The Food Code of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies ice as food. As such, establishments operating under these guidelines must clean and sanitize their commercial ice machines according to the guidelines set out by the machine's manufacturer. Commercial ice machines can also develop slime and bacterial infestations; a regular schedule of cleaning and sanitizing can help prevent these problems from occurring. According to the Food Service Warehouse, a regular cycle of cleaning and sanitizing can also extend the life of an ice machine.
Turn off the ice machine overnight so that any remaining ice melts. Completely empty the ice machine's bins the next morning. Allow any water to drain out of the machine.
Turn the machine back on and let it run through at least one full freezing cycle. Turn the machine back off, empty the ice bin and drain the water.
Wipe down each part of the ice machine with clean towels and warm water. If your machine features removable bins and ice trays, take these out, scrape off any rust with a soft metal brush and then run them through a commercial dishwasher.
Wipe down the entire interior of the machine with clean towels and a sanitizing solution. The Food Service Warehouse recommends against using bleach, and instead suggests a nickel-safe sanitizer. As an alternative, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine suggests using an ammonia-based sanitizing solution.
Wipe down the entire interior of the machine again with clean towels and warm water.
Turn the machine back on, allow it to run for a full freezing cycle and then throw out any ice that was made. Resume using the ice machine as normal after removing this initial batch of ice.
According to the City of Houston's Health and Human Services website, slime can cause ice to develop a foul taste or smell. In addition to regular cleaning and sanitizing, you can also help prevent the formation of slime and mold by using an antimicrobial stick. Hang one of these inside the ice machine and replace it every two or three months.
Those operating under the FDA Food Code or state and local health laws that follow similar regulations can face penalties for not cleaning and sanitizing their ice machines on a regular basis.