Fountain dispensers, also known as beverage dispensers or soda fountains, are widely used in the foodservice industry for both self-serve and full-service beverage sales. While they come in different sizes and varieties, including countertop and drop-in models, fountains all make beverages in the same way—flavored syrup and carbonated water are mixed at the point of dispensing.
These units get a lot of use throughout the day, especially in high-volume operations like convenient stores, quick-service restaurants and drive-thrus. Fortunately, fountains typically continue to perform efficiently with a steady routine maintenance. Below are daily, weekly and monthly tips for how to clean and sanitize fountain and beverage dispensers.
Water and syrup mix in the nozzle right before pouring from the tap, so the nozzles are likely to have built-up syrup in and around them. Remove them as well as the diffusers and soak them in a sanitizing solution for several minutes. Then scrub them with a nylon brush to remove any hardened syrup or sugar (note: some nozzles may require a special brush from the manufacturer), and let them air dry.
Reattach the nozzles and press down on the dispenser valves for several seconds to clear the nozzles off any lingering sanitizing solution, (you can let the dispensed liquid drain down the pan). With a lint-free cloth, wipe down the dispenser valves, and then remove and wash the drip pan. Wipe down the surface of the entire dispenser and replace any parts that were removed.
Be sure to use approved sanitizing solution for cleaning fountain dispenser components. Never use bleach as this may break down plastics and other materials prematurely. Also, never use abrasive pads – you’ll ruin the shine of a clean unit!
Once a week clean the syrup connectors. First, disconnect the syrup lines from the bag-in-box (BIB) units. Fully remove the connectors and tap or shake them lightly to remove any remaining syrup. Soak the connectors in the sanitizing solution for at least one minute, let them dry, and then reattach them to the syrup lines and BIB units. This process will ensure the lines are free of old syrup and bacteria contamination.
Each month be sure to clean and sanitize the fountain dispenser’s ice bin (either below or above the unit). First, unplug the ice maker and empty any remaining ice that’s in the bin. Then, using the sanitizing solution, scrub the inside of the bin with a nylon brush (do not use metal bristles here). Don’t forget to brush down into the ice chute. Close the ice bin and plug the ice maker back in so the unit can begin to refill itself with ice.
The condenser fans on the outside of the unit collect dust throughout the month, so clean these off also using a dedicated brush. Clean any air filters at the same time if they are used on your fountain model
One very important thing to check each month is the water filtration system. The quality of the water used in beverages and ice is critical when it comes to a great product and great customer experience. Check the filters to see if they need to be replaced (typically every six months), and follow any other maintenance instructions specific to your water filter system.