Telltale Signs It's Time To Clean Your Fridge's Water Dispenser

Fridge water dispensers are a convenient luxury. Rather than messing around with water bottles or Brita jugs, you can simply get your clean water supply from your fridge. It's incredibly handy, but there is some upkeep involved that not everyone considers. While most people wipe down their fridge doors and clean out the small dispenser tray on the front of the fridge, they don't clean out the actual water dispenser. That's because it's stowed inside the fridge, and things that tend to stay out of sight stay out of mind. However, it's important to routinely clean it, and you will know if you've taken too long in between sessions if you see certain telltale signs. 

From the water tasting funky to it smelling a bit off, there are some red flags to look out for that indicate it's time to give the mechanism a deep clean. Here is what to specifically look out for.

Signs it's time to clean your water dispenser

If neglected for too long, your water quality will begin to plummet. The first sign is a change in taste and scent. If there is a bacteria or mildew buildup, it will taste slightly funky and have an off-putting odor. However, if it smells and tastes metallic, you might have a mineral buildup that needs to be addressed. (This is especially true for homes with hard water.) Another sign that it's time to clean your dispenser is when the flow lessens. If the water is coming out in a trickle, that can indicate a mineral buildup has formed, blocking the pathways for the water to exit. That means it's time to descale it and clean it.

Lastly, your fridge will also let you know when it's time for a routine touchup. A great time to clean your dispenser is when it's time to switch the water filter, and your fridge will turn on its filter alarm when it's time to do so. The "change filter" button will turn red on the front of your fridge. When you open the mechanism to switch the filter, you can also wash the water line and dispenser. 

How to clean a water dispenser

The first thing you will want to clean is the dispenser's nozzle. It might either have grime or mineral buildup that needs dissolving. To do so, grab vinegar, warm water, and a pipe cleaner. Pour a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and warm water into a bowl, dip the pipe cleaner into the natural solution, and run it inside the nozzle. If you have stubborn mineral buildup, you might want to grab a straw cleaner to utilize the bristles for scrubbing. To flush the nozzle afterward, run enough water from the dispenser to fill a pitcher. That should eliminate any lingering vinegar residue. 

Next, you will want to clean the dispenser itself. Unplug the fridge and turn off its water supply. Then grab your manual and see how to access your water dispenser tube. Once you locate it, remove it from the shutoff valve, and wipe away any dribbling water with old towels or rags. Put a funnel into the water line, and pour 2 cups of the 1:1 vinegar and water mixture. This will move through the tube and into the actual water dispenser. The vinegar will eat away at any grime or mineral buildup, cleaning the mechanisms. Let it sit in the dispenser for 10 to 15 minutes, and then grab a pitcher and flush the solution. Allow it to run until no more water comes out, which means all the vinegar has drained from the dispenser. Afterward, hook the water supply back to the valve, plug the fridge back in, and fill another pitcher with water. This will help flush out any lingering vinegar residue.