Ice machines are one piece of equipment that you should not neglect. As we head into warmer months, it’s vital to the health of your patrons and the success of your business that you are proactively cleaning and maintaining your ice machines. Believe it or not, ice machines are often one of the dirtiest pieces of equipment in a commercial kitchen. This can be quite alarming when you consider the amount of ice that is consumed on a daily basis. Maintaining a clean and properly functioning ice machine will avoid poor ice quality, health risks, and costly emergency repairs. The following tips can help keep your ice cool, clean and safe!
Many operators think they can just set up their ice machine and forget about it. If it’s producing ice then it’s working properly, right? Wrong. Like any other piece of equipment in your establishment, regular maintenance ensures that your machine is running properly and remains valuable asset to your business. It may seem like a hassle to schedule maintenance when nothing seems to be malfunctioning, however this can avoid a costly repair down the road or even worse, sick customers and staff due to contaminated ice that you are serving.
Caring for your ice machine doesn’t just end with regular maintenance. Properly cleaning and sanitizing every two months is critical to serving the healthiest quality of ice you can. An important thing to remember – just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it is not there. Even if your ice machine looks clean, the real danger can come from what you can’t see. A neglected ice machine can develop scale, slime, mold and algae; all extremely dangerous bacteria. To clean your ice machine, you will first need to turn it off and remove all of the ice. Each machine is different, so be sure to follow your machines manufacturer guidelines for proper cleaning procedures. Remember that after cleaning, it can take time for the cleaning chemicals to work their way out of the system, so you will want to discard the first batch of ice produced post-cleaning.
Filtered water makes the best ice. When you clean and sanitize your ice machine, you should replace the water filters as well. These filters are extremely important to your ice machine since they remove chlorine, odor and sediment, but they have to be taken care of to get the most value out of them. If your ice maker is being fed with contaminated or hard water, you will get cloudy, dirty ice that will make your beverage taste foul. Change a commercial ice machine’s water filter at least every six months, before it has a chance to get clogged up.