How to Clean Your Ice Machine - Karpouzis Commercial Refrigeration - how to clean ice machine, clean your ice machine, ice machine service, ice machine repair, ice machine maintenance, ice dispenser maintenance

How to Clean Your Ice Machine

Do you need to clean your ice machine?

Ice machines play a vital role in various business settings, including restaurants, bars, hotels, and similar establishments.

Unfortunately, although ice makers are essential kitchen equipment, many restaurant and business owners fail to clean them regularly.

This article will walk you through an in-depth, step-by-step formula for performing ice machine maintenance, ensuring that your equipment is safe for your clients.

Why You Can’t Afford to Lose Your Ice Machine

For hotel owners, a consistent supply of ice is an expected amenity for guests. Imagine the inconvenience and dissatisfaction guests might feel if they reach for ice only to find the machine broken or producing unclean ice. In restaurants and bars, an ice machine is not just an amenity; it’s an integral part of daily operations. Beverages, from iced teas to cocktails, rely on a steady flow of clean, fresh ice. A malfunctioning ice machine can lead to operational hiccups, affecting service quality and, thereby, customer satisfaction.

Moreover, from a financial perspective, neglecting regular maintenance and cleaning of ice machines can lead to costly repairs or replacements in the long run. For a busy establishment, downtime in ice production can translate to a loss of revenue, especially during peak hours or special events. Additionally, health inspectors place a significant emphasis on ice machine hygiene. Any evidence of negligence can lead to penalties or, worse, temporary shutdowns, which can tarnish your business’s reputation.

The importance of a fully functional and clean ice machine cannot be overstated. It not only impacts guest experience and operational efficiency but also has long-term financial and reputational implications for your establishment. Regular maintenance is a small price to pay for ensuring the uninterrupted flow of business and safeguarding your brand’s image.

What Is the Best Way to Clean Your Ice Machine?

The maintenance requirements for ice machines will vary depending on the vendor, but most ice machines adopt a standard overall process. Please refer to your machine’s manual for specific instructions, but here are some general cleaning guidelines for most ice makers.

1) Take the ice out of the bin for your ice dispenser maintenance

During cleaning and sanitizing cycles, take all the ice out from the bin or dispenser. You can do this in two ways. So, after the ice falls from the evaporators at the end of the harvest cycle, you can either press the power switch or wait for the ice to melt completely.

2) Select the “clean” or “wash” button

Immediately, water will flow through the water dump valve and move straight to the drain. Wait until the water trough fills up again and the display shows added chemicals. It usually takes at least one minute to complete this task.

3) Add cleaner

Use the required quantity of ice machine cleaner as specified in your manual.

4) Wait for the clean cycle to finish

Cleaning takes at least 20 minutes on average. As soon as it is complete, turn off the ice machine. Also, turn off the dispenser’s power if possible.

5) Remove all internal components

Remove all internal components from your ice machine before you clean. Consult your machine’s manual for proper and safe removal. Continue to the next step once you remove all the parts.

6) Mix all cleaning solutions

Dilute your cleaning solution with lukewarm water. For a precise amount of solution, consult your machine’s manual. For example, a standard water-to-cleaner ratio is 1 gallon of water to 16 ounces of cleaner. You may need to use cleaner depending on how much mineral build-up there is.

7) Clean any removed parts

To clean all the components and parts you’ve removed, use half of the water and cleaner mixture. When most solutions come into contact with lime, scale, or mineral deposits, they foam. Once the foaming has stopped, carefully clean all parts with a soft-bristle nylon brush, sponge, or cloth, then rinse with clean water.

8) Keep food zone surfaces clean

During your ice dispenser maintenance, wash all food zone surfaces with the remaining water and cleaner mixture. Next, clean the following ice machine areas with a nylon brush or cloth: evaporator plastic parts (top, sides, and bottom), base (area above the trough), sidewalls, and the bin or dispenser.

9) Rinse

Ensure to rinse all areas with clean water thoroughly. This rinsing will aid in the removal of chemicals, preventing ice contamination.

Is your ice machine working at 100%?

How to Clean the Exterior of an Ice Maker

1) Concentrate on the immediate surroundings

As often as necessary, clean the area around the ice machine. This step ensures that your ice machine runs smoothly and efficiently.

2) Use suitable cleaning materials

To clean the outside of the ice machine, wipe it down with a damp cloth and rinse in water. Using an abrasive pad or brush is never a good idea.

3) Get rid of any remaining grease

If a greasy residue doesn’t go away after cleaning, get rid of it with a damp cloth soaked in a mild dish soap and water solution. Consult your machine’s manual for more information. Never use citrus-based, chlorinated, or abrasive cleaners on your exterior panels and plastic trim.

The Best Way to Sanitize During Ice Machine Maintenance

Do not forget to sanitize the ice machine after cleaning it to ensure that it is truly safe. While cleaning a surface eliminates visible dirt and germs, sanitizing it reduces the number of microbes to a safe level. After removing any mold or build-up from the ice machine and its components, follow these steps to sanitize it.

1) Get your sanitizer ready

Mix your ice machine sanitizer with lukewarm water to dilute it. For the right amount of solution, check your machine’s manual. A typical water-to-cleaner ratio is three gallons of water to 2 ounces of sanitizer.

2) Sanitize removed parts

Sanitize all components and parts you’ve removed from the machine with half of the water and sanitizer mixture. You can apply the solution liberally to all surfaces of the removed parts with a spray bottle, or you can soak the removed components in the solution. After sanitizing, you must not rinse them with water.

3) Sanitize any remaining areas

Wash all food zone surfaces of the ice machine, dispenser, and bin with the remaining water and sanitizer mixture. Sanitize the following areas: sidewalls, evaporator plastic parts (top, sides, and bottom), base (area above the trough), and the bin or dispenser.

4) Reinstall sanitized components

Reinstall the removed components to the ice machine at the end of the sanitization process.

5) Wait 20 minutes

Waiting allows the sanitizer to disinfect your ice machine properly.

6) Restore the power grid

Connect the ice machine to power once you’ve finished waiting. Do this by pressing the “clean” or “wash” button on your device.

7) Give time for the water troughs to fill up

Before adding your chemicals, make sure your display indicates that the troughs have a full refill. Once that step is complete, you can fill the water trough with the appropriate sanitizer.

8) Activate the ice-making machine

After the sanitizing cycle is complete, automatically set the machine to produce ice. It will take at least 20 minutes to complete this task.

9) Observe the ice machine service cycle

Following the completion of the project, monitor the two cycles and keep track of the freeze and harvest cycle times. After cleaning and sanitizing, discard the first batch of ice.

Available for 24/7 Ice Machine Repair


Your HVAC solutions should work for your business’s exact needs. For 50 years, KCR has worked with businesses all over MA to deliver peace of mind and temperature control.

KCR specializes in ice machine repair and HVAC service for:

  • hotels
  • country clubs
  • tennis clubs
  • colleges and universities
  • private schools
  • senior centers
  • nursing homes
  • assisted living facilities

We service and repair all major commercial refrigeration brands, including Beverage-Air, True, Hoshizaki, Norlake, Masterbilt, and AmeriKooler. If you’re looking for ice machine service, forced-air heating, or air conditioning repair, you can count on KCR.

You can also follow us on Facebook for exciting product updates and promotions!