How To Clean Your Freezer Ice Maker

Ice brings life to your drinks, especially on a hot summer day. But all these can disappear in an instant when together with your ice, you see something else that’s floating or it gives off a different taste. Regular maintenance cleaning is essential in ensuring that you constantly get a fresh batch of ice from your machine. But how to do it? We've researched some steps that you can follow at home to clean your ice maker. 

Dirty ice is an indication that your ice maker is past due maintenance cleaning. You would need to clean your ice maker at least twice a year. It does not take a long time and you don’t need to follow complicated steps. If you’ve not done it before, you can refer to the manufacturer’s manual for specific guidance but in general, you can do so by following these steps:

  • Turn off the fridge and take out the ice cube bin.
  • Discard the ice cubes present in the bin and then soak it in soapy water to thoroughly clean.
  • While the bin is soaking, clear out the ice maker by taking out ice build-up and checking your water filter. 
  • Rinse and thoroughly dry everything prior to reinstalling in the freezer ice maker set up.
  • Run a few cycles of ice cubes then discard to check the ice quality after cleaning.

Continue reading as we further discuss the ice maker cleaning process. But before that, let’s first expound the steps enumerated above.


Closeup view of the home maker. How To Clean Your Freezer Ice Maker

How to properly clean the ice maker

Cleaning your ice maker requires that you know the parts at the onset. Refer to your operating manual for the specifics. If you’re unable to locate your manual, you can effortlessly search it online using your specific model type as the search term. And then, once you find it, download it and store it for future reference.

1. Turn off the fridge and take out the ice cube bin

Turning off your refrigerator can be done in one of three ways. If your model has the lever type, then pull the lever towards the direction where the ice maker will turn off before starting your cleaning. Some models have a switch that you can quickly turn off. Or if unsure where it is, unplugging the whole appliance can also be done without any worries. You also do not need to take out the contents of your machine since the cleaning process will not take long.

You should be familiar with how to take out your ice bin. Some models are pull-up type while some can be removed in the same manner as pulling a drawer. Again, your freezer manual may come in handy in determining this.

2. Discard the ice cubes in the bin and soak It in soapy water to clean

Leftover ice in the bin should be thrown out. Clean the bin using soapy water. An additional disinfectant wash may be done after cleaning, but not mandatory as washing with soap and water can eliminate most of the unwanted sediment build-up. Make sure to clean the other removable parts by soaking in soapy water along with the bin.

3. clear out the ice maker by taking out ice build-up and checking your water filter

Movable parts such as the flap between the ice mold and the ice bin should also be thoroughly cleaned, including its nooks and crannies. Make sure to also check the ice mold and check that your freezer has no frost build-up. If you happen to see it, do not use any hard or sharp object as some parts may be damaged. You can remove the frost build-up by pouring warm water generously over it until it is completely melted.

Also, check the water filter. If possible, indicate when you checked it and when it is due for a change either in the appliance itself or in the record where your keep all your appliance maintenance notes, if you have one. If the water in your area is hard, consider adding a filter to soften it, so you have less sediment build-up to tackle every time you clean your ice maker. 

4. Rinse and dry Everything prior to reinstalling in the freezer ice maker set up

Take out your removable parts from the soapy water wash and rinse thoroughly with water. After cleaning both the removable and fixed parts, make sure to dry them thoroughly as you don’t want moisture sitting on most of the surfaces. When this moisture solidifies, it can crack the plastic parts and intervene with the ice-making process either by occupying the ice mold or immobilizing the parts that should move, hindering the transfer of ice from the mold to the bin.

5. Run a few cycles of ice cubes then discard to check the ice quality after cleaning

Once the ice maker has been reassembled, turn the machine on. Allow the ice maker to run at least two cycles and check the smell and quality of the ice coming out. There should be no remnants of the cleaning solution used, whether it be vinegar, bleach, or other commercial cleaning solutions. If present, repeat the steps above. However, if the ice produced is satisfactory, discard the ice from your test cycle and start with a fresh batch.

Why is my freezer ice maker making dirty ice?

Ice is considered dirty if you see some impurities adhering to the surface of the ice or one that gives off a funny smell. And it can be because of one of two things—a dirty refrigerator or a worn-out water filter. 

Especially in areas with hard water, it is likely that you will encounter scum build-up over time from the minerals present. This build-up can scale and attach to the ice as it drops into the bin or completely be incorporated into the ice as it is solidified. Bearing the same color as the ice, you may only get to notice these when you drop the ice into your drink as it floats to the surface of your beverage. 

The ice can absorb a strong smell coming from the refrigerator or freezer. That is why regular cleaning of the entire appliance is integral in ensuring that you produce quality ice. 

Foods with a strong odor should be placed in air-tight containers before placing them in your refrigerator or freezer for storage. Also, do not leave stored uncovered food, whether cooked or raw, that potentially can leave a smell inside the appliance, even for a short while. You can also place an odor absorber such as activated charcoal inside your refrigerator to catch the lingering unwanted smell. 

Can I run vinegar through my ice maker?

For a tabletop or standalone ice maker, it may be possible to run vinegar through for better cleaning. However, it may be cumbersome to access the waterline for an ice maker fixed to the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can apply the cleaning wash directly to the surfaces you intend to clean. 

Distilled white vinegar is the most suitable for cleaning purposes as it is the most acidic. It is not colored and therefore will not stain when used. It has a 5% acetic acid content similar to the percentage of acid present in most household cleaning agents. 

What can you use to clean an ice maker?

Vinegar can be used to clean your ice maker. It is cheap, readily available, and does not leave any harmful ingredients. You may notice the strong smell immediately post-cleaning, but it will not be a challenge to eliminate it.

You can either dilute it or use it in a more concentrated form depending on the amount of deposition that you need to clear out. Here are two ways in which you can prepare your vinegar solution:

  1. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar. Mix well, and then, using a sprayer bottle, spray onto the areas you would like to clean. If you also plan to use this on the ice maker machine to clean it or de-ice it, you can use warm water instead of a tap. 
  2. Another way is to mix two parts vinegar with one part water and add 2 tablespoons of lemon. Lemon can take away moldy odors or other strong odors present that will contaminate your ice. 

Another cleaning agent that can be used is a diluted bleach solution. Make sure to dilute your bleach by adding one part bleach to 10 parts water.  Ensure to be generous with water rinse after cleaning using a bleach solution since you don’t want particles left inside.

Or, if you’re willing to shell out more, you can consider commercial cleaning solutions available for ice maker cleaning. Available products may come under the following brands: Ice-O-Matic, Manitowoc, Nu-Calgon, Scotsman, and Tough Guy.

How do I get the vinegar taste out of my ice maker?

Vinegar is water-soluble, so running water through several times or rinsing the surfaces after the vinegar can easily remove the vinegar taste out of your ice maker. You can also air out the ice maker to evaporate the remaining vinegar. 

How do I disinfect my freezer ice maker?

hands with yellow rubber gloves cleaning freezer. How To Clean Your Freezer Ice Maker

Disinfecting your ice maker would require more than just using vinegar, as it does not kill any bacteria or mold lying around in the ice maker. If you place the soap in your wash solution, this can initially kill the bacteria or molds as the soap molecules are able to rupture the membranes and eventually kill the organism.

You can also use a bleach solution to disinfect. Make sure you use the bleach that is graded for household cleaning. Industrial bleaches may be more concentrated and harder to take out from your ice maker after disinfecting. 

In Summary

Regular ice maker maintenance is essential in ensuring that you get the freshest ice always. If done regularly, it does not need to be cumbersome as it becomes a habit, and also, cleaning will not take long considering less build-up present. Home cleaning remedies like vinegar can be a suitable option making the whole cleaning process simple and cheap. Clean ice can also promote a better sense of well-being since you are sure you don’t get impurities from your drinks. 

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