How To Clear That Pesky Keurig Descale Light (& Why It’s On)

Last Updated on March 16, 2024 by brewthatcoffee

How To Clear That Pesky Keurig Descale Light (& Why It's On)

Having a Keurig makes every cup of coffee more tasty, luxurious, and convenient. But taking care of the machine is essential, especially when the light gets activated and you are unsure why or what to do about it. 

The Keurig descale light gets activated because it’s been 250 brews or three months, and your machine needs descaling. The light remains on until you descale to remove any minerals, coffee grounds, and gunk buildup. An acidic solution is used with a specific process to descale a Keurig. 

Understanding why your Keurig’s descale light is on, why it won’t stop flashing, and how to descale effectively with tips can help you maintain and extend your machine’s life. Read more to understand how to descale a Keurig, what solutions to use, and more. 

What The Keurig Descale Light Is For & Why It’s On 

The Keurig descale light generally goes on when there is clogging in the machine, disturbing the flow of water through the appliance. If your machine functions well, the Keurig will still display a descaling light after 250 brews or every three months. 

That helps with regular cleaning and maintains your Keurig’s health. The descale light only goes on if your machine requires cleaning, so if you see that pesky light, tend to it immediately. 

Not only will descaling your Keurig makes it cleaner and allow the water to flow through and coffee to pour out effectively, but it will also give you better-tasting coffee free from gunk and mineral buildup. 

What Causes Scaling & Clogging In A Keurig? 

If all your Keurig requires is water and K-cups to make coffee, you may wonder what causes the calc and clogging in your machine. Here is what it does: 

Hard water minerals: Any appliance where water is heated will result in calc like your regular kettle. Hard water is nasty for your coffee machine, and soft water is recommended. Always try to use filtered/distilled water in your Keurig and descale regularly. 

Stuck coffee grounds: Sometimes, the coffee ground gets released and end up stuck in the needles. You can try to clean out the needles with a clean, sanitized safety pin or paper clip, but descaling helps break down and release any gunk buildup clogging your machine. 

How To Descale A Keurig 

Follow these steps to descale your Keurig: 

  1. Turn your Keurig off, but leave it plugged in. This step is crucial, and many people don’t realize it is necessary. 
  2. Remove any K-cups from the basket and pour out any leftover water from the canister. 
  3. Add the descaling solution (discussed later), with equal parts distilled or filtered water, into the water canister. 
  4. Place a large mug or measuring jug on the cup holder to catch the liquid as the Keurig descales pours out. 
  5. Press the 6-ounce and 10-ounce buttons simultaneously for three seconds, and the 8-ounce light will flash. Depending on your Keurig model, it could be the 8-ounce and 12-ounce that need to be pushed simultaneously for the K button to illuminate. The descale light will also start flicking. 
  6. Press the 8-ounce, K, or brew button to brew. The cup will fill up. Pour it out and repeat this until the descale light disappears and the “Add Water” light comes on. This is the washing process. 
  7. Then, pour out the solution water from the canister. Wash it thoroughly and fill it with clean water to the maximum line. 
  8. Press the 8-ounce or K button again and allow the brew to take place and the water to pour into your cup. This is the rinsing or flushing process. Throw that out and repeat the process until the “Add Water” light disappears. 
  9. Your Keurig is now descaled and clean.

Store-Bought Solution 

Store-bought descale solution is excellent if you like a buy-and-use as-is product. The solution is odorless and typically consists mainly of citric acid. But some of them may include other chemicals. The chemicals help stabilize the formula and remove stains and oils. 

These ready-store-bought solutions have instructions on the bottle on how to use it for descaling. To begin with, it typically requires you to pour the contents into the machine canister. Then fill the bottle with clean water and add it to the solution. 

Homemade Lemon & Vinegar Solution 

If you prefer to stick to natural ingredients and want something more budget-friendly, a homemade lemon f vinegar solution works wonders. Add equal parts of lemon juice and water or vinegar and water to the canister and begin the process. 

Citric Acid 

Since store-bought descale solutions contain citric acid as the main ingredient, you could make your own solution using citric acid powder and water. Use two tablespoons of citric acid with 4 cups of hot water. Mix that and add it to your Keurig water canister. 

How to Descale Your Keurig Brewer With a Removable Reservoir

How Long Does Descaling A Keurig Take? 

Descaling your Keurig should take around 20 to 30 minutes, granted you don’t run into any glitches. If you run into glitches, you may need to shut the machine down and try again, or you could continue the process with water, and it should eventually work itself out. 

If your Keurig is extremely dirty and there is an excess buildup of gunk and calc, it could take an additional 10 to 15 minutes. That means you will continue the brewing process with water for as long as necessary until the lights stop flashing. 

Can You Descale Your Keurig Without The Descale Light? 

It is perfectly safe to descale your Keurig even if the descale light goes on. The descale light will start to flash after 250 brews or around three months. But if you notice your machine is not functioning effectively at any point, you should consider descaling. 

Here are signs to look out for: 

  • Your Keurig is louder than usual. 
  • The coffee pours out slower than normal. 
  • Your coffee tastes different or not as good. 
  •  The coffee comes out colder than normal. 

How To Clear The Descale Light 

Cleaning the machine using the proper descale mode and process is the only way your Keurig descale light will get cleared. If you avoid that, your descale light will continue to flash until you do. 

In older Keurig models, users could easily get away with brewing water or restarting the machine. The newer models are created to know if you have followed the required process, and until you do, the descale light will not go away. 

Why Is The Descaling Light Still Flashing After Descaling & Resetting? 

Sometimes, the descale light remains after descaling or trying to reset the machine. It could be for the following reasons: 

  • You have run into a glitch: This is normal with appliances and programming. 
  • Your Keurig is not done descaling: This can happen if your Keurig needs more cleaning. It can especially happen if you use a solution containing soapy ingredients or other chemicals. It also happens with stuck coffee grounds and excess clogging. 
  • You lifted the handle: If you lift the handle or open the K-cup holder at any point during the brewing process, the Keurig will kick you out of the descaling process, and the light will keep flashing. 
  • Your K-cup is packed too tightly: If you use refillable K-cups, they may be packed too tightly. You want to leave some room for water to flow more freely. 

Tricks to Clear That Pesky Keurig Descale Light  

If your Keurig descale light doesn’t leave you alone even after you have followed all the necessary steps, you can follow a straightforward trick to get it sorted once and for all. That is to continue the process with water. 

If the descale or add water light is still on, but the solution is finished, add water to the canister and continue pressing the K or 8-ounce button to brew. The water will continue to pour out. Dump and redo those steps several times until all the lights go out. 

An important point to remember is that Keurig is designed and programmed to run in descale mode. The water flushing process still has to be done in descale mode. Even if you shut the machine off to reset, put it back in descale mode before you continue with flushing. 

Sometimes it takes around 6 cups of water before the lights stop flashing. Some users have to do it seven to 10 times. Other users report dumping the water 13 times before the lights go away. 

Those chemicals need to be released entirely from the machine. The Keurig is intelligent enough in descale mode to know once it is only clean water running through. Thus, it will require water release and dump several times until the machine is properly cleaned. 

Keurig Descale Light FAQs 

Yes, you can reset a Keurig if a brew is interrupted. Open and close the K-cup lever to reset it. You can also turn the machine off and unplug it for a minute to reset it.

Vinegar is an efficient and cost-effective product to use for descaling your Keurig. It may take slightly longer than store-bought solutions, but it does the job. 

The Keurig will alert you for descaling after 250 brews or every three months. If you notice your machine making an unusual noise, the coffee tastes different or is pouring slower than usual; descaling is likely required.

Hard water is not only bad for you, Keurig, but for any appliance as such. Hard water contains high amounts of minerals, causing more caulk to build up by depositing lime and scale.

It can affect Keurig by preventing it from functioning correctly and, over time, causing it to give in entirely.


Your Keurig descale light will flash because you have reached 250 brews, and your machine requires descaling. You will need to follow the manual to put the Keurig in descale mode and use a solution, following instructions to descale the machine until the light disappears. 


24 thoughts on “How To Clear That Pesky Keurig Descale Light (& Why It’s On)”

  1. What do you mean that you cant lift the handle during the descaling process? The only way to run multiple cups of water/solution is to lift the handle each time it completes dispensing water.

  2. I have owned 4 Keurig machines and none have given me a problem until now. I followed the descaling process exactly as I have always done. I just finished my 6th descaling solution reservoir followed two fresh water brews. The descaling light fails to shut off. I will appreciate any advice! Thank you!

  3. To enter the descale mode you must have the power “off”, with the power off then press the 12 oz and 8 oz simultaneously to activate the descale mode. The K button will illuminate allowing you to run multiple cleaning brews consecutively until the add water light comes on, continue pressing the “K” button for cleaning brews without lifting the lever until the descaling light goes out. That should do it!

  4. Performed the descale process. When power is applied to the machine the descale light and power light come on then both turn off. I have tried holding the 8 and 10 oz as well as the 8 and 12 and 10 and 12 but the Keurig keeps turning off. Any solution for this issue? Thanks

  5. Dave I think I have a different model but I tried pushing 10oz and 8oz at the same time and descale light start flashing I knew than I was in descaling mode then just follow your directions thx it worked for me

  6. Thanks Dave! I have tried several times with other methods but your instructions got the descale light to go off. Took about 4 refills of water but went off eventually. Oh, and I accidentally left a pod in while doing so, hehe, still worked!

  7. I did exactly like Dave instructed above and it worked! I had to fill the reservoir twice and as the second one finished that pesky descaling light went out! Thanks Dave! U da best!

  8. Held the 8 and 10 but my descale light never flashes/. Run 3 filled reservoirs and still light is on. I’ll take the old ones over these new ones.

  9. After finishing the descale mode for the 1st time with this machine the light didn’t go off. I called Keurig to no avail and after pushing up and down on a button behind the needle I now have to power to the Keurig.

  10. I have enjoyed coffee from my Keurig for some time and then one morning the descale light started blinking. I bought a bottle of Keurig descaling solution, went online and followed the directions to descale. The blinking light would not stop blinking. I went online and followed the process to run multiple (at least 10) full cannisters of water through the Keurig and the light continues to blink. I read online that certain earlier models of Keurig, when descaled, are prone to this “perpetual blinking” glitch that can’t be fixed. Apparently mine is an earlier model. My real question is “Is it safe to brew cups of coffee in a Keurig that appears to be stuck in a perpetual descaling blinking mode”?

  11. Thank goodness for Dave’s explanation…..the whole kit, online directions, and a crap show untill I read Dave’s guidance. Keurig, fire your people and hire Dave.

  12. I followed the descale process but the descale light is still on after about 15 cycles of plain water so I know it’s descaled. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  13. I ran 6 cups in descale mode and the coffee maker shut down. When you lift the handle and put it back down all three brewing lights flash twice and shut down. Pushing the power button, all three brewing lights flash and shut down. The only way to get the coffee maker to turn on and brew is press the 10 and 6 buttons to put it in descale mode. I’ve tried all the reset methods with no luck.

  14. Help me! I have a Keurig with a basket for a pot of coffee and a single K-cup side. I cleaned the k-cup side but cannot get the basket side to clean or descale. With cleaner or trying to brew, the 12 cup mode only makes a couple cups of coffee. Any solution? Please and thank you!

  15. The descale light refuses to go off. I followed the instructions to the letter and have put at least FOUR full containers of fresh water in the reservoir. Tried resetting machine …zilch.
    My question is………Is the machine descaled even if the light remains on???? If yes I can live with the light being on until it takes a dump (which will probably be soon, since it is TWO months old and it seems quality of Keurig has gone down since my first one)

  16. I tried this but when I press the two buttons nothing happens. I left the kitchen after I turned on my other coffee maker. I use my keurig everyday while I wait for the other maker to finish. Now I have to learn patience.

  17. Hi,
    None of the above tips are working for me. We have the newest Keurig and I’ve descaled it twice. The first time before the descale light went on and all was well. Now it has come on, after only 2 months and I’ve done the full descale with the Keurig brand solution, emptied many tanks of water and it still says it needs to be descaled. We’ve even unplugged it. We’ve only had it for about 5 months and I’m very frustrated.
    Any help is appreciated!


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