Can Mold Grow on Refrigerator Water Dispensers?

If your refrigerator has dispenser, you need to get serious about cleaning it if looking forward to always drinking clean water from the unit.

A refrigerator dispenser is just like any other water dispenser that requires regular cleaning. If not well taken care of, it can become a breeding ground for all kinds of microorganisms.

So, can mold grow on a refrigerator water dispenser? Absolutely! If you don’t clean your the dispenser, you’ll have to deal with mold sooner than later.

In this post, we discuss how mold ends up in a refrigerator’s water dispenser, how you can clean your refrigerator water dispenser, and more.

How Does Mold Grow in a Refrigerator Water Dispenser?

There are several ways in which mold can get into your refrigerator water dispenser. One of the most common reasons is cross-contamination.

No matter how careful you handle the water dispenser, it can still get mold.

For instance, bacteria can get into the water line if you often touch the dispenser’s mouth with your hands. The same will happen if you touch it with the mouth of your water bottle.

Note that for mold spores to thrive, they only require oxygen, temperature (40 to 90 degrees f), food, and moisture.

Therefore, if the mold spores find these ingredients in your water dispenser (it has almost all the ingredients that mold requires to thrive), they’ll settle in and start growing fast. That’s why you need to clean the unit regularly.

Common signs of mold growth in your refrigerator water dispenser include:

  • A moldy smell from the water coming from the dispenser
  • Greenish-blackish specks floating around the water
  • A buildup of a blackish substance on the spout of the dispenser

How Dangerous is a Moldy Refrigerator Water Dispenser?

Short-term exposure to moldy water doesn’t carry serious health risks. However, long-term exposure won’t work well with your immune system.

If you drink moldy water from your dispenser daily, your immune system might get bogged up. You might suffer from various sicknesses, including respiratory problems like bronchitis.

Other common sensitivities to exposure to moldy water include:

  • Throat irritation
  • Persistent coughing
  • Persistent headaches
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Wheezing

The symptoms worsen in people with autoimmune disorders and respiratory conditions like lung disease or asthma.

Moldy water might also be responsible for fungal infections like thrush and athlete’s foot.

How Do You Prevent Mold from Invading Your Refrigerator Water Dispenser?

As convenient as your refrigerator water dispenser is, proper maintenance and cleaning are necessary to ensure that it’s mold-free for optimum function.

The best way to prevent the growth and spread of mold is to clean the unit regularly. If possible, clean the dispenser at least once per month.

Listed below are the cleaning steps to follow for a mold-free dispenser.

  1. Go through the manufacturer manual to get a breakdown of the dispenser’s removable parts and how you can clean them. Every refrigerator is different, and the manufacturers know how best to clean it.
  2. Turn the water dispenser off since you don’t want to be attacked by a waterfall.
  3. Remove the removable pieces and clean them in a 2-step process. First, spray and scrub them with white vinegar and then wipe them down with a microfiber brush. Next, wash with warm water and soap, rinse with clean water, and air dry.
  4. Take a spray bottle with your cleaning solution and spray every part of the dispenser. Scrub every part, including the water nozzle. Use a pipe cleaner to clean the hard-to-reach areas.
  5. After scrubbing the unit, wipe it down with a microfiber towel.
  6. Allow the removable parts to dry and then place them back to their original positions.
  7. Turn the water on.

How to Clean Refrigerator Water Dispenser Mold

If your refrigerator water dispenser has mold already, follow the steps below to clean it.

  • Turn the Dispenser off

First, click the lock button on your dispenser to avoid getting sprayed with water.

Next, get a spray bottle and fill it with one part vinegar and one part water. The solution will help remove mold and mildew in the waterline.

If the unit has calcium buildup, use a cleanser capable of dissolving lime deposits.

  • Spray the Cleaning Solution into the Dispenser

Spray the cleaning solution into the dispenser. Ensure that you spray the areas where you can see calcium buildup or mold very well.

To remove the chemicals, rinse the unit with a wet rag or wet paper towels

  • Clean the Drip Tray

Next, it’s time to clean the drip tray. Most water dispenser drip trays are easy to remove as they just sit in the hole. They have no clips, which makes the process a little complicated.

After removing the tray, wash it thoroughly in the vinegar and water solution.

  • Clean the Water Dispenser

The next step is cleaning the dispenser. It’s usually a small area that is easy to clean with the help of a toothbrush.

The toothbrush can reach even the tight areas of the unit. If it’s unable to remove the mold or calcium deposits, get a knife and use the dull side to scrape the mold off.

  • Clean the Ice Dispenser

If your refrigerator comes with an ice dispenser, you must also clean it. To do so, remove the unit’s clear cup and clean it with the vinegar and water solution.

  • Replace the Drip Tray and Clear Cup

After thoroughly cleaning the drip tray and the ice dispenser’s clear cup, rinse them thoroughly and air dry.

Once dry, restore them to their respective positions.

  • Run the Water

After replacing the removable parts, run the water dispenser several times to eliminate the vinegar in the lines. You don’t want your family to drink vinegary water, right?

Toss out the first few of ice for the same reason.


Mold can grow in refrigerator water dispensers, which is why you must regularly clean the unit. Drinking moldy water for a long time can be dangerous as it can lead to severe health complications.

If you clean the unit regularly, you won’t have to worry about mold growing in the dispenser. The water from the unit will always be clean, safe, and healthy to drink.

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