(GUIDE) What Does It Mean When My Keurig Says Descale?

Keurig is a popular brand of coffee makers known for their convenience and ease of use. However, these machines require maintenance to keep them functioning properly. One common message that Keurig owners encounter is the “descale” message. This message can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the term. In this article, we will explore the meaning and importance of descaling your Keurig machine.

Quick Answer: What Does It Mean When My Keurig Says Descale?

When your Keurig machine displays the message "descale," it means that the internal components of your machine have accumulated mineral deposits or scale. Scale forms from the buildup of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from the water running through the machine. Descaling is the process of removing these mineral deposits to clean and maintain your Keurig, ensuring that your machine continues to brew coffee at its best.

Understanding Keurig Descaling

Now that we know what descaling is, let’s look at how to accomplish this important task. Descaling is done to clean the inner workings of your Keurig machine and keep it working properly. Over time, the minerals found in hard water build up in the tubes and heating elements of your machine and can cause damage and clogs. These deposits can also affect the taste of your coffee, giving it a bitter or off-flavor taste. By descaling your Keurig machine, it will remove these deposits and allow your machine to function like new.

There are several ways to descale your Keurig machine. Keurig provides its own solution for descaling, which can be purchased online or in some stores. They also provide instructions on how to use their solution specifically for Keurig machines. However, there are other descaling solutions that can be used, such as citric acid or white vinegar. It is important to carefully read the instructions that come with the descaling solution of your choice, as some may require dilution or specific mixing instructions.

Most Keurig machines will have a descaling option in their settings menu. This option will walk you through the entire process, step by step. Once you choose the descaling option, the machine will guide you through the process, which typically involves adding the descaling solution to the water reservoir, running the machine to cycle the solution through, flushing the machine with fresh water, and running several cycles of clean water through the machine to ensure all of the descaling solution is removed. Each machine has its instructions, which should be followed carefully to ensure the descaling process is done correctly.

Importance Of Descaling Your Keurig

Descaling your Keurig machine is important to restore the original taste of your coffee, ensure that your machine continues to perform properly and to extend its lifespan. Accumulated mineral deposits will cause your coffee to taste different and can eventually cause damage to your machine, such as clogged tubes and faulty heating elements. When these components are clogged or damaged, your coffee maker stops working properly and must be repaired or replaced. Regular descaling of your Keurig machine can prevent these problems from occurring, ensuring that your Keurig remains a high-quality, convenient coffee maker for years to come.

When your Keurig machine displays the message "descale," it means that the components of your machine are in need of cleaning to remove mineral deposits. Descaling can be accomplished using descaling solutions or by following the instructions provided by Keurig. Regular descaling is essential to ensuring that your Keurig machine continues to produce high-quality coffee as well as extending its lifespan. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can keep your Keurig machine clean, functioning properly, and producing coffee that tastes the way it should.

Signs That Your Keurig Needs Descaling

When your Keurig displays the "descale" message, it is indicating that the machine’s internal components have accumulated mineral deposits and scale buildup over time. Descaling is the process of removing these deposits to maintain the performance and longevity of your Keurig. Neglecting to descale your Keurig can lead to clogging, slower brewing times, and even potential damage to the brewing system.

It’s important to recognize the signs that indicate your Keurig is in need of descaling. These signs may vary depending on the severity of the mineral buildup within the machine. Here are some common indicators that your Keurig requires descaling:

1. Slow Brewing Times

If your Keurig takes longer than usual to brew a cup of coffee or dispenses water at a reduced flow rate, it could be a sign of scale buildup within the machine’s internal piping and heating elements.

2. Incomplete Brewing

Another telltale sign of scale accumulation is when your Keurig fails to brew a full cup of coffee despite selecting the appropriate size setting. This can indicate blockages in the machine’s water delivery system.

3. Unusual Noises

Mineral deposits can cause components such as the pump and valves in your Keurig to work harder than usual, resulting in unusual noises during the brewing process. If you notice any unusual sounds emanating from your Keurig, it may be an indication of scale buildup.

4. Reduced Water Temperature

Scale can insulate heating elements, leading to a decrease in the water temperature during brewing. If your coffee is not as hot as it used to be, despite no changes in your Keurig’s settings, it might be time to descale the appliance.

5. Error Messages Or Lights

Many modern Keurig models are equipped with sensors and diagnostics that can detect issues related to scale buildup. If your machine displays error messages or flashing lights, it could be signaling the need for descaling.

What Causes Buildup In Your Keurig

Understanding the causes of scale and mineral deposits in your Keurig is essential to prevent future buildup. The primary factors contributing to the accumulation of scale within your Keurig include:

1. Hard Water

The mineral content in hard water, particularly calcium and magnesium, can precipitate and form scale when heated. As water passes through the Keurig’s heating elements and internal piping, these minerals can deposit and solidify over time.

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2. Infrequent Descaling

Failure to perform regular descaling of your Keurig allows mineral deposits to accumulate. Over time, these deposits solidify and interfere with the machine’s internal components, affecting its performance.

3. Environmental Factors

External environmental factors, such as dust, can also contribute to the buildup of scale within your Keurig. Dust that enters the machine can combine with minerals in the water and adhere to various components, exacerbating the scale accumulation.

4. Coffee Grounds And Residue

Residual coffee grounds and oils left behind in the brewing chamber can mix with water and contribute to the formation of scale. This is more likely to occur if the machine is not regularly cleaned.

DIY Keurig Descaling Vs. Professional Descaling

When it comes to descaling your Keurig, you have the option to perform the process yourself or seek professional descaling services. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each approach to help you make an informed decision.

DIY Keurig Descaling


  • Cost-Effective: Performing a DIY descaling using common household items such as white vinegar or citric acid is generally more budget-friendly than hiring professional services.
  • Convenience: DIY descaling can be done at your convenience, without the need to schedule an appointment or wait for a technician.
  • Control: You have full control over the descaling process and can tailor it to your specific needs.


  • Time-Consuming: DIY descaling often requires multiple cycles of descaling solutions and rinse cycles, which can be time-consuming.
  • Effectiveness: Depending on the severity of scale buildup, DIY descaling may not always be as effective as professional descaling methods.

Professional Descaling


  • Efficiency: Professional descaling services often utilize specialized equipment and solutions to effectively remove stubborn scale buildup.
  • Thoroughness: Trained technicians can thoroughly clean and descale intricate components within your Keurig, ensuring a more comprehensive descaling process.
  • Maintenance Plans: Some professional services offer maintenance plans, providing regular descaling and maintenance to keep your Keurig in optimal condition.


  • Cost: Professional descaling services typically incur higher costs compared to DIY methods.
  • Scheduling: You may need to schedule an appointment and wait for the technician to perform the descaling, which can be inconvenient for some users.

Understanding the implications of the "descale" message on your Keurig is crucial for maintaining the performance and longevity of your coffee maker. By recognizing the signs that indicate the need for descaling and being aware of the causes of buildup within your Keurig, you can take proactive measures to address the issue promptly. Whether you opt for a DIY descaling approach or seek professional descaling services, the ultimate goal is to ensure that your Keurig operates efficiently and consistently delivers a delicious cup of coffee. With regular descaling and proper maintenance, you can maximize the lifespan of your Keurig and continue to enjoy your favorite beverages with optimal taste and quality.

Step-by-Step Guide To Descaling Your Keurig

If you are a proud owner of a Keurig coffee maker, you may have come across the message "Descaling" at some point. But what exactly does it mean when your Keurig says "Descale"? Descaling is an essential maintenance task that helps to keep your Keurig machine in optimal condition.

Descaling your Keurig coffee maker is a relatively straightforward process that involves removing the buildup of mineral deposits (often referred to as scale) from the internal components of the machine. This buildup occurs over time from the minerals present in the water, particularly if you use hard water. Descaling is important because it helps to ensure that your Keurig machine operates efficiently and extends its lifespan. Here is a step-by-step guide to descaling your Keurig coffee maker:

Step 1: Prepare Your Keurig

Before you begin the descaling process, there are a few things you’ll need to do to prepare your Keurig machine:

  1. Turn off your Keurig and unplug it from the power source.
  2. Remove any used K-Cups or pods from the machine.
  3. Lift the handle of the Keurig to open the chamber where the K-Cup usually goes. This will expose the entrance needle and exit needle.

Step 2: Empty And Clean The Water Reservoir

The next step involves emptying and cleaning the water reservoir:

  1. Remove the water reservoir from the Keurig machine.
  2. Dispose of any remaining water in the reservoir.
  3. Wash the reservoir with warm soapy water, ensuring that all soap residue is thoroughly rinsed off.
  4. For a deeper clean, you can also use a mixture of one part vinegar to two parts water to clean the reservoir. Rinse it thoroughly afterward.

Step 3: Prepare The Descaling Solution

To effectively descale your Keurig, you will need a descaling solution. While there are commercially available descaling solutions, you can also make one at home using white vinegar and water. Here’s how to prepare the descaling solution:

  1. Measure equal parts of white vinegar and water. The amount you’ll need will depend on the size of your machine, but a common ratio is 1 cup of vinegar to 1 cup of water. You may need more or less, depending on your Keurig model.
  2. Mix the vinegar and water in a container until well blended.

Step 4: Descaling Your Keurig

With the descaling solution ready, it’s time to start descaling your Keurig machine:

  1. Place the water reservoir back onto the Keurig machine, ensuring it is properly seated.
  2. Pour the prepared descaling solution into the water reservoir until it reaches the fill line.
  3. Plug in your Keurig and turn it on.
  4. Wait until the heating indicator light turns solid before proceeding (this indicates that the water is heated and ready for the descaling process).
  5. Place a large mug or cup on the drip tray to collect the descaling solution.
  6. Start the brew cycle by selecting the largest brew size (e.g., 10 ounces) without inserting a K-Cup.
  7. Allow the descaling solution to flow through the machine and into the mug or cup.
  8. Once the brew cycle is complete, pour the contents of the mug back into the water reservoir. Repeat this process until the water reservoir is empty (this may require multiple brew cycles).
  9. Discard the contents of the mug and rinse it thoroughly.
  10. Refill the water reservoir with clean water (do not use the descaling solution this time).
  11. Run multiple brew cycles with clean water to rinse out any remaining vinegar taste or residue from the descaling process.
  12. Once the water reservoir is empty again, your Keurig is now descaled and ready to use.
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Step 5: Clean The Needle

To ensure that your Keurig is thoroughly cleaned, it is important to clean the needle that pierces the K-Cup during the brewing process:

  1. Turn off and unplug your Keurig machine.
  2. Lift the handle to expose the entrance and exit needles.
  3. Use a paperclip or a cleaning tool specifically designed for Keurig machines to carefully clean the needle by inserting it into the opening and gently moving it around to dislodge any debris or buildup.
  4. After thoroughly cleaning the needle, lower the handle.

Materials Needed For Descaling Your Keurig

To effectively descale your Keurig coffee maker, you will need a few materials on hand. Here’s a list of the essential items:

  1. White vinegar: Vinegar is a natural descaling agent that effectively removes mineral buildup.
  2. Water: You will need water to dilute the vinegar and for rinsing your Keurig after descaling.
  3. A container: A container is required to mix the vinegar and water solution.
  4. Soap or Keurig cleaning solution: Soap or a Keurig cleaning solution is necessary for cleaning the water reservoir.
  5. Paperclip or cleaning tool: A paperclip or a cleaning tool specifically designed for Keurig machines will help to clean the needle.

By gathering these materials beforehand, you will have everything you need for a successful descaling process.

Tips And Tricks For A Successful Keurig Descaling

While descaling your Keurig machine is a relatively straightforward process, here are some additional tips and tricks to ensure a successful descaling:

  1. Use distilled or filtered water: Using distilled or filtered water in your Keurig can help reduce mineral buildup and prolong the time between descaling sessions.
  2. Pre-soak your water reservoir: If your Keurig has a removable water reservoir, you can fill it with a mixture of vinegar and water in advance and let it soak for 30 minutes to an hour. This can help to loosen any stubborn mineral deposits.
  3. Follow your Keurig’s instruction manual: Different Keurig models may have slightly different descaling processes. It is always a good idea to refer to your specific Keurig instruction manual for any unique steps or precautions.
  4. Detachable components: If your Keurig has any detachable components, such as the water reservoir or the drip tray, you can remove them during descaling for easier cleaning.
  5. Regular descaling: It is recommended to descale your Keurig every three to six months, or more frequently if you have hard water. Regular descaling helps to maintain the performance and lifespan of your coffee maker.

By keeping these tips and tricks in mind, you can ensure a successful descaling process and keep your Keurig coffee maker in optimal condition.

When your Keurig displays the "Descale" message, it is an indication that it is time to remove mineral deposits that may have accumulated inside your machine. Descaling is a crucial maintenance task that ensures your Keurig operates efficiently and provides you with the best-tasting coffee. By following our step-by-step guide and having the necessary materials and tips in mind, you can effectively descale your Keurig coffee maker and enjoy a cleaner, longer-lasting machine. Remember to refer to your specific Keurig instruction manual for any model-specific guidelines, and consider establishing a regular descaling routine to keep your coffee maker in top shape.

Benefits Of Regularly Descaling Your Keurig

If you own a Keurig coffee maker, you may have come across the term "descaling" at some point. Descaling is an essential process that helps maintain the performance and longevity of your Keurig machine. When your Keurig displays a "descale" message, it indicates that it’s time to clean and remove mineral build-up from the internal components of the machine.

  1. Improved Taste of Coffee: One of the primary reasons to descale your Keurig regularly is to enhance the taste and quality of your coffee. Over time, mineral deposits, such as calcium and lime, can accumulate in the internal parts of the machine, including the heating element and water lines. These deposits can affect the flavor of your coffee, making it taste bitter or flat. Descaling helps remove these build-ups, allowing your machine to brew coffee with its original flavor, ensuring a great tasting cup every time.

  2. Optimal Performance: A Keurig that is properly descaled will function at its best. Mineral deposits can clog and restrict the water flow in the machine, leading to slower brew times and potential leaks. Descaling your Keurig regularly helps to prevent these issues, ensuring that your machine operates smoothly and efficiently.

  3. Extended Lifespan of the Machine: Neglecting to descale your Keurig can have a detrimental impact on its lifespan. The mineral build-up can cause internal components to deteriorate over time, potentially leading to malfunctions and costly repairs. By regularly descaling your machine, you can help prolong its lifespan and avoid unnecessary expenses.

  4. Prevention of Clogs: Mineral build-up can cause clogs in the water lines and needles of your Keurig. These clogs can prevent water from flowing properly, resulting in incomplete brewing cycles or even no brewing at all. Descaling helps to remove these mineral deposits, keeping your Keurig free from clogs and ensuring consistent performance.

Maintaining Your Keurig After Descaling

Once you have successfully descaled your Keurig, it is essential to follow certain maintenance steps to keep your machine in optimal condition. Here are some tips to maintain your Keurig after descaling:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Besides descaling, it is crucial to clean the external parts of your Keurig regularly. Wipe the surface of the machine with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or coffee residue. Pay attention to the drip tray, as it can accumulate grime and debris. Remove the drip tray and wash it with warm water and mild soap. Ensure all components are thoroughly dry before reassembling.

  2. Cleaning the Water Reservoir: The water reservoir in your Keurig can also accumulate mineral deposits over time, even if you descale regularly. To clean the reservoir, empty any remaining water and remove it from the machine. Wash it with warm water and mild soap, using a soft brush or cloth to scrub away any residue. Rinse the reservoir thoroughly, ensuring no traces of soap remain.

  3. Regularly Replacing the Water Filter: If your Keurig has a water filter, be sure to replace it regularly. The filter helps improve the taste of your coffee by reducing impurities in the water. Over time, the filter can become saturated and less effective. Refer to your Keurig’s manual for specific instructions on when to replace the water filter.

  4. Proper Storage: If you plan to store your Keurig for an extended period, it is essential to store it correctly. Ensure that the machine is clean and completely dry before storing it in a cool and dry place. Remove any water or coffee residues from the internal parts by running a brewing cycle with just water beforehand. Store the machine in its original packaging or a protective bag to keep it free from dust and debris.

  5. Regular Keurig Maintenance Schedule: To ensure that you maintain your Keurig effectively, create a maintenance schedule that includes descaling and regular cleaning. Depending on the quality of your water, it is a good idea to descale your Keurig every three to six months. You can set reminders on your calendar or use the Keurig maintenance reminder feature (if available) to stay on track with your maintenance routine.

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Avoiding Future Keurig Problems With Proper Descaling Techniques

To avoid future problems with your Keurig, it is crucial to use proper descaling techniques. Here are some tips to effectively descale your Keurig:

  1. Use the Right Descaling Solution: When it comes to descaling your Keurig, it is essential to use a descaling solution specifically designed for coffee machines. Avoid using vinegar or other household cleaners, as they can leave residual odors and flavors in your machine. Follow the instructions provided with the descaling solution for the recommended dilution ratio and duration.

  2. Remove and Clean the Removable Parts: Before descaling, ensure that you remove and clean any removable parts of your Keurig, such as the water filter (if applicable), drip tray, and K-Cup holder. Wash these parts with warm water and mild soap, ensuring that all coffee residue and debris are thoroughly removed. Rinse the parts and allow them to air dry.

  3. Preventive Brewing Cycle: Perform a preventive brewing cycle without a K-Cup to help remove any residual coffee grounds or other loose debris from the brewer. This step prepares your Keurig for the descaling process and ensures that the descaling solution can work effectively.

  4. Descaling Process: Follow the instructions provided with the descaling solution to prepare the solution and perform the descaling process. Usually, this involves filling the water reservoir with the descaling solution and running the machine through a brew cycle. Ensure that you place a container capable of holding the entire brew capacity under the brewer to collect the solution and prevent spillage. Repeat the brew cycle several times, allowing the descaling solution to sit in the machine for the recommended duration.

  5. Rinsing Cycle: After the descaling process is complete, it is essential to run multiple rinsing cycles to remove any residual descaling solution from the machine. Fill the water reservoir with clean water and run several brew cycles without a K-Cup. This helps to flush out any remaining descaling solution and ensures that your Keurig is ready for use.

  6. Cleaning the Needle: The needle that punctures the K-Cup during brewing can become clogged with coffee grounds or other debris. After the descaling process, carefully remove the K-Cup holder and use a paperclip or needle to clean the needle. Gently insert the paperclip or needle into the needle opening and move it around to dislodge any blockages. Wipe away any residue with a damp cloth before reassembling the K-Cup holder.


Regularly descaling your Keurig coffee maker is essential for maintaining its performance, ensuring the best taste of your coffee, and extending its lifespan. Descaling removes mineral deposits that can affect the flavor and performance of your machine, helping it brew coffee at its highest quality. By following proper descaling techniques and maintaining your Keurig after descaling, you can prevent clogs, optimize the machine’s performance, and avoid costly repairs. Remember to include regular cleaning and maintenance as part of your Keurig care routine to ensure that you consistently enjoy coffeehouse-like quality with every cup you brew.


What Does It Mean When My Keurig Says "descale"?

When your Keurig machine displays a "descale" message, it means that the internal components have built up mineral deposits and need to be cleaned.

How Often Should I Descale My Keurig?

The recommended frequency for descaling your Keurig depends on your usage and the quality of your water. Generally, it is recommended to descale every 3-6 months to maintain the machine’s performance.

What Happens If I Don’t Descale My Keurig?

If you do not descale your Keurig machine, mineral deposits can clog the internal components, leading to slower brewing times, incomplete brews, and potential damage to the machine over time.

Can I Use Vinegar To Descale My Keurig?

While vinegar is often recommended as a natural descaling solution, it is not recommended for use in Keurig machines. Vinegar can leave a lingering odor and may not effectively remove all mineral deposits.

How Do I Descale My Keurig?

Keurig sells a descaling solution specifically for their machines, which can be purchased online or in stores. You can also use a mix of equal parts water and white vinegar to descale. Follow the instructions in your Keurig manual or on the descaling solution packaging for proper descaling steps.

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