Shopping for an easy-to-maintainself-cleaning countertop ice maker?
You’ve come to the right place.
What’s A Self Cleaning Ice Maker?
A self-cleaning ice maker features a self-clean program. You press a button, and the ice machine circulates a cleaning solution through the ice making system, thoroughly cleaning it.
This removes build-up grime, scale, and any mold or bacteria from all internal components of the ice maker.
A self-cleaning ice maker is much easier to clean and maintain. You don't have to worry about mold or bacteria growing in places you cannot access.
It ensures you always get clean ice that’s safe for consumption.
Under-counter and freestanding ice machines are mostly the ones that have a self-cleaning program. But several portable and countertop ice makers are also self-cleaning.
What’s In This Buying Guide?
In this in-depth buying guide, we review the best self-cleaning countertop and portable ice makers.
We also explain how the self-cleaning function works, how to shop for a self-cleaning countertop ice maker, and how to maintain it.
Best Self Cleaning Portable Ice Makers
Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com
- Best overall
9W x 15.3D x 16.5H in
GE Profile Opal
- Best for nugget ice
10.5W x 15.5D x 16.5H in
- Best budget
9.5W x 13.9D x 13H in
- Best for large families
9.9W x 14.2D x 14.6H in
- Most portable
9W x 12.2D x 12.8H in
- Best self-dispensing
12W x 16D x 17.5H in
Best Overall Self-Cleaning Countertop Ice Maker: Dreamiracle Countertop Ice Maker
The Dreamiracle ice maker is our top overall pick because it makes ice quickly, produces enough ice for most families, and offers great value for money.
The self-cleaning function makes maintenance a breeze.
One of the things we love the most about the Dreamiracle ice maker is its build quality. Many of these portable ice makers are plastic, not very durable and are not designed for years of use.
The Dreamiracle ice maker has a stainless steel housing that not only ensures the machine lasts for years but also looks great.
The Dreamiracle ice machine produces 33lbs of bullet ice each day, enough for most families. And it makes the ice quickly, too. It makes a batch of nine ice cubes in 7-10 minutes.
The ice bin stores up to 3.3lbs of ice, more than most portable ice makers.
The bin is insulated with a thick foam layer to keep the ice solid for several hours. But it’ll melt eventually if you don't scoop it out. The meltwater goes back into the water reservoir to make more ice. So, you don't need to connect a drain line.
Cleaning the Dreamiracle ice maker is easy. The self-cleaning program pumps water or cleaning solution through the internal system. You can also remove the ice basket for easier cleaning.
Issues & Limitations
The control panel has options for small and large ice cubes, but users say the difference between the two sizes is almost unnoticeable.
According to the manufacturer, the small bullets are 0.8” wide, while the large bullet ice cubes are 1” wide - just a 0.2” difference.
The other issue with the ice cubes is that they come out wet. When you transfer them to your freezer, they clump, and you have to break them apart when you need ice. But this is a problem with all ice machines.
The Dreamiracle ice maker is best for: Anyone looking for a high capacity and durable portable ice maker with a self-cleaning function.
Best for Nugget Ice: GE Profile Opal
If you are looking for a self-cleaning countertop ice maker that makes Sonic-style chewable ice, we recommend the GE Profile Opal.
It makes true nugget ice that’s great for both mixed beverages as well as for chewing.
The Opal is the king of portable nugget ice makers. It was one of the first affordable and compact nugget ice machines for home users.
It makes true nugget ice, the kind you get in drinks at Sonic outlets. Because of how it’s made (ice sheets compacted together), the ice comes out crunchy, soft and easily chewable.
If you love to chew ice, the GE Profile Opal is a great buy. It’s also perfect if you make mixed drinks at home like juices, smoothies, and cocktails.
The Opal makes 24lbs of ice per day, and the large bin holds up to 3lbs of ice.
The side water reservoir is one of the biggest we’ve seen in a countertop ice maker. It holds about a gallon of water and reduces how frequently you need to refill it.
The Opal ice maker has a single button at the front to turn it on and off and activate the self-cleaning program.
You can access more functions, including scheduling, in the Opal app. You’ll need to connect your phone to the ice maker via Bluetooth.
The self-cleaning program works the same way as in other portable ice makers - by circulating cleaning solutions through the ice making system.
You can use vinegar mixed with water or get the GE Profile Opal cleaning kit.
The ice bin is removable for easier cleaning.
Issues & Limitations
The only issue with the Opal nugget ice maker is the price. Nugget ice makers are generally pricey because the ice making system is more complicated.
The GE Profile Opal is one of the more expensive countertop ice makers. But it’s still way cheaper compared to an under-counter nugget ice maker.
The GE Profile Opal is best for: Anyone looking for a countertop nugget ice maker with a self-cleaning program.
Avoid if: You are shopping for a budget portable ice maker.
Best Budget: Kismile Countertop Ice Maker
Shopping on a budget? We recommend the Kismile countertop ice maker. It’s one of the most affordable countertop ice machines that has a self-cleaning program.
It doesn't make as much ice as some of the other ice makers in this guide, but it makes enough for most families.
If you are looking for a cheap self-cleaning ice maker, Kismile is a good choice.
Despite the low price, it makes a decent amount of ice - 26lbs a day. That’s enough for most families. It also works fast, making nine ice cubes in just 6-8 minutes.
Kismile produces bullet ice. You can choose between two sizes: small and large. Unlike the Dreamiracle ice maker, you can actually see the difference between the small and large ice cubes from the Kismile ice machine.
The Kismile ice maker is fully portable. It has its own water reservoir and doesn't need draining since meltwater is recycled.
To activate the self-cleaning program, you press the power button for 5 seconds. This triggers the pump to circulate water or a cleaning solution through the system.
For manual cleaning, you can remove the ice basket and clean it under the tap. Removing the basket gives you easier access to the water tank, so you can easily wipe it clean.
Issues & Limitations
Being a budget ice maker, don't expect the same build quality as Dreamiracle or other pricier brands. Instead of stainless steel, the Kismile ice maker has a plastic cladding.
It also has a smaller production capacity. The 26lbs/day of ice may not be enough for large households.
The Kismile ice maker is best for: Anyone shopping for a budget self-cleaning countertop ice maker
Avoid if: You love the look and longevity of stainless steel ice makers. Also, not suitable for some large households.
Best for Big Families: ADT Countertop Ice Maker
If you have a large family or use lots of ice in your home, we recommend the ADT countertop ice maker. It makes 44lbs of ice per day and produces 24 cubes in just fifteen minutes.
If you find that you go through several bags of ice every day or that your refrigerator ice maker doesn't meet your needs, the ADT countertop ice maker is a better option.
It makes two dozen pieces of ice cubes in fifteen minutes, so you always have plenty of ice on hand. Ice is stored in a large bin, and the ice maker comes with a scoop to collect the ice.
Note that the ice bin is merely insulated, not refrigerated. Ice will melt after a few hours and flow back into the water tank.
The water reservoir holds 3 liters (or 3.1 quarts) of water, so you don't have to keep refilling it. If you want to go even longer without adding water, there’s an option to add a 1-gallon water bottle on top of the ice machine.
The control panel on the ADT ice maker is easy to use. It includes options to increase or reduce ice size, set a timer, and activate self-cleaning.
The self-clean program takes 20 minutes. You can buy an ice machine cleaner online or make your own cleaner at home by mixing vinegar and water.
Issues & Limitations
The ADT countertop ice maker makes a bit of noise,but only when it's running and the ice it’s making drops into the bin.
Therefore, you may want to place it far away from the living area when this ice maker is switched on and actively making ice.
The ADT countertop ice maker is best for: Large households and anyone looking for a self-cleaning countertop ice maker that produces a lot of ice.
Avoid if: You don't need 44lbs of ice a day. Smaller families should choose one of our smaller and cheaper picks, such as Kismile.
Most Portable: Igloo ICEB26HNSS
Looking for an ice maker, you can easily carry around or travel with? We recommend the Igloo ICEB26HNSS,self-cleaning portable ice maker.
It’s compact, lightweight, and comes with a convenient carry handle.
The Igloo ICEB26HNSS is great if you plan to move the ice maker around a lot. Weighing just 22.5lbs and with an integrated handle, you can use it wherever you need around your home.
It’s also a great choice for RVs, off-grid cabins, boats, and camping (if you have a power station). The ice machine has a stainless steel exterior, so it should withstand lots of travelling.
In terms of capacity, the Igloo ICEB26HNSS is on the smaller side, which is not surprising given its compact design.
It makes 26lbs of ice in 24 hours and can produce nine ice cubes in seven minutes. The ice bin is also relatively small - it holds just 1.2lbs of ice.
You can store extra ice in the freezer, but beware that it clumps, and you have to break it up later.
The control panel on the Igloo ICEB26HNSS gives you the option to select a large or small ice size. It also has a self-cleaning program.
The self-cleaning function on the Igloo ICEB26HNSS is more thorough than in other portable ice makers. It circulates the cleaning solution five times through the system, ensuring that all build-up and scale are eliminated.
Issues & Limitations
The only limitation of the Igloo ICEB26HNSS ice maker is capacity.
If you have a big family that goes through several bags of ice each day, or you often hold parties, we recommend an ice maker that makes more ice and has a bigger bin such as the ADT countertop ice maker we’ve reviewed above.
The Igloo ICEB26HNSS is best for: Anyone looking for a self-cleaning portable ice maker that’s lightweight, compact, and easy to travel with.
Avoid if: You need a lot of ice in your household.
Best Self-dispensing: KBice Self Dispensing
If you prefer the hygiene and convenience of an ice dispenser, we recommend the KBice self-dispensing ice maker.
It makes nugget ice and dispenses it with the touch of a button.
The KBice ice maker is an alternative to the GE Profile Opal if you are looking for a self-dispensing nugget ice maker.
The dispensing mechanism saves you the trouble of manually scooping the ice out of the bin. It is much easier to simply place a glass or bowl under the chute and fill it with ice. It’s also more hygienic since no one is touching the ice or the bin.
The KBice ice maker produces chewable nugget ice. It makes up to 30lbs of it in a day and the bin stores up to 2lbs.
The self-cleaning feature works great. You add water or a cleaning solution to the reservoir, then activate the cleaning program on the control panel.
Issues & Limitations
While the KBice is slightly cheaper than the GE Profile Opal, it’s still about 2-3 times as expensive as other portable ice makers that produce bullet ice.
If you are shopping for a budget self-cleaning ice maker, look for those that make ordinary ice.
Another issue with the KBice Self Dispensing ice maker is that there’s no way to reach the ice storage bin and clean it.
We are not sure if the system cleans it during the self-cleaning program. So far, we’ve not seen any complaints regarding weird tasting ice, so it’s likely the machine flushes it when you run the cleaning program.
But it would still be nice to be able to manually clean and sanitize the ice basket.
The KBice Self Dispensing ice maker is best for: Anyone looking for a self-cleaning ice maker that dispenses ice.
Avoid if: You are shopping on a budget or don't need nugget ice.
Self-Cleaning Countertop Ice Maker Buying Guide
Why Buy a Self-Cleaning Ice Maker
A self-cleaning ice maker makes maintaining the machine easy and convenient.
With an ordinary countertop ice maker, you have to clean the machine manually. That’s easy for the exterior and components like the water reservoir and ice bin.
But it’s hard to reach other components like the evaporator and water lines, and these are places where scale, bacteria and grime can build up.
Failure to clean these areas can reduce ice making performance, reduce the longevity of the ice maker, and affect the quality of ice.
A self-cleaning ice maker makes it easy to keep the entire machine clean and in perfect working order.
How Does Self Cleaning Work?
The self-cleaning program in countertop ice makers works by flushing water or cleaning solutions through the system.
The first step is to unplug the ice machine and drain any water in the reservoir. Most portable ice makers have a drain plug at the bottom, and others have a couple of drain hoses at the rear.
Once the reservoir is empty, and you’ve scooped all ice from the bin, plug the reservoir back up and plug in the ice machine.
Add cleaning solution to the reservoir. This can be a 1:1 water and vinegar mixture or a nickel-safe ice machine cleaner like this one by Essential Values.
Activate the self-cleaning program. The ice maker’s pump will cycle the cleaner through the system to clean and descale it.
After the program has ended, drain the reservoir and add fresh water. Rerun the cleaning cycle to rinse the system. Some ice makers require three rinse cycles before you make any ice.
What to Look For in a Self-Cleaning Ice Maker
The first thing to check is whether the ice maker is adequate for your needs.
If you use a lot of ice or have a large family, get a unit that makes at least 30lbs of ice each day. A higher production capacity also means the machine cranks out ice quickly to keep up with demand.
If you don't use much ice or have a smaller family, a 24lb or 26lb ice maker would be more suitable for you.
Don't forget to check the size of the ice basket. A big basket that can hold at least 3lbs of ice ensures you always have plenty of ice on hand.
Size of Water Reservoir
The higher the capacity of the ice maker, the bigger the water reservoir should be to save you the trouble of constantly refilling it. A water tank capacity of at least 3 quarts is best.
For smaller ice machines, a 2-3 quart water reservoir is fine.
There are some countertop ice makers that have the option to plumb in a water line, so you never have to refill a reservoir, but we haven’t found any with a self-cleaning program.
Type of Ice
Most countertop ice makers produce cloudy bullet ice. It’s easy to make and doesn't require a complicated system. That’s partly why portable ice makers are so affordable.
Bullet ice is versatile. Many people find they can chew it safely, and it’s also great for most kinds of cold beverages.
Check if the ice maker has the option to adjust the ice size. Larger ice cubes are better if you want slower melting.
If you want something even softer and more chewable, you’ll need a nugget ice maker. It’s pricier, but it makes crunchy Sonic-style ice. Nugget ice is also great for mixed drinks like cocktails and sodas.
Ease of Cleaning
Confirm that the ice maker actually has a self-cleaning function. Usually, there will be a CLEAN button on the control panel, or you have to press the timer or power button for several seconds to activate self-cleaning.
But even with an auto cleaning function, you’ll still need to clean and sanitize the machine manually.
We recommend getting an ice maker that has a removable bin and an easy-to-access water reservoir. These are the components you’ll need to sanitize regularly.
Size & Installation
While portable ice makers are generally compact, some can be surprisingly bulky. Make sure you have space on your counter for the ice maker you want to buy.
This is especially important if you want to set up the ice maker under the wall cabinets. Check that you have adequate space.
Also, check any installation requirements such as plumbing, power and clearance. Generally, though, countertop ice makers are plug-and-play. They don't need any water connection or drainage.
Finally, check the build quality of the ice maker.
Our favorite ice makers have a stainless steel exterior. It looks great (we especially like how a stainless steel finish blends with other kitchen appliances) and is much more durable than a plastic ice maker.But if you are on a budget, a good quality plastic ice maker can still serve you well for a couple of years or more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a self-cleaning ice maker clean itself completely?
No, it doesn’t. A self-cleaning ice maker only cleans the ice making system, including the water lines, evaporator and water reservoir.
You’ll need to manually clean the ice bin as well as the exterior of the ice machine.
Can I use vinegar in a self-cleaning ice maker?
Yes, you can use a mixture of vinegar and water to flush a self-cleaning ice maker. Add the solution to the water reservoir, then activate the self-clean program.
Alternatively, you can buy an ice machine cleaner and mix it with water in the reservoir.
Can I use bleach in a self-cleaning ice maker?
Bleach is a great way to sanitize your ice machine. Add two teaspoons of chlorine bleach to a gallon of warm water.
Put the mixture in the water reservoir, then run the self-clean program. After that, run 2-3 rinse cycles.
Use the same bleach mixture to sanitize the bin and other interior components. Dip a cloth in the solution, then wipe down the parts you can reach.
How do I remove the scale from my ice maker?
The best way to descale an ice machine is to run the self-clean program using an ice machine cleaner.
You can also use a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water or lemon juice and water.