Image of a side-by-side refrigerator.

Refrigerator Filter Maintenance: Clean Fridge Water Lines

We often talk about how refrigerator filters help remove contaminants and provide you with better-tasting water but forget to touch on the maintenance of your actual refrigerator. More specifically, the water supply line in your refrigerator. The water that comes through these lines is the same tap water that contains minerals and deposits that can build up over time. This build-up can lead to clogged lines, hard water stains, odor, and even mold in your water and ice. At, we recommend changing your water filter first. If that doesn’t work, then it’s probably time you flushed your refrigerator’s water line. Keep reading to learn how to flush your refrigerator water lines!

What You’ll Need:Refrigerator appliance troubleshooting and maintenance works background

Before you get started, make sure you have the proper tools and supplies.

  • Bucket
  • Towel(s)
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Funnel
  • Screwdriver
  • Clamps

How To:

Here is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process of how to flush and clean your refrigerator water line.

  1. First, unplug the refrigerator and turn the water valve off. It is typically located in the wall behind the fridge. If not, go to your main water shut-off valve. Once the water is turned off, use the screwdriver to unscrew the ice maker line and leave the dispenser line attached to the door nozzle.
  2. Next, remove the reservoir, which is usually located behind the crisper drawer, and empty the water. Clean it with a solution of 1 cup of vinegar to one gallon of water. Flush clean water through the reservoir several times then reconnect the tubes by pushing them together until they lock.
  3. Take the distilled white vinegar and, using a funnel, pour 3 cups into the ice-maker and dispenser lines. Let the vinegar sit in the lines for 10 minutes. Be sure to clamp the open end of the line to prevent leakage.
  4. This is a two-part step. First, drain the ice-maker line with clean water and reattach it. Next, run straight vinegar from the waterline through the water dispenser and empty it into a bucket.
  5. Flush both lines with clean water to get rid of any loose contaminants and vinegar left in the lines. 
  6. Take the ice maker bin and wash in a solution of 1 cup of vinegar to one gallon of warm water. Rinse and dry before putting it back into the refrigerator.
  7. Hook the water line back to the ice machine and be sure to dispose of the first batch of ice made.

Here is a visual aid for changing the water and ice lines. Note this is for a specific model, and not every refrigerator is set up like this. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s suggestions and directions to ensure correct installation.

If your refrigerator’s water has poor taste, odor, or color, be sure to check your refrigerator’s water filter first. If changing the water filter doesn’t solve it, it may be time to clean your water lines. Maintaining your refrigerator’s water lines helps to give longevity to your refrigerator, your refrigerator filter, and creates a cleaner, clearer drinking water!


4 thoughts on “Refrigerator Filter Maintenance: Clean Fridge Water Lines”

  1. This might solve our problem with nearly zero ice being made and nearly zero water flow to water dispenser. We have cleared all the troubleshooting steps up to the internal water line, so the water line tubing is more likely clogged/damaged. Thank you for a great step-by-step guide.

  2. Hi my name is Michelle Grifoni
    I had gotten an ice maker from my father-in-law. Here is the problem, when my husband took it home he washed the inside, I watched him Well when he took it out to fill it I couldn’t believe it so gross, so I’m trying to figure out how to clean it out I can’t use it like that

  3. Good video on changing the water line but the article was on cleaning the whole system to get rid of bacteria, etc that could be affecting taste and odor.

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