How to Clean an Ice Machine?

Ice maker machines were once used in restaurants and high-end commercial establishments, but technology has improved extensively that these kitchen appliances have become an integral part of many households. As we all know prompt maintenance is the key to elongate the life of an electronic appliance. And similarly, your countertop ice making machine also demands prompt cleaning and maintenance, to prolong its life. Let us discuss why and how we have to clean the ice-making machine.

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Why Should You Clean the Appliance?

There are all chances for the ice maker machine to develop slime, scale or mold at any time and there is a greater chance of these contaminants to come in contact with the water that is transformed into ice. Thus, it is important to clean and sanitize the ice machine to remove all algae growth and slime and to disinfect it. Other important reasons to clean the ice maker are to improve its efficacy, to maintain short ice-making cycles, to prevent impeded heat transfers, and to avoid costly repairs.

Some signs that compel you to clean the machine immediately:

If you counteract the following warning signs, then it is time to clean your ice maker machine instantly. 

  • The machine is slow in harvesting ice or, does not release ice as desired.
  • The quality of ice that is been produced is poor or is soft and cloudy.
  • The ice that s been produced has an odor.
  • The quantity of ice produced is fewer than normal
  • The machine produces shallow ice or cubes that are incomplete in shape.

Cleaning the Ice Maker Machine

How to Clean an Ice Machine
Image Credit: WireCutter

A. Exteriors

  • Keep the area surrounding the ice maker machine clean, as it has a direct impact on the efficient operation of the ice maker.
  • Irrespective of the external built of the machine, wipe its surfaces with a damp cloth twice a week, to remove dust and dirt deposits. Even if your machine has a stainless steel body, do not use a brush or abrasive pad to clean it. 
  • If you feel greasy deposits on the body of the ice maker, use a mild soap solution to remove the dirt. 
  • Always look for the manual for cleaning instructions, as abrasive cleaners can damage the exterior panels of the machine.

B. Interiors

The interior cleaning requirements vary between manufacturers, and one must refer to the owner’s manual for an appropriate cleaning procedure. The following are general and accepted measures that you can deploy in cleaning your appliance.

  • Remove all ice from the dispenser or the bin before the cleaning or sanitizing cycle. You can switch off the power to allow all ice to melt and drain.
  • Press the wash or the clean button on the control panel to allow all water to drain.
  • Add the desired amount of cleaner, as prescribed by your manufacturer. 
  • Wait until the cleaning cycle completes and disconnect power after the cycle is completed.
  • Dilute the cleaner with lukewarm water, as indicated or depending on the extent of the mineral build-up. 

The solution that you have added starts to foam when it comes in contact with scale, lime, or mineral deposits. After the foaming stops, use a soft nylon brush to clean the machine areas thoroughly. Make sure to cover the sidewalls of the machine, the ice bin, dispenser, plastic parts at the evaporator, etc. After applying the cleaning liquid, rinse all the areas with clean water. This helps in removing any chemicals that are left in the machine during cleaning.

C. Cleaning the condenser and filter

It is important to clean the condenser and filter of the ice-making machine every six months to ensure the quality of the ice produced. Disconnect power and shine a flashlight through the condenser to check for dirt between the fins. Blow compressed air to remove all the dirt and also try rinsing it with water from inside out. If you feel that the dirt remains, you can take help from a service agent.

Sanitizing the Ice Maker Machine

After removing any mold or slime build-up in the machine, the next important step is to sanitize the ice machine. Mix a solution of the sanitizer that has been allowed to use in your machine by the manufacturer with lukewarm water. refer to the strength and the quantity of sanitizer solution to be used as well. The general rule is to mix 2 ounces of sanitizer in three gallons of water.

Use this mixture to sanitize the components that have been removed for cleaning. You can either soak these parts in the solution or spray it over them with the help of a spray bottle. Do not rinse these components in water after cleaning them with the sanitizer. 

Remember to sanitize all surfaces of the machine that comes in contact with the ice such as ice bin, dispenser, ice machine, etc. Sanitize the sidewalls, base, dispenser, ice basket, and even the scoop. 

Allow the sanitizer solution to stay on the components of the ice maker machine for about twenty minutes. This is the minimum allowed time to get rid of all the microbes. Reconnect the power plug and press the clean button at the control panel. 

Wait for the add chemical icon to indicate and add a prescribed amount of sanitizer to the water trough and wait for about 20 minutes to allow the sanitizing cycle to complete. Allow the machine to continue with its ice harvesting cycle and throw off the first batch of ice that has been made after cleaning and sanitizing. 

Final Thoughts

It is mandatory to clean the ice maker machine and sanitize it at least once every six months to ensure its efficient operation. This helps in removing the scale, slime, mineral deposits, etc., from the unit and also disinfects it pertinently from algae and other micro-organisms. It also makes the unit energy efficient and prevents costly machine repairs later on. While initiating the cleaning process, make sure to follow the instructions from the manual to avoid any damage or repair to the unit.

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