Troubleshooting an Ice Maker: Ice Tastes Bad

hand filling a glass with ice from a freezer ice maker

If the ice you’re getting from your ice maker has a foul taste, don’t try to ignore it. Troubleshoot the problem immediately and take the steps to get rid of that terrible sensation.

Clean the Freezer

Nasty-tasting ice may be the result of food gone bad or a spill in your freezer. Take everything out of the freezer. Throw away anything that has gone bad and wipe down everything in the freezer, then give the same treatment to the refrigerator. Bad smells from the fridge can migrate to the freezer and ruin the taste of your ice.

Use a mild cleaner and a damp cloth to wipe down the walls, the top and bottom, the racks, the drawers, and the shelves in the refrigerator and the freezer. If you like, you can make a vinegar solution with a little bit of baking soda, which is an odor-absorber, for a natural option.

woman cleaning freezer with glove and sponge

Start Over With Fresh Water

Get rid of all that bad-tasting ice so it doesn't continue to contaminate the system. Most ice makers have a large tray or bin where ice gets stored—if there's any ice in your freezer, throw it in the sink after you've thoroughly cleaned everything so your ice maker will create new ice. Don't forget to empty the water reservoir as well, if your machine has one.

Make sure you turn off your ice maker before you empty it. Look for a drain plug to make the job of emptying a little easier. If you're going to take the whole ice maker out of the freezer, disconnect the water supply line.

hands emptying ice trays from freezer

Before you put the ice maker back in the freezer, clean it out as well. It should get the same thorough treatment as your freezer and fridge. Wipe the ice maker down inside and out, then put it back in the freezer and turn it back on. A little bit more vinegar cleaner will remove any lingering smells.

Change the Filters

If the ice still tastes bad, try doing a little bit of maintenance. Check your ice maker to see if it has a filter. There may be an access panel that can be opened up.

If you just don't know where to begin, go online and look up your refrigerator's model number for specific instructions.

refrigerator water filter

Does Your Water Taste Bad?

Get a glass and taste your tap water. Does it also taste bad? Sometimes, tap water doesn't taste so great. You might not even realize it because you drink bottled water even when you're at home. If your water doesn't have a good taste, disconnected the ice maker supply line and fill your ice maker up with bottled or filtered water.

Meanwhile, you can replace your refrigerator's water filter (if you have one) or call your utility company to ask them why your water tastes so awful, which it absolutely should not.

What Does It Taste Like?

If your ice has a plastic-like taste to it, you probably just have a newer ice maker that hasn't been used much. That taste will go away over time, and you can speed up the process by emptying the ice a few times.

If you're getting a coppery taste, the chrome coating on your ice maker prongs may have worn off, exposing the metal. Until you replace those prongs or the entire ice maker, your ice will continue to have that copper taste.

woman smelling a glass of water unhappily

Or does your ice taste like food? Refrigerators have evaporator systems to remove smells. If your fridge doesn't have a strong evaporator system, your ice cubes could end up tasting like garlic, onions, and other highly-aromatic foods you may have stored in there.

Make sure you're storing your leftovers and your aromatics (like garlic bulbs and whole onions) in air-tight containers. Next, pop a box of baking soda in the fridge and another in the freezer. This actually works! Baking soda soaks up bad smells to keep them from contaminating your ice. Replace the boxes once every two months or so—they lose their odor-absorbing powers over time.