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How to Clean a Water Dispenser: 10 Easy Steps

Learning how to clean a water dispenser can be simple. With calamansi, vinegar, or a multi-purpose cleaner, you can remove gunk and mold to ensure safe drinking water.

Updated Reading Time: 5 minutesWritten by Eunice Samson

How to Clean a Water Dispenser

You would think that your dispenser wouldn't get dirty because water constantly flows through it. Well, you thought wrong. Without proper cleaning, your water dispenser could become a breeding ground for mold, yeast, and even e-coli. [1]

So, if you want to ensure your family’s safety, we recommend disinfecting your water dispenser regularly. In this blog post, we’ll show you basic steps that you can easily follow.

5 things to do before cleaning your dispenser

Before we teach you how to clean a water dispenser, here are four pointers you need to remember:

  1. Review your water dispenser manual

    Most of the time, manufacturers provide cleaning instructions in the manual. So, we recommend reading yours to see the guide specifically designed for your water dispenser.

  2. Unplug your water dispenser

    Before doing anything else, you should unplug your water dispenser. You’re about to work with the inner parts of the machine. So, it’s safe to disconnect it from the power supply.

  3. Know the basic types of water dispensers

    Most homes in the Philippines have these types of water dispensers:

    Top-loading water dispensers – Because the jug is sitting upside-down on the dispenser, gravity dispenses the water.

    Bottom-loading water dispensers – The jug is loaded to the bottom of the dispenser. It comes with a pump that draws the water out

  4. Prepare the cleaning materials and products

    Here are the cleaning items you need to prepare:

    - Scrub sponge

    - Bucket

    - Microfiber towel

    - Rubber gloves

    For the cleaning materials, you can choose between these options:

    - Distilled white vinegar and calamansi

    - Multi-purpose bleach like Domex

Note: We understand that many Filipinos prefer natural cleaning products. However, when it comes to disinfecting, vinegar is only 80% as effective as bleach [2]. So, if your goal is to sanitize your water dispenser, we recommend using Domex multi-purpose cleaner.

10 Steps in Cleaning a Top-Loading Water Dispenser

  1. Step 1

    After unplugging your dispenser, make sure that there’s no water left in the reservoir and remove the water jug from the top of the dispenser.

  2. Step 2

    Dip your scrub sponge in your cleaning solution and wring the excess liquid off.

  3. Step 3

    Look for the valve at the top of the dispenser and start scrubbing it with your sponge. If there are stubborn marks, use the scrub side to remove them.

  4. Step 4

    The next step is to clean the reservoir’s internal parts. Disconnect the filter, then remove the no-spill adapter, which is where the water jug rests. Don’t forget to detach the drip tray from the front of the dispenser and the baffle from the reservoir.

  5. Step 5

    Use your scrub to clean the parts you removed thoroughly. Then, dry the components with your microfiber cloth.

  6. Step 6

    Pour your vinegar/calamansi cleaning solution into the reservoir. Once you’ve filled it, scrub its sides.

  7. Step 7

    Drain the cleaning solution from the reservoir. Now, pour clean water into the reservoir and scrub its side to ensure no residue is left.

  8. Step 8

    Fill the reservoir with drinking water and drain it.

  9. Step 9

    Check if the water has no aftertaste. If the water doesn’t taste right, repeat the steps until it does.

  10. Step 10

    Reattach the clean parts, including the filter, no-spill adapter, baffle, and drip tray.

10 Steps in Cleaning a Bottom-Loading Water Dispenser

  1. Step 1

    Make sure that the water dispenser is disconnected from the power supply.

  2. Step 2

    Drain the water from the reservoir.

  3. Step 3

    Remove the water jug from the dispenser, then fill it with your bleach cleaning solution.

  4. Step 4

    Reattach the water jug to the dispenser and let it fill the reservoir with the cleaning solution. 

  5. Step 5

    Wait for ten minutes before draining the reservoir completely. During this time, you can remove the drip tray and clean it with your scrub sponge. Dry the parts with a microfiber cloth.

  6. Step 6

    Remove the jug. Then, rinse and fill it with clean water.

  7. Step 7

    Reattach the jug to the reservoir and let it fill the reservoir.

  8. Step 8

    Open the dispenser’s faucets and let them drain the water fully. Do the same for the drain valve, which you can usually find at the back of the dispenser.

  9. Step 9

    Pour about a liter of drinking water into the jug and reattach it to the dispenser.

  10. Step 10

    Check if there is no water aftertaste. If there is, repeat the process until the water tastes right.

The Poll

Would you be more likely to buy a Cleaning or Laundry product that had a QR code visible on the pack over a product without a QR code? 

0 Votes

Clean Your Water Dispenser Regularly

Indeed, it’s easy to learn how to clean a water dispenser. However, once you know the process, make sure that you do it regularly. Don’t forget to clean and disinfect your dispenser at least twice a year. This way, your family can enjoy clean water that meets the Department of Health’s standards for drinking water quality [3].


  1. Aminzare, Majid, et al. (2017). Bacteriological Quality of Water Cooler Dispensers of Educational Settings in Zanjan University of Medical Sciences [PDF]. Journal of Human and Environmental Health Promotion, 2(2), 105-111. Retrieved from https://applications.emro.who.int/imemrf/J_Hum_Environ_Health_Promot/J_Hum_Environ_Health_Promot_2017_2_2_105_111.pdf

  2. Almeida, Catarina, et al. “The Efficacy of Common Household Cleaning Agents for SARS-CoV-2 Infection Control.” Viruses vol. 14,4 715. 29 Mar. 2022, doi:10.3390/v14040715

  3. Department of Health - Disease Monitoring and Analysis System. (n.d.). Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water of 2017 [PDF]. Retrieved from https://dmas.doh.gov.ph:8083/Rest/GetFile?id=337128

  4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2005). Bottled water: Fact sheet [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-11/documents/2005_09_14_faq_fs_healthseries_bottledwater.pdf

FAQs about Cleaning Water Dispensers

How often should you clean a water dispenser?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) suggests cleaning and sanitizing water dispensers according to manufacturer-recommended intervals [4]. Most manufacturers advise doing this process every six months.

What happens if you don’t clean your water dispenser?

Germs and bacteria will develop inside the faucets, eventually making their way into your body when you drink the water.

Can I use baking soda to clean a water dispenser?

You can also use a baking soda and water solution to clean your dispenser. The ratio is usually 2 tablespoons of baking soda for every cup of water.

How do you clean the inside of a water dispenser bottle?

Here are the steps for cleaning the inside of a water dispenser bottle: Pour hot water into the jug and let it sit for about three minutes. Take a long-handled, soft-bristled brush and scrub the inside of the bottle. Drain the water out and rinse the jug thoroughly.

Originally published