How to Clean a Refrigerator Filter

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Either you put it in place or it came with the refrigerator. No matter how it got there, a refrigerator filter isn't meant to take up a long residency in its cold nook. Changing a refrigerator filter extends the life of what's typically the largest kitchen appliance. It also helps keep water lines and other areas of the fridge free from contaminants that tend to gather in lines and lead to clogging and smelly ice.

How to Clean a Refrigerator Filter
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How to Know it's Time

Many people wait for the indicator on the filter to give them a heads up that the component needs some attention. However, it's not always immediately noticed by hungry fridge visitors. That tiny light could be blinking an SOS for weeks before the refrigerator's owner realizes the communication was sent. A good gauge is to jot down when you last serviced the filter and look to change it again in six months. If the water dispenser seems to be less enthusiastic in its production or the water has a taste that's more funky than refreshing, it's a good indication that the lines aren't functioning at their best potential. A main, and easily discernible, sign is if the ice begins to emit an odor that's less than pleasant.

Why Filters Need a Change

It's a huge convenience to have fresh, clear ice and clean water at your fingertips via the door of your refrigerator. Keeping those conveniences clean takes regular maintenance. Algae, sediment, minerals and more can build up in the refrigerator's hard-working filter. This also allows for bacteria to grow on an overworked filter that's close to getting clogged with all the unwanted debris it's holding back to prevent you from consuming it through your ice and water.

How to Clean or Change a Filter

Some modern refrigerators have a slim filter in the back and top of the refrigerator. This assists the larger filter and lines at the base of the appliance. Make sure to check that filter regularly as well. The filter is usually located at the back and base of the refrigerator. Look for a release button before taking matters, and the filter, into your own hands. Give it a quick turn to the left to pull it from the refrigerator. You can either put in a new filter or clean the old one if it's not too far gone. After dumping all the debris from the old filter into a bag, soak the filter in a gentle cleaner, such as rubbing alcohol, vinegar or liquid soap. If it's truly crud-filled, let it soak for a good 10 minutes. Rinse it out and let it dry for at least an hour. Return the filter to its compartment and secure all of the threaded openings and/or lines.


Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at

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