Why Your Freezer Ice Tastes Bad

A woman holding a glass of water with freezer ice.

Ice water is essential when you live in Ocala and other Southern cities. There’s nothing like a refreshing, cold glass of water to hit the spot. At the same time, there are few things worse than anticipating that sweet, sweet sip of ice water only for it to taste like plastic.

The ice cubes from your freezer can go bad for several reasons, but, fortunately, most of the fixes are easy. If nothing else, an appliance repair company can help you troubleshoot bad-tasting ice and similar problems such as ice buildup and water leaks. Now, let’s take a look at common culprits behind foul-tasting ice.

1. The Water Filter Needs Replacing

An old filter may cause ice to taste bad because contaminants, particles, and impurities clog the filter. Replace your water filtration system every six months or when the manufacturer recommends you do so. A few manufacturers have you change only every two years. Check with manufacturers such as Whirlpool for filter type and replacement instructions.

Other indicators you should replace the water filter include the indicator light being on, odd-tasting water, and water dispensing slowly. Indicator lights are usually either on a six-month timer or connected to the state of the water filter. The latter is more helpful because the timer system doesn’t account for the fact that people use different amounts of water and ice every day.

2. Ice Usage Is Low

If you do not use ice often, it sits and sits, absorbing food odors. Ice can even become stale or moldy and smell like mildew. If you tend not to use ice often, seal fresh cubes in plastic bags. Switch off your ice maker until you need ice.

Dispose of ice that has not been stored in bags and that is more than a week old. Wash the ice compartment with soapy, warm water. Let it dry completely and pop it back in the freezer.

3. Food Is Improperly Stored

Speaking of ice absorbing food odors, it can taste like food for another reason. Namely, if food is badly wrapped or in open containers. Even if the food is in the refrigerator, the odors can travel through vents to the freezer. Seal and wrap food properly, and try to clean out your fridge and freezer once a month. Toss old items.

To clean your refrigerator and freezer, turn off the power, and take all of the items out. Store food you will keep in coolers, and dispose of old or expired items. Also, take out removable drawers and shelves. Use a non-abrasive, mild cleanser to deep clean the fridge and the drawers and shelves (wait until the drawers and shelves are room temperature, though). Rinse these surfaces with a damp cloth and use a different cloth to dry them. Put the shelves and drawers back in.

Now, here’s something not everyone realizes is important for general purposes: Cleaning under your fridge. Sweep under there to keep the condenser coils as tidy as possible. You need a cleaning wand, but they are easy to find. Clean behind the refrigerator, too, and clean the outside (think door handles, door seals, and doors). Scrub with water and mild dish soap, and be sure to dry everything completely. Do use stainless steel cleaners if your fridge is stainless steel.

4. Your Water Supply Is Contaminated

Ice cubes can taste bad because of water supply problems. For example, minerals, salt, algae, sulfur, and other pollutants or minerals can find their way into the water that travels underground or even in your fridge water lines. Refrigerator filters help screen them out but are not always completely effective. Solutions include these:

  • A water softening system
  • Another home filtration system
  • Water company analysis of the water supply to identify the contaminants causing the bad odor or taste
  • Appliance repair service to troubleshoot the problem

It’s pretty easy to identify if bad water is causing bad ice. Start with drinking the cold water from your refrigerator. If it tastes bad too, then your water supply or filter is the issue. If it still tastes foul after you replace the filter, then you know for sure the water supply is the problem.

Another telltale signal of a water supply issue vs. ice that absorbed the smell of old food: If the ice tastes like chemicals or algae, that points to water line problems. Try tasting your tap water in addition to the cold water from your fridge. That lets you know if the problem might be isolated to the fridge itself. For example, the culprit could be algae growing inside the fridge water lines and not, say, rust that got into some Ocala water pipes underground before water entered your house.

It’s frustrating to gulp a mouthful of what you think is going to be perfect, blissful ice water only to have it taste like stale hotdogs. Freezer ice cubes taste bad for four main reasons. You should be able to handle them easily except if there’s a problem with the refrigerator water lines or the general water supply infrastructure.

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