Water coolers are a convenient way to offer clean water in offices, gyms, homes, etc. Although the water we run through them is clean bottled water, germs and unwanted growths quickly occur in these moist environments. It’s important to clean your water cooler each time you change the bottle or every six weeks, whichever comes first. Keeping your cooler clean will ensure all those that benefit from it will be free from germs and dangerous bacteria as well.
Cleaning your water cooler can be completed fairly easily and quickly if done on a regular basis. The Brookhaven National Laboratory offers a thorough guide to clean your water cooler.
You Will Need:
- Sponge or scrub brush
- Rubber gloves
The Cleaning Process:
- Begin by mixing a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water. (Unused portions of this solution can be stored for up to 30 days.)
- Unplug the water cooler. It’s important to NEVER clean the unit while it is still plugged in.
- Remove the water bottle. It’s most convenient to complete this cleaning when switching bottles and the bottle empty.
- Drain any remaining water from the reservoir through the faucet into a bucket.
- Fill the interior reservoir with the bleach solution. Let it set for about 3 minutes.
- Use the scrub brush or sponge to scrub away any build-up from the walls of the interior. If there are additional removable parts in the interior, remove them, clean either in the bleach solution or with a mild dish detergent and replace. If there are any places the brush can’t reach, pour in some dry rice and swish the rice around; it will act as an abrasive to scrub off build-up.
- Drain the water by emptying it through the faucets into a bucket. This allows the faucets to be disinfected as well.
- Rinse by filling the interior reservoir with clean water and emptying it through the faucets into a bucket at least FOUR times. If the water still has a bleach taste after that, continue refilling and emptying it until it no longer tastes like bleach.
- Remove the drip tray and screen.
- Wash both of these items in the bleach solution or with a mild detergent.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water and replace on the unit.
- Next you will prepare the new water bottle to be inserted into the cooler.
- Put rubber gloves on and wipe the top of the new water bottle with the bleach solution.
- Insert it in the cooler and let it fill the reservoir.
- Use paper towels and the bleach solution to wipe the exterior of the cooler along with the faucets.
- Plug the unit back in and allow about 30 minutes for it to bring the water back to the desired temperature.
Additional Tips and Advice
- It’s helpful to designate a specific individual in the office or at home who is responsible for cleaning the water cooler on a regular basis.
- Be sure to store unused water bottles in a clean area that is cool and well ventilated.
- Be cautious not to touch cups or personal water bottles to the spigot when filling. This is a prime way to spread germs.
- If you have a hot/cold tank, plug the hot tank so no bleach solution can enter. This area is sanitized because of the heat and does not need to be cleaned with the bleach solution. If bleach enters this area, it will take several days for it to be removed completely.
- Be cautious not to get the air filter wet during the cleaning process.