Residential Water Dispenser filling a cup with water held by person

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Your Refrigerator's Ice Machine: Ten Steps to Clean Your Ice Maker and Water Dispenser


When’s the last time you thoroughly inspected and cleaned your refrigerator? Our money’s on a while. Most people never think to check the cleanliness of fridges and freezers. They’re cold! How nasty could they be? 

Well, it turns out, it can get pretty nasty. But that’s what we’re here to figure out. 

The common issues that affect the residential refrigerator are solvable and relatively simple. We could get into some really specific problems affecting makes and models, but that’s not what this blog is about. 

Have you ever sniffed your ice maker? Ever taste an odd twang from that convenient fridge water? It happens to the best of us. 

Properly cleaning your refrigerator’s ice maker and water dispenser is one of those common household chores that people tend to ignore. Don’t. It’s also one of those common chores that can quickly become a hassle if you let it!


Don’t ice makers and water dispensers clean themselves?


The short answer: We wish! 

The long answer: Sadly no, we’re not there yet. But soon, fridge fans, soon. Ice makers and water dispensers require regular cleaning. In fact, most of the appliances we use on a daily basis need the same. You might want to go check how clean your kitchen’s other appliances are. You might have a fun cleaning weekend on your hands. 

Water dispensers can be particularly tricky to clean. There’s plenty of nooks and crannies for mold to grow and limescale to build. Most manufacturers recommend a thorough cleaning of your water dispenser once or twice a year. But that doesn’t factor in the development of bacteria or mold.


How to clean your ice maker


Your ice and ice maker shouldn’t smell like anything. Water doesn’t have an odor. If something’s stinky, something isn’t right. And that’s where proper cleaning comes in.

Here is what you need to clean your refrigerator’s ice maker:

  • Two cloths: one for wiping, one for drying
  • Vinegar solution: 1 part white vinegar to 10 parts water 
  • A measuring cup or spoon
  • Baking soda
  • A soft-bristled toothbrush

Here are the ten steps between a dirty ice maker and a clean one:

Step 1: Unplug your refrigerator and freezer. 

Step 2: Remove the water supply and drain the line into a nearby sink or bucket

Step 3: If you have a water filter, remove it as well

Step 4: Thaw and remove any and all ice from your ice maker 

Step 5: Grab your cloth and vinegar solution and begin wiping down all visible surfaces 

Step 6: Thoroughly inspect areas you normally don’t see and apply your vinegar solution

Step 7: Use your toothbrush and baking soda on any particularly dirty areas

Step 8: Plug your refrigerator back in and run your ice machine to filter out the vinegar 

Step 9: Toss the batch of vinegar and water ice

Step 10: Run your ice machine and test ice until vinegar flavor has dissipated. 

Success! Your ice maker is as fresh as the day you bought it. Now that you know how to clean your ice maker, let’s talk about your water dispenser.


How to clean your water dispenser


Water dispensers can get pretty nasty if you let them. There’s a lot of hidden, moist areas perfect for mold and bacteria. If you’re reading this, it likely means you’re about to clean your water dispenser. Good for you! But before you do, identify the spots of your dispenser you don’t normally look at. Are they clean? Are they dirty? This is something to keep in mind as you clean, and in the future as you maintain your water dispenser. 

Here is what you need to clean your refrigerator’s water dispenser:

  • Two cloths: one for wiping, one for drying
  • Vinegar solution: 5 parts white vinegar to 5 parts water 
  • Undiluted white vinegar 
  • A spray bottle
  • A small funnel
  • A soft-bristled toothbrush

Here are the ten steps between a nasty water dispenser and a safe one! 

Step 1: Disconnect the water supply by turning the valve to Off

Step 2: Don’t forget to lock your water dispenser! Most refrigerators have a button for this. If you do not have this button, be mindful that your dispenser may spray water or vinegar. 

Step 3: Grab your spray bottle and fill it with your vinegar/water solution

Step 4: Spray spray spray the exterior of your water dispenser. Be thorough. Let it sit

Step 5: Remove the screw that holds the tubing to the water supply 

Step 6: Pour the white vinegar into the copper tubing to flush out your water dispenser. Let sit for about 5 minutes

Step 7: Flush out the system by unlocking your water dispenser and press the button to dispense the vinegar. Be sure to get as much vinegar out as possible

Step 8: Use your soft-bristle toothbrush to scrub your water dispenser’s hidden areas and nozzle 

Step 9: Reconnect the water supply by turning the value from Off to On

Step 10: Run fresh water through the system to remove any leftover vinegar taste and smell


Keep your machine clean with Memphis Ice


We know proper ice machine cleaning and maintenance can be time-consuming and difficult. It’s easy to put it off and focus on something else. We have plenty of clients that feel exactly the same, which is why we offer comprehensive cleaning and maintenance services for our commercial and residential clients.

Click here for more information about our maintenance services. And if you’re ready to schedule a cleaning, contact our dedicated service experts today.



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