When was the last time you cleaned your ice maker?
Did you know your ice maker needs regular maintenance?
Unfortunately, this is a commonly overlooked machine when it comes to cleaning your house. It’s so nice to have an ice maker in your home, but many take it for granted.
You’ll realize how much you love your ice maker when it stops working and starts turning out bad-smelling or bad-tasting ice.
Having dirty ice is no good for anyone, and a dirty machine will make dirty ice. So this is your guide to ice maker cleaning and maintenance.
Choose Your Cleaner
Hard, acidic cleaning solutions can wear on the chrome coating on the prongs where the ice is made, which exposes the copper underneath and makes the ice taste like copper.
You don’t want your ice tasting like copper so you need to use safe cleaners. If the chrome comes off of the prongs, it will look dirty, and you would need to get the chrome replaced.
Using safe cleaners is important. You can find some ice maker cleaners on the market that will tell you to make ice a few times after you use the cleaner, and then throw those few batches of ice away. They say not to use those batches of ice because residue from the cleaner may get on them, and you don’t want to consume that.
3 Safe Cleaners for Your Ice Maker
- Lemon Water
- Mild Dish Detergent
Vinegar is commonly used for cleaning kitchen supplies that deal with water because it’s safe. It is perfect for those chrome-covered prongs in your ice maker.
Since it’s something we all consume, and no one known of is allergic to vinegar, it’s the best cleaner to use for kitchen appliances.
- It never goes bad
- It’s non-toxic
- It’s biodegradable
- It’s super cheap.
You can use it to clean nearly everything in your home. Just use one part water and one part vinegar.
The Science of Vinegar
Made from water and 4-5% acetic acid, vinegar is an amazingly versatile liquid.
- When you add water to vinegar the acetic acid breaks down and forms two components. One is hydrogen and the other is acetate.
- What makes it such a good cleaning agent is that the hydrogen will bond with any other structure and break down that structure. This makes it great for cleaning difficult stains from urine, soap, or limestone. Any alkali substance will give way to vinegar.
- On the other hand the acetate reacts with metals and changes the molecular structure of grime, rust, and paint on metal. It changes it to the point that the water component can simply wash is away. Acetic acid also kills fungi and bacteria that can cause odors and thus eliminates the odors.
You can also add baking soda (bicarbonate) to this vinegar. Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base so when you mix them you get an acid-base reaction which forms a new compound with water, sodium acetate and carbon dioxide.
This combination of common household cleaners can produce a lot of bubbles when mixed in certain quantities, so to control this, use a general amount of a half cup vinegar and a quarter cup baking soda to make a cleaner that you can use in a spray bottle for easy cleaning.
Lemon water is also a common cleaner for kitchen appliances.
This is because lemon juice is acidic and that makes it a natural cleansing agent.
It is true that different kinds of dirt will respond to different kinds of cleaners.
- Lemon works best on soap scum and oxidized metals.
- It does not work as well with copper or brass over the long term.
- It does not work well at all on grease. Soap is best at removing grease because it is an alkaline cleaner.
Citric acid as in lemons and oranges work very well on alkaline stains as does vinegar. The best cleaner is the cleaner that is the “opposite” of the material being cleaned. You need to know what material you are cleaning in order to know what cleaner to use. Use an alkaline cleaner for grease and an acidic cleaner for alkaline stains.
Lemon is great for cleaning all the glass surfaces in your refrigerator, and can be great for cleaning the outside and inside surfaces of your ice maker. The citric acid converts any calcium compounds into soluble compounds that you can then rinse away. This compound will, as previously mentioned, clean soap scum and oxidized surfaces well. It will not clean greasy or fatty surfaces. For that you need soap
Mild Dish Detergent
Mild Dish Detergent will work well on grease as mentioned above. This is because dish detergents are generally alkaline cleaners that will emulsify the grease and spread it out so the solvents in the detergent will dissolve the grease. Soap will not clean oxidized metals or soap scum well, but it is a miracle cleaner when it comes to grease.
Ice Maker Cleaners to Avoid
- Ice maker “cleaning solutions” (with harsh chemicals that aren’t vinegar or lemon)
- Anything Toxic (with chemicals)
All of these substances are toxic or damaging to a degree, and if you use them you will not want to use the ice made in the clean ice maker.
The instructions will tell you to rinse the trays and wipe the ice maker several times with clean hot water before use and this will help you maintain your ice maker, but they could still corrode the metal prongs. You need to use the safe cleaners mentioned above, not these cleaners.
Cleaning Your Ice Maker
Ice makers are easy to operate and maintain. Here are some steps to clean the ice maker:
- Unplug the device and empty it
- Remove ice tray
- Wipe the device
- Clean the ice tray
- Put things back together
- Initiate the cleaning cycle
- Run a normal cycle
- Clean the exterior
Additional cleaning is usually required to thoroughly clean the device. This can be achieved by adding vinegar-lemon juice to the water and then carrying out the self-cleaning function to ensure a thorough cleaning.