Is Fridge Water Safe To Drink? (a Water Specialist Explains)

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If your fridge has a water dispenser, you might exclusively drink refrigerator water for the enjoyment of cooler, crisper water than the water from your kitchen faucet.

But how safe is the water from your fridge water dispenser? Is it possible that this water could contain harmful contaminants or waterborne bacteria? And how can you ensure the safety of your refrigerator water?

We’ve answered all these questions and more in this guide.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Drinking water from your refrigerator should be safe because the water comes from the same source as your home’s tap water.
  • Many fridges use water filters to further improve water quality and safety; however, the safety of filtered water from a fridge depends on the quality and complexity of the filter design.
  • Other factors affecting refrigerator water safety include the condition of the fridge’s water system, the water filter age, and the safety of your source water.

🚰 Is it Safe to Drink Unfiltered Water from a Fridge?

Drinking water from a fridge is generally safe. The water that comes from your fridge is the same as your kitchen faucet drinking water, so if your tap water is safe, then your refrigerator water should technically also be safe.

However, there are a few factors that affect the safety of refrigerator dispenser water, including whether or not a refrigerator water filter is present, the age and quality of this filter, and the condition of the fridge water system. We’ve discussed these factors later.

Getting filtered water from fridge

⚗️ Is Filtered Fridge Water Safe to Drink?

Filtered refrigerator water should be safe to drink, but this depends on the filter’s age and quality.

A high-quality refrigerator filter can improve drinking water safety by removing traces of common contaminants, including chlorine, pesticides, PFAS, and some heavy metals. However, an old filter that hasn’t been replaced may harbor harmful bacteria, which could end up in your water supply, making it unsafe to drink.

🤔 Is Refrigerator Water Safer than Tap Water?

Generally, refrigerator water is safer than normal tap water if the water is treated by a fridge filter. Refrigerator water filters remove trace contaminants from water, improving its quality compared to untreated tap water.

With that said, if you don’t change your filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions, harmful substances like bacteria could grow on the filter surface, possibly contaminating the water and making it less safe to drink than tap water.

📝 Factors Affecting the Safety of Fridge Water

Here are some of the factors that may affect the safety of your refrigerator drinking water supply:

The Safety of Your Source Water

First of all, since fridge dispenser water comes from the same water source as the rest of your home’s drinking water, the safety of your refrigerator water depends on the safety of the source water.

If you use treated municipal (or city) water, it should, in theory, be safe from every fixture and appliance in your home, including your fridge.

We say “in theory” because there are other factors that affect the safety of water from a fridge, even if you use municipal water. Keep reading to learn more.

Municipal city water treatment plant

The Presence of a Water Filter

Whether or not your fridge contains a filter will also determine the safety of the water.

The very best refrigerator filters remove chlorine and other chemicals, some heavy metals, pesticides, and PFAS from your water. The more basic carbon filters can simply remove chlorine and its associated bad taste from water.

Regardless of the filter’s capabilities, it should, at the very least, improve your refrigerator water quality somewhat, making it marginally safer to drink than your home’s normal tap water.

The Water Filter Quality

The quality of the water filter also determines the safety of your refrigerator’s drinking water.

Let’s say you use one of the most capable inline refrigerator filters. Water from your refrigerator will be about as safe as tap water gets because it’ll be protected against a range of trace contaminants.

On the other end, if you use a poorer-quality filter that only removes one or two contaminants, your water safety might not be too different from the water from your kitchen faucet.

Plus, a poor-quality filter with a bad design might actually make your water unsafe if its filter media degrades and forms holes, allowing all the contaminants trapped in the filter to make their way back into your refrigerator water supply in high concentrations.

The Water Filter Age

Your refrigerator water safety may also be affected by the age of the fridge filter.

Most fridge filters last 6-9 months. We know many people who have used the same fridge filtration system for years because they either didn’t know that their fridge even had a filter, or they simply forgot to replace the filter.

This has potentially serious consequences because over time, bacteria may grow on the old filter media, and could eventually contaminate your refrigerator water. If you drink water containing bacteria, you’re at risk of various waterborne diseases.

Fridge filter leaking

The Condition of the Fridge’s Water System

Finally, the condition of the water system in your refrigerator, including the pipes that carry water into the fridge and the refrigerator water dispenser/ice maker themselves, affects the quality and safety of your refrigerator water.

An older refrigerator water system may have leaks or damaged components, which could possibly introduce contaminants into your water.

The cleanliness of your fridge is another important factor. If you don’t regularly clean and maintain certain components in your fridge as instructed by the manufacturer, bacteria or mold could develop, potentially contaminating the water as it passes through the system.

🔎 How to Know if Your Refrigerator Water is Safe to Drink

Your refrigerator water might look clean – but how do you know for certain that it’s safe for drinking?

Our top tip is to get your water tested to find out what it contains. Test your kitchen faucet water, too, and compare the contaminants detected in both water sources. If your fridge drinking water contains additional contaminants – especially if it contains waterborne bacteria – you have a problem that needs to be addressed straight away.

If you have any reason to believe that the water from your refrigerator might be unsafe, switch to bottled water while you wait for your test results.

Getting water sample from faucet

✅ How to Enjoy Safe Water from Your Fridge

So, now you know the factors that affect the safety of fridge drinking water, how can you enjoy safe water from your refrigerator at all times? Here’s what we recommend:

  • Install a refrigerator filter. If your fridge drinking water currently isn’t filtered, start there. Consider an inline filter (installed behind your fridge) to remove contaminants that affect taste, safety, and water quality.
  • Upgrade your filter. Your fridge’s generic filter might not be the best quality filter you can find. Substandard carbon filters only improve water taste without addressing most of the causes of contaminated water. If you want to improve the safety of your filtered water, upgrade to one of the best refrigerator water filters.
  • Clean & maintain your fridge’s water system. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in your refrigerator’s user manual to clean and maintain your fridge’s water system, and make sure to replace your refrigerator filter on time.

📑 Final Word

So, there you have it: refrigerator water should, in theory, be safe to drink, especially with the use of a refrigerator water filter. But fridge filters have their flaws, and the unfortunate truth is that not all refrigerator water filters are worth your money.

Make sure to do your research and learn about the best refrigerator water filters to make the biggest difference to your fridge dispenser water safety, and replace the filter when instructed by the manufacturer to eliminate the potential for bacteria contamination.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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