How To Clean A Portable Countertop Ice Maker

Portable countertop ice makers are useful devices because you can fill them manually rather than relying on a water line. So, you may be wondering how to clean ice makers properly since portable appliances may be more likely to need cleaning sooner than later. Fortunately, the process is relatively simple and will not take long. We have carefully researched how to correctly clean a portable ice maker.

There are a few basic steps to follow when you clean most types of portable countertop ice makers. Aside from a unique cleaning solution that you can use, the process will not require more than traditional household tools. Follow these cleaning steps:

  1. Unplug and drain
  2. Add cleaning solution and water
  3. Run clean cycle or ice cycle
  4. Wash unit interior and basket
  5. Drain and rinse cleaning solution

Although cleaning a portable ice maker is straightforward, it is also a unique machine and needs to be cleaned properly. Keep reading for the details of each step in the process, how often you should clean it, and what makes an Igloo brand countertop ice maker unique.

Closeup of ice maker, machine, in refrigerator with ice cubes, How To Clean A Portable Countertop Ice Maker


How often should I clean my portable ice maker?

It is generally suggested to clean the portable ice maker every two to six months. However, units used regularly may need to be cleaned as much as once a month. You can read the post "How Big Is An Ice Maker Machine?" to learn how large traditional ice makers are.

Specialists, such as the refrigeration and HVAC company Arista, advise that the United States Food and Drug Administration consider ice to be food because ice is ingested. Ice might accumulate harmful contaminants, such as mold or even undetectable microorganisms.

So, cleaning the ice maker every month is ideal for your health. Make sure to use both an ice maker cleaner and a sanitizer, but never apply them simultaneously.

How do you get mold out of a portable ice maker?

It is best to use a commercially-sold ice maker cleaning solution, which has ideally been approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Although homemade cleaning solutions are possible, the commercial option can be more likely to destroy mold.

How to Clean a Portable Countertop Ice Maker

close up ice cubes and stainless ice scoop

1. Unplug and Drain

The first step in cleaning any electrical device is to unplug the power source because electricity is naturally dangerous. Next, you will need to use a bucket or kitchen sink to drain the ice maker.

There is a plug near the bottom of the appliance which can be removed in order to empty the reservoir. Once the ice maker is empty, screw the drain plug back in.

2. Add Cleaning Solution and Water

For the best results, it is best to invest in a commercially sold cleaning solution that is designed for ice makers. This will be more thorough than household alternatives.

Some ice machine cleaners offer unique features, such as non-toxic formulas that can cut through calcium buildup. It is best to find a universal product to ensure that it is compatible with your appliance. 

Click here to find this ice machine cleaner and descaler on Amazon.

Open the ice maker and remove the basket, so that the cleaning solution can be poured into the reservoir. These commercial products each need to be mixed with a unique amount of water to be applied properly. Make sure to use as much water as instructed by the manufacturer.

Can I run vinegar through my ice maker?

Vinegar is a popular alternative for a commercially sold ice maker cleaning solution. This can safely be run through the appliance, and it can even clean the machine well. However, the proper ratio of vinegar and water is highly subjective. 

Some advice suggests a 10:1 relationship between vinegar and water, while others would use an equal amount. But if the ratio turns out poorly for your ice maker, this can be very time-consuming later on. You may have to use several cleaning cycles to wash out a bad taste from your ice.

What is ice machine sanitizer made of?

Sanitizing an ice machine is actually different from cleaning it. Cleaning can get rid of germs, dirt, and impurities. So, an ice machine cleaner will remove the limescale deposits and minerals from your appliance. 

Meanwhile, an ice machine sanitizer is able to disinfect the appliance, which means that the germs are killed. It will also remove algae, and can prevent the growth of future contamination.

Click here to see this ice machine sanitizer on Amazon.

Sanitizer solution is usually applied the same way as a cleaning solution. However, it is not rinsed but left to air dry instead. It should be applied separately from an ice maker cleaning solution.

The ingredients for an ice machine sanitizer can change from one brand to the next. Some are non-toxic food-grade formulas, while others have potentially harmful components such as ammonium chlorides and DDAC. The Globally Harmonized System has recognized DDAC as harmful to the eyes and skin, and dangerous to ingest.

3. Run Clean Cycle or Ice Cycle

Temporarily plug the unit back in. In order to flush the cleaning solution throughout the internal system, you will likely need to run your ice cycle at least two to three times. Throw away the ice that these cycles produce. The ice will likely carry the taste of the cleaning solution.

A good way to gauge how many times this is necessary is to wait for the ice cycles to use up about half of the water in the reservoir. Once this is complete, unplug the unit again.

4. Wash Unit Interior and Basket

Use soapy water to wash out the basket that you removed earlier. You can use a washcloth to scrub cleaner throughout the interior surfaces of the ice maker.

It will be difficult to reach behind the prongs of the ice maker, so you may need to use a spray bottle or brush to thoroughly cover the interior.

5. Drain and Rinse Cleaning Solution

Use clean, warm water to rinse down the interior of the unit. Make sure that you carefully reach all of the areas that were scrubbed with the cleaning solution. You may need to use a spray bottle again, in order to spray fresh water. 

This process will sink any residual solution into the reservoir. Once that has been collected, you can simply unscrew the drain plug again so that all of the cleaning solution drains from the appliance. 

Finally, you can screw the drain plug back in, replace the basket, and plug the machine back in. If you plan on storing or returning the appliance, you can use a cloth to dry down the interior instead.

You can read the post "Should The Ice Maker Lever Be Up Or Down?" if you're curious about how other countertop ice maker functions should work.

How do you clean an igloo countertop ice maker?

Click here to see this Igloo self-cleaning countertop ice maker on Amazon.

An Igloo brand countertop ice maker is likely to have a unique, automatic self-cleaning function. You will need to fill the reservoir enough to cover the pump inside. This way, the machine will be able to recycle the water during the auto-clean cycle. 

Some models have a light indicator on top of the appliance to alert you if there is not enough water in the reservoir. Usually, you will then simply need to select “clean” and “on” to run the cycle.


Closeup of ice maker, machine, in refrigerator with ice cubes, How To Clean A Portable Countertop Ice Maker

A portable countertop ice maker is easy to use and relatively easy to clean. It is important to understand the importance of both cleaning and sanitizing the unit. Cleaning and sanitizing serve different functions, even though they are completed in a similar way. Now that it’s clear how to clean your portable ice maker and how often, you will have healthier and better tasting ice wherever you go.

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