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How to clean ice makers

The Ice-O-Matic UCG085A ice machine is a self contained under counter machine.


The only type of ice maker I had growing up was an ice cube tray that I filled with water and left in the kitchen freezer overnight. If I remembered, I emptied that tray of freshly made cubes into a container the next day and refilled the ice cube tray with water to start the ice making process again. Usually I realized I had forgotten to refill the tray only when I ran out of ice. How times have changed.

Commercial ice makers have become appliances that are no longer the sole property of industry. They can now be found in the workplace, office and increasingly frequently, the domestic kitchen. Unlike many appliances, they are not set and forget. Commercial ice makers require periodic maintenance for optimal performance and to maintain hygiene levels. Chances are, if your ice maker has not been cleaned recently, you may be consuming more than fresh, clear ice. Gross.

Following manufacturer’s instructions you can keep you ice machine running reliability with a few simple tools and some common sense. If you are not confident to perform your own maintenance or do not have the time, don’t neglect upkeep. Poor ice machine performance, costly breakdowns and contaminated ice are the result of poor or no maintenance.

Unplug the ice maker

Before carrying out any cleaning or maintenance, unplug the ice maker from the electrical supply. The cleaning process won’t take long, but you don’t want the ice maker trying to make ice during cleaning.

Clean the exterior

Wipe the exterior at least once per week with a clean, soft cloth. Use a damp cloth containing a neutral cleaner to wipe off grease or dirt. Use a neutral cleaner to wash the storage bin handle. Use fresh water and a clean cloth to rinse/dry.

Clean the ice scoop

Mix 2 litres of water with 10 ml of 5% sodium hypochlorite solution in a suitable container, or recommended nickel-safe ice maker sanitizer as directed. This can be purchased directly from Best Ice Machines or other trusted provider.
Soak the scoop in the solution for more than 3 minutes. Rinse thoroughly, and shake to remove surplus liquid.
Note: Using a cloth to dry may re-contaminate the ice scoop.

Clean the ice storage bin

1. Open the storage bin door, and discard any remaining ice.
2. Wash the bin liner with a neutral non-abrasive cleaner, then rinse thoroughly.
3. Soak a clean cloth with neutral cleaner, and wipe both sides of the door inner surface. Wipe off the cleaner with a clean damp cloth.
4. Mix 5 litres of water with 25 ml of 5% sodium hypochlorite solution in a suitable container, or recommended nickel-safe ice maker sanitizer as directed.
5. Soak a clean sponge or cloth with the solution, and wipe the ice storage bin liner and bin door.
Note: Do not wipe dry or rinse after sanitizing, but allow to air dry.

Clean the air filter

Mesh air filters remove dirt and dust from the air, helping to keep the condenser from getting clogged. If the filters get clogged, the ice maker’s performance will be reduced. Remove and clean the air filters (if fitted) once a month. Clean the air filter using a vacuum cleaner, or place under a running tap or hose. Rinse and dry the air filter before re-installing in the ice maker.

Clean the condenser

A condenser is a refrigerant cooling device fitted to all ice machines. Air cooled condensers are often similar in appearance to a car radiator and is usually silver or black in colour. Condenser blockages are a major cause of refrigeration system and ice maker breakdowns, so it is very important that they be kept clean. We recommend that you clean your condenser monthly, to avoid costly breakdowns and maximize ice production. Whilst condensers can be cleaned with a brush or a vacuum cleaner, this method is not always effective. Cleaning a condenser with compressed air is usually the best way to clean the condenser on an ice machine.

Note: Condensers can be effectively cleaned using a hose or water pressure pack, however extreme care is required to avoid damage, water entry into electrical components and serious injury or death. Do not try this method unless you have been professionally trained in this procedure and always disconnect electrical power source before cleaning a condenser with water. This method is definitely not recommended and is best left to the professionals.

Change the water filter

The purpose of a water filter is to protect both the internal components of the ice maker as well as the ice it produces. How often it needs to be changed depends upon several factors.

  1. The size and type of water filter installed.
  2. The capacity of the ice machine.
  3. How often the ice machine is used
  4. The quality of the incoming water supply.

Generally speaking an ice maker water filter should be changed yearly at minimum. It will require changing more regularly if conditions are not ideal.

Clean the ice maker

  1. If confident to do so, disassemble water circulation components. Clean individually inside and out, then sanitize as required. Re-assemble all removed components.
  2. If fitted with clean mode – Pour the correct amount of ice machine cleaner in the water trough and allow to circulate for 15-30 minutes or as per clean cycle.
  3. Restart the machine and discard the first two batches of ice produced after cleaning.

Note that this procedure is a general guide only and the procedure will vary between ice makers according to the model. Refer to manufacturers instructions for your particular model if in doubt.

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