Water dispenser

How to Clean a Water Dispenser

Water dispensers are great. You get crisp, clean, and tasty water right at your fingertips. Modern water dispensers are quite impressive in their functionality. However, to keep them running smoothly, you need to keep them clean. Cleaning your machine is important so that it keeps outputting the fresh, clean, sanitary water that you desire.

How To Clean A Water Dispenser

In this section, we’re giving you a full step-by-step for cleaning your water dispenser. First, we’ll outline all the tools you need to get started. Then, we’ll take you through how to clean the two major types of water cooler dispensers – top-loaded and bottom-loaded.

Water dispenser


Things to Do Before You Start

Unplug the Machine

First thing’s first, before you do anything else, unplug the machine!

You’ll be working near the machine’s inner components, so you want to be sure to cut off the power supply first.

Get the Tools

Next, get your tools ready. Here’s a general list of what you’ll need to get started:

  • Scrubbing Brush
  • Wash cloth
  • Gloves
  • Disinfecting Wipes
  • Cleaning Solution (bleach, vinegar, or mildew removing solution).
  • Screwdriver (depending on your cooler)
  • Instruction Manual for your unit

Make (or Buy) the Cleaning Solution

Many steps in our list include the use a cleaning solution. You can either use a store bought cleaner, or make a simple vinegar solution.

To make the vinegar solution, simply add 1-part white vinegar, and 3-parts water. Make as much as you want, and fill up spray bottles for easy application.

How to Clean a Top-Loading Water Machine

Top-loading dispensers are the “classic” water dispenser designs, in which the water jug sits atop the machine. Although different makes & models have slightly different cleaning methods, we’ll run you through a general approach to cleaning them. For more specific instructions, be sure to check your device’s manual.

Step-By-Step Guide

  • Turn off and unplug the machine.
  • Drain all water from the reservoir.
  • Remove the water bottle from the top.
  • Scrub the valve and the top of water bottle dispenser. Use cleaning solution and a wash cloth, using a scrubbing brush for more stubborn marks.
  • Remove Components: Remove the filter and the water guard/no-spill adapter (these may have different names depending on your machine, they are the parts that the water jug will rest upon). Also remove the baffe from the reservoir, and the drip tray from front of machine.
  • Clean these parts thoroughly with a scrub brush. Some machines may also have dishwasher safe components (check your manual).
  • Fill reservoir with cleaning solution. When full, use scrubbing brush to scrub the sides of the reservoir clean.
  • Drain water from reservoir with dispenser.
  • Fill reservoir with clean water. Scrub sides again to remove cleaning solution.
  • Drain water again through dispenser.
  • Taste water to ensure no aftertaste.
  • Repeat as necessary.
  • Replace parts to machine, and plug in.

And if you’re more of a visual learner, check out this handy video guide:

How to Clean a Bottom-Loading Water Dispenser

A bottom-loading water dispenser is a dispenser where the water bottle is loaded beneath the dispenser. It’s a different machine, so there are notable differences in the cleaning process. Once again, check your device’s manual for exact instructions.

Step-By-Step Guide:

  • Turn off and unplug the machine.
  • Drain all water from the reservoir.
  • Add your bleach, vinegar, or cleaning solution to the water bottle and reattach it (so that the reservoir inside the machine fills).
  • Let the mixture sit inside the reservoir for at least 10 minutes. Drain the reservoir fully.
  • Rinse water bottle fully, and fill with clean water. Reattach and allow reservoir to fill again.
  • Drain what you can with spigots, and then use drain valve (usually at back of machine) to drain machine fully.
  • This should be enough, but you might have to repeat this process with clean water until water no longer has any taste of cleaning solution.
  • Remove drip tray and scrub clean.

As you can see, cleaning a bottom-loading water dispenser requires a wholly different cleaning method. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the process below:

Understanding Your Water Cooler

Effectively cleaning your water cooler requires a proper understanding of how your water cooler works. More specifically, you will require access to the device’s manual, so that you know exactly which components you can and should clean.

The owner’s manual will give you precise instructions on disassembling the machine, so that you can properly clean the components.

Although the above guides are generally applicable to most kinds of water dispensers, you should combine them with specific details from your device’s instructions if you want to achieve the most thorough clean.

Water poured into a glass

Proper Maintenance Going Forward

 Thanks for reading our guide to cleaning and general maintenance of your water cooler dispensers. These are machines are great investments, but you want to be sure that you get the most out of your investment. Read through our guide, and make note of how each step applies to your machine. It won’t be a very difficult process, but you should be sure to get it right the first time!

For more information on water cooler dispensers, check out our comprehensive review of the best water coolers on the market.