The first time I saw the prime message my first thought was “What does it mean when the Keurig says Prime on the screen?”
Thankfully it is nothing serious!
All this message means is that your Keurig coffee maker needs to be properly descaled and cleaned due to a blockage that is affecting the water flow.
Keep reading and learn how to fix this error and prime your Keurig like a pro!
What Does It Mean When The Keurig Says Prime
When you see the prime message on your Keurig it is a simple “clean me” message. There is nothing wrong with your machine, nothing broken at all. The prime error message is just telling you that there is something in your coffee machine that is blocking or inhibiting the water flow.
The culprit is always dirt and calcium build up and the mineral buildup inside your coffee machine. There may also be coffee particles and coffee grounds blocking the injection lines and needles.
Both the exit needle and entry needle can become clogged with debris and coffee oils.
If you owned an older Keurig you will be familiar with the flashing or illuminated descale light – the prime message means the same, so don’t worry at all when you see prime error alerts!
All you need to do is to give your coffee machine a high-quality deep clean. It requires patience, attention to detail and cleaning everything!
Read: Why does my Keurig say Prime
How To Prime A Keurig With Vinegar
Before you start the priming process, there are a few neat tricks that you can try. When you see the Keurig prime error message it may be that your water reservoir is incorrectly installed.
Detach and then reattach the water reservoir and make sure that it is sitting flush and perfect and everything is lined up perfectly.
Still, as a matter of good practice, preventative maintenance and great coffee run a full priming process.
Step 1: Remove All The Removable Parts
Switch off your machine and unplug it while you are preparing your machine for priming.
Remove all the removable parts, water filter, water reservoir, drip tray, pod holder etc. Give them a good clean with warm water and soap.
Pay good attention to the valves and clean the bottom and pay attention to the tiny opening, the valve at the bottom. You will need a fine pin or needle to poke around and unclog any gunk that is there. Clean this water outlet well, spray it with alcohol or distilled white vinegar and let a small amount flow through it. This is to disinfect the valve.
When you have finished cleaning your water tank, give it a swirl and wipe down on all sides, inside and out with distilled white vinegar to give it a sparkling finish. This is to disinfect it also.
Continue this cleaning practice with the remaining removable parts. Rinse all parts with an abundance of water.
Read: Keurig prime problem
Step 2: Clean The Filter Screen
While priming your machine don’t forget to clean the filter screen and give your water filter a good shake and clean. If your water filter is very dirty and needs replacing, replace it.
Step 3: Clean The Needles
Be careful when you are cleaning your needles as they are sharp, very sharp. Those protective gloves with grips that you use for gardening will come in handy.
Use the Keurig needle maintenance tool that came with your Keurig coffee machine and fill it with hot water and place it in the pod holder. Line it up correctly as indicated on the tool.
Open and close the brew head 5-7 times. The hot water will loosen debris. Use a metal paper clip and poke around inside both the exit and entry needles for a minute.
This will get the baked in dirt and grime and loosen it.
Now fill your needle maintenance tool with descaling solution or a 50% distilled white vinegar and 50% water.
Repeat the process of opening and closing the brew head 5 to 7 times.
This will get your needles and injection lines clean and clear.
Step 4: Run A Full Prime Cycle Of Your Keurig
This is the part that gives the whole of your machine a real good clean and reaches those parts that you can’t, like the inner tubes, pipes and the heating element.
Fill your water reservoir to the half full mark with distilled white vinegar and then fill to the max fill line with water.
Be careful not to overheat your machine. If your machine overheats, it will trip the thermal switch inside your coffee maker and will need to be reset manually by taking your machine apart.
Place an 8 oz (240 ml) coffee cup on the drip tray below the coffee spout and press brew. When the coffee cup is full, discard its contents. Wait 15 min for your appliance to cool down and repeat until your water reservoir is empty.
While you are waiting, you can wipe down the surfaces with a damp cloth.
Flush your machine of the scent and taste of vinegar by filling the water tank with clean water and running brew cycles until it is empty. Pay attention to not causing your coffee machine to overheat.
You may need to fill the water reservoir 3 to 5 times.
Read: Keurig says prime
What To Do If Your Keurig Is Still Saying Prime
At this point your Keurig is nice, clean and all blockages should be cleared. If the prime message is still appearing, the first step should be to repeat the step above and run a second prime cycle by filling the water tank with 50% distilled white vinegar and 50% water.
It may still be saying prime due to a heavy build up of calcium and mineral deposits. It is good practice to take this approach.
If after a second priming cycle the message still appears, reset your machine by unplugging it and waiting for an hour or two.
You can also hold down the 8 ounce and 10 ounce buttons together for 3 seconds.
If your machine is still showing the prime message after running a priming cycle twice, cleaning your needles and injection lines, replacing the filter and double-checking that the water reservoir is aligned perfectly.
It may be that there is a faulty part in your machine that needs to be replaced.
If your coffee maker is still under warranty they will fix it for free. Contact them by email or give them a call and find out what they can do for you.
Even if your one-year warranty has run out, they may have a recommended service engineer in your area that can fix your Keurig for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About What Does It Mean When The Keurig Says Prime
How Do You Clean And Unclog A Keurig?
Cleaning and unclogging a Keurig coffee maker is easy. First start by removing all the removable parts like the water tank, drip tray, pod holder and cleaning them with warm water and soap.
Clean the exterior surfaces of your coffee machine with a damp cloth.
Now focus on cleaning and unclogging the injection lines and the needles. Needle clogging is a problem with single serve coffee makers and something many coffee lovers forget to do when running a descaling cycle.
Fill your Keurig needle maintenance tool with warm water and put it in the pod holder. Open and close your machine 5 to 7 times.
Using a fine sewing needle or unfolded paper clip, poke around inside the exit needle and entrance needle for a minute each. This will loosen a lot of dirt and calcium build-up as well as coffee grounds and coffee particles.
Fill your needle maintenance tool for a second time, this time using either descaling solution or 50% white vinegar and 50% water. Open and close the lid 5 to 7 times.
Now run a full descaling cycle. Use a 50% distilled white vinegar and 50% water and run brew cycles until the water reservoir is empty. Each time discard the contents of your coffee mug.
When finished, let your machine cool down for an hour. Then run 3 to 5 flushing cycles by filling the water reservoir with fresh water to remove the scent and taste of vinegar from your machine.
Will Vinegar Unclog A Keurig?
Yes, vinegar is a very good solution for both descaling your machine and unclogging it. Use equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water and fill your water reservoir to the max fill line. If your machine has a serious blockage, you may need to run a second or third descaling process.
Let your machine rest and cool down for an hour between each descaling cycle as this will help to prevent your machine from overheating and tripping the thermal switch.
Can I Run Soapy Water Through My Keurig To Clean It?
Yes, but this is HIGHLY inadvisable. Dish soap can be difficult to get rid of and the taste of it can linger long after you have run several flushing cycles. If you use too much your machine can turn into a soap bubble making machine!
Also, dish soap is not acidic enough to breakdown dirt or calcium build-up.
Does Vinegar Disinfect Keurig?
Yes, the use of vinegar helps to disinfect a Keurig coffee maker. For a disinfection cycle, use the same 50% water and 50% distilled white vinegar. Don’t forget to run several cycles of clean water in your water tank to flush away the taste and traces of vinegar from your machine.
What Can I Use Instead Of Vinegar To Clean Keurig?
There are many products that you can use to clean your Keurig other than distilled white vinegar. Lemon juice is a good option, best if you freshly squeeze it. Lemon juice works well because it is high in citric acid.
Citric acid is another very effective product that you can use too. Essentially this is what Keurigs descaling solution is made of.
Don’t discard the super cheap and alkaline Bicarbonate of soda. Good old-fashioned baking soda is great both for descaling and regular cleaning. If you get into the habit of regularly cleaning your machine, like running a descaling cycle every other week, it is better to use a bicarbonate of soda as it will cause less wear on the gasket.
What Kills Mold In Keurig?
Distilled white vinegar, descaling solution and citric acid are great for killing mold and any bacteria that is in your Keurig.
Always dilute distilled white vinegar and never use it in a concentration that is greater than 50% as you will risk putting your machine on fire.
Final Thoughts – What Does It Mean When The Keurig Says Prime?
I bet you had that same thought, What does it mean when the Keurig says prime?, if you did, well, you now have the answer and a step-by-step guide on how to deal with the message when it appears.
Take a belts and braces approach and help to prevent the build up of limescale and mineral deposits by pre-filtering your water by using a water filtration jug to fill your water reservoir.
You can also run light priming cycles by using 25% bicarbonate soda and 75% water every other week to prevent the build up of limescale and a full descale (prime) cycle every 3 months.
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