How to clean an ice maker with these easy steps

If you notice that your ice maker is producing funny-looking or strange-tasting ice, or your machine has a suspicious scaly buildup on its interior, it’s time to give it a deep clean. From dust and dirt to pesky hard water mineral buildup, over time, ice machines can become extremely grimy, just like any other hard-working appliance in your home. Deep cleaning your ice maker may not be at the top of your weekly cleaning list, but cleaning its components every six months or so can not only improve the quality of your ice but also ensure the longevity of your machine. Here’s how to clean your ice maker from the inside out in just a few simple steps.

Watch the video above to learn how to clean your ice maker.

How to Clean Your Ice Maker

  • If your ice maker has an On/Off option, turn it off before you clean, so it’s not producing ice while you’re deep cleaning its components. If your ice maker doesn’t have an accessible On/Off switch, unplug your refrigerator during the cleaning process. You can easily complete the job before the content of your refrigerator is anywhere near the danger zone for spoiling.

  • First, remove your ice box by disconnecting it from the housing and motor.

  • Thoroughly remove all ice cubes from the ice box before cleaning.

  • Clean the inside of the ice box with a scrub brush or sponge, and a mixture of dish soap and water.

  • Use your sponge or brush to clean the outside of your ice box and any crevices that have collected grime.

  • Rinse your entire ice box with warm water to remove soap residue.

  • After you clean and rinse your ice box, it’s imperative that you thoroughly dry it to ensure that none of the components freeze from residual water.

  • Use an ice maker cleaner/descaler that you can find at most home improvement stores or online to thoroughly clean any mineral buildup off of your ice maker’s housing.

  • After cleaning and descaling your ice maker’s housing, it’s imperative that you thoroughly dry it to ensure that none of the components freeze from residual water.

  • Once your ice maker is completely dry, you can reattach your icebox to its housing.

  • If you turned your refrigerator off before beginning the cleaning process, don’t forget to turn it back on to preserve the freshness of the contents inside.

  • Tip: The quality of your refrigerator water filter directly affects the quality of your ice, so as a general rule, replace your refrigerator water filter every six months.

How to Make a Natural, Homemade Descaling Solution

If you don’t feel comfortable using a commercial descaling solution to dissolve the mineral buildup that forms in your ice maker, you can make a more natural solution at home. Since commercial descaling solutions use acid to dissolve mineral buildup, you can use an acidic substance like distilled white vinegar to achieve the same result, though it may take longer to thoroughly descale your ice maker compared to a commercial solution. You can also dilute the solution by mixing a 10:1 ratio of water to white vinegar and adding lemon juice to keep the solution acidic and eliminate odors.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to clean an ice maker machine