Ice should always be crisp, clean, cold, and refreshing. That’s what your guests expect and what you owe them. Hotel ice machines aren’t a thing you just plug in and forget about. They need regular rounds of cleaning and maintenance to ensure guests get ice that’s solid and free from bacteria and bad taste. If you aren’t cleaning your ice machines, make a plan to do so. Here’s how often you should clean your hotel ice machine and how to do it.
Bacteria, Minerals, Algae, and Mold
The ice machine is one of the most popular free hotel appliances. Guests appreciate being able to get ice for cooling drinks, chilling champagne, treating injuries, filling coolers, and more. But are you providing the best possible ice? Failing to clean ice makers can cause bacteria to form, potentially infecting your clientele with norovirus, salmonella, E. coli, and Legionnaire’s disease. Your machine’s compressor can become hot enough to warm the water and induce bacterial growth. Moreover, not cleaning your ice maker can permit the formation of mineral deposits that can give ice a bad taste and cause lime and scale to form on the machine’s parts, possibly damaging it.
When To Clean
On average, your ice machine should receive a deep cleaning and sterilization every six months, but that shouldn’t prevent regular maintenance. For that extensive cleaning, however, pick a time when people use less ice. Midday and during the late evening are good times. Open it up and empty it of ice. Turn off the power and allow it to defrost so that any new ice can fall from the evaporators. Most machines offer a self-cleaning feature with a button labeled “clean” or “wash.” Water will drain from the device. When that’s done, add the ice machine cleaner as the manual instructs. Activate it, and a cleaning cycle will commence.
After the Cleaning Cycle
The machine will alert you to the end of the cleaning cycle in about 20 to 30 minutes. After this, unplug the machine for the next step. Per the manual, you may need to remove several parts and clean them thoroughly with water and cleaning solutions. The solution you use should already cause lime and scale deposits to foam up and loosen. Clean them thoroughly with a soft brush or sponge. Once done, rinse with warm water.
Clean the Ice Bin
Next, use the remaining water and cleaning solution to clean out the bin where the ice collects. You should clean and later sterilize every area the ice touches. Afterward, thoroughly rinse all surfaces to prevent the cleaning chemicals from staying behind, possibly making the ice unhealthy or taste bad. Apply an ice machine sanitizing solution afterward to all areas with a spray bottle to kill any remaining germs. Restart and run another cleaning cycle. The ice machine will restart when it has completed. Dispose of the first batch of ice it makes since it might not be fit for consumption.
That’s how often you should clean your hotel ice machine. Don’t forget to give the machine’s exterior a thorough cleaning and sterilization as well too!