Safety Rules: Convenience Store Ice Machines

Reading Time: 6 minutes Grocery & Quick Service, Ice Safety

People are in and out of convenience stores, gas stations, and rest stops day and night, and the most frequented machine is the ice and beverage dispenser. Ice machines for convenience stores see high-traffic usage, which makes their sanitation a top priority. If germs are transferred to the machine, they can easily be transmitted to other users. Managers and owners must take steps to ensure drink and ice equipment is as clean as possible.

There are two ways to do this: enforce rules about how the machines are used and make sure they are cleaned properly and often. Keep reading for information on both important topics.

Ice Machines in Rest Stops, Convenience Stores, and Gas Stations

Circle K ice machines and beverage dispensers are well-known among truckers, travelers, and anyone who enjoys a cold, bubbly drink. Most gas stations, convenience stores, and rest stops have beverage and ice dispenser machines with modular cube or nugget style ice machine on top.

Some stores have a large capacity ice machine in the back, and employees bring ice from it in buckets to manually fill ice storage bins of beverage dispensers.

3 ice cubes

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Still other stores bag their own ice for sale. Ice makers like the Follett DevIce Dispensing Ice Bin with Bagging Kit make this quick and easy.

Whatever the type of ice machine in your location, you can help your customers access clean ice by following the rules below for usage and cleaning.

Choose a Safer Ice Machine

The best way to reduce bacteria on ice machines is to prevent it in the first place. Touchless self-serve ice and drink dispensers operate exactly as they sound – without touch. Instead of depressing a lever or pressing a button, customers can simply place a drink in front of the sensor to get the machine to dispense ice and drinks.

Hands-free ice and drink dispensers reduce the spread of germs simply by decreasing human contact with the machine.

If you already have a traditional (non-touchless) dispenser in place, follow the rules below to improve the safe use of the machine. However, when you’re in need of a new ice and beverage dispenser, contact Easy Ice. Our ice machine subscription program saves money, helps keep your customers safe, and makes your life easier.

Rules to Post Near Gas Station Beverage Machines

The rules below should be posted near every beverage dispenser and ice machine.

For Everyone’s Safety, Please Follow These Rules: 

  • Wash or sanitize your hands before and after using this machine.
  • Only dump drinks into the tray if they came from this dispenser. Do not put foreign beverages or food in the tray.

Rules to Post Near Ice Bins

Ice bins are dark and moist – the perfect germ habitat. They need to be cleaned on a regular basis, and clear rules should be followed by everyone who uses the bin.

Improper use of ice machine accessories is one of the leading ways bacteria get into the ice bin and contaminates the ice. Contaminated ice may carry bacteria and other substances that are dangerous to humans, as well as grow biofilm.

3 ice cubes

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Train all employees to follow these rules. We suggest posting them near or on the ice maker. Most importantly, make sure the necessary accessory storage options are available (such as hooks for ice transport buckets, scoop holder, etc.).

For Everyone’s Safety, Please Follow These Rules 

  • Always sanitize or thoroughly wash hands before scooping ice from the bin.
  • Store the ice scoop in holder or in designated, sanitary spot when not in use.
  • Store ice shovels outside the ice bin when not in use. Do not allow them to touch the floor.
  • Wear a mask when scooping ice from the bin.
  • Never eat or drink while scooping ice from the bin.
  • Immediately shut the bin door after use.
  • Do not stack ice transport buckets. Hang or store them off the ground on a shelf.
  • Only remove ice with the scoop. Do not use buckets, cups, or any other container.
convenience store beverage and icedispenser

The Importance of Cleaning Convenience Store Ice Machines

Ice machines need two types of cleaning in order to produce safe, sanitary ice. Deep cleans should happen at least twice a year. These in-depth cleanings should be performed by an ice machine technician. He or she will access the inside of the ice maker and ice bin and thoroughly clean all ice making components. During these appointments, the ice machine should also be serviced. Ice machine manufacturers recommend at least two deep cleanings each year. More frequent deep cleans may be recommended if the environment has many airborne contaminants like dust or flour.

Ice machines also need regular cleaning to kill bacteria on the parts that humans touch. The frequency of this cleaning, which involves disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces, depends on how much traffic the machine gets, but we make some general recommendations below.

Regular Ice Maker Cleaning Instructions

Regular cleaning can be scheduled as part of daily closing or opening duties or weekly to do lists.

Purchase a food grade bleach or other EPA-approved cleaning solution. Because ice is considered a food, it’s important to use the right cleaner. You will also need two different bottles for the solutions you create. Read the label of the cleaning solution and follow instructions to mix one bottle of disinfectant and one bottle of sanitizer. Sanitizer will have a lower bleach to water ratio.

At least once a week (more often if your machines get frequent use) and any time the ice maker has visible contamination, follow the instructions below to apply solutions to any part of the ice maker where beverages could splash.

Solutions should also be sprayed or wiped on the outside of ice bins and ice machines, specifically on areas like ice bin doors.

  1. Spray or wipe on the disinfecting solution and leave it on for at least 10 minutes. Continue to apply the disinfectant as needed to keep the surface wet for the whole time.
  2. Thoroughly rinse away the disinfectant solution with water.
  3. Next, spray or wipe on sanitizing solution. Continue to spray or apply the sanitizer to ensure a two-minute wet contact time.
  4. Do not rinse sanitizing solution. Instead, let it air dry on the surface.

One other regular cleaning task will keep your ice and beverage dispenser clean. Daily or weekly (as needed) pour un-diluted bleach or cleaning solution down the ice dispenser drain. Do it more often if you see people dumping other beverages or food in the drain.

The Ice Your Store Needs Without Hassle or Headache

It is not easy to keep ice makers and ice and beverage dispensers running at their best. They require deep cleans, regular light cleaning, and maintenance. When they break, a repair can be thousands of dollars. And waiting on an ice machine repair technician isn’t an option if it means customers going without drinks and ice.

Easy Ice subscribers don’t have to worry about any of that. For a low monthly fee, they get top-of-the-line ice making equipment. Then our expert technicians service, clean, and repair the ice maker. We even provide back-up ice if the unit is waiting on repairs or parts. All of this – plus peace of mind – is included in the subscription. When you need a new ice maker, don’t hesitate to contact Easy Ice for a quote.

If your ice machine isn’t being properly serviced and cleaned every six months, and you’d like some help with that, contact us to see if we offer service in your area. Call 866.327.9423 to get more information.

As the Co-Founder and COO of Easy Ice, John Mahlmeister has been working in the commercial ice machine industry since 2009. Co-headquartered in Phoenix, AZ and Marquette, MI, Easy Ice is the only national provider of full-service ice machine subscriptions in the industry. Since Easy Ice was founded, the number of ice machines under its management has grown to over 30,000 units across 47 states, with no signs of slowing down.

Our team is available to help you get started today!