Caring for Your High End Ice Maker

Caring for Your High End Ice Maker

Ice makers are often taken for granted, until one day there’s no ice. They’re not high-maintenance, but they do need routine cleaning if you want continual production of high-quality ice that’s safe to consume.

Signs Your Ice Maker Needs Cleaning

The following signs indicate your ice maker is overdue for a cleaning:

  • Ice has an bad taste or odor
  • Ice cubes are softer than usual
  • Ice cubes are smaller in size
  • Ice that should be clear is cloudy
  • Ice production is low, or stops completely
  • Ice cubes have dark particles or flecks
  • Dirt, mold, or mildew is visible in the machine or ice chute

Cleaning Your Ice Maker

Ice makers are available in different types and styles: undercounter, freestanding, portable/countertop, and refrigerator ice maker.

Each type and brand will have its own cleaning process and recommended products. Some will even have a self-cleaning system, so always read your owner’s manual and follow its instructions first.

The cleaning and maintenance instructions below are general guidelines for the different types of ice makers.

Refrigerator Ice Maker

Your refrigerator ice maker should be cleaned at least every 6 months, preferably more often if you use hard water. The water filter should also be replaced around every 6 months, depending on the mineral content of the water in your area. Mineral deposits and other debris build up, reducing the filter’s efficiency and affecting the purity and taste of the ice.

Fortunately, some refrigerators have an indicator that alerts you when to change the filter, while others alert you when the filter’s getting dirty. The owner’s manual will give you the filter’s location in the refrigerator, as well as replacement instructions. Knowing when and how to maintain your refrigerator and ice maker can be found here.

How to Clean the Refrigerator Ice Maker

  1. Turn off the refrigerator and ice maker, and shut off the ice maker’s water supply.
  2. Fill your sink with hot water and a mild dish soap.
  3. Remove the ice bin from the freezer, and throw out the ice.
  4. Pour in half a cup of vinegar, and wash with a soft cloth or sponge. Then place the bin upright in the hot, soapy water to soak.
  5. Use a soft cloth dipped in white vinegar, and wipe down the ice maker assembly, being sure to get into all the tight spots. If you prefer to clean it on the counter, you can also look up in the owner’s manual how to remove the assembly from the freezer.
  6. Dip a clean cloth into the sink’s hot, soapy water, and wash the ice maker assembly again. Rinse thoroughly with a clean wet sponge, and dry completely.
  7. Wipe down the ice dispenser area with the vinegar, followed by hot, soapy water. Then rinse.
  8. Wash the bin that’s been soaking in the sink, then rinse it completely. 9. Use a clean towel to thoroughly dry the bin. It needs to be totally dry before going back into the freezer.
  9. To remove built-up calcium deposits, as well as any bacteria, slime, and mold from the ice maker water line, use vinegar to flush it out. You may also want to flush out the water line to the refrigerator.
  10. Turn the refrigerator, ice maker, and its water supply back on. It will take time for the ice maker to reach the temperature where ice can be produced again.
  11. Discard the first batch of ice in case it has any cleaning solutions in it.

How to Clean the Refrigerator Ice Dispenser

The refrigerator ice dispenser needs to be cleaned more often, especially if you have hard water that leaves calcium deposits on the dispenser and chute. If the calcium builds quickly, you may have to clean the dispenser weekly. Follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the ice maker.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with half water and half vinegar, and spray the dispenser area. Thoroughly spray any areas with mold and calcium.
  3. Remove the tray, and take it to the sink. Spray it with vinegar and water, and leave it to soak in the mixture.
  4. Also take any other removeable parts to the sink to spray and soak.
  5. Use a toothbrush to clean the dispenser, making sure to reach the smaller, tighter areas.
  6. Clean the reachable area of the chute with a soft cloth soaked in the vinegar and water solution, then rinse with a damp cloth.
  7. For stubborn deposits, moisten a soft cloth with vinegar, and place it on those areas for several minutes before scrubbing gently with the toothbrush.
  8. Rinse the dispenser area thoroughly with a soft cloth and water.
  9. Wash the tray and any other parts in the sink with warm water and mild dish detergent. Rinse well and dry.

How to Clean a Portable/Countertop Ice Maker

Portable and countertop ice makers are easy to access and clean, and should be done about once a month. Use a manufacturer-approved cleaner, or a gentle one made of equal parts water and vinegar. Pour the vinegar and water mixture into a spray bottle.

  1. Unplug the ice maker.
  2. Open the drain plug and drain any water from the reservoir, then close the plug.
  3. Remove the scoop and basket, and wash them in the sink with dish soap and water. Rinse them well.
  4. Spray the inside of the ice maker with the vinegar and water, and wipe with a soft cloth. For hard-to-reach places use a soft toothbrush.
  5. Wipe the exterior with warm water and mild detergent, then rinse.
  6. Make and discard the next couple of ice batches.
  7. Two or three times a year, pour a 1:1 vinegar and water solution into the reservoir. Run the machine through an ice making cycle to descale the internal parts and get rid of any mold. Discard the ice, drain out any remaining solution, and rinse the inside with water.
  8. For self-cleaning ice makers, add either the manufacturer’s recommended cleaner, or a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water. Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual.
  9. To sanitize a portable ice maker, mix a tablespoon of bleach in two quarts of warm water, and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture inside, wipe, and use a toothbrush to reach the difficult-to-reach spots. Rinse well with a cloth and water. Discard the next batch or two of ice.
  10. If the ice maker is self cleaning, run the cleaning program with the bleach solution. Follow-up with clean water to rinse the system.

How to Clean an Undercounter or Freestanding Ice Maker

Most undercounter and freestanding ice makers have a self-clean function. Often an alert status light will let you know when it’s time to clean — anywhere from 3 to 6 months. The cleaning process varies among brands, but here are some general guidelines:

  1. Turn off the machine and its water supply.
  2. Empty any ice, and take out the bin if it’s removable. Wash it with warm water and mild dish soap, then rinse.
  3. Open the plug to let out any water, then close it.
  4. Add the manufacturer’s recommended cleaner and descaler to the reservoir. Alternatively, use a mixture of vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio.
  5. Press the “clean” button for the number of recommended seconds to start the cleaning cycle. When finished, drain the reservoir. Add fresh water to run a rinse cycle.
  6. Mix another cleaning solution in a spray bottle and spray the interior. Wipe with a soft cloth, and use a toothbrush for smaller areas.
  7. Clean the exterior with warm water and mild dish soap, then rinse.
  8. Clean the air filter by dusting or rinsing it under a tap. Check the manual for instructions. The area around the air intake also needs to be cleaned.
  9. Put the bin back, and turn the water supply on. Discard the first batch of ice.
  10. Sanitize your machine every week. Use the brand’s recommended sanitizer or make a mixture of 1 tablespoon of bleach in 2 quarts of warm water. Add the sanitizer to the reservoir, and run a self-cleaning cycle. Then empty the reservoir, add fresh water, and run another self-cleaning cycle.
  11. Spray the inside with a fresh sanitizing mixture. Wipe dry, and rinse with water and a clean cloth. Discard the first batch of ice after sanitizing.

C&W Appliance Service provides expert repair service to residential ice machines, ice dispensers, ice makers for the following brands: Sub-Zero, as well as U-Line, Scotsman, Hoshizaki, and True.

Our technicians are proudly serving the Austin, Central Texas, San Antonio, South Texas, and Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) and North Texas areas. Contact us today online or by calling (214) 358-1496.


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