We’ve all encountered mold or slime in our sinks, showers, and bathtubs, but did you know that ice machines are susceptible as well? Getting rid of it isn’t as simple as using bathroom cleaner. Ice machines need special care. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes slime and mold in ice machines and how to clean an ice maker when mold and slime are present.
The Origins of Mold and Slime
An ice machine and ice bin provide the perfect environment for microbial growth to flourish. It’s dark, damp, and doesn’t lend itself to daily cleaning and sanitizing.
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.
Sounds gross, but are mold and slime really that dangerous?
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…
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. Businesses that work with a lot of yeast need more regular cleanings. In addition to knowing how to clean an ice machine, there are steps you can take to reduce contamination in your ice maker.
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.
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 with a solution of 20% chlorine and 80% water. Then:
- Use a spray bottle to saturate the contaminated surfaces
- If needed, wipe the areas to remove the contaminants
- After wiping, reapply the solution
- Important: Leave the mixture to air dry
Better yet, why not prevent mold and get regular cleanings in one service? Generally, businesses don’t have the time and energy to keep up with routine cleaning. 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.
Easy Ice offers professional cleaning, maintenance, and ozone generator installation with our ice machine subscriptions.