As convenient as ice makers and ice machines are, proper maintenance is essential to remove dirt and bacteria and ensure optimum function. So, how do you clean an ice maker and ice machine? While an ice maker’s bin can be removed and washed, an ice machine requires specific, but simple, cleaning steps. Learn how to clean an ice maker and ice machine for pure, high-quality ice every time.

Use and Care Tips: How to Clean an Ice Maker or Ice Machine

Knowing how to clean an ice maker or ice machine can help produce better ice. However, cleaning is crucial to removing the dirt and bacteria that can multiply and even cause illness. Before we detail how to clean an ice maker or ice machine, here’s some helpful information on how they can get so dirty.

How Do Ice Makers Get Dirty?

Just because an ice maker and ice machine are cold environments doesn’t mean they can’t harbor dangerous germs. Bacteria in ice machines can quickly develop from a variety of sources.¬†

These factors can facilitate a buildup of mold, mildew, and bacteria:

  • Dirty hands that touch ice
  • Spilled food or beverage particles¬†
  • Melted, dirty water that refreezes into dirty ice
  • Accumulated dust and dirt

Can mold in an ice machine make you sick? Yes, mold can harbor bacteria and germs from E.coli and norovirus to the common cold. Fortunately, knowing how to clean an ice maker and ice machine can lessen the chance of illness by eliminating dirt and bacteria. Nonetheless, there are differences between these two devices that dictate different cleaning methods.

how to clean an ice maker

Image from Ice Maker Depot

Difference Between an Ice Maker vs Ice Machine

Though we may use the two terms interchangeably, an ice maker vs ice machine are two different things. An ice maker refers to the unit in most refrigerator freezers that produces small batches of ice through convection. After water is dispensed into molds, air removes the heat and the ice slowly freezes. Ice is retrieved via a door dispenser or directly from the freezer ice bin, accommodating most families’ daily needs.

By contrast, ice machines are stand-alone devices that produce ice through conduction. Similar to the larger machines found in restaurants, home ice machines don’t attach to a refrigerator or freezer. Instead, they’re inserted under the counter, while smaller, portable models can sit atop a surface. After water is dispensed into molds, cold metal prongs are automatically inserted, freezing water faster than ice makers. The larger amounts of ice produced make ice machines ideal for entertaining a crowd or for larger families that use more ice regularly.

How to Clean an Ice Maker

Cleaning a dirty ice maker is typically very straightforward. Simply remove the ice bin and dispose of any old ice. Wipe down the bin with warm water and a mild dish detergent before drying completely and replacing. We suggest cleaning an ice maker every 3-4 months. However, if your ice smells or tastes bad, consider doing so more frequently or replacing the refrigerator water filter.

How to Clean an Ice Machine

Before you clean a dirty ice machine, first refer to your user manual to determine if there are specific cleaning instructions. If not, there are general steps that will get your ice machine clean.

Here’s how to clean an ice machine in 6 simple steps:

  • Unplug the machine and turn off its water supply.
  • Empty the ice bin and wipe it down with warm water and mild dish detergent (some manufacturers may recommend a specific cleaning solution).
  • Remove the drain cap, allowing any residual water to drain into another container. Replace the drain cap.
  • Reposition the ice bin, plug the machine back in and run a complete cleaning cycle.
  • Dispose of the ice, refill the machine with clean water and run a second cycle.
  • Throw away the ice. After reconnecting the water supply, the ice machine is ready for use.

Repeat this process every 3-6 months to keep your ice machine clean and free of harmful bacteria.

Even when you know how to clean an ice maker or ice machine, malfunctions may still occur. If they do, our team can help. Call Advance Appliance Service for an expert ice maker repair!