How to Keep Your Ice Maker Clean (and Your Ice Fresh)

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Having an ice maker in your freezer is a pretty cool luxury, whether you have a classic ice-bin model or an ice dispenser in the fridge door. Fresh cubed ice that you don’t have to pour into molds is a convenience that most people enjoy. However, your ice maker is not immune to getting dirty even though it’s inside a sealed compartment. If you want your ice to always be fresh and clean, then cleaning your ice maker regularly is an important household chore.

Fortunately, cleaning your ice maker is easier than it sounds. With this guide, you’ll quickly master the process of sanitizing and wiping down your ice maker to ensure every cube of ice is clean and fresh. 

Supplies for Cleaning the Ice Maker

The first step is to gather your supplies. You should have everything you need already in the kitchen. Run the water hot and make sure at least one half of your sink is clean. You will need rags and/or sponges, along with dry towels to mop up any puddles that may occur along the way. If you don’t keep white vinegar in your kitchen, it can be found at any grocery store.

  • Pitcher
  • Empty Sink
  • Warm Water
  • Dish Soap
  • White Vinegar
  • Dish Rag
  • Sponges
  • Towels

Fill Your Sink with Warm, Soapy Water

The first step is to fill your sink with hot dishwater. Close the drain and run the water hot (as hot as you can touch) combined with dish soap. This should create a sink full of warm soapy water ready to soak anything you drop in. Primarily, you’re going to wash the ice bin in this sink, but you’ll also use the water as a resource to dip your rag and sponge when cleaning the rest of the ice maker assembly and surrounding freezer. 

Remove and Soak the Ice Bin

Turn off the ice maker before you begin. This is usually done by lifting the ‘fill bar’, a thin metal bar that lies horizontally over the ice bucket. If the level of ice in the bucket reaches the bar, it lifts and stops the ice maker. You can also manually lift the fill bar to switch the ice maker off. If your ice maker doesn’t have a clear switch or fill the bar, unplug the refrigerator temporarily.

Then remove the ice bin. Often, the ice bin will slide out easily, but there might be a tab or latch holding it in place. Dump all the ice out into the trash or the un-filled side of the sink. They will melt and go down the drain in an hour or less.

Pour up to a half-cup of white vinegar into the ice bin and vinegar-wash the bin with a rag or sponge. Then dunk the ice bin into the warm soapy water. Make sure it fills and sits upright full of water to soak while you turn your attention to the ice maker assembly. 

Melt Away Encroaching Frost

Some freezers have a growing frost problem. If your ice maker is surrounded by frost mounds, then it may be necessary to clear the frost out before you begin. This is always a good idea because you don’t want fridge-wall-frost falling into your filtered-water-ice.

The easiest way to get rid of frost is not to chip it or defrost your freezer. Instead, fill your pitcher with warm water from the sink and pour it over the ice. If the space is too small, use a smaller cup to pour warm water over the ice. Place a towel to catch the run-off. This will quickly melt away the frost growing on the walls of your freezer without requiring a ton of chiseling and mess. 

Wipe Down the Ice Maker Assembly

Now it’s time to clean the ice maker assembly. Grab your clean washrag and soak the end in white. Start wiping down the ice maker assembly, working your vinegar rag into every crevice and into the mold. If you want to, you can look up how to remove your ice maker assembly from the freezer to clean it at the counter or sink instead.

When you’re done with the vinegar round, use a soapy rag do to the whole thing over again. Then rinse the assembly with your pitcher or with a clean wet sponge. The vinegar round is non-toxic sanitization. The soap and water will kill what the vinegar won’t. The clean rinse, of course, is to ensure that there’s no vinegar or soap in your next batch of ice. 

Rinse the Ice Bin

Remove the ice bin from its soapy bath and let the soapy water drain (or use it for dishes next). Rinse off the ice bin thoroughly, making sure no vinegar or soapy water remain. It’s often more efficient to use a sink sprayer hose or your pitcher rather than trying to fit the entire ice bin under the kitchen sink faucet. 

Dry Everything Completely

When you’re done with the ice maker and the bin, grab a clean towel and dry everything. It’s important that every element be completely dry when it goes into the freezer. Not only is the ice maker an electronic feature, but dripping water will freeze onto the mechanism and potentially cause problems with your ice in the future. So make sure that the bin and assembly are both fully dry, including all small spaces, before you turn the ice maker back on and/or plug your fridge back in. 

Reassemble Your Ice Maker

Place the ice bin into position beneath the ice maker and lower the fill bar. If your ice maker does not have a fill bar, then flip the switch or plug your refrigerator back in, whichever is relevant. For most models of ice maker, that’s all there is to reassembling after cleaning the whole assembly. From here, we advise that you toss out the first bin of ice that the ice maker creates after cleaning, just in case the ice contains anything that was rinsed out of the system.

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