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Tips, tricks and essentials for restaurant and foodservice equipment in one place.

How to Clean Your Commercial Ice Machine

Regularly cleaning your ice machine is vital to having high-quality ice. If cubes are shallow, opaque or incomplete, limescale buildup could be harming your unit. If the ice tastes bad or smells funny, unwanted residues may be the reason. Whatever the cause, it should be dealt with immediately.

If you want to learn how to clean your commercial ice machine effectively, this guide explains how to eliminate scale, lime and other mineral deposits from your unit. By following these easy steps, you can not only improve the quality of the ice but also make the unit more energy-efficient. 

Supplies

Warm Water

Vinegar 

Mild Detergent

Cleaning Cloths

Scale Remover (such as Scotsman Ice Machine Scale Remover)

Nylon Brush (Hoshizaki Brush) or a Soft Sponge

Vacuum Cleaner

Stiff-Bristle Brush

Consider thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing your ice machine about once every six months. If the unit is in a pizzeria or bakery, you will have to clean the machine more often because of the flour in the air. Remember to discard the batches of ice during and after the cleaning process.

Procedures for Cleaning a Commercial Ice Machine

Before you start, make sure to check out the owner’s manual for specific instructions and tips. If you don’t feel comfortable cleaning the unit, contact an authorized service technician for assistance. Remember to clean the unit before sanitizing.

Pre-Cleaning Procedure

  • Step 1. Remove ice from the bin - First, empty the ice from the bin. If there’s ice on the evaporator, you may have to press the manual harvest button, depending on the model.
  • Step 2. Press the clean/wash button or switch (if applicable to your machine) - Then, press the clean/wash button if your unit has one.
  • Step 3. Add the appropriate amount of scale remover - Whether you’re cleaning a Manitowoc, Scotsman or other machine, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and pour into the reservoir the amount of scale remover that’s indicated on the bottle.
  • Step 4. Turn the unit off - Once the cleaning cycle is complete (typically about 20-45 minutes), cut power to the unit.
  • Step 5. Unplug the unit - To avoid electrical hazards, unplug the power cord from the outlet.
  • Step 6. 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.

Cleaning the Ice Maker Parts & Interior

  • Step 1. Make a cleaning solution - 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.
  • Step 2. Clean the ice machine parts - 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.
  • Step 3. Clean the unit - While the parts are soaking, use a nylon brush or cloth to clean the top, bottom and sides of both the evaporator and ice bin.
  • Step 4. Rinse and dry the soaked parts - Once the ice maker parts are clean, rinse them with clean water and then dry them off with a clean cloth.

Cleaning the Condenser Coils & Air Filter (If Applicable)

  • Step 1. Clean the condenser coils (if unit is air-cooled) - If your icemaker is air-cooled, use a vacuum cleaner or stiff brush to clean the condenser coils.
  • Step 2. Clean the air filter (if applicable) - Some models have an air filter protecting the condenser which can be brushed off or washed.

Procedures for Sanitizing an Ice Machine

These steps are designed specifically for disinfecting an ice machine. As previously stated, always sanitize the unit after cleaning.

  • Step 1. Make a sanitizing solution - Mix a solution of sanitizer and warm water using the ratio specified in your service manual.
  • Step 2. Sanitize the parts - Use half the solution to sanitize all removed components by cleaning with a cloth or soaking them.
  • Step 3. Sanitize the unit - Use the other half of the solution to sanitize the evaporator and ice bin in the same areas where cleaner was used.
  • Step 4. Reassemble the unit - Reinstall all the removed components.
  • Step 5. Restore power to the unit - Reconnect power and water to the ice machine and press the clean/wash button.
  • Step 6. Flush out the unit - Run two cycles and discard the ice, or discard the amount directed by the manufacturer in your owner’s manual for flushing out the unit.
  • Step 7. Resume normal operations - Turn the unit on and use the ice maker normally.

Cleaning the Exterior of an Ice Machine

Bacteria on the exterior can migrate and contaminate the inside of your ice machine, so it’s important to keep the exterior surface and surrounding area clean. Be sure to consult your service manual for more detailed instructions on cleaning the unit exterior.

  • Step 1. Clean the surrounding area - Whether you use a vacuum or damp cloth, be sure to maintain the area around the unit regularly.
  • Step 2. Dust the ice machine exterior - Use a damp cloth to wipe the unit exterior and remove any dust or other particle.
  • Step 3. Scrub away grease - Clean any grease on the exterior by scrubbing with a damp cloth and using a solution of warm water, vinegar and dish soap. 

Please contact a local authorized service agent who can help with these specific units and all your commercial kitchen equipment needs.