How to Properly Clean Your Countertop Ice Maker – Step by Step Directions

How To Clean A Portable Ice Maker

Directions on How To Keep Your Ice Maker Clean and Your Ice Tasting Great

If properly maintained, your portable ice maker should last for many years.

An essential step in maintaining your portable ice maker is making sure that your ice maker is cleaned regularly. If you’re not careful mold or harmful bacteria can grow inside your ice maker and make you sick.

Cleaning your portable ice maker at least once a month ensures that your ice is always fresh, tastes great and that your ice maker works properly and lasts for a long time.

How Do You Know If Your Portable Ice Maker Needs to be Cleaned?

You should clean your ice maker when you see the followings warning signs:

  • Your ice tastes funny
  • Your ice has a strange or unusual taste
  • You visually see dirt on the walls and around the inside of the ice machine
  • The ice is smaller than usual or melts faster than it should
  • The ice is cloudy in appearance (If you have an ice maker that produces clear ice)

Top 10 Cleaners For A Portable Ice Maker

Keeping your ice maker clean is vital to the wellbeing of your customers and family and the taste of the ice you serve. A great way to ensure that your portable ice maker is producing the best ice possible, is to use a quality cleaner.

There are three things that you will want to consider before you purchase a cleaner for your ice maker.

  • Ease of use
  • The price
  • Is it compatible with your ice maker?

It’s recommended before using the cleaning solution, you throughly read the instructions on the back of the bottle. This will give you all the necessary steps for proper use. Below are the top 10 ice maker cleaners that we recommend at Ice Maker Geeks.

Essential Values Ice Machine Cleaner OUR TOP PICK

For All Residential & Commercial Types of Ice makers; Including Countertop, Freestanding, Undercounter & Built-In

Affresh Ice Machine Cleaner

Safely removes scales and deposits on freestanding ice makers. This product can be<br>be used on the storage bin, evaporator and other parts. Affresh Ice Machine Cleaner is recommended by Whirlpool and KitchenAid brands.

Nu-Calgon Ice Machine Cleaner

For machines with nickel-plated evaporators, highly concentrated, for professional use only.

Scotsman Cleaner

Scotsman Ice Machines have a history of consistent innovation in ice maker parts and manufacturing.

Opal Cleaning Kit

The Opal Cleaning Kit is designed for routine Opal maintenance to remove internal and external scale and keep your ice tasting fresh!

Ice Machine Sanitizer

Ice Machine Sanitizer to keep your ice maker clean and your ice tasting great.

Manitowoc Ice Machine Cleaner

A high quality ice machine cleaner, OEM Manitowoc Cleaner, #1 Trusted Ice Machine Cleaner

Kenmore 160z Cleaner

An ice maker cleaner that’s designed for Kenmore ice machines.

Manitowoc Ice Maker Cleaner

Manitowoc Beverage provides state of the art ice machines for the foodservice and beverage industry. This is an OEM ice maker cleaner.

ComStar Ice Machine Cleaner

Eliminates hard water build up so that your ice maker works and performs perfectly.

We added links with the best prices we could find on the world wide web. You can click on these links to find the best price or get more information on that particular cleaner.

Simple Steps On How To Clean Your Portable Ice Maker

To help you properly clean your portable ice maker, I recommend that you follow these simple steps. It doesn’t matter what portable ice maker brand you own whether it’s an Igloo portable ice maker, Emerson portable ice maker, Magic Chef portable ice maker, Frigidaire portable ice maker, hOmelabs portable ice maker the steps that I provide will be same.


Unplug Your Portable Ice Maker Before You Begin

When cleaning your portable ice maker, you want to make sure that you turn off the unit and that it’s unplugged.

Unplugging your portable ice maker is important for several reasons.

First, you don’t want the ice maker to begin to run during the cleaning process and damage the unit. Also, you may have to carry the unit close to a sink or location where it’s easy to get a bucket under it so that you can drain the water from the portable ice maker.


Drain All the Water out of the Reservoir Using the Drain Plug on the Side of the Unit

Before you begin to clean your portable ice maker, it’s important to drain the remaining water left in your unit.

At the bottom of your portable ice maker, you’re going to notice a small plug. On my portable ice maker, it’s a small screw cap with a little plastic plug inside the drain hole.

Bring your portable ice maker to a location where the water can drain in the sink, a cup, or container. Remove the drain plug and let all the water flow from the water reservoir. Draining all the water from your unit may take a few minutes.


Remove the Ice Basket and the Ice Scoop

Remove the ice basket from inside the ice maker and the ice scoop. You can place these items to the side until we are done cleaning the unit.

Remove the Ice Basket and the Scoop

While the ice basket is out of the unit, it’s a good time to rinse it off with some soap and warm water.

You can add some warm water to your sink and let the ice basket soak for a while. Remember that your ice basket is in contact with your ice all of the time. It goes from the basket to your mouth – you need to make sure that the ice basket is clean. Let it soak in water while you’re cleaning the portable ice maker itself.


Wash Your Portable Ice Maker

Use warm water with a mild cleaning solution to thoroughly clean your ice maker.

You can also use a homemade cleaning solution by using lemon juice or vinegar, and by using 10:1 water to vinegar or lemon juice in a small container.

If your ice maker shows signs of mold, then I suggest Siamons Concrobium Mold Control for cleaning away the mold safely. If there are any signs of mold whatsoever you want to make sure that you deal with it right away, and the right way. I added link to Amazon above so that you can check out the product that I have used.

Spray a cleaning solution on the interior walls of the ice maker, and wash the walls of the unit.

It’s important to make sure that your ice maker is thoroughly cleaned and that you get to the places that are hard to reach. The areas that get the most use, and needs a little more attention include: the water reservoir, the walls, the ice basket and the water tray.

If you are using the homemade cleaning solution and come to a tough stain, you can use pure vinegar or lemon juice for more cleaning power.


Run Through the Ice Cycle

After you’re done washing down your ice maker, put the ice basket back into your unit and make sure that the drain plug is securely in place.

Next, plug your ice maker back into the outlet, and turn on your unit. Add a mild cleaning solution into your water reservoir, and make at least two batches of ice. Make sure that you discard the ice by throwing it in your sink. The ice isn’t going to be good, but the point is that any debris or hard water residue will be totally dissolved by the cleaning solution.

This makes sure that the cleaning solution runs completely through your ice maker.


Rinse and Then Rinse Again

For this step, we’re going to drain the water back out of the machine. As we instructed above, take out the drain plug and drain the water into the sink or bucket.

Next, put the drain plug back into the unit and add fresh water.

With the fresh water, make several batches of ice.

After the ice is complete, you want to drain the water out of the unit once again by removing the drain plug.

With the drain plug removed from the ice maker, pour fresh water into the water reservoir, and let it drain directly into a bucket or sink.

You can repeat this step several times before finally putting the drain plug back into the ice maker securely, and start making ice once again.

Do not skip this step or your ice will taste like the cleaning solution that you used to clean the unit. It’s crucial to thoroughly rinse your portable ice maker after you are finished washing it.

Make sure that you wash the Ice scoop and the ice bucket before placing them back into the unit.

Simple Steps For Maintaining Your Portable Ice Maker

A regular maintenance schedule will help preserve your portable ice maker’s life, and ensure that you’re making the highest quality ice possible.

Here are some simple steps to maintaining your portable ice maker.

It’s good practice to unplug your ice maker if you’re going to be away for a long time

I would suggest emptying all the ice and water, wipe down the walls of your ice maker with a damp cloth and let it air dry before you leave on vacation or store away your ice maker.

Storing a wet ice maker will cause mold to grow.

If you’re going to be away for more than a couple of days, what’s the point of your ice maker going through the ice cycle? It’s better to turn it off, empty the water, dry it off and store it away.

Always keep your portable ice maker clean

Another good tip for regular portable ice maker maintenance is keeping your ice maker clean. As mentioned above, cleaning your ice maker isn’t hard, but it does take time.

Make sure you take the time to wipe it down with a damp rag and let it air dry. Keeping your ice maker clean helps your ice maker to work correctly and your ice tasting great.

Ice makers can become surprising dirty over time, and wiping it down each week with a damp rag helps it to run as designed. You don’t always have the time to clean your ice maker as thoroughly as we mentioned above, but wiping it down and rinsing it out should be done on a weekly basis.

To ensure that your ice is always tasting its best, I also recommend that you change the water in your water reservoir each day.

Wash your ice storage basket

Take the time to wash your ice tray each day to make sure that it’s free from impurities and bacteria. Your ice is sits in that basket all of the time, so you want to make sure that you have taken the time to wash it with some soap and warm water. Seriously, it takes 5 minutes.

Add some warm water to your sink and place the tray inside the sink with the water. You want to be careful not to use harsh chemicals when cleaning any part of your ice maker because the taste of those chemicals will be transferred to the ice.

Don’t use any cleaning solution that would harm the ice maker

You want to make sure that you don’t use anything to clean your ice maker that will cause long-term damage.

It’s always good to use “ice maker-friendly” cleaners, and never use boiling water which will end up melting the plastic which is the main construction of your ice maker.

The best practice for cleaning your ice maker is a mild detergent and a damp rag.

Descale your portable ice maker regularly

Lastly, a big problem with an ice maker is hard water. Often an ice maker needs to be cleaned from calcium build-up inside the unit. Calcium build-up can mess with the sensors and cause your ice maker to malfunction.

There are two ways to tackle this problem. I would suggest that you purchase a descaler from Amazon. Click here to check out the one that I use all of the time.

The second way is to use a teaspoon of vinegar with some warm water. This natural solution will dissolve the calcium, and return your ice maker to good working order.


This post gives you a few ways that you can keep your portable ice maker clean, and working correctly.

Maintaining your unit is not difficult, but it does take some time.

You want to be consistently cleaning your portable ice maker because this can add years to your machine and improves the flavor of your ice.

I would say that it’s necessary to clean your unit every second week for heavy use, and a minimum of every month for regular use. You will begin to see signs when your portable ice maker should be cleaned (we listed those signs above).

This reminds me, I need to go and clean my portable ice maker.

If you have any other tips for keeping portable ice makers clean, let us know in the comments below.

Ice Maker Geeks are ice enthusiasts that review ice-making appliances, research ice-related topics, and do their best to help you make an informed decision before you make a purchase. Over the years of running this website, they have learned a lot and are excited to share that knowledge with you. The article you just read is just a small sample of the work that they have been doing over the last several years.

  1. I have a Contoure ice maker that was not used for a while and has a lot of mold in it especially the tray where the ice is made. Is there a way to clean the mold out of it with out taking the entire machine apart?

    • Hey Anthony,

      That’s a great question. I would add a mold remover to the water of the ice maker, and run the water cycle for a while until all the mold is gone. If possible use a small brush and wash down the walls of the ice maker. Also, rinse the machine several times before you use it. It’s important to make sure that all the mold is gone before you use it. Cheers.

      • Hi! I have an igloo and I try to clean it monthly. Usually some mold build up. Noticed today that the panel behind the ice modules had some build up that I couldn’t get out. What solution would dissolve it? Too narrow to get fingers in to clean.

  2. Is there a charcoal filter that needs to be replaced.

    • Not all ice makers have charcoal filters or filters at all. If your ice maker has a charcoal filter than you would have to change it when they recommend that it be replaced.

  3. Would it be okay to run a very diluted bleach cycle through my portable countertop ice maker?

    • Yes. You could. Use a highly diluted bleach solution. I would recommend using a lemon and vinegar homemade solution for general cleaning. For really dirty ice makers, I would use the products listed in this article.

      • I have an opal crushed ice maker that has a lot of hard water scale. Can I use vinegar and water to the scale and what is the best to clean buildup on bucket and tray?

  4. Hi can the top of ice machine be taken off to clean it?

  5. My ice maker manufacturer’s instructions (Frigidaire) strongly warn against touching or cleaning the metal “fingers” where the ice cubes are frozen, at any time. This might be something to warn people about so they don’t accidentally ruin their ice maker. With the model I have, it takes a lot of care to avoid wiping the “fingers” while trying to wipe the small cup that holds the water next to them during ice making. I wrap a rag around the end of a chopstick and secure it with a rubber band, since there isn’t much room for a hand without touching the metal fingers. You can also use a sponge with handle, used for cleaning fish tanks. In general, people should check their manufacturer’s instructions before attempting to clean their ice maker for the first time. Otherwise they could void their warranty.

  6. Do the models with self cleaning features clean the hard to reach areas? Areas that you can’t see unless you remove the top.

    • Most of the time you shouldn’t have a problem with the self cleaning feature. Use a recommended cleaner for your unit and run the self cleaning feature every couple of weeks. You will notice if it’s not working as it should because you’ll see grim build up. It’s also important to read the operations manual to make sure that you are using the self cleaning feature properly.

  7. I have a fridgidair portable ice maker and the water pump will not stop pumping water. I can’t see any obvious problem. The unit is clean.

  8. I just bought a Frigidaire portable ice maker, but I don’t see a drainage plug anywhere!! How do I get Tge excess water out?

    • If you ice maker doesn’t have a built-in drain plug then the only way of draining the water would be to tip the ice maker over by your sink and pour the water out.

  9. Is the Keurig de-scaler/cleaning solution usable to remove build up? I ran a vinegar solution several times through my GE Profile Opal, but can still see some cloudiness in visible areas such as drain tubes. Thanks

    • You can try the Opal Cleaning Kit, which is produced by Opal to remove scale. I have been using the Essential Values Ice Machine Cleaner, and have seen some good results. Click here to see the product on Amazon.

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