We’ve all encountered mold or slime in our sinks, showers, and bathtubs, but did you know that ice machines are susceptible as well? If you want to know how to clean your ice maker from mold, know that ice machines require special care.
Here at Easy Ice, we’re not just the Ice Machine Experts – we’re mold and slime experts as well! We have cleaned over 20,000 ice machines and counting. Not only do we clean ice machines on a daily basis, but we also work to prevent mold and slime from forming. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes slime and mold in automatic ice machines and how to clean an ice maker when mold and slime are present.
The Origins of Mold and Slime
An industrial ice machine and ice bin provide the perfect environment for microbial growth to flourish. It’s dark, damp, and employees tend to forget to clean and sanitize the bin weekly.
“We’ve seen workplaces where a pristine ice machine accumulates significant mold growth in just two weeks.”
More importantly, nutrient-rich air allows ice maker mold and slime to grow exponentially. That’s the type of air you’ll find in nearly all restaurants, bars, and bakeries. These environments kick up a lot of sugar and yeast from the beer, wine, bread and other food they handle. As these particles saturate the air, they enter your ice machine providing an endless supply of food and moisture for mold and slime.
We’ve seen workplaces where a pristine ice machine accumulates significant mold growth in just two weeks. It’s not that the owner or employees are neglecting the machine. The ice machine is simply installed in an area that promotes rapid mold growth. Common places are next to a prep station where employees mix dough or in an area where brew masters ferment beer. Really, any area where there is a lot of yeast used is going to attract mold.
Mold is such a common issue, that we perform a detailed site survey before installing any ice machine. If we identify a particularly challenging work environment, we work with customers to provide solutions on how to prevent excessive mold growth.
What Are the Risks?
Mold and slime aren’t typically harmful to healthy people, but those that are immuno-suppressed should avoid them. Regardless, you’ll need to know how to clean an ice maker so these contaminants don’t threaten the success of your business.
The main issue with ice maker mold and slime is that it’s not appealing to customers. These contaminants tend to grow where ice drops from the evaporator compartment into the storage bin. If any of that growth ends up in the ice and into a customer’s drink, you could be looking at a bad review, a loss of business, or a report to the Health Department.
Speaking of the health department…
How a Clean Ice Maker Can Reduce Health Violations
Health violations are something no restaurant owner wants to get. Even small infractions can lead to a bad health score if an inspector finds enough of them.
The FDA defines ice as food, so health inspectors don’t take kindly to slime and mold in an ice machine. In fact, ice makers and storage bins are one of the first places health inspectors look because of how challenging it can be to maintain them.
Depending on the health inspector or your city’s health laws, the presence of mold or slime could lead to a critical violation. Citations are extremely bad for business. If your sanitation score is posted publicly, as it is in most cities, you could face a severe loss of customers.
For many locations, cleaning your ice machine every six months will keep mold and slime at acceptable levels – but every work environment is different. Challenging environments need more professional cleanings – and many require employees to perform light cleaning every couple of weeks. In addition to knowing how to clean an ice machine, there are steps you can take to reduce contamination in your ice maker. We work with all of our customers to limit mold proliferation through increased cleanings and preventive measures (such as an ozone generator).
How to Clean Your Ice Maker to Prevent Mold
Cleaning areas at the first sign of mold is one way to limit the growth, but if it’s growing at a rapid pace, you’ll spend a lot of wasted energy trying to keep it at bay. There are other areas of your ice machine you can clean to help preventing mold from growing in the first place.
“At Easy Ice, we recommend employees clean air filters every week.”
Keeping your air filters clean is one way you can help prevent the growth of mold and slime. Air filters trap many of the particles they feed on. At Easy Ice, we recommend employees clean air filters every week to prevent a dirty ice machine. Air filter are easy to clean. Simply spray warm water on them and rinse away any dirt. After they’re clean, allow the filter to air dry.
Another way to prevent growth is by installing an ozone generator. Ozone is a naturally occurring gas that is generated by sunlight and lightning. It works 3000 times faster than chlorine and disperses into the air as clean oxygen, so it doesn’t require rinsing.
Ozone is a powerhouse sanitizer that hinders the growth of not only mold and slime, but other, more harmful contaminants.
How to Clean an Ice Maker with Mold and Slime
What if you already spot growth in your machine, though? The best way to clean mold and slime from your ice maker is by using a disinfecting and sanitizing ice machine cleaner recommended by the EPA. When cleaning the inside of your ice bin, make sure to follow the instructions on the label for both disinfecting and sanitizing. Also, make sure to turn your ice maker off and empty your bin of ice so your cleaning product doesn’t contaminate your ice supply.
Here is how to clean your ice maker of mold and slime:
- Spray your EPA-approved cleaner and saturate the contaminated surfaces
- If needed, wipe the areas to remove the contaminants
- If disinfecting, allow the solution to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse the area thoroughly.
- After rinsing, follow the instructions for “sanitizing”
- Apply the solution to the area
- Important: Do not rinse. Leave the mixture to air dry
For more information on ice machine cleaning, see our Ice Machine Cleaning Schedule.
Professional Cleaning Further Prevents Mold and Slime Buildup
Why not prevent mold and get professional cleanings in one ice machine service? Generally, businesses don’t have the time and energy to keep up with routine cleaning. At Easy Ice, our professionals know exactly how to clean an ice maker thoroughly and install an ozone system to limit mold and slime. The amount you spend on a professional cleaning service will more than make up for the potential impact of a bad review or a health inspection violation.
Our all-inclusive ice machine subscription program comes with the best commercial ice machines from Hoshizaki and Manitowoc. We also include professional cleaning, maintenance, and ice machine repairs for a low, monthly cost. If you have a particularly challenging work environment, we can also include optional ozone generator installations to any of our ice machine subscriptions.