It can be easy to take some machines for granted. Ice makers are a machine that might get overlooked in the maintenance department. When you go and grab some ice from your machine, you might not think about how long it has been since it was last cleaned, or even notice that the quality of your ice cubes has gone downhill.
Like any other machine that you own, regular maintenance and cleaning will help keep your ice maker in great working condition.
Why Cleaning is So Important
Water — especially hard water — naturally has many different minerals and microscopic sediment in it. If left unfiltered, these minerals can build up in your machine. Eventually, it becomes clear to the naked eye just what is in your water. Dirt and rust are two culprits that can clog up your machine over time. Lime scale and mold can also build up and make it difficult for your machine to produce ice.
If left unclean, all of this buildup can lead to unnecessary wear on your ice maker. Even if you use a filter, at some point your machine will need some cleaning. The good news, however, is that cleaning your machine will help it to maintain peak ice production and keep your ice looking and tasting great. It can also prolong the overall life of this important kitchen appliance.
How Often to Clean Your Machine
There may be some clear, physical indicators that your ice maker is overdue for a cleaning. The ice cubes the machine produces may start to become smaller. The ice may start to look cloudy, feel soft, or have a strange taste.
When you start to notice the quality of your ice changing, this is an indication that it is time to clean your machine. If you use a filter for your ice maker, a good rule of thumb is to follow your filter changes and clean your machine when you change the filter, approximately every three to six months.
Types of Ice Makers
Ice Maker Cleaners & Accessories
How you approach cleaning your ice machine may depend on the type of machine that it is. Some machines may require manual cleaning while others have an automated system. The first thing that you should do is read through your ice maker manual about how to clean it.
Different types of ice machines may require different steps in the cleaning process. The manual should tell you whether or not your machine has an automated cleaning system, which can really change up the process. When in doubt, make sure to follow the manual’s instructions as far as cleaning recommendations go.
Gather together everything that you will need to clean your ice maker. In many cases, all you need is some nickel-free ice machine cleaner and a soft rag for wiping. Even if your machine has an automatic cleaning system, the owner’s manual may suggest some ice machine cleaner for it. A nickel-free cleaner tends to work well for most machines. There is a wide variety of accessories and cleaners to help you get your ice maker back in its best condition.
- Turn off the ice maker and make sure it is unplugged.
- Turn off the water supply to the ice machine.
- Empty the machine and throw out all of the ice and water.
- Remove the parts of the machine to be cleaned as per your owner’s manual instructions.
- Using one part ice machine cleaner to three parts water, clean all machine parts thoroughly.
- Rinse parts with clean water.
- Replace the parts and wipe down all surfaces with a soft rag.
- Let the machine air dry.
- Plug the machine in and restart the ice maker.
- Once the first batch of ice is made, discard it.
- Enjoy your ice for another three to six months!
If your machine has an automatic cleaner, you may just need to turn the cleaner on. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to get your machine producing clean ice again.
Much like any other appliance that you own, your ice machine needs regular care and cleaning. For commercial ice machines, you may be required by law to clean it on a regular schedule, since ice is considered to be a food. Not only is this best for the quality of food you serve, but your customers will surely appreciate it.
Remember — You know that your ice maker needs cleaning if the ice it produces has changed in size, look, or even taste. We recommend cleaning your machine every three to six months for optimal performance. You should consult your owner’s manual before cleaning, especially for machines with automatic cleaners. For manual machines, the steps listed above should help you get off to a good start on keeping your machine clean.
More on Ice Makers:
- Shop for Ice Maker Cleaning Supplies
- 5 Places That Would Benefit From a Portable Ice Maker
- Types of Ice Makers Explained
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