Cleaning a Fridge Door Water Dispenser

A water and ice dispenser in the door of a stainless steel refrigerator.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 15.00
What You'll Need
Small funnel
Distilled vinegar
Bottle brush
Tooth brush

Refrigerator water dispensers don’t often give any trouble, but if you live in a hard water area there will be a gradual buildup of calcium that can slow the flow of water from the dispenser and cause the cooling to take longer. Usually flushing the water cooling system with distilled vinegar will dissolve the calcium and help to disinfect it. Follow these steps for flushing your system routinely and never worry about hard water again.

Flushing the System with Vinegar

First, make sure that you turn off the water supply to the cooling system. Although not all systems will be the same, you should be able to find a copper water supply pipe that fits onto the water tank on most if not all of them. You can easily slide this copper tube off after loosening the screw that holds it in place.

Next, use a small funnel to pour three or four cups of distilled vinegar into the tube so that it goes into the reservoir. Tape the tube to a convenient surface so that it remains upright as you pour.

If your fridge also has an ice cube maker, turn it on at this time so that the vinegar will also clean this system. Flush the vinegar through the system by holding the water dispenser tap open until no more comes out. Then, dip the end of the bottle brush a little more vinegar and use it to clean inside and around the water spout. If you can’t get a bottle brush, a small, old toothbrush can be a suitable alternative.

Work the Remainder of the Vinegar Out

Reconnect the water supply to the tank, turn on the water, and allow it to flow through the system until you cannot detect any vinegar. Do this by running the tap into a glass and smelling for any traces of vinegar. As the smell disappears, do a small taste test to ensure it’s clear. Also, empty the ice cube tray and throw way the first batch or two because they will be tainted with vinegar. Your ice maker should be clear after, at most, the second batch, but just check to be sure before you taint a nice drink with vinegar.

There are other products you can use instead of vinegar, but this is the easiest, cheapest, and most reliable option. If you do choose to try something else, make sure you know what you’re doing.

If you're looking to purchase a water dispenser, check out our Water Dispensers Buyer's Guide.