Ice is the unsung hero of any party. People take it for granted while they’re enjoying refreshing beverages, but if the ice runs out or tastes funny, it’s a catastrophe. Whether you have an ice maker or an undercounter ice machine, these tips will help to keep your unit making fresh, clean ice for years to come.

What’s the Difference Between an Ice Maker and Ice Machine

First, you’ll need to identify which type of machine you own because maintenance steps on a refrigerator ice maker vary significantly from the maintenance steps on an undercounter ice machine.

What is an Ice Maker?

Ice makers are often built into conventional refrigerator/freezer units. If you can hold a cup to your freezer door and have ice pour into it, you have an ice maker. Ice makers produce fewer cubes than ice machines.

For most small to medium size families, a refrigerator ice maker will make plenty of ice for everyday use. You may find yourself buying a bag of ice or two though if you have a large family or are hosting a family reunion or a neighborhood block party.

how to clean a refrigerator ice maker

Image from Whirlpool Outlet

What is an Ice Machine?

Residential ice machines are smaller versions of the commercial equipment you find in restaurants. They stand alone and exist for the sole purpose of making ice.Depending on your needs, you may want an under counter home ice machine, a portable home ice machine, or a bar ice machine. Whichever model you choose, you will love being able to scoop out as much ice as you want, whenever you want it.

how to clean an ice maker

Image from U-Line

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How to Care for Your Ice Maker

The ice maker installed in your conventional refrigerator/freezer unit does not require the same level of cleaning as an ice machine. To clean your ice maker, simply empty the ice bin once every 3-4 months and wipe down the bin with a mild detergent and warm water. Be sure the bin is thoroughly dry before reinstalling. If you notice that your ice smells bad, or if your ice tastes bad, you may need to change your refrigerator’s water filter.

How to Care for Your Home Ice Machine

Different brands of ice machines have different needs, so you should always check your product manual for precise instructions on how to clean out your unit. However, there are some simple steps that most models require. Here are the six steps that will get your ice machine squeaky clean in no time (note: this method will not work on your refrigerator ice maker.):

  1. Unplug your ice machine. NEVER try to work on your machine when it is plugged in.
  2. Empty the ice bin. Wash with mild dish detergent, or with your manufacturer’s recommended product. There may be some condensation or melting of built up ice. Use a shallow pan to catch drips.
  3. Turn the water supply off. Remove the drain cap and let the water pan drain into an empty container. Replace the drain cap. Fill the water pan with 1 16-oz bottle of ice machine cleaner and 32 oz of clean water.
  4. Replace the ice bin, plug the ice machine in, and run it through a cleaning cycle.
  5. Dump the ice, refill with clean water, and run another cycle.
  6. Dump the ice and re-attach the water supply. Your ice machine is now clean and ready to use!

To extend your ice machine’s life, make sure to clean the condenser coils on the back of the machine regularly. If you follow our instructions on how to clean an ice maker or ice machine, it will last for years. And for the most thorough cleaning results, schedule your professional ice machine cleaning service with Cody’s Appliance Repair today.