How to Clean a Refrigerator Ice Maker Water Dispenser

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Your refrigerator’s ice maker water dispenser provides a convenient way of staying hydrated. Unknown to many individuals, a water dispenser can collect and accumulate dirt and bacteria, which affect both the quality and flow of water. As an outcome, your water might start flowing from the dispenser slower than usual, and its taste might be a bit off.

Something that most people often overlook is the cleanliness of their refrigerator water dispenser. Even though a lot of people do not give their refrigerator ice or water dispenser much thought, the truth is that they are a perfect breeding ground for mold, fungi, as well as other micro-organisms you definitely don’t wish to quench your thirst with.

If you’ve noticed some black junk coming out from your refrigerator’s water dispenser, then it is time to clean it out. Getting rid of the bacteria and dirt in your fridge water dispenser allows you to enjoy clean, fresh, and crisp water.

Related: How To Reset Your Whirlpool Ice Maker

Related: Why Does My Ice Taste Funny?

That said, what is the easiest way of cleaning that dirt? The best recommendation is to use a non-chemical cleaning method; distilled vinegar. Vinegar has numerous cleaning applications in the kitchen, and it also makes for a good water dispenser cleaner.

Before taking a look at the steps involved in cleaning a fridge water dispenser, it is important to first understand what causes your water dispenser to get dirty.

How Do Fridge Water Dispensers Get Dirty?

Bacteria and mold literally surround us. The air is filled with numerous micro-organisms such as yeast and other live bacteria, which are actually considered healthy bacteria. However, when there is an imbalance in these bacteria, things go askew. When that occurs in places such as your refrigerator’s water dispenser, these bacteria start growing there.

A common reason for this is cross-contamination. The mouth of the water bottle you are drinking from and fingers accidentally touching your dispenser’s mouth are just a few examples of things that could result in bacteria climbing up to the water lines.

Make sure that nobody touches anything but the dispenser itself, and then regularly clean that area using non-toxic cleaners such as vinegar. And even if no one has been touching anything, bacterial spores can still find their way into the waterline. For that reason, you should give your dispenser a nice and thorough cleaning every few weeks or months. A glass of vinegar and a toothbrush will help you with the cleaning job.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Fridge Water Dispenser With vinegar

Plain and distilled vinegar is a great way of cleaning your water dispenser without the risk of contaminating your water with dangerous cleaning chemicals.

Begin by referring back to your refrigerator’s user’s manual to get detailed specifics on how to properly empty the ice dispenser and gain access to the fridge’s water lines. If you lost or simply do not have a manual, you can easily find one online.

For the cleaning job, you’ll need white vinegar, a scrubbing brush like a toothbrush, and cleaning rags.

Let’s get started.

Step one: Shut down the water supply

The first step is to cut off your dispenser’s water supply so that you can flush the entire system using vinegar.

Ensure that the valve is turned to the off position. Next, take out the screw that holds in place the copper tubing. This permits you to gain access to the tubing’s end, where you can pour in the vinegar.

Step two: Flush the system using white vinegar

Plain white vinegar is not just an effective cleaner but is also safe for consumption. This means that in case a little vinegar remains in your dispenser, it will not hurt you if consumed with the drinking water.

To flush the system, fit a tiny funnel into the open end of the copper tubing that leads to the dispenser. After properly fitting the funnel, proceed to pour a bit of vinegar into the tube and allow it to flow into the dispenser’s reservoir. Note that it takes a bit of time for vinegar to flow through the copper tube, so taping or propping it in an upright posture ensures that the poured vinegar does not flow back out of the tubing.

Allow the vinegar to rest in the water dispenser reservoir for approximately five minutes. Next, position a container beneath the water dispenser’s nozzle and press the button to dispense it out. Ensure that you hold down the button until all the vinegar is out.

Step three: Scrub the nozzle

With the help of a toothbrush or any other tiny brush that has soft bristles, gently scrub the spout area along with the visible parts of the tubing. Dip the scrubbing brush into more vinegar to properly clean these areas. For even better cleaning, you could get a narrow brush that’s specially designed for cleaning straws; it can reach partly into the nozzle and tubing.

Step four: Rinse out the vinegar

After dispensing all the vinegar from the dispenser reservoir, it’s now time to reconnect the dispenser’s water supply by simply screwing back the copper tubing. Do not forget to turn the valve from the off position to allow for water flow through the system once again. 

Position an empty container beneath the dispenser nozzle and press the water button to run through the system.  This step helps get rid of any leftover vinegar in the system so that your water tastes crisp and fresh.

Step five: Clean the outside surfaces

The external parts of your refrigerator’s water dispenser also need to be cleaned. Most dispensers feature a lock button, which prevents them from dispensing any ice cubes or water unnecessary.  Engage this lock button so that you can clean the dispenser’s buttons without accidentally spilling ice or water all over your floor.

Gently wipe all visible surfaces using a soft cloth or sponge soaked in a mixture of water and vinegar. Alternatively, you could spray the mixture onto the dispenser’s exterior parts and then wipe these surfaces using a damp cloth. Lastly, wipe the surfaces with a clean cloth to get rid of the vinegar.

Water dispensers normally have a removable tray positioned underneath the dispensing region to catch any excess water. This tray also needs to be thoroughly cleaned.  In case it has accumulated grime, it should be soaked in vinegar and warm water solution for a few minutes to loosen up the gunk. Next, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the tray and properly rinse it using clean water before returning it to the dispenser.

In Conclusion

From the above, it is obvious that cleaning a refrigerator ice maker and water dispenser is a fairly easy task.

Just follow the five steps mentioned above, and you’ll end up with a clean dispenser, dispensing clean and fresh water in no time!

This should be done at least twice per year to avoid any future problems.

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