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How to Fix a Keurig Descale Light that Won’t Turn Off

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Last updated: April 10, 2023

A Keurig machine’s descale warning light not turning off after you descale it is a common problem.

Here we are going to go through seven potential fixes for a Keurig machine whose descale light will not turn off after descaling.

I’ll start with the most common fixes, then move on to less common but more effort fixes, and then finally get to the most drastic fixes. This should allow you to just work your way down the list until you solve the problem.

I’ll also then tell you what to do if none of these fixes work (spoiler alert: it’s to just continue using the machine with its warning light on – the machine should continue to work as normal).

All these fixes assume that you have already descaled the machine as per Keurig’s instructions.

If you have not yet done this then here is Keurig’s article on how to descale each of their machines.

1. Descale your Keurig in Descale Mode (K Supreme range, K Express range, K Slim range, and SMART range only)

(If you don’t have a K Supreme, K Slim, K Express or SMART model then skip this step).

The Keurig K Supreme (Plus), K Slim, K Express, and SMART Keurig machines each have a dedicated descale mode.

If you descale the machine without putting it into its descale mode first, the machine will not “register” that you’ve descaled it and its descale light will not turn off.

This is the case even if you descale the machine correctly.

  • To put K Supreme range, K Slim range, and K Express into descale mode: Press and hold the 8 oz and 12 oz buttons together for three seconds. The machine’s descale button/digital warning should go from flashing to solid and the brew button will start blinking when it’s in descale mode.
  • To put the K Express Essentials into descale mode: Press and hold the 6 oz and 12 oz buttons together for three seconds. The machine’s descale button should go from flashing to solid and the brew button will start blinking when it’s in descale mode.
  • To put a SMART Keurig machine into descale mode: Press both arrows on the control panel at the same time to open up settings and then scroll down to descale mode and press select.

You can see a video of someone putting the Keurig K Supreme Plus SMART into its descale mode below (watch from 1:57 to 2:35):

Once the machine is in descale mode, then descale the machine as per its instructions.

If you have already descaled your machine not in its descale mode and you don’t want to waste any of the descaling solution, then you can just “descale” it with water.

So long as the machine’s pipes have been cleaned out by a recent descaling then it won’t know the difference.

2. Unplug Your Machine and then Plug it Back In

As with most hardware issues, a hard restart is one of the most common fixes.

When researching this article I contacted Keurig’s support saying that my K Elite’s (a Keurig model that does not have a descaling mode) descale light wouldn’t turn off.

The first thing the support rep recommended was unplugging the machine for five minutes and plugging it back in.

This suggests that a hard restart will, in a significant number of cases at least, solve this problem.

3. Perform a Factory Reset (Keurig Duo and SMART models only)

The Keurig Duo and SMART models allow you to perform a factory reset. This can, in some cases, turn off a persistent descale warning light.

Here is how to perform a factory reset on each machine:

Keurig K Duo/ K Duo Plus / K Duo Essentials

To reset the Keurig K Duo, K Duo Plus, or K Duo Essentials, hold down the 8 oz and 10 oz buttons together for five seconds.

You can find a video of someone turning off their descale warning light by doing this below:

Keurig SMART models

These have an option on the “settings” section of their control panel to do a factory reset.

You can access this “settings” section by holding down both of the control panel’s arrow keys for three seconds. 

Then just scroll to the factory reset option.

You can find a video of someone doing this on the Keurig Supreme Plus SMART below:

Some people on the Keurig subreddit say that other machines can be reset by doing the following:

  • Unplugging the machine
  • Removing its reservoir
  • Letting it sit reservoir free for five minutes
  • Attaching the reservoir and turning it on

Personally, I don’t see enough evidence to think that this does anything. I tried it with my Keurig K Duo and K Supreme Plus and it didn’t do anything (to be fair they didn’t have any problems that I could “test” the factory reset on).

Still, it might be worth a try.

4. Run Additional Rinse Cycles and Make Sure That Your Machine’s “Add Water” Light Comes On During its Rinse Cycles

(Please note that this is only a known fix for Keurig machines with a descaling mode (K Slim, K Supreme K Express, and SMART range). I still think it’s worth a try for machines that do not have a descaling mode.)

Keurig says that you should run “at least twelve rinsing brews” after your initial descale cycle.

When your machine is in descale mode, it “counts” these rinse cycles through its “add water” light.

Therefore you’ll need to trigger the add water light two to three times (depending on the size of your water reservoir) before the machine is happy that you have rinsed it out sufficiently and will turn off its descale light.

The way you ensure that your machine triggers this “add water” like when running its rinse cycles is by not refilling your water reservoir until it drains completely during rinsing.

A lot of people try to save time when descaling by filling up the water reservoir as they run their rinse cycles. 

This is often the cause of the descale light not turning off.

Even if you have a machine that does not have a dedicated descaling mode, I’d still recommend running rinse cycles and letting the machine’s water tank completely empty.

When I contacted Keurig’s customer support rep about my (made-up) Keurig K Elite’s descale light not turning off, the second suggestion she gave was to run additional rinse cycles.

This leads me to suggest that the descaling solution’s viscosity and bubbliness mean that even a tiny amount of residue in a Keurig machine’s internal pipes can make the machine think that it still has a scale issue.

5. Deep Clean the Machine’s Needles

Keurig machines’ descale warning light can sometimes be triggered by its needles being clogged up with ground coffee.

Keurig needles have deep crevices in them where coffee can get stuck. The best way to clean these out is with a toothpick, pin, or straightened paperclip.

Like this

Remember that Keurig machines also have an “exit” needle in the bottom of its K cup port which may also need cleaning. Keurig themselves have a video on how to do this:

6. Deep Clean the Machine’s Water Tank Valve

One of the reasons why you need to descale your Keurig machine is to remove any scale buildup in the valve at the bottom of the machine’s water tank (the bit where water drains through before it goes inside the machine itself).

This is why the descaling process involves letting the descaling solution residue in the water tank for half an hour before rinsing.

It is therefore not implausible that scale buildup in the water tank’s valve itself can trigger a machine’s descale warning light.

This is the backside of the Keurig Mini Plus’s water tank. Deposits can build up on this rubber valve

You can manually deep clean these valves in the same way as you clean out a Keurig machine’s needle – with a toothpick or straightened-out paperclip.

7. Burp the Machine

(I could only find anecdotal evidence of this working on Reddit. Still, it makes sense and is worth a try as a last resort)

Some people online say that you can turn off a Keurig’s descale warning light by either giving the machine a solid slap on its side or by turning the machine on its head and slapping the bottom of it.

Take apart all the machine’s removable parts (water tank, drip tray, K cup port) before you do this.

What if None of These Fixes Have Worked?

You now have two options:

  • Get in touch with Keurig and try to get a replacement machine (Keurig generally offers a one-year warranty on their machines.
  • Ignore the descale warning light and carry on as normal.

Ignoring the descale light and carrying on brewing, as usual, shouldn’t damage your machine so long as you have descaled the machine properly (it’s the light that’s faulty, not your descaling process).

Just be aware that your Keurig machine now effectively has no descale light so you need to remember to descale every 3-6 months.

Could Taking my Keurig Machine Apart Turn Off the Descale Warning Light?

I could not find any evidence of a descale warning light fix that involved taking apart your machine.

Taking apart the machine will void any warranty you have on it.

If your machine refuses to turn on or brew after descaling, then there are fixes that involve taking the machine apart. These won’t turn off the descale warning light, however.

Will Descaling My Keurig Machine with Vinegar Turn off the Descale Warning Light?

Despite what Google may tell you, descaling with vinegar will not turn off your descale warning light.

Google is not always your friend

While you can descale a Keurig machine with vinegar rather than a descaling solution, there is nothing special about vinegar that means that a vinegar descale is more likely to turn off your descale warning light than with a descaling solution.

The only difference between descaling with these two products is that vinegar leaves much more of a lingering smell and taste than a descaling solution. You, therefore, need to run more rinsing cycles when you descale with vinegar compared to the descaling solution.

Final Thoughts

Be aware that although the descale light not turning off is annoying, it does not mean that your machine is unusable.

If, however, you do want to replace your machine, please see my Keurig machine reviews.

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