Don't overlook this machine, whether it's a standalone appliance or embedded into your fridge.

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It's important to routinely clean your refrigerator and countertop ice makers. While these appliances don't often become dirty in the traditional sense (it's unlikely that your ice maker will be full of crumbs or dirt), they are still prone to buildup from a range of minerals and particulates that are commonly found in drinking water. Ahead, exactly how to thoroughly wash and maintain yours.

Monitor your ice maker for changes.

According to Laura Johnson, a research and development expert at the LG Electronics Home Appliances Lab, you should clean your ice maker twice per year. If you're looking for an easy way to remember, schedule those maintenance sessions to fall around Daylight Saving Time. Of course, some machines may need to be washed more frequently—and this is especially true if you have noticed changes to your ice. "Ice that looks cloudy or tastes off," says Johnson, "is an indication that it is time to clean your maker."

Turn off the machine.

Whatever its model, begin by turning your ice maker off, either at the switch (for countertop iterations) or by unplugging your refrigerator. "The fridge won't be off long enough that you will need to move any food," Johnson explains. "Once machine is off, pull out the ice bin and dump out." If you have a garbage disposal, dump the excess ice down the chute and grind it, advises Johnson; the coarse ice is actually an effective way to cleanse the disposal's blades.

filling glass with ice refrigerator ice maker
Credit: baloon111 / Getty Images

Wash the ice bin.

You'll want to wash the ice bin in warm soapy water and then let it dry thoroughly, notes Johnson. "Any excess water here could freeze and gum things up," she says. "Clean the pieces of the ice maker inside the fridge, too, making sure to thoroughly dry those pieces, as well."

Check your water filter and lines.

If you have a smart refrigerator, you will likely get a notification when it is time to change your water filter. However, if you have noticed that any unpleasant changes in your ice, it may be time to take a look at your filter, notification or not. "Replace the water filter and then flush the line, dispensing on and off for approximately five minutes," Johnson says, adding that you should dispose of the first batch of ice the machine makes after reinstalling the water filter and cleaning the dispenser.

Take care when cleaning your ice maker.

Johnson says you should never reinstall a wet bin under any circumstances, and whatever you do, don't try to force any stubborn chunks of ice out. "Don't use an ice pick to get ice off the ice maker bin," she says. "Instead, use warm water [or a] warm cloth to melt it away."

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