Why Does the Ice Maker Smell? How to Fix It

June 6, 2022
Refrigerator Repair

Once you’ve had an ice maker, you will never go back. They are one of the greatest marvels of modern living. They mean no waiting for ice cubes to freeze, no water spilled on the floor, and no messy ice trays frozen to the shelf. Just quick and easy, perfect cubes rolling out of the dispenser every single time.

Or at least that’s the idea; no one with an icemaker can say they have never lifted a glass to their lips and gotten a whiff of bad smell instead of clean, odorless ice.

Thankfully, we have pulled together a list of the most common causes of bad-smelling ice and how to fix it. 

There are two main reasons for your ice smelling and tasting funny. The first is odor contamination. This occurs when smells and flavors from the food in your fridge manage to infuse the ice. The other cause is when the ice is not being made with clean water through the fridge intake. 

The first thing you should do, regardless of the cause, is to throw away all the ice currently in your ice bucket. Whatever the cause, that ice has been tainted and needs to be disposed of so it won’t mingle with the fresh, clean ice you are about to make.  

If your bad-smelling ice is a result of contamination 

If this is the reason behind the foul-smelling ice, the problem is probably inside your refrigerator and is an easy fix. 

Check for any open food containers

The most common cause is that there are open food containers in your fridge. Any unsealed food, even cold, has a smell that will slowly mingle with and then infuse everything else in the fridge. Just like any unsealed food, your ice is also exposed to the fridge’s circulating air, and it can become infused with the food particles released by uncovered food containers.

Thankfully, this is an easy fix. Make sure you are using sealed containers for all of your leftovers. You should be using sealed bags and Tupperware whenever possible. Ensure you are not putting open cans, mixing bowls, or plates of food in the fridge for more than 30 minutes.

Check for any spilled food or mold 

Just like unsealed food, spills in the fridge can have the same effect. They can also start to grow mold or mildew, which releases spores into your fridge and can contaminate your ice. 

This is another simple, although slightly messer, fix. If you have any spills in your fridge, they will need to be scrubbed using a cleaning solution like a water/vinegar mix. The area will also need to be dried thoroughly. 

Check for any spoiled food

Just like the two options above, spoiled food is a common cause of bad-smelling ice. If you have food spoiled in your fridge, there is a chance that eventually, the orders will escape the container and infuse your ice.

You should try and eat leftovers the next day, and if you do find something expired or growing mold, throw it out. You should also take care to clean anything that may have been exposed to spoiled food. 

Consider how quickly you go through your ice

A more common issue in winter is ice smelling funny because it has sat for too long. As there are always a few faint food odors in the fridge which can’t be helped, ice that has been sitting in the bucket for a long period of time can start to absorb these odors slowly over time. For that reason, old ice is far more likely to have a bad taste or smell compared to new fresh ice.

If you think this is your issue, you should turn down your ice maker’s output and consider throwing away unused ice from the bucket once a month. 


If your ice is being made with contaminated water

Another common reason for off-smelling and tasting ice is water contamination. If you are sure there is no open or spoiled food or spills in your fridge and you use it regularly, then the problem is most likely to be with your ice maker water supply. Your fridge needs a supply of fresh, clean water to make fresh, clean ice.

Check that your water supply is clean 

While it is slightly more uncommon, the issue may be that there is something recently wrong with your water supply. Rust, algae, or other contaminants may have gotten into the water main and found their way into your ice. You should also taste your tap water to find out if the whole home has bad-tasting water or just the fridge.

If your tap water also tastes funny, you will need to call a plumber as the issue is more widespread than just your fridge. If your tap water tastes normal, move to the next point.

Check your water lines are clean 

While your home water may be clean, the water lines inside your fridge might not be. Your fridge’s water lines are usually made of flexible plastic tubes or thin copper pipes, which can grow algae. Any leaks or gaps can allow in particles that may contaminate the water itself before it becomes ice. 

You can easily see if this is the issue by trying the cold water from the fridge. If it smells or tastes bad, the problem is in your lines or the filter. 

Check that your fridges filter has not expired 

The last thing you can check is that your fridge water filter has not expired. Bear in mind these usually need to be changed between every 6-months to two years depending on the make and model. If your filter is old or expired, then it may not be working correctly and not filtering your fridge water enough for fresh, clean ice. You can buy a new filter and easily replace it yourself.


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