Owning a portable ice maker is a great way to provide fast access to ice cubes or small slivers of ice to make desserts or to slip into a cocktail. But they don’t stay clean forever.
With any amount of regular use or even if the ice maker has been stuck in a kitchen cupboard for a few months, it’ll need cleaning from time to time. This could be due to accumulated dust, remnants that have become stuck inside the machine or because of a moisture build-up that could potentially cause mould if not cleaned soon.
The good news is when you clean an ice maker, it’ll provide many years of service for a low initial cost.
But how do you know when your portable ice maker needs cleaning?
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How Do You Know When It’s Time to Clean Your Portable Ice Maker?
There are a few tell-tale signs that your portable ice maker might need a clean:
- The ice melts quicker or the cubes are smaller than they’re supposed to be.
- When it’s obvious by looking at the sides or walls of the machine that it’s dirty on the inside. The sides should usually be transparent and clear.
- The produced ice doesn’t taste quite right!
- With clear (not cloudy) ice makers, the ice was previously coming out clear, but it no longer is.
Whilst it’s true that tainted water could cause cloudy ice cubes, for the most part, the four above points provide the signs to look for.
Why Should You Clean Portable Ice Maker?
It’s easy for bacteria to develop in kitchen equipment when it’s put away slightly damp or stored in a cold spot that isn’t regularly heated.
Small food particles can eventually grow into a dangerous contaminant that’s likely to cause food poisoning. When not discovered and addressed properly by cleaning the ice maker, the food poisoning could repeat itself. This can result in the root cause of the food poisoning becoming difficult to track.
By cleaning an ice maker on a regular basis (at least once a month is ideal) it avoids using tainted equipment. You’ll also find the ice doesn’t make your drink “taste funny” either.
What Supplies Do You Need to Clean Your Portable Ice Maker?
There aren’t many home supplies needed to clean an ice maker.
The main cleaning solution is either lemon juice or white vinegar. The latter is more convenient and accessible.
A soft cloth is needed to wipe the interior and exterior. It’s important that a coarse material is not used because it will create scratches that both changes how ice is formed and allows for more bacterial build-up too.
Use a clean spray bottle to create a warm water and vinegar mixture to spray down the ice maker. Also, have a jug of warm water ready too.
To get into the difficult areas, use cotton buds or an old, unused toothbrush. For the latter, ensure it has soft bristles otherwise it could scratch the plastic.
It’s also useful to have some old towels, some kitchen paper towels or a sponge at the ready in case there’s any water spillage.
How To Clean Your Ice Maker In 10 Steps
Follow these steps to clean your portable ice maker:
- Empty out the ice maker of any liquid or old ice cubes.
- Disassemble the machine to gain access to its internal mechanism.
- Prepare the cleaning solution. Use a bottle sprayer with a mix of vinegar and warm water from the kettle.
- Wash up any accessories using the spray and cloth. Then rinse them off ready for reuse.
- Spray and wipe down the interior. Use the cloth to wipe clean each surface internally.
- Use a jug of water to pour around to clean the internal areas. Repeat the rinsing process until the interior is totally clear of cleaning solution.
- Clean the exterior and wipe it down too.
- Reassemble the ice maker including the accessories. Ensure they’re dry before putting them back in place.
- Prepare a fresh batch of ice cubes. This clears any remaining solution or dislodged particles from the machinery.
- You’re now ready to make clean batches of ice again.
Things to Avoid with Ice Makers to Reduce the Cleaning Frequency
It’s possible to clean your ice maker a little less often if you do a few things right.
Paying attention to the water source used to create ice cubes is one area that’s important. Avoid using tap water unless you’re clear about what contaminants the local tap water might contain. Contaminants in local water can include chalk, a metal such as lead, chlorine, Sodium silicofluoride, Fluorosilicic acid or dirt in the water pipes themselves.
Use a whole house filtration system or a Brita water filter to clean the tap water sufficiently for use. Alternatively, get large water bottles of spring water delivered to your home and use that.
Another mistake bourne from a familiarity with using washing up liquid or detergent in a dishwasher is thinking that soapy suds are a good idea to clean ice makers. They’re not!
Using soapy water as a cleaning solution may get the surfaces cleaner, but it is likely to lather up the internal parts that help the maker run. The suds can then settle creating a soapy film that will be difficult to remove later. Not only are these likely to make your ice cubes cloudy and unsafe to use, but it’ll block any filters within the ice maker too.
Set it in your calendar to schedule cleaning your ice maker every month. It’ll save you money in replacement costs in the long-run.
Founder of homeappliancegeek.com, avid cook, and lover of Asian food.
Signature dishes include Thai Red Curry, Chicken Saag, Bibimbap and Sushi.
Massive clean freak; a habit baked-in after spending 9 years in the catering industry.
The one appliance he couldn’t live without? Easily the dishwasher (total relationship saver!).