Metal cogs inside a commercial ice machine

Olivia Marcy Maintenance & Cleaning

Ask The Experts: How To Clean A Commercial Ice Machine

When was the last time your commercial ice machine got a good scrub? Cleaning your commercial ice machine may not seem like a high priority in running your business, but it’s actually a crucial step to keep your ice machine running smoothly! 

If you’ve never cleaned your ice machine before, you’ll want to keep reading! You’ll learn how to clean an ice machine, why it’s important, and how often you should do it. Ready to gear up and get cleaning? Let’s go!

How To Clean A Commercial Ice Machine

How you’ll clean your ice maker will vary depending on the make, model, and vendor of your equipment. The cleaning process for a Manitowoc ice machine machine, for example, will look a little different from how to clean a Frigidaire ice maker, or even an Ice-O-Matic. 

Regardless of brand or equipment type, following these universal guidelines should get you started on the right track to cleaning your commercial ice machine.

9 Steps For A Clean Ice Machine

1. Dispose of your ice

Before you start cleaning, go ahead and toss that old ice—even the ice that hasn’t been harvested. You won’t be able to finish the cleaning or sanitizing cycles if ice is still in the works. 

To get rid of the existing ice, you can either unplug the ice machine and give the ice time to melt, or you can push the power button after the harvest cycle. 

2. Press the button marked "clean" or "wash"

When the “clean” cycle is activated, a stream of water will course through the dump valve and down the drain. You’ll want to wait until the trough refills to add any cleaning chemicals. Usually your ice machine display will indicate when the trough is refilled and it’s time to add in the cleaning agent.

3. Add The Ice Machine Cleaner

Your ice machine manufacturer should have recommendations for the best cleaner for your equipment. Double check your user manual for the type of chemicals and the recommended amounts.

4. Let The Clean Cycle Run

For most machines, the cleaning cycle lasts about 20 minutes. Once it wraps up, go ahead and unplug the machine (don’t forget to disconnect the dispenser power, too, if you have that). 

5. Check Your User Manual For Internal Components That Need to Be Removed

You’ll need to remove certain parts and ice machine components prior to cleaning to avoid damage to your equipment. The location and type of parts will vary depending on your ice machine brand and model, so keep that manual handy while you remove the components.

Related: It’s Time to Change Your Commercial Ice Machine Filter! Here’s How

6. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

Using lukewarm water, dilute your cleaning solution. Again, check the cleaner-to-water ratio in your user manual. If you don’t have a manual or it doesn’t specify the ratio, a safe estimate is 16 ounces of cleaner per 1 gallon of water. Keep in mind that if your machine has a lot of buildup, you’ll probably need a generous pour of cleaner.

7. Clean The Removed Parts and Components

Go ahead and grab a nylon brush, cloth, or any soft-bristle brush for this part. Using half of the cleaning mixture, clean the parts and components you removed in step 5. Most commercial ice machine cleaners will foam upon contact with lime, mineral deposits, or slime. When the foaming has stopped bubbling, go in with your brush and give it a gentle scrub. Make sure you rinse those parts with clean water to remove any residue.

8. Scrub Down All FoodZone Surfaces

Foodzone surfaces like the dispenser and ice bin will need a thorough going over, too. Use the other half of your cleaning mixture and your brush to scrub down the area above the trough, the walls, and the evaporator parts.

9. Rinse!

Give everything a good rinse with clean water and let the parts dry completely before reinserting them in the machine. Once everything is clean, activate the power and start your machine’s ice cycle.

How Often Should A Commercial Ice Machine Be Cleaned?

You’d be surprised how quickly slime, mineral buildup, and even mold can grow inside your ice machine. A regular cleaning schedule will prevent serious buildup, and make the cleaning process easier.

"Plan to clean your commercial ice machine every six months, or twice a year."

Stick to a regular cleaning schedule and you won’t have to worry about cloudy ice (a sign that your machine needs cleaning urgently), moldy ice, or buildup slowing down your machine’s ice production. 

What Chemicals Can I Use To Clean My Commercial Ice Machine?

It’s always a good idea to use the cleaning supplies recommended by your machine’s manufacturer. This ensures your cleaning agent is working with the design of your machine and won’t cause damage. 

At Memphis Ice, our technicians’ choice of ice machine cleaners are listed here, and include non-foaming and nickel-safe cleaners and sanitizers. 

Who Cleans Ice Machines Near Me?

If you’re in the Memphis or Mid-South area, we offer full-service ice machine services—including preventative maintenance and ice machine cleaning. When you sign up for our preventative maintenance program, you can choose the ice machine cleaning schedule that works best for you and your business, and we’ll be there on time, every time, to make sure your ice machine stays buildup-free.

Memphis Ice Machine Company: Your Full-Service Distributor For Ice Machine Cleaning, Parts, and Service

Here at Memphis Ice, we know you’ve got a business to run! You don’t have time to worry about cleaning your ice machine, or worrying whether your equipment is in good working order. That’s why we’re your local partner—to ensure your commercial refrigeration systems and ice machines are always ready to serve you and your customers. Schedule a call today to learn more about how we can help your business grow! 

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