crushed ice in bucket, ice in bucket

Like any other appliance, regular maintenance and cleaning is crucial to keep an ice maker in good working condition. But it’s not only the health of the machine that’s important, Hotels, restaurants — and particularly hospitals — should pay special attention to ice machine maintenance for the health of their guests and patients, according to an article on the Compact Appliance website.

In 2016, Becker's Clinical Leadership & Infection Control reported that an outbreak of Legionella at the University of Washington Medical Center was linked to an ice machine at the facility. Five patients had contracted Legionella infections and two of them died. After the first infections were detected, the hospital found that an ice machine and two sinks tested positive for the bacteria.

An ice machine used for commercial purposes  is required by law to be cleaned on a regular basis, as ice is classified as a food. The FDA has a “food code” that should be followed, but local ordinances sometimes specify how an ice machine needs to be cleaned and sanitized.

In addition to harboring potentially deadly bacteria, ignoring ice machine maintenance can lead to build up inside the machine that can lead to unnecessary wear.

How often you clean your ice maker depends on that the make and model you’re dealing with and how often it is used. If the cubes are smaller than usual, become cloudy in appearance, feels softer and melt faster or have a strange taste or odor, it’s probably time to give the machine some attention.

If the ice maker uses a filter, a good rule of thumb is change it every three to six months —  and clean the machine at the same time, the article said. If the machine has an automatic cleaner, you may just need to turn the cleaner on.

Read the full article for step-by-step cleaning instructions.