Aug 23, 2023

Viral TikTok Exposes Shockingly Common Dirty Commercial Ice Machine Dangers

In addition to being the subject of an embarrassing TikTok video, these businesses could be endangering customers and employees with contaminated ice. Let’s dig into the risks associated with dirty ice machines and how to properly clean yours.

Ice machines are dark and damp. This kind of environment is ideal for the growth of slime and mold. If ignored, large buildups of mold, slime, scale, and sediment may form. These substances are difficult to remove, can cause ice machine breakdowns or reduced ice production.

Slime and mold are gross, though they aren’t dangerous to users. They can result in health inspection violations and negative customer reviews, so it’s important to keep the ice machine free of these substances.

Every human interaction with an ice machine presents a possible risk of transferring bacteria to the unit where it can then be transferred to another user. Studies have found bacteria like gram-negative bacilli and Candida spp can be transferred to commercial ice machines through normal use. Bacteria-contaminated ice can cause infections or illness, including E. Coli, Hepatitis A, Norwalk Virus, and Legionnaires’ disease. Protect your customers and employees by following the best practices for cleaning ice machines.

The exterior surfaces of ice machines and ice and drink dispensers should be regularly cleaned everywhere they come in contact with humans. Employees can wipe down these surfaces with a disinfectant solution, rinse it away with water, and then apply a sanitizing solution, which should be left to air dry. This will reduce bacteria transfers.

The primary places scale, mold, and slime grow are harder to access, like the inside of the ice machine and ice bin. These areas require more extensive cleaning called deep cleaning.

Manufacturers recommend a minimum of two deep cleanings per year. Ice machine deep cleaning should be performed by a trained technician. These in-depth processes require access to all internal ice making components and involve three important stages: descaling, disinfection, and sanitization.

Frequency of deep cleaning is determined by numerous environmental factors. Mold and slime form more quickly in environments with high levels of airborne contaminants, like yeast and flour. Thus, businesses like breweries and bakeries need to deep clean their ice machines more often. Other factors may cause ice machines to get dirty faster, such as a high amount of grease from cooking, old pipes that transfer sediment, and improper, unsanitary usage from customers or employees.

Some business owners or managers clean their own ice machines to save money. It should be noted that professional cleaning usually pays for itself in the long run. Professionals are equipped to do a better job at deep cleaning, can make recommendations based on any visible issues with the ice machine or in the environment, and can diagnose small issues that prevent future repairs.

Below is an overview of the deep clean process meant to guide ice machine owners as to what should be performed in a professional deep cleaning. If you intend to clean your own ice maker, research the exact steps for your manufacturer and model.

High-traffic commercial appliances, including ice machines, can be contaminated by human usage and can become dirty from countless environmental factors. It’s the responsibility of business owners to follow the cleaning recommendations of manufacturers and professional commercial ice machine techs. It’s fun to imagine being TikTok famous, but let it be for your stellar service or gourmet goodies – not for having a dirty ice machine.

John Mahlmeister is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Easy Ice. Co-headquartered in Phoenix, AZ and Marquette, MI, Easy Ice is the national leader in the full-service ice machine subscription industry with warehouse and distribution facilities in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Orlando, and Denver. Since its founding in 2009, Easy Ice has rapidly grown the number of ice machines under management to 25,000 units across 47 states. The Easy Ice commercial ice machine subscription programs include installation, cleaning, preventive maintenance, repairs, and backup ice. For more information, please visit, or on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

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