How to clean an ice maker on a refrigerator

When you buy your first home or move into your first apartment, someone should hand you a huge book of every little thing you should maintain and clean on a regular basis. I don’t know why it never occurred to me, but for some odd reason I never realized that you should clean an ice maker. Like never. Of all the 99 billion things to clean and maintain in a home, this one has never even blipped once on my radar, until now. I know, it’s gross. Really gross. But, if I’ve overlooked it, I’m betting at least one other person has overlooked it, too, so I thought I’d share how to clean an ice maker on a refrigerator.

(thanks to HomeRight for sponsoring this post, which uses affiliate links)

how to clean an icemaker

Now my dirty little confession… we’ve had this appliance for two years and I’ve never cleaned it. Two years! I shudder to think of all of the cups of ice that has been filled through the dirty ice maker. Bleheheheh. But when you know better, you do better, so now I clean it once a month.

how to clean an icemakerIt was nasty. It makes me ashamed to share it, but my point is to help someone, somewhere, so I’m sharing.

How to Clean an Ice Maker

how to clean an icemaker

I started by pulling out my HomeRight SteamMachine, which they sent me. (Can I just say how much I love working with HomeRight?!?)

how to clean an icemakerI filled it up with distilled water (per the directions) and let it heat up. While it was heating, I added on this nozzle that pressurized the jet of steam to get into all the nooks and crannies of the ice maker and get it really clean.

Using the nozzle of the Steam Machine, spray out every inch of the ice maker within an inch of it’s life. You’re going to need paper towels to clean up all the drippy gunk. It’s gonna be nasty. Really nasty. But, the point is to get rid of the grime, so it’s gotta go somewhere – in the trash works for me.

how to clean an icemaker

The chute that guides the ice is the hardest part. Grime will be trapped under there, so you’ve gotta get it loose to clean an ice maker. Mine slips down a bit by pressing on each side at the top, then working it out. It doesn’t come completely off, but it does come out enough to clean well inside all those tiny nooks and crannies. Yours may be different, so refer to your owner’s manual. *Open the door or turn off the ice maker function BEFORE doing this. If not, you’ll have ice all over your floor. (Ask me how I know?)*

For all of the teeny tiny spots, try using cotton swabs to help grab the grime and get it all cleaned off. It took a good handful and about 30 minutes to clean mine, but if yours isn’t at my horror level, you may not need as long.

While you’re in there, clean up the water dispenser the same way, because if your ice maker is dirty, chances are the water dispenser will be, too.

How to clean an ice makerBefore you finish, pull out the tray on front, because the steam will make the grime slip down under and through the cracks on it, plus you can clean it much easier if you pull it off and clean it. Mine comes off fairly easily by pulling straight out with light pressure.

how to clean ice and water dispenserAfter you’ve sufficiently grossed yourself out with grime and gunk, and you’ve finally learned how to clean an ice maker, stand back and give yourself a hand. Then promptly put it on your calendar to do this once a month so you’ll never be grossed out again.

And if you wonder what else you’ve blissfully been unaware of cleaning, please let me know. I’m probably missing it, too!

*Thanks to HomeRight for partnering with me on this post. All ideas, photos, opinions and grime are 100% my own.*

About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She's usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She's addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.


  1. Oh my goodness gracious I’m afraid to look. But I am going to look for your steam machine because For years I had a Scunci Steamer that I loved and it broke. My stove or shower stall have not been the same without it. Thanks for your brave post LOL. I will have another cup of coffee and go check out mine!

  2. Really smart post, this is something you never really spend time thinking about. We will now!

  3. Oh my goodness! This is on my list of things to clean today because I like you, never even thought to clean there. Shared and pinned this post.

  4. This post is great, but what options do we have if we can’t invest in a steam machine?

    • Gina Luker says:

      Hi Cindy,
      I’d think you could probably do it with hot water and a soft bristle tooth brush. Plus the cotton swabs really helped a lot.

  5. *Open the door or turn off the ice maker function BEFORE doing this. If not, you’ll have ice all over your floor. (Ask me how I know?)*
    This made me chuckle…thanks for the smile 🙂
    (btw – i don’t have an icemaker in my fridge lest you think i’m chuckling with superiority – i’m not)

  6. Oh dear–now I will be checking the ice dispenser when I visit friends (secretly of course)–I have had fun using theirs because I don’t have one. They will be glad to know about cleaning it. We are good friends and can talk about it, thank goodness. I will reference seeing it on your blog as something I didn’t know to do, haha.

  7. Mary Alice Kenley says:

    How about the ice maker inside the freezer (not the door kind, like yours)? Does it need to be cleaned?

    • Gina Luker says:

      I do clean the bin where the ice goes into – just empty out the ice, wash, dry & replace.

      • the ice from the refrigerator’s ice maker has a nasty taste. I’ve looked and no gunk (thank God). What do you suggest for freshening, cleaning … How is the ice made if there is no connection to water source


        • Put some baking soda in some little cups or bowls for a day or 2. Then you can buy one of those Arm & Hanner Baking Soda refrigerator containers. Another option for removing smells is coffee grounds, but that WILL probably give a coffee smell to the ice if you put it in the freezer. (Isn’t usually a problem if you put some in the refrigerator.)

          And there has to be a source of water for your ice maker! If you don’t know where the water is coming from, I’d be afraid to use the ice!!! It needs to have a filter of some kind! You need to know where it comes from. I might not be clean!

  8. susanmarysunshine says:

    I once saw a TV show about the dirtiest parts of a home and they found all sorts of nastiness, including e coli and fecal matter (how the heck did that get there?), on spigot of the 5 gallon water dispenser in someone’s home. I’m sure most people who own one never think to clean there.

  9. I wish I had a steam cleaner. We moved into a rental and just don’t use the ice maker because it is so beyond nasty. Makes me miss MY house…one of the joys of military life. If I can get my hands on one I may try this method.

    • Someone suggested hot water and a toothbrush (soft bristle). My dentist gives me a new toothbrush every six months I use an electric toothbrush. So I keep a few spare toothbrushes for guests who come unprepared and use the rest for cleaning projects as needed.

      As for the water, I would seller the kettle on the stove and get started on getting everything together. If you don’t have a good container try using a 4 – 8 cup glass measuring cup. Dip and scrub. I will clean tomorrow as my fridge is 8 yeasts old and this has never been cleaned. Who knew? !

    • Someone suggested hot water and a toothbrush (soft bristle). My dentist gives me a new toothbrush every six months, I use an electric toothbrush. So I keep a few spare toothbrushes for guests who come unprepared and use the rest for cleaning projects as needed.

      As for the water, I would set the kettle on the stove and get started on getting everything together. I’m first going to try to use that bit of steam coming out of the whistle, to see if that will bandaid the lack of steamer. Maybe I’ll use a little lemon juice as I scrub, to give it that fresh smell, then re-steam. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll try using a 4 – 8 cup glass measuring cup. Dip and scrub. I will clean today, as it is early yet and my fridge is 8 years old and this has never been cleaned. Ewww! Who knew? !

      I’ll post again to let you know how it worked out.

  10. Simone Hanks says:

    I am so glad I found this I do not even use the dispensers because I couldn’t figure out how to clean it! I usually just reach in for ice and use bottled water, this is so helpful thank you!

  11. Thank you for your post! I noticed mine dirty about 5 months ago and couldn’t find any tips on how to clean it! It has to be one of the most forgotten things!

  12. I NEVER knew that I needed to clean it! I’m with you, how are we suppose to know these things. I had a repair woman come and work on my dryer once, she kinda got on to me because I had not cleaned out my lint screen well enough. I asked, what am I suppose to do to it? SHe said I should scrub on it and run water thru every few months, I had no idea!

    • Wash the dryer lint filter with hot soapy water to get all fabric softener and dryer sheet gunk off. Makes your dryer work faster and keeps from over heating & burning up heating element. Go outside and use toothbrush to clean dryer vent while dryer is running to blow lint out.

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I just realized my ice maker was as gross as yours and tried to clean it with bleach and a toothbrush to no avail. Then I checked the Internet and found your blog post. I just cleaned my ice maker with steam and it was so easy and is now so clean. Thank you so much!!!! I’m going to be posting my experience on my blog and will be sure to link back to you.

  14. Oh my God, I’m going to look at mine right now!

  15. I don’t have a steam cleaning machine, but I do have a little clothes steamer, and since steam is so much hotter than hot water, I will shoot mine with that and then tackle (what I am sure must be WAY worse than yours) that job with a toothbrush and cotton swabs!

  16. christa says:

    Okay I’m pretty grossed out now! NOPE I sure haven’t thought of cleaning my ice maker! I’m thinking out of sight out of mind maybe?? Idk but I Always clean around where the cup sits, water and ice dispense from so Why didn’t I think about what it looks like up inside? Now I’ll get that cleaned out but noo of course I don’t own a steamer so I’ll have to get creative and inventive and I will!! Thanks for the info!

  17. Jeannine says:

    Wow – NEVER thought of this. I just looked at mine and it is absolutely disgusting. Who knew?

  18. nicole collum says:

    just FYI if you open the door while cleaning it will disable the dispenser function.

  19. I’m intrigued with the steam cleaner. But what I can’t figure out in watching the videos – where does the crummy stuff go? They just show the steaming part and not the clean it out part. Does spraying it with the steam spread the dirt and grime all over the place? When you spray the ice maker with the steam, does it just loosen all the mold and mildew and then you have to figure out how to reach in there to clean it out.

  20. I would check to see it your fridge and freezer are working right. You shouldn’t have mold at freezing temperatures. I have never once had a moldy ice maker.

  21. Thank you so much for this article! I had no idea how to clean that ice container. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  22. Thanks for sharing about cleaning the ice machine. I have often thought about the water line for the water in the fridge. Does it need cleaned? If it does, how would you clean that?

  23. Barb Reaves says:

    I just saw this post on Pinterest and had to share my experience. We had this same disgusting problem 6 months ago when we started noticing nats (fruit flies?) in our ice! Grossed out, I checked out the ice maker and it was awful! I don’t know if our drinks slashed up into the dispenser or what. Our refrigerator was about 2 years old and, like you I never knew the ice and water dispenser needed cleaning. I never noticed a problem with our previous fridg which we had many years. The owner’s manual had nothing about cleaning the ice maker or water dispenser and an online search didn’t turn up any help either. I don’t have a steamer, was afraid of using bleach because of the taste and had just learned that vinegar kills germs so I ended up spraying a strong vinegar/water solution up into the area over and over until it ran clear. OMG, the stuff that dripped out looked like tea! It took my husband & me at least an hour, with the door open, towels on the floor, one of us holding a mirror to see up inside, and the other spraying or scrubbing with brushes and q-tips to clean it out. With so many little nook & crannies & tubes to clean, it was quite a job. And this is definitely a health hazard. My husband has kidney disease (limited function) and drinks ice water from the fridg every day, as do I, and this could make him very ill. I don’t understand why the manufacturers don’t include this info in the manual and on a label inside the fridg? Better design for cleaning certainly would help too! Maybe we should all write the manufacturers!? I’m ready to get a steamer now. It sounds like it makes an easier job out it, IF it truly SANITIZES?! Thank you for posting your story and the steamer tip! Love your blog!

  24. Hot water with bleach and few drops of dish soap in spray bottle and old tooth brush.Then spray rinse with plain hot water spray bottle.

  25. Carolyn Crosby says:

    There should not be any cleaning to do on your appliance as this would be a health hazard and I don’t think the manufacturers would make such an appliance. I have a side by side that is 10 years old and I checked to be sure I didn’t have this situation and it is as clean as the day I bought the refrig. So instead of cleaning your refrig, you should call a repairman cause you have something seriously wrong with your appliance. Just saying !!

    • Gina Luker says:

      I understand where you’re coming from – but I live in the south – around water – and it’s humid. I think the ickiness is just a result of atmosphere plus an appliance that never got cleaned. You’d never expect an oven to stay clean forever – so why would I think a refrigerator would?

  26. what perfect timing to see this post. My spigot has just started sticking. Can’t wait to clean this. Have to go buy a steamer first.

  27. Sandi Alonzo says:

    My ice maker tray and paddles are black. I scrubbed with a scrubby pad and then used a black magic marker over the parts that still had the white marks. Also, I soak the removable tray in vinegar and scrub it well. I dry it and put on Vaseline and it stays looking good for about a week.

  28. Cynthia maslen says:

    How do you get a whirlpool tub jets really clean? I’ve tried everything from running bleach and hot water through it and tried using the whirlpool cleaner you by at home Depot or Lowe’s but I’m still getting like a green fungus when I turn on the Jets. I’ve used cotton swabs to get in between and inside the Jets. I’m at my wits end with getting this problem to stop. If you know of a better way that works please share with me. Again thank you

  29. shulynn says:

    I never had issues with one that was on the outside of the freezer. The new 3 door ones though where the ice maker is in the refrigerator do have problems with mold, It is disgusting and frustrating. When you spend so much money on a appliance this should not be happening. I wish they would redesign these to stop this issue. I looked at the manual and did not see any information on what to do about it. Ive been cleaning mine by wiping down with bleach every few months. I do not have a steamer but may not invest in one so I would be able to clean it without bleach.

  30. If you don’t have a steamer, I use vinegar. Kills the mold, helps break everything up, & doesn’t run the risk of warping all the little plastic bits. Also good for removing calcification on the water dispenser.

  31. In my first apartment I made a list with all the things I should clean regularly. This list became bigger every week. It was impossible to clean everything. Eventually I stop following this list 🙂 Greetings 🙂

  32. We bought our first home one year ago and it was built in 2010. I’m learning how to clean and maintain all these new fangled appliances that I’ve never had before and I’ve been trying to figure out how I could successfully clean our ice maker and water dispenser. You’re life saver!

  33. That’s really gross. I’ve never taken mine apart and cleaned it. Just wipe down around it. I really hate ice makers , especially on the front of the fridge. Never getting one like that anymore. Actually mine is broken, so is the water dispenser.


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