The ice maker dispenser in your refrigerator can get pretty dirty after some time, and you might be tempted to just ignore it, but not cleaning it regularly can result in the ice cubes tasting bad, taking up too much room in your freezer and even growing bacteria that may cause illness if consumed.
Luckily, cleaning the ice maker dispenser is easy and involves only 9 simple steps. Here’s how to clean an ice maker dispenser.
Step 1: Empty The Containers
First things first—get rid of all ice, water, and any other debris in your machine. Grab a pair of gloves if you need to, then unplug your machine and turn it upside down. Give it a few gentle taps and watch as everything slides out into your sink or bathtub.
If you don’t want to go through that process every time you clean your dispenser, consider filling up a small bucket with vinegar or warm water—enough so that there’s room for all those containers at once—and stick them inside when you first empty everything out. Let them soak overnight and then scrape away any remnants of grime in the morning.
Step 2: Disassemble the Machine
The first step in cleaning your ice maker’s dispenser is disassembling it. There are a number of different types of ice makers, so we can’t tell you exactly how to remove each component. In general, look for screws holding different parts together and pry them out with a screwdriver.
Label these screws as you remove them; if some get lost while you’re cleaning, you may need to replace them later on.
It’s also worth noting that some machines might have electronics that will be damaged by water—if you can unplug yours without draining it, do so and save yourself some cleanup work later on. On other machines, it’s best just to spray down everything without opening it up fully.
Step 3: Soak in Hot Water
Warm water loosens dirt and soap cleanser works better than cold water. Soak your ice maker in a mixture of warm water and a drop or two of dish soap for 15 minutes. If you don’t have any dish soap, try using vinegar instead: pour 1 cup into a bucket with 3 gallons of hot water.
Place your ice maker inside and let it soak for about 20 minutes. Use a brush to scrub away any food or other debris that might be frozen onto your ice maker’s dispenser tray.
Before you begin cleaning, make sure that you turn off your home’s circuit breaker or shut off power to your refrigerator. To avoid electrical shock, be sure not to touch any wet electrical components when you turn them back on after cleaning!
Step 4: Rinse with Water
Using warm water with a little bit of soap, rinse out your ice maker until all of your cleaning solution is gone. Make sure you thoroughly rinse every nook and cranny so that nothing is left behind. You may want to use a straw or small tool to get into hard-to-reach places.
Be sure that your faucet has a strong stream of water running through it during rinsing for maximum effectiveness! Then turn off your faucet, wipe dry with a paper towel, and store it in a safe place until next time.
Step 5: Scrub Away Hard Residue
If you have particularly built-up residue on your ice dispenser, use a nylon or bristle brush to scrub away hard-to-remove residue. Make sure that your brush is clean and doesn’t have any loose pieces of bristles, as these can scratch up your ice maker’s inner surface.
Nylon brushes are gentler on sensitive surfaces, but you might want a stiff bristle brush if there is lots of built-up gunk.
Either way, give it all you got! This part will take some elbow grease; take breaks when needed. Always rinse off any tool before switching back to another type of part. Metal tools should never be used on plastic parts and vice versa.
Step 6: Rinse Again
Using your sponge, rinse again with hot water, cleaning off all soap residue. To be thorough, you can use a toothbrush or bottle brush to brush away any gunk in hard-to-reach places. When you’re done scrubbing, turn on your ice maker again and let it finish up production.
Once it has completed its cycle, drain and flush out your clean ice maker dispenser with water—hot if possible—until it runs completely clean. You don’t want any vinegar (or other chemicals) left over in there; they could leave spots on your next batch of ice cubes. Then give yourself a high five: Mission accomplished!
Step 7: Reassemble
Once you’ve done all of your cleaning, you’ll want to put everything back together. Follow Step 4 in reverse order—after you reassemble everything, give your ice maker a try by putting it back on and turning it on.
Since it may take some time for your ice maker to get enough water to start dispensing ice again, run two cycles before filling up your glass with clean-tasting cubes!
One thing is sure—ice makers are easier and less expensive when they’re kept clean. Remember these steps whenever you notice anything off about your appliance or anytime there’s buildup that appears difficult to clean, so that you can keep things running smoothly. The best part?
Step 8: Test Run the Machine
After you’ve reassembled everything, turn on your icemaker and let it run for a few minutes. Pour yourself a glass of water and enjoy it! You deserve it.
Then, check out your work: Is any water leaking from under or around your ice maker? Does any water drip onto your floor? If not, then you’re good! Time to celebrate by making some ice cubes. No more cleaning necessary until next time—maybe.
Step 9 : Wash the Tray and Lid
Dip a washcloth into some warm, soapy water. Use it to wipe out any food crumbs in your ice tray. Then use another cloth dipped in soapy water and rinse off any grime that was removed from your ice maker compartment.
Wipe down both trays and lids with a clean towel that’s been dipped in clean water. You can also fill up your kitchen sink with warm, soapy water, put all of your pieces in there and let them soak for 15 minutes or so.
This way you don’t have to worry about rinsing off each piece individually before placing it back inside of its respective space.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to quickly clean your ice maker and get it running again in no time.
In addition, you may want to consider investing in a cleaning kit that will let you safely and thoroughly clean your dispenser without having to manually dismantle all of its parts. Just be sure not put any harsh chemicals into your dispenser—they can cause more damage than good.