If you go through more ice cubes than you can keep up with in your home freezer — or you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of remembering to fill an ice tray regularly — a home ice machine is an excellent way to make sure you have all the cold stuff you need, whenever you need it.
A portable ice maker
is a great investment if you entertain regularly and want to make sure everyone’s drink is cold, but it’s also useful if you have hobbies that require you to fill a cooler regularly — think camping, hunting, fishing, etc. And for Scotch aficionados or aspiring home mixologists, an ice maker is the easiest way to get perfectly clear ice cubes so those drinks look and taste their best.
Once you’ve automated your ice making, you’ll wonder how you lived without an endless supply of ice cubes. To make sure your home ice maker works at its best, you’ll need to take care of regular maintenance — in particular, you want to clean your ice maker regularly. Fortunately, it’s easy to do.
Why a Clean Ice Maker Is a Happy Ice Maker
How important is a clean ice maker? It’s a big deal! Here’s why you should make sure yours is kept clean:
- • Clear ice: If your ice maker is designed to make crystal-clear ice cubes, you’ll want to make sure your machine is clear of debris that can cause cloudiness or otherwise mar the clarity.
- • Great taste: An ice maker that isn’t cleaned on a regular basis can begin to absorb flavors from minerals in your tap water. Even worse, mildew buildup can make your ice taste musty. Keep it clean to make sure your ice tastes like nothing but pure water.
- • Clean aroma: Clean ice shouldn’t smell like anything at all. Your ice maker can absorb odors over time, however, so it’s important to disinfect it regularly to remove any odd smells. Your sense of smell is closely linked to your sense of taste, so this will help make sure your drinking experience is just as it should be.
- • Better health: Because your ice maker is in regular contact with water, it’s susceptible to mold and mildew if you don’t maintain it. If you have allergies to these microorganisms, you’ll want to make sure you keep your ice maker spic and span.
The Step-by-Step Cleaning Process for Your Home Ice Maker
It’s actually very easy to clean your ice maker, so it’s a task worth doing once every four to six weeks to make sure it provides you the great tasting, clean ice you expect. Here’s how to make sure every nook and cranny is clean and ready to go for your next big bash.
1. Gather Your Supplies
To clean your ice maker, you’ll need the following materials:
- • Warm water
- • White vinegar or lemon juice
- • Soft cloth
- • Pitcher
- • Measuring cup
- • Spoon
For more stubborn spots, you may also need the following to escalate your cleaning power:
- • Baking soda
- • Q-tip or soft toothbrush
- • Dry rag, sponge or paper towels
2. Prep Your Ice Maker for Cleaning
Before you do anything else, unplug your ice maker for safety — water and electricity don’t mix, and you don’t want to get a shock. Drain your ice maker of any fluid left in the water reservoir by removing the plug and allowing the water to run out into your sink.
Next, remove interior parts from the ice storage bin. Depending on your model, these could include an ice basket, scoop or ice pick. If your ice maker has water filters, remove these as well and set them aside for cleaning.
If you’ve used your ice maker recently, there may still be old ice attached to the cooling coils. If you can’t remove this easily, try pouring a bit of hot water over the ice to melt and dislodge it. Discard the dirty ice chips.
3. Make Your Cleaning Solution
The best cleaning solution for your ice maker is one that will cut through hard water scale buildup while mildly disinfecting your ice bin at the same time — and food-safe ingredients are a must. Fortunately, making your own cleaner is easy. Just stir together 1 part white vinegar to 10 parts warm water in a pitcher. Make enough to fill your ice maker unit to the point where it will make ice later.
If you don’t like the smell of white vinegar, rest assured that your ice will not taste sour by the time you’re finished. Still, if you prefer to use lemon juice instead, it works just as well but without the off-putting aroma of vinegar.
Pro tip: While not strictly necessary, putting some of this solution into a spray bottle will make cleaning the ice dispenser easier later.
4. Clean Your Accessories
Dip a soft cloth into the cleaning solution and run it over the accessories you took out of the ice maker, or use a spray bottle to mist them. Wipe the accessories down thoroughly, making sure to buff away any rough spots or scale buildup. If you have hard water lines or more stubborn stains, you can make a paste of baking soda and water for a little more scrubbing power — just be sure to rinse it off thoroughly.
If you have water filters, use a Q-tip or toothbrush to clean these as well, clearing them of any buildup so water flows freely through them. You can check this as you rinse. For clogged filters, try soaking the pieces in cleaning solution or in pure white vinegar to descale them.
5. Wipe Down the Interior
Again, dip a soft cloth in your homemade ice maker cleaner or spray the interior of the machine with the cleanser. Use the cloth to thoroughly wipe down the area, getting in any corners or other nooks. Give tough spots a good cleaning by using pure vinegar or lemon juice to disinfect and break down lime deposits. As with the accessories, you can also use a toothbrush, dry sponge or some baking soda for extra power, but start gently and work your way up to avoid scratching or scuffing your machine with overeager scouring.
6. Prepare for Ice Making
Replace any water filters, and put the drain cap or plug back on to the machine. Plug in your ice maker, and check the on/off switch to make sure it’s ready to go. You can keep accessories out of the way for now, but you will be making a few rounds of ice as part of the rest of the cleaning process.
7. Make a Round of “Wash” Ice
To make sure the working parts of your ice maker are disinfected, it’s best to make a round of ice using the remainder of your cleaning solution. This allows all parts to get a good washing with the vinegar or lemon juice. To do this, simply pour the rest of your cleanser into the water reservoir and turn on the machine. Allow it to fully process that liquid until the reservoir is empty and your ice bin is full of sour ice, which you will discard. Drain any excess liquid through the drainage valve, and discard this as well.
8. Make a Round of “Rinse” Ice
No one wants vinegar-flavored ice to ruin a cold drink, so you’ll want to ensure that every bit of your edible, but not delicious, cleaning solution is gone from the ice-making parts of your machine. Fill your reservoir with clean water, and run the machine through another freezing cycle to completely rinse your machine’s coils and water lines. Again, discard this ice and drain the reservoir one last time to make sure all traces of the cleanser are gone.
9. Replace Parts and Dry
Now you’re ready to replace any accessories and get your machine back in working order. To avoid unsightly water spots, use a dry rag or paper towels to wipe away any excess water on accessories and the inside of your ice maker. This is especially important if you’re not planning to use it right away, as a dry machine is far less prone to mildew. If you plan to store your machine, turn it off and unplug it until your next party.
How to Clean A Clear Ice Maker
A Note on Dish Soap
While it’s possible to use soapy water to clean the ice bin and accessories, it’s not a good idea to try to make ice with even a mild detergent mix. You run the risk of creating suds or lather in the mechanical parts, which could damage your ice maker. It’s also harder to rinse soap from the machine, which could leave you with a soapy aftertaste in your ice if you’re not careful. Since vinegar and lemon do the job just as well, these edible ingredients are a natural, easy-to-use choice for cleaning your ice maker.
Ice maker cleaning is an important task, but it’s also a relatively easy one. When you keep your automatic ice maker clean, it will function better and give you many years of use, making it less likely that you’ll need to hire an appliance repair person to help troubleshoot clogged filters and other issues that result from the dirt, scale and sediment buildup. Carry out your cleaning routine once every month or so, and you’ll enjoy fresh, clear ice in all your drinks for years to come.
Portable Countertop Ice Maker | NewAir AI-250W
- • Makes up to 50 pounds of ice per day
- • Portable size is perfect for RVs and apartments
- • Easy single-button control
Countertop Clear Ice Maker | NewAir ClearIce40
- • Creates restaurant-quality transparent ice
- • Produces up to 40 pounds of ice per day
- • One-button operation for ease of use