Whether you’re in a standalone office, sharing an office building, or on a sprawling office complex, there is likely an ice maker in the kitchen. The water cooler may get all the credit in office jokes and phraseology, but ice machines are as much a part of office life. From small, countertop units to large commercial ice makers that serve an entire floor or building, office ice makers are a ubiquitous part of daily office life for employees wishing to cool their drinks. What is less common is the knowledge of how the ice maker is cleaned, who does it and how often, and what should be expected in order to follow the office kitchen rules.
Ice Machines Can Spread Bacteria If Used Incorrectly
The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone more wary of germs. Yet the ice maker is often overlooked as a source of bacteria spread. Luckily, there is a lot employees can do to keep the ice maker safe for everyone. Keep reading for office kitchen rules to post near the ice machine, advice on the safest kind of office ice equipment, and best practices for regular office ice maker cleaning.
Everyone is wary about the spread of germs and illnesses. Post and enforce the office kitchen rules to help employees feel safer at work. We also suggest visibly cleaning the ice machine or posting an ice machine cleaning schedule, so employees are aware that the company is doing what it can to limit the transmission of bacteria. Below, we advise on how often you need to clean the ice maker in between professional cleanings.
Ice Machines in Offices
Office ice makers can range in capacity, type of ice, and style of machine. Most of them fall into one of two styles of ice maker:
Ice machine and ice bin style – These units may be small undercounter ice makers or large capacity ice machines. The format of both is similar: ice maker on top with a bin underneath (sometimes this set-up is reversed). Employees use an ice scoop to get ice and pour it into their cup or other vessel.
Ice and beverage dispenser style – These units are what we’re used to seeing in quick serve restaurants and convenience stores. Ice is dispensed into cups and then water or other beverages squirt out of nozzles next to the ice shoot.
The capacity of the ice maker is determined by how much ice is needed daily. It can be difficult to determine what size ice machine and ice bin to get. Use our Ice Machine Estimator tool to estimate your corporate office ice maker needs. Or contact our ice experts to have them help you.
Office Kitchen Rules for Ice and Beverage Dispensers
The rules below should be posted near every drink dispenser and ice machine.
For the Safety of Everyone, Please Follow These Rules When Using This Machine:
- Wash or sanitize your hands before and after using this machine.
- Consider using a fresh cup or cleaning your cup in between refills.
- Do not dump any foreign beverages (including coffee) or food into the tray. Instead, pour those down the sink. The only beverages that should go down this drain are ones that come directly from the machine.
Office Kitchen Rules to Post Near Ice Bins
The rules change quite a bit for office ice makers in which ice is accessed with a scoop. There is more chance of contamination when all employees must open the bin lid and use the same scoop to get ice for drinks.
Ice bins are the perfect habitat for germs. Bacteria grows well in dark, moist environments. It’s critical that all employees (and companies in shared buildings) help reduce germ transfer to the ice by following the rules below. 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 transmit bacteria to humans. Biofilm, such as mold or slime, may also grow on contaminated ice. Sharing these risks with everyone who uses the ice maker can help adherence to the rules.
We suggest posting the following rules near or on the ice maker. Most importantly, make the necessary accessory storage options available (such as a scoop holder).
For Everyone’s Safety, Please Follow These Rules
- Sanitize or thoroughly wash your hands before scooping ice from the bin.
- Store the ice scoop in holder or in designated, sanitary container.
- Store ice shovels outside the ice bin when not in use. Hang them or put them in a sanitary holder.
- Wear a mask when scooping ice from the bin.
- Immediately shut the bin door after use.
- Eat or drink while scooping ice from the bin.
- Remove ice with anything other than the scoop. Do not dip cups, buckets, or hands into the ice.
Cleaning Office Ice Machines
Ice machines require two types of cleaning in order to produce safe, sanitary ice: deep cleaning and regular cleaning.
Deep cleaning should happen at least twice a year. It involves an in-depth cleaning of the inside and outside of the ice maker. Deep cleans are performed by an ice machine technician who will access the inside of the ice maker and ice bin to thoroughly clean all ice making components. During these appointments, the ice machine should also be serviced (replace filters, etc.). Ice machine manufacturers recommend at least two deep cleanings each year.
Ice machines also need regular cleaning that can be performed by janitorial staff or even office employees. Regular ice maker cleaning is critical to remove bacteria from surfaces regularly touched through normal use. The frequency of regular cleaning, which involves disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces, depends on how much traffic the machine gets. However, you can use the recommendations below as a good baseline, adding more frequent cleaning as it seems necessary.
Regular Ice Maker Cleaning for Office Kitchen Ice Makers
Regular cleaning should be performed using a food grade bleach or other EPA-approved cleaning solution. Because ice is considered a food, it’s important to use the right cleaner. If janitorial staff is cleaning the ice machine, make sure they have the right product, as a multipurpose cleaner will not do.
Two different bottles will be used for the two solutions: disinfectant and sanitizer. Read the label of the cleaning solution and follow dilution instructions to mix one bottle of disinfectant and one bottle of sanitizer. (Sanitizer has a lower bleach to water ratio.)
At least once a week and any other time the ice maker has visible contamination, follow the instructions below to apply solutions to every area with human contact or where beverages could splash. For example, solutions should also be sprayed or wiped on the outside of ice bins and ice machines, specifically on areas like ice bin doors. For ice and beverage dispensers, solutions should be applied to components like the dispensing button/lever and the drip tray.
- Disinfectant is first. Spray or wipe this solution. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes. The surface must stay wet with disinfectant the whole time. Continue to apply the disinfectant as needed.
- Thoroughly rinse away the disinfectant solution with water. This is a critical step as disinfectant has high levels of bleach.
- Next, spray or wipe on the sanitizing solution. Continue to spray or apply the sanitizer to ensure a two-minute wet contact time.
- Do not rinse away the sanitizing solution. Let it air dry on the surface before continued use.
For beverage and ice dispenser machines, you must also pour undiluted bleach or similar cleaning solution down the drain at least once a week. Do it more often if you’re aware of employees dumping foreign beverages down the drain.
Choose a Safer Ice Machine for the Office Kitchen
Of course, the ideal way to reduce bacteria on the office ice maker is to prevent it from getting there in the first place. If nobody touches the ice machine, they can’t leave behind any bacteria. The solution? Touchless ice makers!
Touchless, or hands free, self-serve ice and drink dispensers operate exactly as they sound – without touch. Instead of pressing a lever or a button, users simply place a cup 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 by decreasing human contact with the machine.
If you already have a traditional (non-touchless) dispenser in place, you and the other people using the machine can still reduce bacteria transfer. Follow the rules below to improve the safe use of the machine.
When you’re ready for a hands-free ice and beverage dispenser, contact Easy Ice. You can get a touchless ice maker from a leading manufacturer through our subscription program. We install, maintain, clean, and repair your ice machine. Our job is to make sure you always have ice, no matter what. Your job is to never worry about the ice supply and focus solely on the success of your office.
The Ice Your Office Needs Without Hassle or Headache
It is not easy to keep office ice machines or ice and beverage dispensers running at their best. Most people assume ice machines are low maintenance, since making ice seems like a simple process. Instead, office managers spend an average of 5 hours per year simply managing the machine’s needs. This includes scheduling maintenance, cleaning, and repairs. (And that’s if they already have a reliable ice machine technician on speed dial.)
This doesn’t seem like a major time burden for office managers, except that it’s a time investment that doesn’t contribute to the actual success of the business but instead to a piece of support equipment.
Easy Ice subscribers spend an hour or less per year managing the ice machine, as Easy Ice proactively schedules cleaning, handles all repairs, and even provides back-up ice if the office ice maker is down for repairs.
The Easy Ice subscription is this: for a low monthly fee, subscribers get an ice maker from a leading manufacturer without the hassle of managing it. Our subscription means ice without hassle or responsibility for the office manager, facilities manager, or anyone at the office park. Instead, Easy Ice handles it all.
For more information, contact our team of ice experts today at 866.327.9423.
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