Guide to Scotsman Ice Machine Cleaning

Reading Time: 11 minutes Equipment Service, Food/Ice Safety, Ice Machine Care

Scotsman ice machine

Where do you begin with cleaning your Scotsman ice machine? Though many business owners and managers pay service providers to clean their commercial ice equipment, some prefer to undertake the process themselves. Scotsman ice machine cleaning is no small task, and it must be conducted with great care to protect both the expensive asset and the people who consume its ice. Ice contamination is dangerous and can be detrimental to the bottom line.

If you’re not an Easy Ice customer, and you are looking for a complete resource about cleaning your own Scotsman ice machine, continue reading. We’ve compiled information about how to clean your ice machine and its components, which cleaning solutions you’ll need, frequency of cleaning, and further ice machine cleaning resources.

Of course, if you are an Easy Ice customer, you don’t need to clean your own ice machine, nor do you have to worry about servicing or repairing it. Our Ice Machine Experts handle all of that for you.

If you own a Hoshizaki or Manitowoc ice maker, refer to our other brand-specific ice machine cleaning resources:

Note: This Scotsman cleaning guide and the others contain best practices we have gleaned from managing more than 25,000 ice machines nationwide. However, various individual factors cannot be accounted for such as the condition of your ice machine, its environment, the cleaning products you choose, etc. We always recommend hiring a professional to handle the deep cleaning process to ensure the safety and continued production of your machine.

Frequency of Ice Machine Deep Cleaning

Cleaning a Scotsman commerical ice machine can take even professional ice machine technicians several hours. Non-pros should plan on at least that much time for the average cleaning of a dirty ice maker. For this reason, you’ll want to know how often to plan to clean your ice maker, so you can build it into the schedule when it won’t adversely affect your business needs, employees, or customers.

Industry standards are to undertake a thorough ice machine cleaning every six months. This “deep clean” should involve descaling, disinfecting, and sanitizing your ice machine and bin.

Some ice machines will need to be cleaned more frequently, such as quarterly. The environment around the ice maker is the main factor in how often it needs cleaning. Businesses like bakeries, sandwich shops that bake their own bread, and breweries have a high yeast content in the air; they will need a more frequent ice machine deep clean schedule, such as one every three months.

Yeast is the kryptonite of an ice machine if the equipment is not thoroughly and frequently cleaned. It is the ideal ingredient for growing mold and slime inside the ice machine or ice bin, which is clearly not ideal for people consuming the ice. Don’t fall prey to a common misconception; ice carries germs even though it’s cold.

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Ice Machine Deep Clean: What Does It Mean?

An ice machine deep clean has three stages: descaling, disinfecting, and sanitizing. Each stage is valuable for a different reason. The stages should be performed in the order listed below. Many people confuse sanitizing and disinfecting, so please read the full blog carefully to be sure you understand the difference.

Descaling: This first step is the process of removing scale from the ice machine. Scale builds up quickly and should be removed entirely to prevent it from getting out of control.

Disinfecting: This step is when all mold, slime, and other substances are fully washed away. It is also when the strong disinfectant solution is applied to the ice machine to kill microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Sanitizing: This final step involves applying and leaving the sanitizing solution to dry on the machine, which reduces bacteria to federally recognized health standards and creates a barrier to temporarily prevent the growth of new bacteria.

Prepare and Purchase Solutions

This section is very important, as failure to follow the instructions could result in harmful fumes during the cleaning and/or an unsafe bin or ice maker environment. For example, you should never mix bleach with other cleaners.

Descaling Solution: The descaling state should be performed with a scale remover (also called a descaler solution). This product is an acid and should be handled with care. Always use the descaler solution in accordance with its instructions to remove scale from where it can build up on your Scotsman ice machine, including the evaporator assembly, water reservoir, water distribution tubes, or drop zone, and ice bin. For most Scotsman ice machines, you must use a nickel-safe ice machine scale remover.

You may use a quat-based cleaner for the disinfecting and sanitizing stages; however, we recommend a simple mixture of bleach and water. Be sure to purchase an EPA-registered bleach that is approved for use on food contact surfaces (yes, ice is a food!). The dilution rates may vary depending on which product you choose, but below we offer general recommendations to give you an idea of how disinfecting and sanitizing rates differ.

Disinfection Solution: This is comprised of higher amounts of bleach, which is safe because this solution is required to be rinsed away. To make your disinfectant solution, mix 6 ounces of bleach with 1 gallon of water.

Sanitization Solution: This more diluted solution will be left on the ice machine to air dry, so it contains a lower level of bleach. Make sanitizer by mixing 2 teaspoons of bleach with 1 gallon of water. Local and state health departments may have different sanitization ratio requirements. Be sure to check yours.

We suggest labelling these solutions, so they are not accidentally misused.

Start Cleaning Process Here

The first steps in cleaning your ice machine have nothing to do with scrubbing or solutions:

  1. Turn off the Scotsman ice machine.
  2. Find the shut-off valve, and turn off the water going to the ice maker. If there is no shut-off valve to the ice machine, you will have to turn off water to the building.
  3. Access the interior of the ice machine by removing panels. You’ll need a screwdriver for this. Find detailed instructions for how to get inside your ice machine in this blog.
  4. If there is an evaporator cover, remove this as well.
  5. Refer to your Scotsman ice machine instruction manual to see how to empty the reservoir and do that now.
  6. If your Scotsman ice machine has a water filter, replace it now.
  7. Empty the ice from the bin.

What to Do with the Ice

Our absolute recommendation for you is to remove all ice from the bin before cleaning it. It is dangerous to leave ice in the bin where it may be contaminated with one of the cleaning solutions, turning the ice into a potential poison. We recognize that for some businesses or industries, removing all the ice is not possible. Furthermore, because ice is a food, it must be transported and stored following federally mandated procedures.

If leaving the ice in the bin is a must for your business, hire a professional ice machine technician to handle the cleaning. Ice machine experts have a variety of methods for protecting ice that remains in the bin, but this is not a risk you should undertake personally. The safest procedure is for non-experts to remove all ice from the bin before cleaning.

Why Descale a Scotsman Ice Machine?

The white substance you can sometimes see inside your ice machine is limescale. It’s also called calcium carbonate, calcium deposit, or just scale. It will form in every ice machine depending on water conditions and dictates how often regular deep cleanings are required. Scale is not unsafe for ice, but it can significantly reduce ice machine functionality and even stop ice production.

The process below applies to most Scotsman ice machines, but some machines, especially older models, might require a different procedure. If you are unsure, consider hiring an ice machine technician who will be familiar with all unit’s unique requirements.

Descale Interior Components

The following process descales the food contact surfaces that fall within the water circulation path. This includes the evaporator assembly, water reservoirs, and water circuit tubing. It is not a sufficient process to descale components that aren’t directly in the circulation path (e.g. the water curtain). These components may require the direct application of scale remover and scrubbing to completely rid the mineral deposits.

  1. Turn the ice machine switch to the clean position, which will allow the water reservoir to fill with water. (Newer Scotsman ice machines may have a “clean button” on the touchpad.)
  2. Handle descaler solution with care as it is an acid. After the purge valve light goes out, pour scale remover into the water reservoir where it will circulate through the water circuits and through the evaporator.
  3. After the scale remover has been added, you are in control of how long to circulate the scale remover.
  4. When you are satisfied with the scale removal, press the clean button again to start the flush process. The reservoir will drain and refill until the Off button is pressed.
  5. Scale remover will become neutralized after time, and it will lose its effectiveness. If you notice scale build up remains after about 20 minutes of circulating, you will need to repeat steps 1-4.
  6. Next, disassemble the water circuit components and carry them to a sink. Spray them with a 50/50 solution of descaler and water, then scrub with a brush until all visible scale is gone.
  7. Rinse the parts and return them to the machine.

Different Scotsman ice machine models have different access points, including the top, the front, or the side. To discover how to access your particular machine’s interior components, read this blog: How to Access Inside Ice Maker Components.

Deep Clean Your Scotsman Ice Machine’s Evaporator

Things get a bit tricky when descaling, disinfecting, and sanitizing the ice machine’s evaporator. This is because Scotsman evaporator assemblies vary from model to model. They look different, have different methods of access, and must be cleaned differently. Read Finding, Identifying, and Cleaning Your Ice Machine Evaporator to learn how to identify your evaporator type and how specifically to access and clean it.

Even though the evaporator is a bit tricky to clean, it is critical that you thoroughly descale, disinfect, and sanitize it, as evaporators are susceptible to scale, especially if you have hard water.

Deep Clean Your Scotsman Water Reservoirs

The water reservoir uses the same solutions as the rest of the ice machine, but they are applied differently. Other surfaces are either wiped or sprayed down. However, solutions are poured directly into the water reservoirs. For more information on how to clean the water reservoirs, refer to the ice machine evaporator blog we linked above as you will deep clean the water reservoir at the same time as the evaporator.

Cleaning the Ice Bin and Drop Zone

Ice is held in ice bins and dispensers until it’s ready to be used. As this is where ice spends the majority of its time, it’s imperative to clean the ice bin thoroughly. Mold, slime, and algae can grow in an ice bin, feeding off dust and yeast from the air and enjoying relative privacy in the dark, moist bin environment.  Get a bead on these contaminants and wipe them out during the deep cleaning by reading bin cleaning instructions below.

Descale Your Ice Bin

  1. Remove all the ice.
  2. Remove any visible grime or debris by wiping the interior and exterior with warm water and a cloth.
  3. Saturate the bin surfaces with a scale removing solution.
  4. Leave solution on for at least 20 minutes and then wipe away scale. If scale will not wipe away, spray again and leave the second round of descaler on for another 20 minutes. Continue until all scale is removed.
  5. Make sure to rinse the area thoroughly.

Disinfect Your Ice Bin

  1. Saturate the bin surfaces by spraying the bleach disinfectant solution we outlined in the section above called Prepare and Purchase Solutions.
  2. Leave solution on for at least 10 minutes. It must remain wet the whole time.
  3. Make sure to rinse the area thoroughly.

Sanitize Your Ice Bin

  1. Once you’ve rinsed the bin after disinfecting, spray the sanitizer solution onto the bin’s surface. Do not rinse this off; the sanitizing solution is meant to be left on the bin.
  2. Allow the solution to air dry.

The drop zone – where ice travels to enter the storage bin – can be disinfected and sanitized in the same manner as the ice bin. For more information on the important components of an ice bin, read our blog all about ice bins.

Cleaning the Outside of a Scotsman Ice Machine

The exterior of Scotsman ice machines is made of stainless steel and plastic. During a deep clean, both materials can be disinfected and sanitized with the bleach solutions you have already made. On an as-needed basis, the exterior of the ice maker should also be wiped regularly and anytime smudges, splashes, or other grime is noticed.

Removing harmful microorganisms from the outside of an ice machine is just as important as removing them from the inside, even though ice doesn’t necessarily touch these surfaces. This is because a person can easily touch the dirty exterior and then transmit the germs to the ice while scooping it. Also, substances like mold or algae can spread, so you want to be sure every part of the ice machine is cleared of them.

Many first timers often forget to clean the ice scoop and door, so be sure to follow the procedure below for these as well.

Disinfect the Outside of Your Scotsman Ice Machine

  1. Wash away any grime or dirt with warm water.
  2. Next, wipe down the area with the disinfecting bleach solution diluted to the rates above.
  3. Leave the solution on the ice maker for at least 10 minutes. Ten minutes is the minimum requirement for what is called “wet contact time.”
  4. Finally, rinse the area thoroughly with water.

Sanitize the Outside of Your Scotsman Ice Machine

  1. Wipe the exterior of the ice machine with the sanitization mixture recommended in the dilution section above.
  2. Let it air dry.

Cleaning a Scotsman Ice Machine Condenser

Ice machines can benefit from more frequent condenser cleanings than the recommended biannual deep clean. This is important because they are susceptible to build-up of grease and airborne contaminants. An uncleaned condenser can lead to unnecessary service calls, decreased production, and reduced equipment life.

There are three categories of condenser: self-contained water-cooled, self-contained air-cooled, and remote air-cooled. If you are planning to clean and care for your own commercial ice machine, it is critical that you know how to identify and clean the unit’s condenser. Read this blog for in-depth information.

Even the Best Scotsman Ice Makers Need Deep Cleaning

Easy Ice is in the business of making sure you have the ice you need for your business. Our subscription features the delivery and installation of a high-quality commercial ice machine, all maintenance, cleaning, and service, repairs, and back-up ice as necessary. We also provide a variety of educational and practical resources, like our ice machine cleaning schedule.

Easy Ice not only leads the industry in ice machine expertise, quality of service, and breadth of our comprehensive lease offering, we also only work with the top ice machine manufacturers. We vet every ice machine model before we add it to our offering, so that when we say you are subscribing to a dependable ice supply, you can count on it.

Say Goodbye to Cleaning Your Own Ice Machine, and Hello to Easy Ice!

Whether you’re in the market for another Scotsman ice maker or thinking of transitioning to a Hoshizaki ice maker or a Manitowoc ice machine, go with Easy Ice to get the ice you need, worry free. If you own a functioning machine and are not looking forward to cleaning it yourself, contact our 24/7 customer service line to set up a deep clean from one of our Ice Machine Experts.

Our team is available to help you get started today!
866-easyice(327-9423)

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