How to Clean an Ice Maker Water Filter

Reading Time: 6 minutes Ice Machine Cleaning

water filter graphic

Here in the US, by the time water reaches our sink, it’s generally safe to drink. That’s because water treatment facilities clean and filter water of harmful bacteria or protozoa. And while safe to drink, treatment facilities can’t filter everything out of the water. The truth is, tap water still has particles in it. These particles aren’t harmful to people, but they can mean bad news for your ice machine. That’s why ice machines have their own water filter that traps deposits that can clog up a unit. Knowing how to clean an ice maker’s dirty water filter can help keep your machine in working condition.

Here’s what causes an ice machine water filter to clog and how it can affect your ice production.

What an Ice Machine Water Filter is Fighting Against

Water is known as the universal solvent because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid. As water dissolves solids, it carries tiny particles along with it. Over time, as water flows to your ice machine, these particles can accumulate and cause blockages in your unit. Some of these particles include:

  • Calcium
  • Chlorides
  • Sodium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium

Your water filter’s job is simple: prevent particles from entering your machine.  However, it needs some help of its own over time.

What Happens When an Ice Maker’s Water Filter Gets Dirty?

Your ice machine’s water filter guards against a lot, but it isn’t a perfect defense. As time passes, minerals and particles accumulate and eventually plug up the water filter.

Without proper cleaning, a dirty water filter can clog up with so much debris that water can’t get through it. When this happens, your machine can freeze up completely, meaning your ice machine won’t be able to produce ice.

This ultimately results in an ice machine shutting down into its fail-safe mode until the water filter is clear and water can flow back to the machine.

How Can I Make Sure the Ice Machine Water Filter Doesn’t Clog?

What’s the best way to keep your ice machine water filter clear? Clean it! Before we tell you how to clean an ice maker water filter, though, it’s important to know what type of filter you have.


Pre-filters are simple in design. Normally made of a mesh-like material, they filter out larger particles and debris. Cleaning these filters is easy enough—simply rinse them with water. Eventually, you’ll have to replace these filters. Each filter has its own lifespan (normally labeled on the box it came in). It’s important to know how long your pre-filter is rated for so you know when to replace it.

Treated Filter

Treated filters are infused with chemicals like phosphate, which break down particles further, so they don’t cause buildup in the machine. After a while, they also need replacing, as rinsing them won’t replenish the treatment.

Reverse Osmosis

Finally, a reverse osmosis system can also help in keeping your water filter clear. These systems use a membrane with small pores that only allow water molecules to pass through. Reverse osmosis is a great way to treat your water, but you need to replace the membranes every few months as well.

How Often Should an Ice Maker’s Water Filter Be Cleaned?

Knowing how to clean an ice maker water filter is one thing, how often is another. Manufacturers measure the lifespan of a filter in PPM (parts per million). This determines the particle to water ratio your filter can handle.

Keep your ice maker in peak condition by following this FREE cleaning checklist.

The only thing is, different areas have more particles and harder water than others. In places like Chicago, the water is soft, meaning it has less mineral content. Businesses in these areas have to clean their filters less.

Areas like Phoenix, Arizona have a high concentration of minerals in their soil. Water with high mineral concentration is known as hard water. In these areas, more particles pass through a filter, clogging them faster—which means more frequent cleanings.

So how can you find out your water quality? You can search up local regulatory bodies, but even that’s not always reliable. Water quality can vary from one part of a city to another depending on how old the pipes are, among other factors. If you want a precise estimate or a cleaning job done right, you’ll need a professional.

How to Clean Ice Machine Water Filter

When businesses need a cleaning solution, they usually do it on their own. For the water dispenser or ice bin, that’s fine. But taking apart your ice maker to get at the water filter is a lot more complex than cleaning out the ice basket.

It’s fine to clean the ice bin yourself, but your water filter is more serious. It’s always best to reach out to a professional ice maker cleaner for any commercial cleaning, especially since you risk damaging your valuable appliances. This is doubly true for a freezer ice maker or other large, stainless steel appliances.

With that said, DIY cleaning can be effective if absolutely necessary. So, if you want to try cleaning your ice machine water filter yourself, then you should be careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid abrasive cleaners. Stick to using a light cleaning solution to deal with common issues like mineral buildup from hard water.

Safety First when Cleaning An Ice Maker

Above all, and this is worth repeating, read the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your ice maker and take care to follow every detail. If they have instructions on DIY cleaning for the ice filter, follow it closely.

1. Warm Water, Dish Soap, and a Damp Cloth

This method involves using warm soapy water to gently clean the ice machine water filter. Begin by removing the filter from the ice maker. Prepare a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water. Submerge the filter in this solution and hand wash it gently to remove any dirt or grime. After thoroughly cleaning, rinse the filter with clean water. It’s important to let the filter completely dry before reinserting it into the ice maker to avoid any ice frozen around a damp filter.

2. Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

Baking soda and lemon juice can be an effective cleaning solution for your filter, ice bucket, and other parts in need of light cleaning. Create a paste using baking soda and a small amount of juice from the lemon. Apply this paste to the filter and gently scrub with a soft brush or cloth. This method is particularly good for removing stubborn grime and ensuring that your ice cubes are not only clear but also free from any unpleasant odors or tastes. Rinse the filter thoroughly with warm water and leave it to dry.

3. Let Your Ice Maker’s Filter Dry Thoroughly

Small traces of moisture inside your ice maker can cause all sorts of problems.

Regular cleaning of your ice machine water filter is key to maintaining the quality of ice produced. Whether using soapy water or natural ingredients, the goal is to ensure the production of clean, high-quality ice while extending the life of your ice maker.

The Perks of Professional Cleaning for Ice Makers

Getting an ice machine cleaning from a professional comes with a lot of perks. Along with planned preventive maintenance that comes with a cleaning service, a trained professional can determine your area’s:

  • Ph level
  • Water hardness
  • Flow rate
  • Water temperature

Once you know what kind of water you’re dealing with, you can be proactive and accurately predict how frequently your ice maker needs cleaning. Some of the benefits are that your ice maker will always be at peak performance, you’ll avoid expensive repairs, and you’ll get the maximum lifespan out of your appliance. You’ll also be able to plan cleanings long in advance, scheduling them into your budget and avoiding any unpleasant surprises or downtime-related losses for your business.

Expert ice cleanings combine deep insight into your water quality with proven technical skill. To make matters even better, Easy Ice subscriber get all of these services and a no-hassle, planned preventive maintenance schedule. Our technicians identify your area’s specific water challenges and schedule cleanings accordingly.

If you’re interested in an Easy Ice Subscription, complete with routine preventive maintenance, give us a call at 866-easyice now!

Our team is available to help you get started today!

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