This Is How Often You Need To Clean Your Water And Ice Filter—And How To Do It

Don't let clean-looking water trick you.

Filling a cup of water from the fridge


No matter how clean your home is, there are certain cleaning projects that we all tend to overlook. We’re talking about the spots where dirt and grime builds up over time, like the dishwasher filter and the range hood vent. Don’t save all the fun for spring cleaning; scrubbing these out-of-sight, out-of-mind areas might not be glamorous, but it’s absolutely necessary to keeping a clean home. One project that we’re tackling this weekend? Changing the water and ice filter.

If your fridge has a built-in water dispenser or ice machine, the water and ice filter is likely built right in to the refrigerator. (If your freezer does not have a built-in ice machine, consider this countertop version.) The filter cleans the water that funnels into both the tap dispenser and ice machine, removing sediment from the water to make clean, clear ice.

How Often Should You Clean Your Water And Ice Filter?

Don’t be deceived by clean-looking water. Most contaminants are tasteless, so you won’t be able to tell when your filter needs to be changed. After 6 months of use, dirt and debris will begin to clog the filter, allowing more contaminants to get into the water—even if it looks clean.

“Everyday tap water can carry contaminants including lead, chlorine, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and more that not only affect taste and odor of water, ice, and food — but the overall health of your family,” Whirlpool writes. “With proper use of fridge water filters, you can help ensure clean and fresh tasting water, ice and food.”

Luckily, cleaning your water and ice filter is not a weekly or even monthly project. Most refrigerator brands recommend changing the water and ice filter once every 6 to 12 months. The frequency depends on your water use and water quality; a family of 4 might have to change the filter more frequently than a couple. 

Here’s a handy hack: Whirlpool suggests changing your water filter each time your clocks jump forwards or backwards an hour on biannual Daylight Savings days.

How To Clean Your Water And Ice Filter

Great news—cleaning your ice filter doesn’t require any cleaning at all. The filter should be changed every 6 months, and the old filter can be discarded. You can buy a new filter at Home Depot; the EveryDrop Ice and Refrigerator Water Filter is compatible with 5 different appliance brands and cleans up to 200 gallons of water.

Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions to replace the old filter with a new one, then run 4 gallons of fresh water through to flush the new filter. (Be sure to discard the first batch of ice produced.) 

Each refrigerator and freezer are different, so consult the brand’s guidelines for locating and replacing the water and ice filter. Here are the guides for Whirlpool, GE, and KitchenAid. Now get working on this refrigerator clean-out plan.

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