How to Clean a Countertop Ice Maker in 5 Easy Steps

A countertop ice maker is a convenient appliance that provides fresh ice anytime you need it. However, like most appliances, ice makers require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep them functioning properly and hygienically. Neglecting to clean your ice maker can allow mineral deposits, food particles, and bacteria to build up over time.

Fortunately, cleaning a countertop ice maker is a straightforward process that usually takes less than 30 minutes. With just a few simple tools and supplies, you can have a sparkling clean ice maker that produces fresh, contaminant-free ice.

Here are 5 easy steps to clean your countertop ice maker properly:

Step 1: Unplug the Ice Maker

Before cleaning, unplug the ice maker from the power source. Unplugging it ensures the unit won’t turn on during cleaning which could damage the machine or cause injury.

Make sure to unplug the unit, not just turn it off. Turning it off simply puts the ice maker in standby mode, meaning it could still turn on unexpectedly while cleaning.

Step 2: Remove Ice from the Ice Bin

After unplugging, the next step is to remove all ice from the storage bin. Discard any unused ice cubes.

It’s important to remove all ice because any ice left in the bin during cleaning can absorb cleaning solutions or dirty water, resulting in contaminated ice.

To remove stuck-on ice cubes, let the storage bin warm up for 5-10 minutes. This helps loosen frozen ice cubes. Gently scrape with a soft plastic utensil to help pry off any stubborn ice.

Avoid using sharp metal tools to scrape ice as this can damage the ice bin. Be sure to wipe down the scoop as well.

Step 3: Wash Removable Parts

Most countertop ice makers have removable parts that require regular handwashing. This includes parts like:

  • Ice bin/basket
  • Scoop
  • Water reservoir or tank
  • Internal ice maker tray or mold

Wash these parts using warm soapy water. Avoid abrasive sponges or cleaners that could scratch the surfaces.

Rinse all parts thoroughly after washing to remove any soap residue. Let the parts air dry completely before reassembling.

Step 4: Clean the Interior with a Mild Vinegar Solution

For the interior of the ice maker, cleaning with a simple vinegar solution is recommended. The acetic acid in vinegar effectively dissolves mineral deposits and kills bacteria and fungi.

To clean with vinegar:

  • In a spray bottle, mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water.
  • Lightly spray or wipe the vinegar solution over the interior surfaces. Focus on the metal ice mold, side walls, and internal tray where ice is generated.
  • Allow the solution to sit for 5 minutes before wiping away. This gives the vinegar time to dissolve any built-up scale.
  • Rinse surfaces with a clean damp cloth and wipe dry.

Repeat as needed for stubborn scale buildup. The vinegar solution is safe for most interior surfaces but avoid spraying directly on electronic components.

Step 5: Sanitize with a Dilute Bleach Solution

For optimal ice maker sanitation, sanitize the interior with a mild bleach solution after cleaning:

  • In a spray bottle, mix 1 tablespoon regular household bleach per 1 quart of water.
  • Lightly spray the bleach solution over all interior surfaces of ice maker.
  • Allow to sit 1-2 minutes before wiping dry with clean cloth.

The small amount of bleach solution sanitizes without leaving overwhelming fumes or flavors. This helps kill any remaining bacteria leaving your ice maker clean and sanitary.

Rinse surfaces thoroughly with clean water afterwards to prevent bleach residue. Allow all surfaces to fully air dry before reconnecting power.

FAQs About Cleaning Countertop Ice Makers

Cleaning your countertop ice maker doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How often should I clean my ice maker?

For moderate usage, aim to deep clean your ice maker every 6 months. Clean it more often if you notice mineral deposits or strange ice flavors developing.

What’s the best way to dry the ice maker after cleaning?

It’s important that all surfaces are completely dry before reconnecting power. Allow parts to fully air dry. You can also use a hair dryer on a cool setting to speed up drying time.

Should I use bleach every time I clean the ice maker?

No, bleach is only needed occasionally for sanitizing. Stick to vinegar for regular cleanings. Only use bleach every 3-6 months to prevent buildup of tastes and smells.

Are ice machine cleaners necessary?

Not usually. A simple mix of vinegar and water works well for most buildup. Cleaners specifically made for ice makers can be used but aren’t essential.

How do I clean the ice maker filter?

Check your owner’s manual. Some filters are removable and can be cleaned by soaking in vinegar and rinsing. Others need to be replaced according to manufacturer guidelines.

What should I do if the ice tastes bad?

Bad tasting or smelly ice is a sign your ice maker needs a deep cleaning. Clean as outlined above using vinegar and bleach solutions to remove odors and bacteria.

Why does my ice have white spots?

White spots are typically mineral deposits due to hard water. Cleaning with vinegar removes these deposits. A water filter can also help reduce spotting.

Can I use lemon juice instead of vinegar?

Yes, lemon juice works well too! The acidity in lemon juice cuts through mineral buildup like vinegar. Use a 1:3 diluted juice and water solution.

My ice maker won’t stop making ice, why?

If your ice maker won’t stop producing ice, the shutoff arm is likely stuck. Carefully detach the arm and clean buildup with vinegar. Make sure it can move freely.


Cleaning your countertop ice maker doesn’t require heavy duty chemicals or expensive cleaners. With just household items like vinegar and bleach, you can keep your ice maker clean and well-maintained.

Be sure to give your ice maker a thorough deep clean every 6 months using the easy 5 step method outlined above. More frequent light cleanings can also keep the buildup at bay.

Taking the time to properly clean and care for your ice maker ensures it produces fresh, contaminant-free ice for years to come. It also extends the appliance’s lifespan and prevents costly repairs down the road.

With a clean, well-functioning countertop ice maker, you can enjoy chilled drinks, preserved foods, and ice-cold treats anytime. Keeping the ice maker clean is easy when you follow these simple steps.