A potential source of contamination of the food and water in your home is the innocuous and little-noticed ice maker. Sanitation failures may occur if you don’t do regular cleaning of this often-used, but rarely noticed, machine. Harmful pathogens such as fungi, bacteria and mildew may colonize the ice maker, causing diseases such as gastroenteritis for you and your family. By cleaning your ice maker, you not only avoid this fate, but also get better-tasting ice – the ice tends to absorb the tastes and smells of the food stored in the refrigerator. Here are the simple and easy steps on how you can clean your ice maker.
- Always start by turning off and unplugging the refrigerator. The nastiest surprise you can get is to be electrocuted while cleaning your ice maker. Turn off the power switch in your refrigerator, and take the time to unplug it as well. That way, there is no electricity to shock you while cleaning.
- Allow the freezer to defrost. Before you begin cleaning, remove all the excess ice that has accumulated inside by defrosting. Leave the refrigerator and freezer open for a while to let all the ice blocks inside the ice maker to melt, allowing you to clean it better. Make sure to throw away all of the last batch frozen by the icemaker.
- Replace or clean the water filter. Cleaning the water filter will make sure you get rid of impurities inside the ice maker. The exact process will depend on the manufacturer and model, so make sure you know the steps defined by the makers before you attempt doing this.
- Remove the storage tray for the ice maker. Throw away any excess water inside the storage tray. Wash and scrub the tray with soap and water, and rinse with clean water. Allow the storage tray to dry completely before moving it back inside – water that built up along the sides may flash freeze, leading to a bigger problem.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. Each ice maker will have cleaning instructions different from each other depending on the manual. As much as possible, it is best for you to try to stick to the recommended steps. If you cannot find the manual or bought it second-hand, you can either research online or post it in a message board.
- Use only safe and nontoxic cleaning materials. Since the ice will probably end up in beverages or your drinking water, avoid using potentially toxic cleaning materials such as all-purpose cleaners. This may not only potentially cause harm, but may also ruin the taste of the ice produced by your icemaker. Gentle dishwashing detergents (diluted, preferably) are the best option for cleaning your ice maker.
- Place the ice tray back in its proper place. Start putting everything back to where it was before. Plug the refrigerator and turn on the power switch again to resume normal operations.
As long as you have defrosted the refrigerator and have started cleaning, you might as well clean the rest as well. Remember, the foods stored inside may possibly affect the taste of the ice that your ice maker creates. Discard the foods that are pungent and clear the clutter that tends to build up after a while.