How to Clean a Black Plastic Water Dispenser on a Refrigerator

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Cleaning a refrigerator water dispenser is not difficult.
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The often overlooked water dispenser can become streaked with hard water deposits and the drip tray clogged with spilled liquids. A dirty water dispenser can be off-putting to guests reaching for fresh ice and bring down the overall aesthetic of a sleek refrigerator facade. Cleaning the water dispenser and refrigerator drip pan isn't tricky, but it does take some navigating around the many nooks and crannies of the appliance parts.

Tips for Cleaning Fridge Facade

When you clean the water dispenser, drips and droplets from the cleaner, hard water deposits and liquids that are being scoured away can find their way onto the exterior of the fridge. Plan to clean the dispenser and drip tray area along with the outside of the refrigerator at the same time.

Wash the area from the top down, saving the refrigerator drip pan for last. Use food-safe commercial cleaners or homemade detergents to clean the area. A toothbrush works well to get the cleaning solution into grooves and curves.

Cleaning the Water Dispenser Tongue

Before you begin, You've Got Maids recommends that the water supply to the dispenser be shut off. This will keep water from flowing as you move around the dispenser and underlying pan or tray.

The flap that sticks out from the refrigerator and allows ice to fall when depressed can be difficult to clean. Wipe the area down to remove surrounding wetness, if any. Take out any removable plastic trays or guards so that the dispenser is easy to access. After cleaning and turning the water supply back on, run the system a few times to ensure the cleaner or vinegar has been flushed from the surface of the plastic. This ensures your cleaning efforts won't affect the taste of those first few glasses of cool water.

Refrigerator Drip Pan

Drain the drip pan that catches water from the water dispenser and wipe dry. If it is caked with calcium or gummy with dried liquids, then soak it in a bath of 1 quart of vinegar and 1 gallon of warm water, according to Faucets Reviewed. Leave the parts in the cleaning solution for at least an hour or until the buildup lifts from the plastic surface.

For truly stubborn stains on the refrigerator drip pan, make a mix of 1 teaspoon of both baking soda and dishwashing liquid and slowly pour vinegar over it until it makes a paste. There will be some bubbling. Apply this to the stains on the refrigerator drip pan and set aside for 15 to 30 minutes.

Wash the refrigerator drip pan with a soft sponge to remove any leftover buildup and rinse well. Buff dry with a clean cloth before replacing under the previously cleaned water dispenser.

Whirlpool Refrigerator Dispenser Cleaning

Remove the drip tray under the water dispenser and clean out the underlying area with a commercial cleaner, such as Bartenders Friend, or a mix of vinegar and warm water. Clean the water dispenser by wiping down all of the parts with a cloth dipped in a solution of 1 teaspoon of dish soap and 1 quart of warm water.

The Whirlpool refrigerator water dispenser and drip tray removal is not necessary for the daily cleaning process that will keep the fixtures in good condition. Wipe the area down daily to keep it sparkling.


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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