Front of Fridge Water Dispensers Suck. There, I Said It.

why-i-hate-front-of-fridge-water-dispensers: a man looking into a white refrigerator.
Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

Remember the early aughts, when front of fridge water dispensers were still kind of a new thing, and you could be all like “Wow, it crushes and cubes? The future is now!”? Cut to a quarter of a century later, and the feature is ubiquitous—whether you’re poking around a mid-level rental or the kitchen of some hoity-toity $2-million listing, chances are the fridge comes with an exterior dispenser, possibly one with a touch screen, temperature controls and the ability to sense the size of the glass placed beneath it. 

BUT just because something is ubiquitous (or, quite frankly, more expensive), it doesn’t mean it’s good. And while I fear alienating two-thirds of our readership by saying this, it has to be said. Front of fridge water dispensers suck. Suck suck suck suck suck.

I’ve quietly maintained this position of suckage for a while, nodding my head and forcing a smile while your stupid refrigerator gives me a tepid dribble of water or spews ice cubes all over the floor. But recently, I’ve come to realize I’m not alone. The tide is turning.

First came the aesthetic haters, with their sensible contention that you don’t want a bunch of junk mucking up the front of an appliance that would otherwise not be the focal point of your kitchen. Driven by high-end designers and a minimalist, Scandi-inspired look, we saw a push towards sleek, paneled refrigerators (which, in fairness, add several thousand dollars to the overall price) in the past decade. “Not only does the consumer want a seamless look of decorative panels,” says interior designer Jeanne K Chung, NKBA Member and Principal at Cozy·Stylish·Chic. “but now there are [simply] more (and better) options on the market.”

Then came the functionality dissidents, voicing what I’ve always known to be true: In addition to being ugly, front of fridge dispensers are a pain in the ass. Samir Mezrahi (the guy behind the fabulous account @zillowgonewild) put it best in a recent post: “When was the last time the filter was changed? When you bought the house? Never?” He also has quips with the capacity (“You can barely put a normal cup size in there”), the filling speed (“Why does the water always come out too fast or too slow? Can’t they do medium?”) and the confusing nature of the modes (“There’s nothing scarier than pushing the button and thinking you’re getting water, but then hearing that [grumble sound] because the ice is coming.”) I agree, and would add to these gripes the fact that when you do go in for ice, it a) always spills on the ground, b) spritzes little ice particles on your hand or c) is out of ice entirely and just emits and an empty gurgle.

Is all of that easier than just opening up the refrigerator and pulling out the Brita? YOU TELL ME.

So, are homeowners taking note? Gallery Media Group’s Chief Brand Officer Mary Kate McGrath is currently in the midst of her own kitchen renovation and considers dispensers a hard no. “I want my berries in my fridge and my water served from a #watertok approved filter elsewhere,” she maintains. “Standing in front of my fridge filling a water glass feels so middle school to me now. Like, wait one second while I fill this and then I’ll tell you everything that I want to buy at Contempo Casuals.” Chung agrees: “Front of Fridge water dispensers have definitely taken a back seat.”

And as for my own recent renovation? Let’s just say I went with the CAFÉ French door refrigerator, which offers a discreet water dispenser…inside the door.

jillian quint

Editor-in-Chief, Avid Reader, Wallpaper Enthusiast

Jillian Quint is the Editor-in-Chief of PureWow, where she oversees the editorial staff and all the fabulous content you read every day. Jillian began her career as a book editor...