Commercial ice makers are needed for making ice quickly in hotels, restaurants, bars, and even hospitals. They are very important especially in the food-service business where they are frequently used to preserve foods such as fish and to serve icy cocktails, smoothies, and other drinks.
While most owners of commercial ice machines understand their usefulness and value their machines, many owners do not clean and maintain them routinely.
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This often leads to poor quality ice and commercial ice machine failure. If you are a commercial ice machine owner and you want to avoid both poor quality ice and commercial ice machine failure, this article is for you. In it, I will share with you how exactly to clean and maintain your commercial ice maker to make sure it stays hygienic and continues performing efficiently.
How to Clean a Commercial Ice Maker
Different commercial ice makers have got different cleaning and maintenance requirements. Therefore, you must read your ice maker’s manual to learn how to correctly clean and maintain your unit. However, with this said, most commercial ice maker cleaning requirements are quite similar. Below is a step-by-step guide you can use to clean just about any commercial ice machine.
1. Get Rid of All the Ice Inside Your Commercial Ice Machine. To clean your ice machine properly, you need to get rid of all the ice inside it. So switch it off when it finishes making ice (after everything falls from its evaporators) and then remove all the ice inside it.
2. Make the Machine Wash Itself. Most commercial ice machines have an automatic wash or clean function. After removing the ice inside your ice maker, you should switch it back on and activate its automatic washing or cleaning function. When you do this, your ice machine will move water inside its key components to clean itself. This will probably take 10 to 15 minutes. In some cases, when you activate the automatic washing or cleaning function, your commercial ice machine will prompt you to add an ice maker cleaner. You should do this to enable the machine to clean/wash its ice-making unit properly.
3. Remove Removable Internal Components. Once your machine has cleaned itself (if it can), you should switch it off and remove all its removable internal components. Do not unscrew anything. Anything that is screwed in place should most likely remain in place. Remove only the things that can be removed as per your manual. Removing removable components will enable you to clean them correctly.
4. Add a Suitable Volume of Ice Machine Cleaner To Warm Water. Once you have removed all the removable components of your ice machine, you should create a solution of ice machine cleaner and warm water to use to clean all the components and the machine itself. If the components and the machine are really dirty, you should add a good amount of ice machine cleaner.
5. Get a Clean Dish-Washing Cloth and a Dish Brush. After creating a foaming solution of ice machine cleaner and warm water, you should grab a clean dish-washing cloth and a dish brush and get to work. Use them and the solution to clean the inside of your ice maker first. And then use them and the solution to clean all the components of the machine. Make sure every inch inside your ice maker and on the components is spotless.
6. Rinse Everything Using Plenty of Warm Water. After scrubbing and cleaning everything, you should rinse the inside of your ice maker and its components thoroughly using plenty of warm water. It is important to use plenty of warm water to make sure all the cleaning chemicals are removed and flushed away from all the surfaces; this will prevent new ice cubes from getting contaminated. It will also ensure that everything looks super clean and spotless.
By following the steps above, you will make your commercial ice maker spotless. But that is just the inside. To clean the outside/ the exterior of your ice maker, follow the steps below.
How to Clean the Exterior of a Commercial Ice Maker
You will find it much easier to clean the exterior of your commercial ice maker because every surface that needs to be cleaned is exposed. Follow the steps below to clean the exterior of your commercial ice maker.
1. Wipe Down the Exposed Surfaces of Your Ice Maker As Often As Possible. Doing this will make your ice maker clean by removing all dirt and dust on the surfaces. Don’t use a brush or abrasive pad to clean the external surfaces of your ice maker. They will leave scratches on your ice maker and make it less attractive.
2. Use a Mild Dish-Washing Detergent and Water Mix to Remove Grease/ Grime. If your commercial ice maker is located in a busy kitchen, it will very likely accumulate some grease/ grime on it. To remove this, you should create a solution of mild dish-washing detergent and water and then use this solution and a dish-washing cloth to wipe down everything.
By following the steps above, you will ensure your machine is clean, both inside and outside, and producing clean and quality ice cubes.
How to Clean Ice Machine Condenser
Cleaning the interior and exterior surfaces of your commercial ice machine is great. However, you should not forget to clean its condenser. Because if you do not clean your machine’s condenser, you run the risk of damaging it or significantly reducing its capacity/ efficiency. To clean your commercial ice maker’s condenser, follow the steps below.
1. Disconnect Your Condenser From Its Source Of Power. You should not even attempt to touch your ice machine’s condenser if it is still plugged in. This is because of the danger of electric shock.
2. Unscrew the Screen. Your condenser is probably protected by a screen that is screwed in. Unscrew the screen to get access to it. If the screen has a filter, clean it. Some ice machine manufacturers advise washing filters gently with running water, wringing them, and hanging them to dry. Check what the manufacturer of your ice maker advises and do it.
3. Grab a Vacuum Cleaner with A Brush Attachment. After removing the screen on your ice maker’s condenser and cleaning its filter, you should grab a vacuum cleaner and put a brush attachment on it. Then use it to brush and vacuum the fins on the condenser. There will be dust in the air when you do this so put on a dust mask. Make sure you vacuum every inch of your condenser to make it as clean as it can be.
4. Screw the Screen Back On. When you are done cleaning the condenser, put the filter back on the screen, and screw the screen back on.
5. Reconnect Your Condenser. At this point, you are done cleaning your ice maker’s condenser, you just need to reconnect it to start using it again.
Remember, before cleaning your ice maker and your condenser, you should consult its user manual and any other documentation it comes with for a clear direction on what to do. Only if you do not have such documentation, should you follow the steps above as they are the common steps used to clean/ maintain most condensers.
Why You Need To Clean Your Commercial Ice Maker Regularly
If you own a commercial ice maker, you most probably use it in a food service establishment. And if this is true, you most probably use it to make icy or chilly drinks or to preserve foods such as fish or other meats. The fact that you use the ice your ice machine makes to make drinks or preserve food means you should clean it regularly. Because if you don’t, it will become unclean and the food you serve will become unsafe for your customers. So cleaning your ice maker regularly is important to ensure it remains safe to use to serve your customers.
Cleaning your commercial ice machine regularly is also important to make sure it continues functioning optimally. If you don’t clean your ice maker and its condenser regularly, it could fail or it could start making less ice for you (quality and quantity). So cleaning your ice machine routinely is important if you want it to continue functioning efficiently.
How Regularly Should You Clean Your Commercial Ice Maker
You should clean your commercial ice maker every six months. This will make sure it stays clean and safe to use and that it continues functioning optimally. By cleaning your machine regularly, you reduce the possibility of it failing and requiring costly repairs.
You should also clean your commercial ice machine as soon as you notice poor ice quality, low ice volume, or any odd smells. Because these things are indicators of unclean ice makers.
The Final Word
By cleaning and maintaining your commercial ice machine, you will ensure it continues working optimally and makes quality, safe ice cubes that are perfect for making drinks and preserving food.
On a side note, before you start cleaning your ice maker, put on gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals you will use.
Commercial ice makers can last you several years and make your business a lot of money, but you have to do you part in taking care of it. Refer to your manual for more information on how to clean your commercial ice maker.