Your commercial ice machine should be cleaned at least every six months. In some cases, though, you may need to deep clean it every three or four months. Units with heavy usage or near a cooking line might need monthly cleanings. The frequency of cleaning your commercial ice machine depends on the type of machine, its location, water condition, and usage volume. Check your machine for specific instructions or recommendations.
Consider cleaning your ice machine if it:
- doesn’t cycle into harvest mode
- is slow to harvest or release ice
- produces soft or cloudy ice
- makes ice with an unpleasant smell
- produces incomplete or shallow cubes
Thoroughly cleaning your ice machine helps ensure that you’re consistently providing fresh, clean ice. Having your ice maker regularly cleaned and sanitized can help you save time, and money, the health of your customers and employees, and the reputation of your establishment.
Why Ice Machines Need To Be Cleaned Regularly
Your ice machine needs regular cleaning because ice is considered food, according to the FDA. Most state and local authorities model their food regulations on the FDA Food Code, which mandates the safe, sanitary production and handling of ice. Whether your ice is used for chilling or packaging food products or for drink service, clean ice is essential for your business.
Ice, ice machines, and ice scoops can carry microbes and potentially spread foodborne illnesses. Contamination easily goes undetected with just visual inspection, though. Any part of the machine that has contact with water is susceptible to substances that can affect the quality and safety of your ice.
Ice Machine Contaminants include:
- dust, lint, and dirt
- mineral deposits
Once a contaminant gets into an ice machine, the ice may preserve the microbes while the moisture allows them to colonize. As the germs reproduce, they make sticky substances called biofilms that are difficult to remove. Regular cleaning is the best proactive strategy to keep your ice pure.
When Should An Ice Machine Filter Be Changed?
You should change your ice machine filter at least as often as you clean other parts of your machine, every six months. A water filter traps dust, lint, grease, and dirt. It helps prevent scale from building up over time, which can decrease ice production. A filter also removes sediment, foul odors, and bad tastes from the water used to make ice. A new water filter is essential for producing the purest ice possible for your patrons and employees.
Even if your filter looks fine after six months, replace it anyway. The scale inhibitor and carbon elements that prevent bad odor and taste may be depleted. Make sure that your water supply is safe as well, meeting EPA standards for drinking water.
Scheduling Routine Commercial Ice Machine Cleanings
Routine deep cleaning is crucial to remove harmful and unwanted particles from your ice supply. This helps you avoid low health inspection grades, poor reviews on social media, employee sickness, or even lawsuits.
Maintain a routine cleaning schedule for your commercial ice machine to:
- help maintain your machine’s capacity and efficiency
- remove algae
- prevent lime, scale, mold, and mineral buildup
- avoid impeded heat transfer
- save money on energy costs and repairs
- help ensure that your ice is safe and ready to use
If you need to clean and sanitize your ice machine more often than recommended by the manufacturer, have your establishment’s water quality tested.