What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Water Dispenser?

Water dispensers are one of the best ways of making clean drinking water accessible. They help you stay hydrated all day at the touch of a button.

But just like any other appliance, the dispensers require cleaning and maintenance. If well taken care of, your dispenser shouldn’t cause any problem.

When was the last time you cleaned your water dispenser? If you can’t remember, then there’s a serious problem because the water you’re taking might not be as clean as you might be thinking.

So, what happens if you don’t clean your water dispenser? If you don’t clean the dispenser, chances are there’ll be an unhealthy buildup of mold and bacteria. And before long, the water will get a foul odor.

Do you know that germs from the dispenser’s bottle are transferred from the bottle to the dispenser? And then, everyone gets their share of these germs from here.

It’s therefore very important to clean your water dispenser regularly to prevent disease-causing germs. It’s also the only way to ensure that you’re taking clean water at all times.

So, how do you clean a water dispenser? Read through to find out.

How to Clean a Water Dispenser

  • Pour a gallon of water into a bucket

Get a bucket with a handle or one that you can use with ease. You don’t want the bleach solution to spill out of the bucket onto your clothes or the floor.

  • Make a bleach solution

To get the best solution, you need to add a tablespoon of bleach to every gallon of water you choose to use. Use unscented bleach as it’ll be easier to flush the smell later.

Wear a pair of disposable gloves (a recommended precaution but not necessary), and then mix the solution gently.

  • Make the vinegar solution

For this mixture, you need undiluted and a bucket. You can also choose to add a tablespoon of lemon juice to reduce the scent of vinegar.

Measure 1/3 gallon of vinegar and mix it with a gallon of water. Add the lemon juice after mixing the water and vinegar.

You need to note that using vinegar is only about 80 to 90% as effective as using chlorine bleach.

  • Unplug the water dispenser from the wall

After making the bleach solution, it’s time to unplug the dispenser and remove the bottle to start the cleaning process.

Make sure that there are no other electronics plugged in the outlet or near the place you’ve chosen to clean your water dispenser. This avoids any possibility of water meeting live electricity.

  • Clean the inner surface

Wet a sponge and clean the inner surface of your water dispenser with the cleaning solution. Then, let it stand for at most 5 minutes and then drain the solution via the tap.

If the dispenser has two taps, drain the mixture through the cool temperature tap and into a separate container.

  • Rinse

To rinse out the remaining solution, fill the inner tank with water 4 times and pour it through the tap and into the empty bucket.

You need to be thorough in rinsing since you don’t want to leave the taste of bleach or vinegar in your appliance.

  • Remove the drip tray for cleaning

You need to clean the drip tray as well. So, lift it from the unit and scrub it well. You need to wash both the tray and the screen (if your dispenser has one) and rinse them in clean water before returning them to the appliance.

Dry every component thoroughly to ensure that you don’t remove moisture in tiny places.

  • Clean your hands before handling the new water bottle

Be sure to wash your hands well before manipulating the new water bottle.

  • Place the new water bottle on the dispenser

Remove the cap and place your new water bottle to ensure a snug fit. Watch for air bubbles as they rise to the top of your bottle.  This indicates that the bottle has made a seal with the dispenser.

  • Check that it works

Try both faucets by filling a glass of water. If the water doesn’t have an unpleasant taste, you’ve successfully cleaned your water dispenser.

Getting Rid of Mold on Water Dispensers

As aforementioned, mold can accumulate on water dispensers with ease. It can give a foul odor and spread germs and bacteria.

And the worst part about mold is that it accumulates on hard-to-reach areas in a water dispenser. Should this happen to your appliance, get a pipe cleaner or small brush to get into the hard-to-reach areas.

Get a dishwashing detergent and hot water to clean the dispenser.

Before you start scrubbing, let it soak with the dishwashing detergent and hot water mixture.


Can a dirty water dispenser make you sick?

Yes, a dirty water dispenser is a home for bacteria and disease-causing germs. Some common bacteria in water dispensers causes Legionnaires disease, which can eventually turn to pneumonia.

How often should I clean a water dispenser?

It is advisable to clean and disinfect your water dispenser at least once every 6 weeks or every time you change the water bottle.

Can bacteria grow in water coolers?

Yes, certain bacteria like pseudomonas aeruginosa can grow in the dispenser.

Does dispenser water expire?

Water doesn’t expire, but the bottle the water is packed in can affect the taste of your water.

Is water from a dispenser really safe to drink?

Yes, water dispensers provide clean and purified drinking water. Some even come with built-in filtration systems to sieve and filter all contaminants.

What is a self-cleaning water dispenser?

A self-cleaning water dispenser is self-cleans automatically. It comes with a self-sanitizing feature that doesn’t interfere with the ability to dispense water.
For a self-cleaning dispenser, you just need to press the self-clean button to get the job done.

Are ozone self-cleaning water dispensers safe?

Yes, after cleaning, the ozone quickly dissipates, leaving no threat to people drinking from the unit in question.

Do you have to clean a self-cleaning water dispenser?

Although you won’t clean the inner tanks and tubings of a self-cleaning dispenser, it doesn’t mean that you won’t clean it at all. Remember, the unit comes with a drip tray that you have to empty and clean. You’ll also have to wipe the dispenser’s exterior clean.

Does cleaning the dispenser help the water to taste better?

Definitely, cleaning the dispenser removes the bad taste and foul smell from your water.

How can I get the taste of vinegar out of my dispenser water?

If your water tastes vinegar, it means that you didn’t rinse the dispenser well after cleaning it. To solve the problem, fill the reservoir with water and drain each spigot. If your dispenser has 2 taps, drain half through the cold tap and half through the hot tap.


According to the US energy department, water dispensers should be cleaned with every bottle change or after every 6 weeks, whichever comes first.

And although we understand you might be unable to clean the unit with every change of the bottle, doing so after every 6 weeks is just about right to avoid mold and bacteria buildup.

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