Help with a used water dispenser
February 25, 2021 6:19 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to make sure the water from my used water dispenser is clean?

I purchased a Black and Decker water dispenser model 10-001B off of Kijiji. It is about 10 years old, but seems to work well. I am worried about the water quality and if the inner workings of the dispenser may be dirty after all these years (not sure how well the previous owners kept it clean). I'm wondering: 1) Is there some kind of cheap water test kit that would tell me if there was mold or bacteria (or, I guess, anything else that might have accumulated over ten years of usage) in the water being dispensed? (in case it matters, I'm in Canada, so hoping for something easily available here) and 2) Is there something I could do to clean/disinfect it? For example, when I bought a used Keurig, I read online to flush it with vinegar. I don't know if that's something that I can do here - I'm kind of naïve about these kinds of things.
posted by NoneOfTheAbove to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's a cleaning routine specified in the manual for another B&D water cooler here: . Yours may not be exactly the same, but it should help.
posted by pipeski at 6:45 AM on February 25, 2021

Best answer: I worked for a place that maintained water dispensers like these in offices; I've laid hands on hundreds of similar units (of a few different makes, but very similar design) and torn down a couple dozen to refurbish and repair. I have fairly loose personal food safety thresholds. After seeing how intensely disgusting these things get on the inside under ideal, good conditions, I would never drink from one. Ever.

If you must, I would flush it once with white vinegar, just in case any level of hard-ish water was used on the unit, once with very warm water, once with Star San or similar homebrewing sanitizer. I'd hit it at least twice more with star san/hot water, and then I would flush it with warm water several times after that. Your food-safety tolerances may be different, but I would still not drink water from a unit cleaned in this fashion.

If you see any sort of debris or chunks or black flecks during any of the cleaning/flushing processes pitch the unit.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:57 AM on February 25, 2021 [22 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, furnace.heart - you have convinced me to get rid of it.
posted by NoneOfTheAbove at 9:21 AM on February 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: furnace.heart convinced me to stop using the dispenser at the office I sometimes go to.
posted by AugustWest at 9:34 AM on February 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: furnace.heart convinced me to stare into space for 10 shell-shocked minutes and ponder all the times I’ve EVER drunk from one of those dispensers, then look up a video of one’s interior being cleaned on YouTube and nearly hurk from the thick biofilm slime inside.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:17 PM on February 25, 2021 [9 favorites]

Wait until you see the thick coating of sludge that coats the interior of every municipal water supply pipe.

That said, in most places I would personally rather take my chances with the low microbial load from the municipal water supply than plasticizers leaching into bottled drinks, which have been shown to have endocrine disruptor effects even at ridiculously low (parts per billion) concentrations.

The kind of office water cooler with the big blue blup-blup-blup bottle on top features both of these small hazards.
posted by flabdablet at 4:22 AM on February 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

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