Cleaning an Ice Machine: The How & The Why
An ice machine is a beautiful thing. No more spilling water refilling old ice cube trays, or wasting useable space in your freezer. However, most people neglect to give their ice machines the care they need to operate properly. Just as you should clean your refrigerator regularly, your ice machine requires regular maintenance as well.
When to Clean Your Ice Machine
Although an ice machine should be cleaned every 3 months, you can know that your machine needs attention by looking out for the following signs:
- Visible signs of mildew on the machine
- Cloudy ice
- Ice is only partially frozen
- Small ice cubes
- Bad taste/odor
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How To Clean Your Ice Machine
According to food safety instructions, an ice machine should be cleaned once every 3 months, or more depending on use. It is also worth noting that some ice machines will have a self-cleaning function. Please refer to your user manual for instructions on using this feature. Otherwise, follow the steps outlined here to clean your unit manually:
Unplug the Ice Machine
Whether your ice machine is attached to your fridge or free standing, make sure that the power to the unit has been shut off.
Remove the Ice Basket and Scoop
Remove the ice basket and scoop from your machine and set them aside to be cleaned.
Drain the Water
Locate the drain plug, and remove it to empty the reservoir. Remember to position your reservoir to flow into a container or the sink to avoid spillage.
Clean the Interior and Exterior of Your Ice Machine
The manufacturer may suggest a specific cleaner for your ice machine, however you can usually get away with using a simple 10:1 mix of hot water and white vinegar. Wipe down interior and exterior of the ice machine, making sure that the corners and hard to reach areas get a thorough scrub. Rinse the ice well several times and wipe with a clean, dry cloth. The ice basket and scoop should be washed separately with a mild detergent.
Reassemble and Flush
Reassemble the ice machine and plug it back in. Fill the water reservoir with the cleaning solution you made, and let me machine make a batch of ice. This will ensure that the impossible to reach parts of the machine get cleaned as well. At this point, unplug the ice maker and disassemble again. Run fresh, clean water through the ice maker several times to remove all the remaining cleaning solution.