings of the solution, but if you have never descaled your K Cup machine then this is a good one to use.

Click here to buy the Keurig Scaling Solution


How to descale your Keurig with vinegar

The easiest way to prevent scaling on your Keurig machine is to do a periodic clean every 1 to 3 months depending on how much you use your Keurig and the quality of the water you are putting into your machine. We use vinegar to do this because it’s natural and very affordable.

Every 3 months we will run vinegar through the machine using the following steps.

  1. Turn the power off
  2. Remove any pods from the machine
  3. Remove water from the machine
  4. Fill the water reservoir with white distilled vinegar
  5. Turn on your machine
  6. Set your Keurig to stay on for the next 4 hours in the settings
  7. Place a cup underneath the dispenser
  8. Run as many cups of white vinegar through the Keurig machine until the “Add more water” notice turns on.
  9. Dispose of the vinegar down the drain of the sink (you can use this vinegar to clean the kitchen sink if you want while you wait).
  10. Wait 2-4 hours for the vinegar to soak in the internal tank and break down the build-up on the internal tank
  11. Empty the water reservoir and refill with fresh water
  12. Run 5 full reservoirs of water through to make sure there’s no remaining vinegar ( I do too just to be safe). You can usually tell if the vinegar is out because the water won’t have a vinegar scent anymore.


How to prevent scaling in your keurig

Calcium and scale buildup is a natural part of hard water and can’t be avoided. However you can avoid the buildup inside your Keurig machine by running a reservoir of vinegar through once a month to remove the build-up and prevent your descale light from turning on. Use the steps above to prevent your buildup from causing your machine not to run.


What if this doesn’t work?

If you have hard water or you’ve ignored the descale light on your coffee maker for a while you may need to run this process several times. When we first did this the light had been on for 2 months but it was still producing coffee so we left it when it finally stopped. It took us several attempts using vinegar to remove the scale buildup and to start enjoying our K-Cups once again. You can usually see the calcium and scale in the ceramic mug as you run the solution through showing you that it is removing the build up effectively.


You + Sharing This = Awesome!