How Often Should You Clean an Ice Machine?

One of the most common questions we hear from our customers is, “How often should you clean an ice machine?” But this question doesn’t have a simple answer.

Contaminated ice runs your restaurant the risk of health inspection infractions, illness in guests and workers, and a severely damaged reputation from bad publicity.  No one wants to put their business in danger over dirty ice, but ice machines can be a pain to sanitize and clean.

To properly clean an ice machine the machine needs to be

  • emptied of ice
  • left to dry out overnight
  • wiped down
  • partially disassembled
  • sanitized, rinsed, dried (and finally)
  • reassembled.

Although very important to do, this whole process can be time-consuming, especially if a restaurant’s employees are doing the cleaning.  This means lost hours of productivity and ice machine downtime. And if an equipment service technician is performing the cleaning, it can be a very expensive undertaking – easily hundreds of dollars per cleaning.

It’s not surprising that many ice machine operators want to cut down ice machine cleanings to the bare minimum. All ice machines come with a manufacturer’s recommended cleaning schedule that requires a minimum of one or two cleanings per year.

What isn’t understood, however, is that the manufacturer’s present that minimum cleaning schedule with a disclaimer that states, “unless more frequent cleanings are needed.” Well, it turns out that most ice machines require much more than one to two cleanings per year! This is especially true in certain environments.

Restaurants, for example, are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. With food particles constantly in the air, ice machines in restaurants are especially vulnerable to the buildup of ice machine slime. Schools and medical facilities are also environments where the recommended cleaning schedule often falls short.

Educational and medical facilities cater to large numbers of vulnerable individuals who can be especially susceptible to illness. These facilities often maintain weekly or biweekly cleaning schedules.

Because biofilm slime will always build up in ice machines, even following the manufacturers cleaning schedule isn’t always enough.

So the answer to how often you should clean an ice machine is, in reality, as often as necessary.

One easy way to cut cleanings down to a minimum and maintain a clean ice machine is to utilize a solution like IceZone. IceZone is an automated ice machine sanitation system that reduces the number of required manual ice machine cleanings by up to 75%.

A “clean-in-place (CIP)” solution, IceZone prevents slime, mould, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast from growing on the surfaces of ice machines.

Independent third-party test labs show that IceZone eliminates over 99% of surface micro-contamination.

Check out this case study to learn about how IceZone saved the Rottinghaus Company millions, or contact us to learn more about IceZone.


BSG Scientific designs and manufactures ultraviolet light commercial and industrial applications, creating systems for sanitation, preventative maintenance, and odour control solutions.

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, we serve clients globally, with offices in 5 countries on 3 continents.

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