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 bin
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.
Easy Ice subscribers receive two deep cleanings per year as part of our regular maintenance.
If you 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.
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.
For descaling, Hoshizaki recommends Lime-A-Way and Scale-A-Way products.
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!
Rinse the surfaces with clean water.
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.
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.