Ice is as essential as food is when it comes to your establishment, refreshing everything from water and soft drinks to iced tea and cocktails. That’s why regularly cleaning your ice machine is vital to having high-quality ice. When cubes are shallow, opaque or incomplete, there could be a lime scale buildup harming your unit. If the ice tastes bad or smells funny, you’ve got to deal with the issue immediately.
Luckily, we have some quick and easy steps for how to clean an ice machine. Cleaning your unit will not only make your ice spotless, but it also can help cut down on energy costs in your commercial kitchen.
Consider thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing your ice machine about once every six months. If your business is a pizzeria or bakery, you will have to clean the machine more often because of all that flour in the air. During and after the cleaning process, remember to discard the batches of ice. Before you start, make sure to check out your owner’s manual for specific instructions and tips.
What You Need:
- Scale remover & cleaner
- Warm water
- Nylon brush, sponge or cloth
- Vacuum cleaner
- Stiff brush
Cleaning an Ice Machine
The steps below will help you eliminate scale, lime and other mineral deposits from your unit. Cleaning should be done before sanitizing.
- Remove ice from the bin. If there is ice on the evaporator, you may have to hit a manual harvest button depending on the model.
- Press the clean/wash button or switch if applicable to your machine.
- Add the appropriate amount of scale remover, such as these ones from Manitowoc Ice or Scotsman, into the reservoir. Make sure to check your service manual to see the recommended amount that’s required.
- Once the cleaning cycle is complete (typically about 20-45 minutes), disconnect power.
- Remove parts for cleaning. Reference your machine’s service manual to find their exact locations. Specialized units like flakers and nugget ice machines will have additional parts to clean.
- Mix a solution of cleaner and warm water using the ratio suggested in your service manual. Generally 1 gallon of water to 16 oz. of cleaner is the standard mix.
- Use half the solution to clean all removed parts. You can use a nylon brush, sponge or cloth to scrub off dirt or scale. If any parts are heavily scaled, try soaking them in the solution.
- While parts are soaking, use a nylon brush or cloth to clean the top, bottom and sides of both the evaporator and ice bin.
- Rinse the soaked parts with clean water, and dry them off before reinstalling.
Sanitizing an Ice Machine
These steps are designed specifically for disinfecting an ice machine. Sanitizing should be done after cleaning, without fail.
- Mix a solution of sanitizer and warm water using the ratio specified in your service manual.
- Use half the solution to sanitize all removed components by cleaning with a cloth or soaking them.
- Use the other half of the solution to sanitize the evaporator and ice bin in the same areas where cleaner was used.
- Reassemble all the removed components.
- Reconnect power and water to the ice machine and press the clean/wash button.
- Discard the first two cycles of ice or the amount directed by your manufacturer.
- If your icemaker is air-cooled, use a vacuum cleaner or stiff brush to clean the condenser coils.
- Some models have an air filter protecting the condenser which can be brushed off or washed.
Cleaning the Exterior of an Ice Machine
Bacteria on the exterior can migrate and contaminate the inside of your ice machine. Try to clean the outside of your unit and the area surrounding it regularly. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the machine’s surfaces to remove dust.
If you notice a buildup of grease on the exterior, mix warm water with vinegar or dish soap and scrub the machine with a damp cloth. Consult your service manual for thorough exterior cleaning instructions.