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How to Properly Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine (and Reset the Light)

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You should descale your Keurig coffee machine every three to six months by running a coffee brewing cycle with a descaling solution in the water tank. This will reset the descaling light automatically. 

I’m going to be showing you how to do just that and providing more handy tips to getting the best out of your Keurig coffee machine in this article.

I’ve been using these machines for some years and in that time, I’ve figured out some handy tricks to maximize their lifespan! 

So on that note, join me as we look at these key areas:

Shall we get started?

Key Takeaways

  • You should descale your Keurig every three to six months 
  • You can do this by running descaling solution through the machine 
  • Cleaning your coffee machine regularly will help to keep limescale at bay
  • It’s possible to use Keurig’s descaling solution or distilled white vinegar 
  • Descaling more regularly is necessary if you have hard water 

How to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine 

Has the descaling light come on your Keurig coffee machine? Before we get into the actual descaling process, let’s find out what we’re going to need.

What You Need

You can choose from either of the following products to descale your coffee machine at home:

  • Keurig Descaling Solution: You can buy a descaling solution from Keurig themselves if you want to opt for the most effective option. It’s possible to order this from them directly, but be aware that it is definitely the most expensive of the options.
  • Distilled White Vinegar: A handy, more affordable alternative is to use plain old white vinegar. You can pick this up for super cheap from the supermarket and does almost as good a job as the Keurig solution.

If you want to save a bit of cash, you could certainly opt for the vinegar option. But I’d still use the Keurig solution as well every now and then just to make sure you’re getting every last piece of that limescale. 

An important note: you’ll be using either of these products as one part product, one part water. Make sure to mix either of them with their equivalent amount of water before you get started. 

If you go straight in and put them in pure then you might find that residue of the products will be left inside your machine after the descaling process has ended. This could negatively affect the taste of your coffee for the next several brews. 

The Descaling Process

Now that you’ve purchased your vinegar and/or your Keurig descaling solution, it’s time to get started. So, just carry out these simple steps and your Keurig coffee machine should be descaled in no time.

Note that you won’t be able to use your coffee machine for around 45 minutes after you start this process. So if you want to drink one last cup of coffee before you get started, now’s your chance!

You can descale pretty much all the Keurig models in the same, or a similar, way. For example, you can do so with any of these…

Keurig K-EliteKeurig K-SupremeKeurig K-SlimKeurig K-Express
Keurig K-ClassicKeurig K15Keurig K-SuiteKeurig K4000 Cafe

Here’s a look at the descaling process:

1. Empty the water tank: The first thing to do is empty any water that might have been in your Keurig water tank already. It could also be worth giving it a wipe down with warm, soapy water if there’s any white sediment smeared inside the tank. Also remove the water filter if there is one.

2. Fill the reservoir with your solution: Now that you’ve mixed your vinegar or Keurig descaling solution with an equal amount of water, it’s time to add it to the water tank. Make sure that you fill it up to the fill line, or close enough.

3. Put a mug under the drip tray: Make sure to do this so that you can catch all of the cleaning solution after it’s run through the device.

4. Put the machine in descale mode: Press and hold the 8oz and 12oz coffee cup buttons (or the 6oz and 10oz buttons for Essentials machines) together for three seconds. This will put the machine into descaling mode so that you can proceed to starting the cycle.

5. Process the ‘brew’: Just press the brew button to start the brewing process. You can then discard the waste water that’s been poured into the coffee cup.

6. Rinse the machine: Next, put your coffee cup back onto the trip tray and fill the water tank with fresh water. Keep pressing the brew button to repeat this process until the tank is empty, or until the descale light turns off.

7. Repeat the process if the light doesn’t come off: If the light doesn’t come off after three or four tries there might be another issue at fault. In that situation, some further troubleshooting might be required, so you may wish to reach out to Keurig customer services*.

8. Let the coffee machine sit: It’s important to wait around half an hour at this point before you do anything else. This is just so that the solution can settle and do its thing to remove the limescale. 

9. Wash the water tank and reattach with the filter: Make sure you remove the water tank and give it a good wash with warm, soapy water. Then, reattach it with the water filter if you’re using one.

*You can do this with the following contact methods…

  • Over the phone: The most urgent way to get hold of Keurig is to give them a call. Their phone line is available 7am-12am EST, 7 days a week and it’s free of charge. The number to call is 866.901.2739.
  • Via email: If you’re not in so much of a rush you can always send Keurig an email by filling out the form on their website.
  • Through the post: You can also choose to send Keurig a letter if you prefer. Their postal address is Keurig Green Mountain Inc. 53 South Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803.

How Often to Descale Your Keurig Coffee Machine

Keurig themselves recommend that you descale your coffee machine every three to six months on average. 

How close you are to either end of this spectrum rests on a couple of different factors. So, consider these things if you’re looking to work out when descaling time is:

  • The hardness of your water: If you have hard water in your area, you’re going to need to descale your coffee machine more often. That’s because hard water carries more sediment than soft water and it will deposit this into the machine over time. 
  • How often you use the machine: As you might have expected, heavy coffee machine users are going to need to descale their coffee machine more often than lighter ones. This is because more water runs through it overall and more limescale builds up.
  • How often you clean the machine: One key way that you can keep the frequency of your descaling to a minimum is if you clean the Keurig coffee machine regularly. I’m going to show you how to do this in the next section of this article. 
  • Whether you leave water in the tank after usage: A good way to prevent the buildup of limescale in the actual water tank is to empty it each time that you use the machine. Water sitting inside the tank will deposit more sediment into it over time. 

*You can make your water softer by using a water filter at home. Some people prefer to do this so that they don’t have to descale their Keurig coffee machine as frequently. It’s also possible to use a water filter directly with the coffee machine. You can acquire one of these from Keurig.

The main way that you’re going to find out if your Keurig coffee machine needs descaling is if the descaling light comes on. You can find this on the front of the machine on most Keurig models. 

But there are a few other factors to look out for. For example, if your coffee begins to taste chalky, it could be a sign that descaling is required.

How to Clean the Parts of Your Keurig Coffee Machine 

One of the best ways to prevent the buildup of limescale (meaning you won’t have to descale it so often) is just to clean each part of it regularly. This also has the benefits of better tasting and a longer lifespan for the machine overall.

I’m about to take you through how to clean all the individual parts and let you know how often to do it. So stay tuned!

How to clean the removable parts 

A great thing about Keurig coffee machines is that they’re really easy to dismantle. This means you can take all the parts off and clean them. So here’s how to do just that:

1. Power the machine off: Make sure to shut the machine off from the wall in case you get any water inside any of the electrical parts. Safety first!

2. Remove all detachable parts: You can take off the water tank, the K-Cup holder, the drip tray and the lid of the machine. If you haven’t done this before, you should find that all of these parts come off with a simple pull and a click. 

3. Wash the parts in warm, soapy water: You can wash the parts just as you would normally do the washing up. Or, if you prefer, you can just put them in the dishwasher. All of the parts will be dishwasher safe.

4. Rinse the parts with warm water: Make sure to rinse off any excess soap as this could cause your coffee to taste soapy with future brews. 

5. Leave the parts to dry: Just let the parts dry while they’re rinsed, or wipe them down with a teatowel.

6. Wipe the machine down with a damp cloth: While the parts are drying, you can wipe down the rest of the machine with a warm, damp cloth. It’s not the best idea to use soap though as this could get stuck in the machine and cause a bad taste for future coffees. 

7. Put the machine back together and plug it back in: Now that everything is dry, you can reassemble the machine and continue to use it as usual.

It’s typically worth cleaning all of these removable parts every week or so if you use the coffee machine every day.

Cleaning the Keurig needles

While your coffee machine is disassembled (perhaps while the parts are drying), it’s a good idea to clean the needles that pierce the pods as well. They could break down over time and this will be exacerbated with a lack of cleaning. And they’re pretty tricky to replace!

Here’s how to do clean them:

  1. Unfold a paperclip: This is delicate work, so you’re going to want to get the finest point possible. I’ve found that a paperclip works best for this.
  2. Use the paperclip to clear coffee grounds: With the K-Cup holder removed, delicately poke around at all of the holes in the exit tube to free up the stranded coffee grounds. There are two holes in the needle as well that you can enter the paperclip into.
  3. Run an empty cycle or two: Now that you’ve freed the coffee grounds, it’s time to wash them away. The best way to do this is just running one or two empty brew cycles with fresh water. 

Extra Tips on Using Your Keurig Coffee Machine

Check out a few other things you can do to prolong the life of your Keurig coffee machine. They might also help you reduce the frequency that you need to descale. 

  • Don’t leave water in the tank for too long: Bacteria and mold could grow inside your tank if you leave water in it for more than two or three days. I wrote more about that in this article.
  • Load the pod correctly: If you don’t put the pod into the machine in the correct way, it can burst and spill coffee grounds all over the inside of your Keurig coffee machine. Make sure the pod sits correctly into the machine before you begin the brew each time.
  • Eject the pod after each brew: Leaving the pod in the Keurig coffee machine when you’ve finished making your coffee for a few days can cause the machine to acquire a bit of a stale taste before you clean it again. Make sure to pop them out each time.

FAQ on Descaling Your Keurig Coffee Machine

Here are a couple of extra pieces of useful information that are related to descaling your Keurig coffee machine. 

Can I avoid vinegar and descaling solution when descaling my Keurig?

It is also possible to use baking soda if you don’t want to use either of the two liquids listed above. You can do this by dissolving a quarter cup of baking soda into your full coffee tank. I’ve found this to be a little effective, but it does still work. 

Can I recycle my K-Cups when I’m done with them?

Yes. To recycle a K-Cup, just remove the foil lid and pour out the coffee grounds then put the rest of the K-Cup into your regular home recycling. This is the most responsible way to dispose of them, so I encourage everyone to do it! 

Wrapping Up on Properly Descaling Your Keurig Coffee Machine

Keeping your coffee machine well descaled and cleaned has a few key benefits. It makes your coffee taste better, improves the lifespan of your machine and prevents other usage faults from occurring in the short term.

This should be done every three to six months. And you can easily do it by putting the machine into descaling mode, adding some descaling solution or vinegar and running the brewing cycle.

Make sure to keep the machine clean as well though!

So there you have it. You now know everything you need to know about keeping your Keurig coffee machine in order. Enjoy! 

If you’re not sure which Keurig coffee machine to opt for in the first place, I’ve got you covered. I’ve explored the best models in this article.

Photo of author


Tim Lee is, as you might have guessed the founder of He is a former barista and a professional web publisher. He has now combined his knowledge and expertise in both subjects to create
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