What to Do When Your Ice Maker Ice Tastes Bad

The ice maker in refrigerators is one of the greatest marvels of modern living. No ice tray mess, no waiting for the cubes to harden or trying to knock them out of the tray. No picking up bags of ice at the store. Just clean perfect cubes rolling out of the dispenser every time. Of course, this luxury comes crashing to a halt when you lift the glass to your lips and get a face-full of bad smell instead of clean odorless ice.

You fill an empty cup and sniff. Sure enough, your ice smells awful. But why? And what can you do to get back that crystal clear luxury of fresh clean ice at home?

That is exactly what we’re here to explore today. When your ice maker is producing bad tasting, bad-smelling ice, there are a few different possible causes. Each with their own practical and, fortunately, easy to implement a solution. 

The Two Reasons Icemakers Make Bad-Tasting Ice

There are two things that can make ice taste and smell bad when it dispenses. The first is odor contamination. This is when smells and flavors from the food in your fridge somehow mingle with the ice and infuse it with fridge-smell. The second is that your ice is not being made with clean water through the fridge intake. We’ll explore both possibilities and how to solve them. 

Step 1: Throw Out Your Ice

No matter what the cause or solution, your first step should be to throw away all the ice currently in your ice bucket. Whatever the cause, all that ice is contaminated now. and fresh ice will be contaminated by it if added to the full bucket. 

Your Ice is Absorbing Fridge Food Odors

If your ice is absorbing food odors, the problem is probably inside your refrigerator and can be solved with either tupperware or a soapy sponge.

– Open Food Containers

The first option is that there are open food containers in your fridge. Unsealed food, even cold, has a smell that will slowly infuse everything else in the fridge. This can be enjoyable if you like to leave a slice of lemon out, but it can also contaminate everything else. Your ice, unlike the sealed food, is exposed to the fridge’s circulating air and can become infused with the food particles released by uncovered food containers.

Solution: Never put unsealed food in the fridge. Even plastic/press and seal wrap can come loose and let evaporating food particles into the air. Use sealed bags and tupperware whenever possible, and don’t place open cans, mixing bowls, or plates of food in the fridge for more than 30 minutes.

– Spilled Food and Mold Growth

Spills in the fridge can have the same effect Spilled food, milk, or juice can not only aerate into the circulating fridge air and contaminate your ice. It can also start to grow mold or mildew which releases spores into your fridge. This is sure to make your ice taste and smell awful and may result in a full fridge cleaning to remedy.

Solution: If you find a fridge spill, scrub it up quickly and completely with a layer of vinegar to finish. If there is growing mold, clean your entire fridge and throw out any unsealed food.

– Spoiled Food

When food spoils in your fridge, it may escape its containment and spoiled odors can infuse the entire refrigerator. Because your ice is not sealed, it is the most susceptible to the fumes from spoiled food while plastic-sealed food is more likely to be safe. Look for spoiled or expired food in your fridge.

Solution: If you find something expired or growing mold, throw it out without opening the container. Clean anything that may have been exposed to the spoiled food and consider starting to date anything opened in the fridge.

– Slow Ice Usage

Interestingly, using your ice machine slowly can cause a similar problem. There are always a few faint food odors in the fridge, but usually not enough to bother you. However, ice that has sat unused in the bucket for a month or more can absorb those odors slowly over time. Old ice is far more likely to have a bad taste or smell compared to new fresh ice.

Solution: Turn down your ice maker’s output or throw away unused ice from the bucket once a month. Or start using your ice more often during your daily routine. 

Your Ice is Being Made with Contaminated Water

If there is no open or spoiled food in your fridge, no spills, and you use it regularly then the problem is more likely to be with your ice maker water supply. Your fridge needs fresh clean water to make fresh clean ice.

– Your Water Supply is Not Clean

There may be something recently wrong with your water supply. Algae, rust, or other contaminants may have gotten into the water main, into your pipes, or into the water structure of the fridge. This is even more likely to be the problem if your water smells like algae or chemicals rather than old food. Taste your tap water to find out if the whole home has bad-tasting water or just the fridge.

Solution: If it’s your whole home, call a plumber or invest in whole-home water filtration. If your tap water tastes fine, move to the next point.

– The Water Lines are Not Clean

Maybe your home water is clean, but the water lines inside your fridge are not. Water lines are usually made of flexible plastic tubes or thin copper pipes and they can grow algae. A leak or gap can allow particulates in. A dirty piece can put dirt or grime into the water as it flows past. If there is anything wrong with your fridge water lines, it could affect the taste of your ice.

Solution: Try the cold water from the fridge. If it tastes or smells bad, the problem is in your lines or the filter. See the next point.

– The Fridge Water Filter is Expired

Finally, check your fridge water filter. This usually needs to be changed between every 6-months to two years depending on the make and model. If the filter is expired it may simply not be filtering your fridge water enough for fresh clean ice. Change the filter, run it clear, then see if the problem improves.


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