How to Clean an Ice Maker
Ice makers’ maintenance requirements will vary from vendor to vendor, but most ice machines follow a similar overall process. Please consult with your machine’s manual for the approrpriate procedure, but here are some general steps to clean most ice makers.
- Remove all ice from the bin or dispenser. All ice must be removed during the cleaning and sanitizing cycles. To remove the ice, follow one of the methods below:
- Press the power switch at the end of the a harvest cycle after ice falls from the evaporators
- Press the power switch and allow the ice to completely melt
- Press the “clean” or “wash” button. Water will flow through the water dump valve and down the drain. Wait until the water trough refills and the display indicates to add chemicals. This typically takes at least 1 minute.
- Add the recommended amount of ice machine cleaner per your manual.
- Wait until the clean cycle is complete. This will typically take at least 20 minutes. After the cycle is complete, disconnect power to the ice machine (and the dispenser if applicable).
- Remove any internal ice machine components for cleaning. For safe and proper removal, refer to your machine’s manual. Once all parts have been removed, continue to the next step.
- Mix a solution of cleaner and lukewarm water. Refer to your machine’s manual for an appropriate amount of solution. A general water to cleaner ratio is 1 gallon of water to 16 ounces of cleaner. Depending on the amount of mineral buildup, you may need to use more cleaner.
- Use half of the water and cleaner mixture to clean all components and parts you’ve removed. Most solutions will start to foam once they come in contact with lime, scale, and mineral deposits. Once the foaming stops, use a soft-bristle nylon brush, sponge, or cloth to carefully clean all parts and then rinse with clean water.
- Use the other half of the water and cleaner mixture to clean all foodzone surfaces of the ice machine and bin or dispenser. Use a nylon brush or cloth to thoroughly clean the following ice machine areas: side walls, base (area above the trough), evaporator plastic parts (top, bottom, sides), and the bin or dispenser.
- Rinse all areas with clean water. This will help remove chemicals to prevent ice from becoming contaminated.
How to Clean the Exterior of an Ice Maker
Here are step-by-step instructions for how to clean the outside of your commercial ice maker.
- Clean the area around the ice machine as often as necessary. This will maintain cleanliness and efficient operation.
- Wipe surfaces down with a damp cloth rinsed in water to remove dust and dirt from the outside of the ice machine. Never use an abrasive pad or brush.
- If a greasy residue remains, use a damp cloth rinsed in a mild dish soap and water solution. See your machine’s manual for restrictions. Do not use chlorinated, citrus-based, or abrasive cleaners on exterior panels and plastic trim.
How to Sanitize an Ice Machine
Here are the steps you need to follow to sanitize your ice maker once you have removed any mold or buildup from your machine and its components.
Mix a solution of ice machine sanitizer and lukewarm water. Refer to your machine’s manual for an appropriate amount of solution. A general water to cleaner ratio is 3 gallons of water to 2 ounces of sanitizer.
- Use half of the water and sanitizer mixture to sanitize all components and parts you’ve removed. You can use a spray bottle to liberally apply the solution to all surfaces of the removed parts, or you can soak the removed parts in the solution. Do not rinse parts with water after sanitizing.
- Use the other half of the water and sanitizer mixture to clean all foodzone surfaces of the ice machine, bin, and dispenser. Make sure to sanitize the following areas: side walls, base (area above the trough), evaporator plastic parts (top, bottom, sides), and the bin or dispenser.
- Replace all removed components.
- Wait 20 minutes. This allows the sanitizier to properly disinfect.
- Reconnect the ice machine to power. Press your unit’s “clean” or “wash” button.
- Wait until the water trough refills and the display indicates to add chemical. Add the proper amount of sanitizer to the water trough.
- Set your machine to automatically start making ice after the sanitizing cycle is complete. This will typically take at least 20 minutes.
- Upon completion, it’s recommended to observe two cycles and monitor the freeze and harvest cycle times. Make sure you throw out the first batch of ice made after cleaning and sanitizing.
How to Clean an Ice Machine Condenser and Its Filter
Like the other components of your ice machine, the condenser should be cleaned once every six months. Follow these steps to clean the condenser of your ice maker:
- Disconnect power to the ice machine head section (and the remote condensing unit, if applicable).
- Shine a flashlight through the condenser to check for dirt between the fins.
- Blow compressed air through the condenser to remove dirt. You can also rinse it with water from the inside out.
- Check for remaining dirt. If dirt still remains, we recommend that you contact a service agent.
To clean your machine’s filter, simply rinse it with mild soap and water.
Why It’s Important to Clean an Ice Maker
The FDA defines ice as a food, which means it must be handled and cared for in the same manner as other food products. Any part of your ice machine that has contact with water can develop scale, slime, or mold at any time, which will contaminate your ice and potentially harm your customers.
How Often Should You Clean Your Ice Machine
Your ice machine should be cleaned and sanitized at least once every six months for efficient operation. First, you must perform the cleaning procedure to remove lime, scale, and mineral deposits, followed by the sanitizing procedure to disinfect the unit and remove algae and slime.
Reasons to clean your ice machine frequently:
- Avoid scale buildup on evaporator plates
- Prevent impeded heat transfer
- Keep harvest times short
- Help your machine maintain full capacity
- Defend against costly repairs
Signs You Need to Clean Your Ice Maker
If you experience some of the following issues, it may be time to clean your ice machine:
- Ice machine does not release ice or is slow to harvest
- Ice machine does not cycle into harvest mode
- Ice quality is poor (soft or not clear)
- Ice produces an odor
- Ice machine produces shallow or incomplete cubes
- Low ice capacity
Ice Machine Cleaning Tips
Here are some more general tips to consider before cleaning your ice machine.
- Some manufacturers require specific or approved cleaner and sanitizer solutions to be used with their machines.
- Be sure to follow the instructions in your ice maker’s manual when cleaning. The steps above are general guidelines that apply to most machines.
- Do not mix the cleaner and sanitizer solutions together.
- Wear rubber gloves and protective safety glasses when handling cleaner and sanitizer solutions.
- Check your establishment’s water quality if your machine requires maintenance more and more frequently. Water treatment or a new water cartridge may be necessary.
- Do not leave the control switch in a service position for an extended period of time when the water tank is empty during cleaning. This could damage the water pump.
- Know your equipment. Nugget and flake machines typically have more moving parts that require additional attention.
By cleaning and sanitizing your ice machine, you’ll be able to maintain your unit’s efficiency, prevent increased energy costs, and make clean and safe ice that is ready to use. Remember to clean and sanitize at least once every six months, and don’t forget to refer to your ice machine’s manual for special instructions.