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How to clean a water cooler like a professional

How to clean a water cooler like a professional

Office cleanliness and hygiene is of utmost importance. While many businesses do a great job of keeping their premises clean and hygienic, there are a few places and objects that may be overlooked. One such office object is the water cooler. Some people may not think that this dispenser is a potential health hazard; after all, clean, filtered water is the only thing that passes through it.

In reality, a water cooler can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. This can easily contaminate any fresh water placed in the dispenser, putting your customers and employees at risk. The water cooler should be checked every time the water container is removed and replaced. It needs to be wiped down and cleaned if there are any signs of mold, lime or sediment.

How often should the water cooler be cleaned?

The best way to ensure that your water cooler is cleaned regularly is to add it to a cleaning schedule. The best way to do this is to inspect it every time the water bottle is changed. Even if the unit looks clean, it should be wiped down and flushed once a week. The handle and tap should be disinfected every day due to the number of people touching these components on a daily basis.

Remember, the tap handle can carry germs from peoples’ hands and the spout may be contaminated by the water bottles and cups touching it. The inside mechanism and pipes can also get dirty quite quickly, so keep an eye on these and do a visual inspection every time the water container is removed from the top of the cooler. Any signs of algae or mold mean that the unit needs to be flushed and cleaned properly.

How to clean the water cooler properly

The first step is to unplug the unit from any electrical source and remove the water container from the top. Be sure to use a non-toxic cleaning agent that will not affect the water once it is replaced. A safe bet is to use a vinegar solution (15 ml of vinegar with 5 litres of warm water) to clean and flush the pipes and tap.

Remove the baffle (the plastic funnel) from where the water container sits. This will give you better access to the internal workings of the cooler. Use a clean cloth and some dish soap to scrub the reservoir thoroughly. Remember to flush the unit properly to remove all soap or vinegar remnants and to prevent a foul taste in the water.

You can also fill an empty water container with some water and dish soap. Open the tap and allow the soap solution to flush through the system. Replace the soapy solution with clean tap water and rinse the entire system two or three times to ensure a thorough flush. The outside of the unit can be wiped down with warm soapy water - dish soap works perfectly fine for this job.

Additional notes

Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals as these can contaminate the water cooler and possibly affect the plastic components. Try to use soft cloths rather than scrubbing brushes and scouring sponges as this will prevent scratches on the plastic surfaces. Any scour marks on the surface of pipes and plastic coverings can become suitable breeding grounds for bacteria and mold.

Do not use bleach on hot water coolers; instead, boil some water and fill the container. Flush the system with this hot water as this will kill any bacteria in the pipes and taps. Be careful not to burn yourself when handling boiling water.

Given the frequency and knowledge of safe cleaning chemicals to use, this is a job that you may want to outsource to a professional cleaning company. In addition to cleaning your water coolers regularly, IWESCO offers contract cleaning solutions and disinfection services for entire offices, warehouses and private spaces. For more information about our contract cleaning services, contact us today to get a quote or to set up an assessment.


IWESCO offers specialised cleaning and waste control services to industrial and commercial customers in South Africa. These services are aimed at minimising our customers’ impact on the environment. Our services also include pest control, garden maintenance, fogging and disinfecting. Our staff are highly trained to offer the most professional services. IWESCO is a Level 2 B-BBEE supplier with ISO 14001 certification for environmental management.

We are a one-stop shop for all your contract cleaning and waste control needs and have a national footprint. Our head office is located in Tshwane but we can provide services to any industrial and commercial client in the major metropolitan areas around South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Mbombela and more.

For more information on our offerings and insights into the latest industry news, follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.


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