An ice maker is a luxury that often gets overlooked. When we need to freshen our drinks, we usually go to these appliances to instantly fill our ice needs. But just like any home appliance, it's essential to clean your ice maker regularly. This article will show you just how to do that as quickly and efficiently as possible.
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The Importance of Cleaning & Sanitizing Ice Makers
You might be wondering why it's important to clean an ice maker. After all, the only thing that ever goes into it is clean water, right?
Well, according to this site, “Water — especially hard water — naturally has many different minerals and microscopic sediment in it. If left unfiltered, these minerals can slowly build up inside your ice machine.”
If this build-up goes on long enough, you’ll eventually be able to see (and smell) this process. In addition to natural sediments, sometimes mold can also occur, which will make your ice unhealthy to consume.
The good news is that cleaning your ice maker isn’t that difficult to do, and the benefit is that you will have clean, fresh ice continuously at your fingertips.
Signs You Need to Clean Your Ice Maker
As a general rule of thumb, you should clean your ice maker about every six months (or about as often as you change your refrigerator water filter). However, if you see any of the following signs, it may be time to clean your ice maker now:
How To Clean Different Types of Ice Makers
How to Clean Portable Ice Makers (tabletop, countertop)
Cleaning a home countertop ice maker is a pretty straightforward process.
Simply empty the contents of the machine and refill the water chamber with a mixture of one part water to one part white vinegar. Run the machine as usual (most begin to produce ice within minutes).
Empty your vinegar ice, run the machine once more with regular water, and then empty the ice once more. To clean the outside of the machine, a damp cloth with soapy water will work just fine.
How to Clean Built-in/Refrigerator Ice Makers
Cleaning your refrigerator ice maker will depend on what type of fridge you have (freezer on top or side-by-side) and the brand/model as well. This article can give you a basic overview of the process.
How to Clean Commercial Ice Makers
Commercial ice machines are usually held to a higher standard because restaurants and establishments need to follow health regulations. Many of these machines come with a "Clean" cycle that must be used regularly to maintain FDA standards.
The process includes emptying the ice maker, running the "Clean" cycle, manually cleaning certain areas, and more. For more information, check your user manual and read this article from Webstaurant Store.
How to Clean an Igloo Ice Maker
We recommend cleaning your Igloo Ice Maker by running a mixture of 10 parts water to 1 part lemon juice through it about once per month. After you run this mixture through the machine, run a batch of clean water through as your “rinse cycle.” You will still want to discard this ice, as it may have a lemony flavor to it.
How to Clean Opal Ice Maker
Opal Nugget Ice Makers are becoming popular for users looking for that famous Sonic ice. GE recommends running the cleaning cycle with a mixture of 5 cups water and 1 Tsp bleach and re-washing afterward with a solution of 5 cups of water to rinse out any remaining residue or bleach. GE's full instructions for maintaining your Opal Ice Maker can be found here.
How to Clean Kitchenaid Ice Makers
Most Kitchenaid Ice Makers are under the counter ice machines that require the use of an ice machine cleaner, like Affresh, which can be easily found on Amazon or your local hardware store. Your user’s manual will tell you exactly how to run the sanitizing cycle for your model.
How to Clean Scotsman Ice Makers
Scotsman Home Ice Makers are great if you love to entertain or chew that nugget ice for a snack. And the cleaning and descaling process is straightforward with the use of their helpful owner’s manuals or the following video.
How to Clean Frigidaire Ice Makers
Like other portable countertop ice makers, Frigidaire Ice Machines can be easily cleaned by emptying the reservoir and cleaning using a water + vinegar solution. A copy of the user’s manual for their most popular model can be found here.
How to Clean Newair Ice Makers
It is recommended that you use a water and vinegar or lemon juice mix to clean your Newair Portable Ice Maker. Simply run the unit with this solution, and then once again with water only for your “rinse cycle.”
How to Clean Samsung Ice Makers
Don’t let the ice maker in your Samsung refrigerator get overlooked. The company recommends routine cleaning of the ice maker and dispenser. For more information, find your particular model’s user manual here.
How to Clean Manitowoc Ice Makers
Manitowoc provides some of the top commercial ice makers in the business. You will need to regularly clean your machine to stay up to local health and safety standards. Start by checking out this guide from Manitowoc.
How to Clean Hoshizaki Ice Makers
Hoshizaki Ice Makers only require cleaning once per year, unless you live in an area with hard or undesirable tap water. They have a full guide and video support for cleaning each of their products that can be found by clicking here.
How Often Should I Clean My Ice Maker?
Ideally, your ice maker should be cleaned every six months. If you've overlooked the task, though, it's probably not that big of a deal. Most home ice makers can get away with only being cleaned every year (or so). If you have a commercial ice maker for your restaurant or establishment, you'll need to follow local ordinances to keep up with health and safety standards.
If you haven’t used your ice maker in some time (for instance, at a vacation home), you may want to dump any current ice and give it a quick clean before you begin using it again. Over time, unused ice can absorb odors (especially if you left something unsavory in the fridge for too long!)
How to Reset an Ice Maker?
If your ice machine is malfunctioning, chances are it just needs a reset. You’ll need to check your product’s individual owner’s manual for exact instructions, but we’ve reviewed the process for many types/models in this article.
How to Defrost an Icemaker?
Defrosting an ice maker is often as easy as unplugging the unit, removing all the current ice, and allowing the remaining build-up to melt. We highly recommend having towels and a pan to catch the water as it melts. If you’re in a hurry, you can use a hairdryer on “Low” to speed up the melting process. Just be mindful to keep the hairdryer away from the water at all times to avoid electric shock.To learn more about defrosting your refrigerator ice maker, click here.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How do you clean an ice maker with vinegar?
Cleaning your ice maker with vinegar is a great way to avoid harsh chemicals. There is no need to use 100% vinegar – diluting the solution with water will be just as effective. Make sure to check out this article by Clean Home Clean Mind for more information.
How do I clean the ice maker water line?
Over time, mineral deposits and limescale build-up can cause your refrigerator's water line to become clogged. Many people think that they need to replace the lining altogether, but a simple flush with warm vinegar and water usually does the trick.
How can I prevent mold growing in my ice maker?
The easiest way to prevent mold from growing in your ice machine is to clean it regularly. If you do find mold, empty the machine immediately and clean it thoroughly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
How should I clean the condenser of an ice machine?
Commercial ice makers have condensers on them that need to be cleaned from time to time, as they are the perfect area for dust and debris to hide. You should clean from the inside out with either compressed air or a water solution. If you still see dust after this process, you may need to call a professional to do the job. They have specialized tools that will ensure that you don’t damage the fins.
Should I change the filter every time I clean an ice maker?
For refrigerator ice makers, that annoying alert that your filter is ready for changing is often a good clue that it's also time to clean the ice maker. Doing both together every six months or so is more about convenience than necessity.
Can I use bleach to clean my ice maker?
Never use 100% bleach directly on your ice maker. This could cause health concerns and might be abrasive to the machine's internal parts, as well. Some companies recommend using a solution of 10 cups water to 1 teaspoon of bleach to disinfect your machine thoroughly. This should always be followed by a rinse cycle with clean water.
How long does it take to clean an ice maker?
This depends on the type of ice maker that you have. Cleaning a portable countertop ice maker can be done in as little as ten minutes, while cleaning a commercial model may take a few hours as it works through its descaling process and cleaning cycle.
Can mold in ice make you sick?
Yes, mold in ice is an indication that your machine needs to be cleaned before you consume any ice. Usually, this isn't the ice machine's fault. Instead, it's generally because someone put dirty hands into the ice.
What a world we live in – we can have ice on demand any time we want it? What would our ancestors say? Just remember not to take this luxury for granted, and clean your ice maker regularly. It will not only keep you and your family healthy, but it will also prolong the life of your machine. And while you're at it, make sure to check out all of our favorite ice makers.
Holly Curell is the editor extraordinaire for Plumbing Lab. Having grown up in Michigan, Holly has spent time living in New York, Virginia, & currently North Carolina, where she lives with her husband & family. Holly loves DIY & has years of experience with at-home plumbing problems that arise from having 3 kids & living in colder climates. When she’s not writing about her plumbing knowledge, Holly enjoys reading, hiking & relaxing with family.