Ice machines are a fantastic invention and make our lives all that more chilled. They are a critical feature in restaurants, bars, healthcare facilities, and more.
And although they are very important, they are sadly often forgotten. Sadly they are not self-maintaining and if you do not properly care for your ice machine, you could be saying goodbye to it soon.
Why is it important?
Cleaning ice machines is vital as water, especially hard water has many different minerals and microscopic elements in it.
If your machine and water go unfiltered then you face a build-up. One of the most common issues from this is a limescale build-up, while not necessarily being a health hazard can alter the taste of your water and ice and it can also be unsightly and cause blockages.
If your water and ice machine go unfiltered for a while you will see what is actually in your water and it won’t be a pleasant experience.
Dirt and rust are also culprits here, these clog up your machine alongside limescale and mold which often build up and make ice production slower and clean ice a distant memory.
This can lead to problems with your machine and so proper cleaning maintenance on your machine keeps up with peak ice production and ice that tastes and smell divine.
Signs you need to clean
Signs you may need to clean your ice machine are often rather standout, but you want to clean it often enough that you do not get to the point where a need for cleaning is blatantly obvious.
However, if you are looking for signs to check if it needs cleaning then you want to look for the following;
- Smaller than usual ice.
- Ice that is cloudy or murky.
- Ice that is softer than usual.
- Ice that smells or tastes strange.
How to clean your ice machine
Every machine is different and each machine will therefore require being cleaned in different ways.
To double-check how you should clean your machine consult that manufacturer manual, use this to make sure what cleaning solutions it suggests for that model, what temperature of water you should use, and so forth.
Certain parts of a machine may be removable for cleaning whereas they may not be removable on other makes of machines.
These are instructions on how to generally clean a standard ice machine, please consult your user manual for further information and more in-depth instructions regarding your specific machine.
- Remove all ice from the bin/dispenser. Press the power button at the end of a cycle after the ice has fallen, turn it off, and allow the ice to melt.
- Press the clean or wash button and the melted ice will flow through the water valve and into the drain. Eventually, after about a minute or so, it will refill and the display on your machine should indicate to add in the cleaning solution chemicals.
- Now you will need to add in the recommended amount of chemicals for your machine as stated by your machine’s manufacturer guide.
- Once you have added in the chemicals the cycle can begin, this will take up to or around about 30 minutes, so wait for it to run. Once it has finished this cycle, disconnect the power for the machine.
- Now we get to the strenuous part, before now the machine was doing most of the hard work, now it is your turn. Remove all internal components for individual cleaning- this may differ for each machine to refer to your user manual for further information on what parts you should remove for this process. Once these parts are removed you may continue to clean.
- Next, we have to make a cleaning solution, made from a mixture of a cleaning product (usually stated by the manufacturer) and warm/ lukewarm water in a bucket. It is a general rule of thumb to use 1 Litre of water per 100ml of cleaning fluid, but each machine is different so make sure you use what the manual indicates you should.
- Use half of this mixture to soak the parts you have removed. You will want to use a small soft-bristled nylon brush or a sponge for this. Make sure you clean the whole part, get into any small parts and really clean them out, you don’t want to miss any limescale, mold, or dust, the cleaner they are, the longer they’ll stay that way. Once you have cleaned each part rinse them in clean water.
- While they soak, you will want to use the other half of the mixture to clean what is called the ‘in food zone’, this is basically the area that will touch anything that is consumable, so here, it is the entire inside of your ice machine. Use a nylon brush or cloth to thoroughly clean areas such as the sidewalls, base, and plastic parts, don’t forget the ceiling of the machine too. Be thorough with it, much like with the smaller parts.
- Now you rinse the inside out with water and can part putting it back together, you may also want to sanitize your machine which is another option after washing, if you do this do not rinse after sanitizing as it will not need it.
After the main clean you may wish to sanitize your machine, doing so you should use the manufacturer’s recommended sanitizer.
Spray over the area and do not rinse over, it is not as strenuous as the big clean but will add more longevity to the cleanliness of your machine.You can also clean the outside of your machine, sanitizing and washing it lightly.
Wiping down surfaces regularly, especially in food and beverage environments, is very important and you should wash down all surfaces and sanitize often to maintain peak cleanliness and deter all bacteria and foreign bodies.
It is also recommended that you clean the filter, it will need cleaning regularly as it traps dust and dirt in it. It can be cleaned as simply as running it under warm soapy water.
This is required as if it is not done a lack of airflow can raise the temperature of your machine and can damage the life of your machine and the quality of your ice.