Ice Machines: How to Keep Your Ice Bins and Dispensers Clean and Efficient

Posted: June 26, 2024

Maintaining clean ice bins and dispensers in ice machines is crucial for ensuring the quality and safety of the ice produced. Cleanliness is essential not only for the taste and appearance of the ice but also for preventing contamination and ensuring optimal performance. Neglecting proper cleaning can lead to issues such as bacterial growth, off-flavors in the ice, and a decline in the overall efficiency of the ice-making equipment. By implementing a regular cleaning and maintenance routine, you can uphold the quality of your ice supply, prolong the life of your ice dispenser machine, and safeguard the satisfaction and safety of your patrons or customers

Table of contents:
Essential cleaning tools
Preparing for cleaning
Cleaning the interior
Cleaning the exterior
Reassembly and final checks
Maintenance tips for keeping ice bins and dispensers clean
Troubleshooting common issues

Essential cleaning tools 

Tools required for the ice machine with water dispenser and ice bin include-

  • Soft brushes: Use soft-bristled brushes to gently scrub the interior surfaces of the ice machine and bins without causing damage. 
  • Scrub pads: Non-abrasive scrub pads can be used for more stubborn residue or mineral deposits. 
  • Mild detergent: A mild, non-toxic detergent is suitable for general cleaning of the interior and exterior surfaces of the ice container and ice maker dispenser machines
  • Vinegar or commercial ice machine cleaner: Vinegar can be an effective natural cleaner for removing mineral deposits and disinfecting surfaces. Alternatively, commercial ice dispenser machine cleaners specifically formulated for descaling and sanitizing ice machines can be used according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Sanitizing solution: A food-safe sanitizing solution, such as a quaternary ammonia solution or another approved food-grade sanitizer, is essential for eliminating bacteria and providing hygienic ice production and storage
  • Gloves: Wear protective gloves to shield your hands from cleaning chemicals and potential contaminants. 

Preparing for cleaning

Turn off and empty the ice machine bin/dispenser

  • Prioritize safety by disconnecting the power supply to the ice machine. This prevents any accidental activation of moving parts during the cleaning process.
  • Remove all ice from the ice container and dispenser to prepare them for thorough cleaning. Discard the ice or store it in a separate, clean ice storage container if it's still safe for use.

Disassemble removable parts

  • Take out any removable parts such as ice trays, filters, and dispensers for separate cleaning. This allows you to clean these components more effectively and access any hidden areas that may require attention.
  • Inspect the removed parts for any signs of damage or wear that may warrant repair or replacement before reassembly.

Checkout: How Do I Buy An Ice Make Machine And Its Spare Parts?

Cleaning the interior 

Wash with soap and water

In a container, mix warm water with a mild detergent suitable for food service equipment cleaning. Using a soft brush or scrub pad, scrub the interior surfaces of the ice bin/dispenser with the soapy water mixture. For stubborn residue or buildup, gently scrub or agitate the affected areas. Avoid using abrasive tools that could damage the surfaces. Clean any removable parts, such as ice trays or filters, separately using the same soapy water solution. 

Rinse thoroughly: After cleaning, thoroughly rinse all surfaces with clean water to remove any traces of soap residue and loosened debris. 

Sanitize: Prepare a food-safe sanitizing solution as recommended by the manufacturer or per industry standards. Ensure that all interior surfaces of the ice bin/dispenser are coated with the sanitizing solution.

Air dry: After sanitizing, allow all ice machine parts and surfaces to air dry thoroughly. Proper drying helps prevent the growth of mold, bacteria, and other contaminants.

Cleaning the exterior

Wipe down with detergent: Mix mild detergent with warm water in a container. Ensure the detergent is suitable for use on the exterior surfaces of the ice machine. Dip a clean cloth or sponge in the detergent solution and wring out excess liquid. Gently wipe down the exterior surfaces of the ice machine with a damp cloth. Use gentle pressure to avoid damaging any electronic or control panels.

Rinse and dry: After cleaning with the detergent solution, dampen a separate clean cloth or sponge with clean water. Once rinsed, use a dry microfiber cloth to thoroughly dry the exterior surfaces of the ice machine. 

Reassembly and final checks

Reassemble the ice cube bin/dispenser

  • Once all components are completely dry, reassemble the ice bin and dispenser, ensuring that all parts are securely and correctly positioned.
  • Double-check that ice trays, filters, and dispensers are properly secured and aligned within the ice cube bin/dispenser to prevent any operational issues.

Power on and test

  • After reassembling the freezer ice bin/dispenser, reconnect the power supply to the ice machine.
  • Run a test cycle to ensure that everything is working properly. Observe the ice-making process to confirm that ice production is normal and that the ice is of the expected quality.
  • Listen for any unusual noises and check for leaks during the test cycle. Address any issues that arise promptly to prevent further damage or safety concerns.

Maintenance tips for keeping ice bins and dispensers clean

Maintenance tips for keeping ice bins and dispensers clean_PartsFe

Troubleshooting common issues

Issue

Potential causes

Solutions

Ice tastes bad or is cloudy

- Dirty components

- Contaminated water supply

- Mold or mildew infestation

- Improper storage conditions

- Old water filters

- Clean components thoroughly

- Ensure clean and filtered water supply

- Disassemble and clean components

- Store ice properly

- Replace water filters

Ice machine not producing ice

- Clogged water inlet valve

- Freezer temperature too high

- Faulty thermostat

- Blocked water lines

- Damaged evaporator coils



- Inspect and clean the water inlet valve

- Adjust freezer temperature

- Test and replace the thermostat

- Check and clear water lines

- Inspect and clean coils

Refer: How To Install Your Ice Maker Machine?

Maintaining clean and efficient commercial ice bins and ice machine dispensers is crucial for upholding the quality, safety, and reliability of the ice supply. Regular cleaning using appropriate tools, materials, and procedures helps mitigate the risk of contamination and ensure optimal performance. By establishing a maintenance schedule, documenting cleaning activities, and promoting best practices for ice handling, users can uphold a hygienic and efficient ice storage and dispensing environment. Emphasizing the importance of ongoing vigilance and proactive maintenance will contribute to a continuous supply of high-quality ice, benefiting both commercial and residential users.

FAQs

What is an ice bin with lid?

An ice bin with a lid is a storage container designed to hold ice, keeping it cold and clean until it is ready to be used.

What size ice maker should I get for my ice bin? 

The ice maker size should match the capacity of the ice bin to ensure it fits properly and functions efficiently.

What is the typical storage capacity of an undercounter ice bin?

ice machine storage in Undercounter ice bins usually has a storage capacity ranging from 50 to 100 pounds of ice, depending on the model and size.

What is a plastic ice bin? 

A plastic ice bin for ice machine is a storage container made of durable plastic material commonly used in commercial settings for storing ice.