Water Cooler Cleaning & Maintenance Tips

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Make the most of your investment with these tips for water cooler cleaning and maintenance.

Few appliances are more convenient or practical than a water cooler. If you have a water cooler, you’re already well aware of its benefits, such as crisp, clean drinking water whenever you want it. A water cooler is easy to use, and it’s the best alternative to expensive bottles of water.

Of course, when you have a water cooler, it’s also essential to know how to clean and maintain it.

Why? Moisture is a haven for mold and infectious disease, so it’s important that you clean your water cooler routinely. If you clean and thoroughly sanitize your water cooler every six to twelve months, you can enjoy fresh tasting water for many years to come.

What You’ll Need To Clean Your Water Cooler

Sunpentown SK-1715B Cordless Electric Kettle | Air & WaterTo clean your water cooler, you will be needing a few supplies. Here’s a list of everything you’ll want to have on hand:

  • Large Bucket (if you have two, even better)
  • Fresh Bottled Water (preferably distilled—get the cheap gallon jugs from your local grocery store)
  • Hot Water (a cordless electric kettle is great for this)
  • Unscented Bleach
  • White Vinegar
  • Mild Dish Detergent
  • Several Lint Free Towels (two or more, but more is better)

Getting Started

Unplug Your Water Cooler | Air & WaterWhen cleaning your water cooler, it’s critical to unplug it before you dismantle your unit. If you don’t unplug your cooler before you clean it, you’re putting yourself at risk for getting shocked—trust us when we say you don’t want that to happen.

Next, remove the top bottle on the cooler. This will make your work a lot easier.

After the water bottle has been removed, drain the water in the storage unit into a bucket through the dispenser tube or faucet.

Once all of the liquid has been cleared from the reservoir, pour hot water into the reservoir and let it sit for about half an hour. Be careful when pouring the hot water to avoid getting burned.

Cleaning Your Water Cooler

You can either opt for a quick or deep cleanse when cleaning your water cooler.

Quick Cleanse

The quick cleanse requires hot water and an additional bucket used for draining purposes, but the steps here are simple enough.

  1. Unplug the cooler if you haven’t already.
  2. Dip the tubes into the container so they suck up the hot water and drain them into the second container.
  3. Do this for 30 minutes.

Deep Cleanse

Water Cooler From Above | Air & WaterA deep cleanse is more involved, but is the most surefire way to get your water cooler to a “like new” state. That said, you’ll want to read these instructions thoroughly and take your time.

  1. Disassemble the unit.
  2. Once everything is taken apart, including the water guard, reservoir, and baffle, use the lint-free towels to gently scrub every component with a mixture of warm water and a teaspoon of unscented bleach. Important: do not use more bleach than a teaspoon, and be generous with the amount of water in the mixture.
  3. Rinse each piece profusely. After that, fill the reservoir with the same type of cleaning mixture and let that sit for a few minutes.
  4. Flush out the solution by filling the reservoir (all the way to the top) with fresh bottled water and completely drain the water. If you have a hot and cold water cooler, do this through the cold faucet, leaving a cork in the hot tank. Repeat these steps three times to completely get rid of the bleach solution.
  5. Place a bottle on the cooler and drain two cups of water from each faucet. You shouldn’t taste any of the cleaning solution. If you do, keep draining more water until the taste is gone.

Exterior Cleaning

Water Cooler Open Door | Air & WaterTo clean the exterior of the water cooler, including under the drip drain, wipe the components with a clean towel dampened with bleach and water or vinegar and water solution.

The removable plastic parts can be left to sit in hot, soapy water for 15 minutes.

After the parts have soaked, you can let them completely air dry or wipe them with a clean cloth.

Once everything is clean, you can plug the unit back in and adjust the temperature as desired.

Water Cooler Maintenance

Just as it is important to know how to clean your water cooler, it’s also critical that you know how to properly maintain your water cooler. Cleaning your cooler is the single most important thing you can do to keep it running efficiently. Always remember these tips which should apply to most water cooler brands:

  • Never lubricate the compressor, as it has an air-tight seal. Many coolers have an auto-reset overload protection switch, so check if yours is equipped with one.
  • Whenever the water cooler is completely empty, unplug it from the power source. If it’s plugged in, it should always have water.
  • Check the wire grid on the back of the cooler every month to remove dust or lint. You can dust these areas or vacuum them.
  • Be sure to check for leaks. A quick, visual test is typically good enough. You don’t want to move the unit too frequently, because this can greatly increase the likelihood of leaks in your water cooler.

While water cooler cleaning and maintenance takes a bit of time, it’s the best way to ensure your water cooler always dispenses fresh, clean drinking water for as long as you have it.

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