Keep your drinks safe and clean by giving your ice maker a little TLC.
Automatic ice maker malfunction
Credit: Sarah Palmer / Getty Images

There are plenty of spots we regularly clean in our kitchen, from the fridge's crisper drawer to the splattered inside of the microwave. But an overlooked area, that often never gets any good scrubbing, is the ice maker.

It's important to keep your ice maker sanitary, because ice can pick up grime and bacteria from dirty surfaces and pass that on to your drinks.

To start, you'll need some sort of cleaner to get it to sparkle. "Most machine manufacturers recommend a specific brand of cleaner that works with their products, so this may be the best way to ensure proper cleaning," says Sofia Norton, RD. "However, using vinegar is also an effective and eco-friendly way to clean your machine," she says. So don't feel like you have to buy special products, you probably have a bottle of vinegar already sitting in your pantry. "Vinegar's acidity destroys mineral deposits, mold, and bacteria that are accumulating inside your machine and that can change the taste of ice and make it unsanitary," says Norton.

As for how often to clean your ice maker, the manufacturers recommend cleaning your machine once or twice a year, depending on how often you're using it and if you have hard water. "Frequent use means more dirt is accumulating inside your machine, while hard water leads to mineral deposits that can damage its components," says Norton.

Three Ways to Clean an Ice Maker

Ice-Machine Cleaner Solution and Wash Cycle

"Most ice makers involve the same cleaning procedure, but do make sure to read your device manual for cleaning guidance," says Norton. Either way, here are some basic steps to follow:

1. Turn off the machine, remove all ice from the dispenser, and allow the remaining ice to melt.

2. Once done, turn the machine back on and find a "clean" or "wash" button on your machine.

3. Wait for the display to indicate to add your cleaning solution.

4. Add the recommended amount of cleaning solution.

5. Once the cleaning cycle is complete, disconnect the machine from the power supply.

6. Remove ice machine components so you can clean them. Read the machine's manual to see which parts are removable.

7. Mix a solution of ice machine cleaner or dish soap and water.

8. Using a cloth or sponge, clean each component and the inside of your ice machine.

9. Once done, rinse with clean water to remove chemicals and dry with clean cloth.

Ice-Machine Cleaner Solution and No Wash Cycle

No clean cycle? No problem:

1. Turn off the ice maker, remove the remaining ice and water, and spray with a cleaning solution.

2. Let the cleaning solution sit for a couple of minutes before rinsing.

3. Turn on your machine, and make two batches of ice that you'll throw away to remove residual chemicals. Then your next batch will be sparkly clean!


You can substitute vinegar for the cleaner solution with the same steps:

1. Use a 10:1 ratio of water to white vinegar instead of an ice-machine cleaner.

2. Follow the same steps described above for ice makers either with or without a wash cycle.

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