The FDA classifies ice as a food, and like food, you must handle and store it properly to avoid food-borne illnesses in your customers and staff. Cleaning your ice bin is one of the best ways to keep ice safe. Best yet, you don’t need to be an ice machine technician to clean an ice storage bin.
Regular Cleanings vs. Deep Cleanings
Contamination of ice can happen in a variety of ways:
- Incoming water
- Airborne contamination (dirty/dusty, environmental contaminant, airborne algae from yeast caused by baking, brewing and open alcohol containers)
- Unsafe ice handling
- Dirty ice machine
Preventing contamination requires both everyday regular cleanings and periodic deep cleanings.
Regular cleanings should be done every night by ice machine owners or staff to prevent contamination of high-traffic areas. Cleaning should focus on the surfaces that are regularly exposed to human contact. This type of cleaning helps prevent contamination of the ice storage bin caused by ice handling practices.
Deep cleanings should be performed twice a year to ensure the harder-to-reach areas of the bin are clean. Since deep cleanings require you to reach hard-to-reach areas, they are best performed by a professional.
“Regular cleanings should be done every night by ice machine owners or staff to prevent contamination of high-traffic areas.”
Deep cleanings are so important to maintaining a safe and sanitary ice supply. That’s why Easy Ice includes at least two deep cleanings per year as part of our all-inclusive ice machine subscriptions. We also include enhanced cleaning for challenging environments such as bakeries and breweries.
If you already own a commercial ice maker, find a reputable ice machine technician to perform the deep cleanings every 6 months. Note: if your ice machine is in a dusty or yeasty environment (warehouse, bakery, brewery), you’ll need more frequent cleanings.
For more information, see our guide about the Best Ways to Clean Your Ice Machine.
Steps to Cleaning Your Ice Bin – Interior
First, make sure to turn off the ice machine.
Soak a clean washcloth or sponge with a mixture of 1 oz of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Wipe down all surfaces of the ice storage bin exposed to contact. That generally includes the lid, the inside of the bin near the lid, and the “baffle” which is the angled piece of plastic inside the bin that deflects the ice towards the back of the bin when it falls from the ice machine. You will see it when you crouch down and look upwards once you’ve lifted up the lid to the bin.
It is important to let the mixture air dry on the surface, so it has enough time sanitize. The bleach mixture will disintegrate algae and yeast as it dries.
For more information on routine cleaning you or your staff can perform, check out our handy ice machine cleaning schedule.
There are many ways to perform a thorough deep cleaning. Depending on the environmental circumstances and bin type/size, technicians will use a range of cleaning techniques.
Small, reach-in bins can be emptied (store ice in bags in walk-in freezer). For large ice bins, existing ice must be securely and sanitarily covered.
Since mixing ice machine cleaners and descaling solutions can produce harmful gases, descaling and bin sanitation should always be performed separately.
“Deep cleanings are so important to maintaining a safe and sanitary ice supply, we include at least two deep cleanings per year as part of our all-inclusive ice machine subscriptions.”
For descaling, Hoshizaki recommends Lime-A-Way and Scale-A-Way products, but you can use any EPA-approved disinfecting agent. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label.
To clean, use a spray bottle to distribute diluted de-scaling and de-liming products into interior of ice bin – using recommendations on bottles for dilution details. Then scrub the ice bin’s interior with a nylon brush or clean cloth. And make sure to get into all those corners!
Unlike regular cleanings, make sure to rinse the surfaces with clean water.
After rinsing, sanitize interior of ice bin with bleach and water solution: 1 oz of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Use a spray bottle and wipe down with clean rag. Again, do not rinse the sanitizing solution from the surfaces as prolonged contact will allow for better sanitation.
Steps to Cleaning Your Ice Bin – Exterior
You should clean the exterior of your ice bin at least once a week. Cleaning daily is even better. Simply work this task into your daily Back of House cleaning schedule.
Using a gentle cleanser and clean soft cloth, wipe down all exterior surfaces of the ice bin. You can also use an EPA-approved disinfecting agent to eliminate any bacterial or viral pathogens.
Clean and sanitize the ice scoop. Reminder: Only use the ice scoop to collect ice from the bin and store in a holster (not in the ice bin). Never use hands or glasses to scoop ice out of the ice bin!
Keeping your customers and employees safe from ice-borne contaminants is easy when ice bin and ice machine cleaning are part of your regular cleaning regimen.
Looking for a Quality Ice Bin for Your Business?
At Easy Ice, we include biannual preventive maintenance and deep cleanings from one of our experienced ice machine technicians. We guarantee the performance of your ice machine and do everything to help you maintain a safe and sanitary ice supply for your customers and employees. If there’s ever a problem, we keep our ice machine service lines open 24/7.
If you’re unsure what size industrial ice maker and bin you need for your business, our Ice Machine Experts are on-hand to answer any of your questions. Contact us today to get started with our program!