As a coffee lover and avid Keurig user, I know the importance of regular maintenance, but what do you do if your Keurig won’t descale? If you have run into the same problem of descaling your Keurig machine, but the scale is still there, and the descaling light is still on, here is what you can do to fix this problem.
Why Descaling Your Keurig is Important
If your coffee maker won’t descale, it is unlikely to function correctly and might cause problems when attempting to use it. For example, it could affect water flow or put ground coffee in your cup. It can even quit brewing altogether depending on how long it is not fixed.
You can tell when the scale is starting to build up by the white film building and sediment in the water reservoir.
When the Keurig descale light is on, you might need to run a descale process several times. There can still be a lot of mineral and gunk build-up, allowing the solution to sit in the water reservoir for a while. If the light is still on after completing these steps, you should attempt a reset on the Keurig machine.
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How do you fix a Keurig that won’t descale?
The mineral build-up and scale can restrict water flow in the internal components of a Keurig. When this occurs, your coffee maker turns on a descaling light to prompt you that it is time to descale your Keurig.
If your Keurig doesn’t descale, then there are a few things you can attempt to troubleshoot and fix the issue. For example, it could need additional descaling runs, unclogged tube or needle, or a circuit board reset.
One of the most significant contributors to scale is the mineral content of your water. Keurig recommends using filtered or bottled water in its coffee machines.
If you have hard water, it can quickly contribute to deposits of minerals or scale in your coffee maker. This decreases or even hinders your brewer’s performance. Therefore, descaling your brewer is a vital part of Keurig maintenance.
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Descaling Process for Keurig Machines
If you have not already, you should first complete the descaling process on your Keurig. This can be completed even if the descaling light is not currently on.
Here are the basic steps for a traditional Keurig model:
- Verify the K-cup holder is empty and turn off the coffee maker.
- Empty out the water reservoir and remove the water filter (if a model with water filters).
- Pour the bottle of Keurig descaling solution into the water reservoir, then fill the empty bottle with water and pour it into the water tank.
- Turn the brewer back on.
- Place a mug on the drip tray and press the flashing brew button to run a rinsing brew. Continue to repeat the rinsing brew until your Keurig machine turns on the ‘Add Water’ light.
- Leave the brewer on and let the machine rest for 30 minutes.
- After resting, empty any remaining Keurig descaling solution and rinse the water reservoir out.
- Fill the water reservoir to the max line with just water, then press the brew button and run at least 12 rinsing brews using the largest brew size. (Note: Do not skip the final rinsing cycle. If you leave any descale solution inside, it will affect the taste of your next brew.)
- Replace the water filter and fill the water reservoir with fresh water again.
- Your coffee is ready to brew coffee using your favorite K-cup.
Descaling Process Troubleshooting
For Keurig models like the Keurig Duo and Keurig Elite, you need to both start the descale mode and exit descale mode to complete the process. Therefore, you should verify the descale instructions for your specific Keurig model either in the provided “Use and Care Guide” or by referencing Keurig’s website.
If you find that your Keurig descale light stays on or that it is still not descaled, you might need to repeat the process a few times. Especially if it has been a while or you use hard tap water for your brews.
You can also leave the descaling solution sitting in the brewer for longer than the recommended 30 minutes. This allows the solution more time to dissolve and unclog any mineral deposit or build-up. These two steps are often the solution since they allow more time to break down the build-up.
Clearing the Keurig Exit Needle and Injection Tubes
After completing the descaling cycle, you should check the Keurig’s exit needle and injection tubes located in the pod holder. The problem with the exit needle is that it can get clogged with coffee grounds or gunk. Then, the lines can get scaled with calcium particles, both of which can slow the water flow or prevent the Keurig machine from brewing altogether (1).
To fix this, take a sewing needle or paper clip and poke it into the exit needle to clear out any debris inside. Then, take a paper clip and poke into the injection tubes to loosen any remaining deposits. Run additional rinsing cycles as necessary.
Keurig Descale Light Stays On
Sometimes, your coffee maker might need a quick reset if the Keurig descale light won’t turn off after troubleshooting everything else. First, unplug the Keurig machine from the wall and allow it to rest for 20 or so minutes before plugging it back in.
Keurig won’t descale FAQ
How often should I descale my Keurig machine?
This answer can vary depending on your day-to-day use. For example, if you use your Keurig brewer more frequently or use hard rather than soft water, then you will need to complete the descale process more often.
Keurig recommends that you descale your coffee maker at least every 3 to 6 months or at the bare minimum when your descale light turns on. If you have a higher mineral content in your water or use it more than the average amount, you should try to descale more often.
How do I know when to descale my Keurig coffee maker?
When it is time to descale your coffee machine, a descale light or prompt will notify you. If you postpone the notification, the system will remind you again after six weeks. Then, it will continue until the descaling process is completed.
You can also tell that it’s time to descale by looking at your water reservoir because it can get build-up that you can see on the walls and bottom in it. If your Keurig machine is not functioning normally, you can complete the descaling process as a troubleshooting fix.
Can I shake or hit my Keurig to remove scale build-up?
Many users often mention this technique as a quick solution to shake loose any build-up or clogs. However, this solution is not recommended and could cause unnecessary damage to your Keurig. If the descaling light is on or if you see the build-up, the best way to remove the scale build-up is to descale with a descaling solution.
Can I use a homemade descaling solution?
Keurig recommends using its own descaling solution to descale all Keurig coffee makers. However, you can make your own descaling mixture with either citric acid (the solution’s main ingredient), vinegar, or lemon juice mixed with water. These homemade descaling solutions would effectively dissolve and clean mineral deposits.
Can vinegar be used to descale Keurig machines?
White vinegar can be used to clean and descale your Keurig coffee maker. Its acidic nature can counteract and dissolve any calcium deposits.
To descale your Keurig, run a cleaning cycle with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water. This simple process could even be run once a week to prevent any scale build-up. This is especially true if you use more than the average time or with non-filtered water.
Can I use citric acid to descale a Keurig coffee machine?
You can use citric acid to clean and descale your Keurig machine. Its acidity effectively cleans, sanitizes, and removes hard water stains and calcium deposits. In addition, it only takes 1 to 2 tablespoons of citric acid powder mixed with water to create your own descale solution. In fact, citric acid is one of the main ingredients in Keurig’s official descaling solution (2).
What if none of these tips work?
If your Keurig is descaled, but the descale light is still on, then you should attempt to reset it. Unplug the brewer, remove the water reservoir, and let it sit for 30 minutes or longer.
However, if your brewer still has a lot of scale build-up, you might need to run the process several times to get it to run effectively again. If you do not want to continue attempting to descale, especially if it has been a while, you can always consider upgrading your brewer. Keurig has many different coffee machines, depending on your needs and wants.
It is important to stay on top of your Keurig’s maintenance – cleaning and descaling regularly – to keep it brewing coffee and running efficiently. Keurig recommends descaling every 3 to 5 months or more, depending on personal usage. Scale build-up can be affected by how often your Keurig is being used, but it also can be affected by the water itself.
Hard water with higher mineral content can cause mineral build-up quicker than bottled water might. If it won’t descale or the descale light stays on, likely, there is still a lot of scale build-up. This might be both the water reservoir and the internal valves/hoses, which means it will need the descale process completed several times.
While completing the descaling steps, you can allow the descaling solution to sit inside the water reservoir for longer than the recommended time. This allows the solution more time to break down and dissolve the build-up. Then, you should check the exit needle and injection tubes are clear by using a paper clip or needle.