Clean Ice Machine

  1. How to Clean your Ice Machine

    Details can make or break your business. Customers want fresh, beautiful product, and cloudy or funky smelly ice cubes certainly won't impress them. You've invested in top of the line ice machines, so keep them running cleanly and beautifully, producing crystal clear ice

    First off, make sure you are cleaning your machines often enough. Your ice itself will be a good indicator when things needs to be taken care of. If it's cloudy, soft, or has any type of a strange aroma or taste, take action immediately! A good rule of thumb is every three months of so, but that depends on your volume so don't ignore the visuals signs and take appropriate action

    Get nickel free ice cleaner and a soft cloth to wipe down your machine

    Step by step, follow the instructions below:

    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.

    It's that easy! Keep your ice fresh and your customers happy. And stay on top of the best equipment as well as the latest trends right here, at Ice Machines Plus.
  2. Thinking about Buying an Ice Machine? Here's What You Need to Know!

    No matter the shape, size, or type, we have an ice machine to suit your needs!

    There are some very basic considerations to take into place before purchasing an ice machine for your business. If you plan on serving cold drinks - you're going to need ice. If you plan on having seafood - you'll need to keep it cold If you have a bar with mixology, you may want different ice shapes and sizes. So it's pretty apparent that yes, you'll need an ice machine. But what sort of a machine to buy? There are many shapes, sizes, and models available, and unless you have unlimited budget/space, you're not going to want to get anything bigger than what you need for your space. Here are some of the basic factors to consider before you buy:

    Air cooled vs. water cooled. The two main types of ice machines are air cooled or water cooled. Air cooled will heat up the temperature of where you store them, and water cooled require a water recycling system or they will be very cost prohibitive. Do research on the infrastructure of your space before you buy, and if you choose air cooled, make sure you have adequate air conditioning in place in order to offset the extra heat produced by the unit!

    Next up: what size ice machine do you need? There are several factors to consider here. The first is the average volume of your restaurant, bar, or other hospitality space. This can be tough to factor in if you are considering a brand new business concept. Volume wise, you'll need about a pound of ice per soft drink and two-three pounds per mixed drink (behind the bar). Calculate this by the average number of covers you think you'll have and you can come up with the size machine you need fairly easily. Make sure you don't lowball either the number OR the quality of the machine you purchase - nothing will slow down service faster or make your customers less happy than not being able to get a basic glass of ice water when they sit down to dine! Running low on ice during a dinner rush is a major disaster, and the best way to plan around it is simply to purchase the right size equipment to begin with and make sure it's quality. We do, of course, carry a large range of machines for you to choose from, so shop with us and ensure you're receiving a machine that fits your space, budget, and can carry the capacity of your business even during the very busiest f dinner rushed.
  3. Preventing Slime in your Machine

    Dirty Ice MachinesNot one, not two, but three restaurants in the Houston area were recently cited for slime in their ice machines. Hundreds of pounds of ice had to be thrown out before it could contaminate customers. No wonder some people refuse to order ice in their drinks!

    But why does slime form in an ice machine and what can you do to prevent it? Ice machines do not get cold enough to stop mold growth, just like your refrigerator doesn't stop your food from spoiling. It just slows it down a lot. That's why it's so important to avoid contamination from getting into your ice bin in the first place.

    The ice bin is the primary location for contamination. The most common route is people touching the ice with their bare hands in some way. This can be from scooping ice with their hands or allowing their hands to touch the ice while scooping with a scoop. Contamination can also happen if scoops touch contaminated surfaces and then get put into the ice bin. Another route is from dust carrying mold spores falling into an open bin, though this is rarer.

    Even with good sanitary practices when getting ice, it is important to clean and sanitize bins as often as recommended by your manual or by local law to ensure maximum cleanliness. It may seem like a chore, but this is the best way to prevent any mold or slime growth from happening inside your ice machine. Never neglect this important task!

    If you use safe ice handling practices and sanitize your machine regularly, you'll never have to worry about appearing on a news report about slimy ice. Plus, your ice will taste a lot better too.

  4. What Keeps your Restaurant Going?

    Restaurant StrategyKeeping that restaurant a place where patrons keep returning isn’t a simple matter of cleaning the commercial ice machines. One can have the cleanest restaurant in the world, but still have lousy food served from the kitchen. There are a number of factors which play into having a fantastic restaurant.

    When you’re looking at your restaurant and thinking about how you can do better, start with the little things first. What can you do that will make your patrons feel better about being there?

    Make Sure It’s Spotless

    Even though having a spotless ice machine and rest of the store does not mean that patrons will immediately run back to you, it sure helps. Most of the OSHA regulations that are in place look at cleanliness and maintenance of the store, and a 100 rating definitely goes a long way.

    Do Unto Others

    Yes, treat people as they would be treated. Do you want to have ice served from an ice machine with mold in it? Do you want to have a gruff and aggravating waitstaff? That’s where you make your mark in the little things.

    Try Something New

    Don’t be afraid to try something new at your restaurant. If you don’t succeed, you can re-evaluate the situation, but you’ll never know if you don’t give it a shot.

    Keeping patrons coming back isn’t always about making sure the ice machine is clean, but it always helps. Hopefully these three ideas will help your restaurant thrive.

  5. Supermarkets Get Health Inspections Too

    Supermarket Health InspectionsRestaurants aren’t the only places that get inspected by the health inspectors. In fact, it’s any place which serves food. And, those delicious pieces that fall from the nugget ice machine are considered food. This means that ice machines all over the country, including in your supermarket, are getting inspected for health violations.

    One Giant Foods in Pennsylvania learned this the hard way when they were recently inspected. We encourage everyone to read their ice machine manual to learn when their ice machine should be cleaned, but there are places out there which don’t actually take this into consideration.

    In the bakery department, employees were unhappy to have health department officials discover that there was old food residue in the cake pans and that black and tan residue was on the bottom chutes of the ice bin.

    The bakery department is one of the hotspots for ice machine cleaning because it represents a breeding ground for bacteria. Yeast, flour, and other items get airborne and accumulate, which leads to mold growth, sick customers, and a low health inspection score.

    Have you cleaned your grocery store ice machine lately? Are you finding that there are growths where you don’t want them to be on the chutes and the bins? Clean your ice machines regularly!

  6. Grime in the Ice Machine

    GrimeWe’ve been reading the restaurant reports again. This time, we’re taking a closer look at a couple places in Denver who had scads of violations from their unannounced health inspections. There were a combination of things contributing to the terrible health inspection, but mostly it was a result of not cleaning and maintaining the equipment.

    “There was excessive grime and dirt on the ice chute in the ice machine,” said the inspector. The inspector also noticed that there were hundreds of dead flying insect carcasses on a sticky trap hanging over that ice machine. Does this go back to the concept that restaurant owners might not view ice to be food?

    That ice could have been used to chill some of the items which had temperature violations. When food isn’t being kept at the right temperatures, the door is opened for contamination and the introduction of bacteria and other pathogens. Restaurant owners definitely don’t want to make the perfect breeding ground for these little critters.

    Ice machines are fairly easy to clean and maintain. It’s just a matter of reading the owner’s manual and bending down to do the work. Cleaning and sanitation goes a very long way – both of which should be done at least once a week to keep on track.

  7. Three Things to Keep your Ice Machine Running Well

    Ice Machine MaintenanceOne of the easiest ways to discover that you need a new ice machine is to think back and see if you can remember the name of the technician who last fixed it. If you’re able to remember them, and then you’re able to remember the name of their family members and where they were the past weekend and you’re not friends with them, then maybe it’s time to think about replacing your ice machine.

    Ice machines, like other equipment, wear out over time. There are some things which you can do to keep them running just a little bit longer, and here are a few of them.

    Let the machine breathe – By giving your ice machine a little bit of air on all sides, you are helping it properly function. If there isn’t clearance, then it has to work harder and can potentially give out faster.

    Check for leaks – Your ice machine has a water intake line, and sometimes wear and tear can cause it to leak. Any leak that you might have would be a loss of both water and power.

    Clean and sanitize – Take out your owner’s manual and investigate the ways that you can keep your ice machine clean. Get in there and clean it yourself or get one of your handy on-call technicians to do it for you, but make sure that all of the parts are properly working.

    These three tips will take you far, but while you’re looking in your owner’s manual, you’re bound to get more ideas about how you can keep those ice machines clean and running smoothly.

  8. Keep your Scoop Safe

    Ice ScoopIce scoops need respect. Why? They're a big route for contamination of your ice machine if they are used incorrectly. The same measures which you taken to protect food from contamination should be taken to protect the ice from contamination.

    Ice scoops not only help people dig for ice, but they also keep people from touching the ice directly if used right. Some models have hand guards to allow deep digging into your ice bin, but all care should be taken not to touch ice while using a scoop.

    These scoops should be outside of the machine rather than stored inside. Condensation can collect on the handle and drip into the ice bin if it is stored inside. Keep it outside. There are special racks you can buy to keep them near the machine.

    Ice scoops can also be the reason that your restaurant doesn’t get a perfect score on its inspection. “Scoops were not stored properly…” is a common complaint from inspectors all across the country. The other complaint is that people will occasionally use other items as ice scoops when the ice scoop is made for the purpose. “Bowls were being used as scoops.”

    So, remember when you’ve got an ice machine, you also need to keep the scoop safe. Your scoop is the point of contact between your hands and your ice. Make sure it stays clean.

  9. Where does Slime Come From?

    SlimeSlime. We might have feared it while watching Nickelodeon, but it is much more sinister when it resides in your ice machine. We’ve regaled you with plenty of stories about slime in the ice machine and things that you can do to stop the presence of slime, but we haven’t talked about why slime’s there in the first place very much.

    Basically, slime starts when water accumulates. The watery surfaces make a perfect opportunity for water to collect and slime to form. You see, the ice machine isn’t immune to the formation of bacteria just because it’s cold in there. So, if there is water accumulation and the inside of the machine has been pocked by scouring pads, then slime’s the next thing to follow.

    According to the Houston County government, “slime doesn’t exactly cause foodborne illness, but it can cause the ice to have an objectionable taste or odor.” In other words, it might not make you sick, but you’ll most likely have some explaining to do.

    Cleaning and sanitizing is recommended at least twice a week. The best sanitizer that you can use is quaternary ammonium, but make sure that you clean your stainless steel thoroughly. The sanitization of your ice machine is no joke, and should be done as often as necessary. Remember that it’s better to use overkill on the cleaning of your ice machine than be caught with a violation.

  10. More Dirty Ice Machines

    Dirty Ice MachineAs you know, one of our favorite pastimes is to read about restaurant violations involving ice machines and talk about them here in this forum. Ice machines are so easy to clean that it’s unthinkable that cleaning would go by the wayside. And it's so important for safety too. Yet, it still happens.

    In a PA diner, there was build up in the ice bin causing a violation. This build up could have been anything, but most likely it was the slimy film that forms when a bin goes several days or weeks without cleaning. Some models of ice bin do have antimicrobial coatings to help prevent this, but they still need to be cleaned and sanitized according to the owner's manual.

    In a Rome, GA restaurant, there was a dust accumulation on the filters in the ice machine. That means that nobody took the time to wipe the machine down. This caused the inspector to schedule a reassessment appointment for the end of the month. Dust on the filter means the machine must work harder to keep the ice cold, and it is a source for bacterial contamination.

    Ice machines being dirty is not a new thing. One assumes that if you have an ice machine that it will get dirty. It’s always best to keep clean, not just because of inspectors, but also because you care about the taste and quality of your ice.

    Take the time and wipe down your ice machines every night, along with the rest of the kitchen. Your inspector will thank you. Your patrons will also thank you.  

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