Hot summer days and icy cold beverages go hand in hand. Unless the first sip reveals ice with an unpleasant odor. Before you resign yourself to a summer of room-temperature refreshment, we’ll review common reasons why refrigerator ice smells bad. From food odor to a dirty ice maker, there’s usually a simple solution.

Troubleshooting When Refrigerator Ice Smells Bad

No one wants to drink something that smells or tastes bad. No one enjoys complicated repairs, either. Fortunately, when ice smells bad, there are usually easy ways to solve the problem, while regular maintenance can keep it from recurring.

Food Odors

If your ice maker ice tastes funny and has an unpleasant odor, it could be that other frozen items are to blame. Open containers of food, poorly-wrapped items, or spoiled food can emit an odor that ice easily absorbs. Even refrigerated items can transfer odor to ice through the refrigerator’s ventilation system.

Luckily, a good cleaning can solve the problem. Follow these simple steps to clean out your refrigerator and freezer and eliminate odor:

  1. Remove and dispose of any food that isn’t properly sealed or is old and unused.
  2. Wipe down the freezer and refrigerator interiors with a damp cloth and mild all-purpose cleanser. 
  3. Make sure the remaining items are properly sealed in airtight containers or tightly wrapped. Label each item, including the date they were frozen or refrigerated.
  4. Prevent food odor by removing old or unused items on a monthly basis. Deep clean the refrigerator and freezer interiors 3-4 times per year.

Old or Stale Ice Cubes

Just like food, ice can also become stale when unused. If allowed to sit for long periods, dirt particles can rest on ice, eventually developing mold. Ice is also more likely to absorb food odor, the longer it remains unused. When this happens, you’ll find that refrigerator ice tastes bad and can have a moldy smell.

If your ice has been unused for over a week, it should probably be thrown away. Make sure you rinse the ice bin in warm, soapy water before replacing it to eliminate mold or odor further. If you know you won’t be using your ice for a week or more, seal remaining ice in zip-top bags. Turn off the ice maker to stop ice production until it’s needed.

Dirty Water Filter

In addition to supplying clean drinking water, a refrigerator water filter also provides the ice maker with clean water for ice production. Yet, over time, the filter’s screen can become clogged with contaminants. This allows impurities to enter refrigerator water, potentially affecting the taste and smell of ice. You may also notice your ice maker not making ice due to limited water supply from the clogged filter.

If your refrigerator ice smells bad, changing the water filter can supply it with cleaner, fresher-tasting water. It’s recommended that you change a refrigerator water filter every six months. However, you may have to do so more frequently if your ice or water smells bad before that time.

For a step-by-step guide to changing your filter, click here.

How to Clean an Ice Maker

Sometimes the ice maker may be the source of the odor and not the ice itself. If you notice your ice maker smells like mildew, a good cleaning can eliminate the odor. Here’s how to clean your ice maker in 5 simple steps:

  1. Remove the ice bin, disposing of any remaining ice.
  2. Rinse the bin in warm water and wash with a damp cloth and mild dish soap.
  3. With a separate soapy cloth, wipe down the other ice maker components. 
  4. Dry each component with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.
  5. Make sure the ice bin is completely dry before replacing it.

If your ice smells bad even after these troubleshooting tips, then it may be time for a professional assessment. For the very best in ice maker repair Tampa, call Appliance Repair Specialists.