Suppose you recently bought a portable ice machine. You want to know how to clean a portable ice maker to get rid of bacteria and improve the taste and overall quality of your ice.
To clean a portable ice maker, unplug it from the power source, drain the reservoir and clean the interior: take out the basket, and add a mild solution like vinegar or lemon. Clean the water line after drying the interior and run fresh water. Finally, drain the water and rinse and repeat to remove the vinegar or lemon taste and smell.
Portable ice maker cleaning procedures are not so different across manufacturers. As such, this publication explains the general procedure.
Do portable ice makers need to be cleaned?
Considering that ice makers make ice, cleaning is necessary. You may overlook the associated risks when discarding your ice machine maintenance since you do not think ice is food.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not think so—they define ice as food. Suppose you use the ice at your business. Employees handle the ice, which is also ingested by customers. Thus, contaminated ice can cause illness like any other food source.
You may not even be able to tell if it is contaminated until it’s too late. Contaminated ice may appear, taste, or smell nice but contains dangerous microorganisms.
Ensuring a clean ice machine is also a requirement by federal law. Violating this rule could result in a penalty such as a fine.
How often should I clean my portable ice maker?
Arista published that according to FDA regulations, you need to store and handle ice like any other food, so it must be kept clean. This also includes washing the ice maker often, but how often?
The rule of thumb is to clean and sanitize the ice maker at the frequency the manufacturer recommends, which is typically 2-4 times a year.
How often you clean and sanitize your ice maker depends on your usage volume, ice maker location, and water conditions. Suppose your ice maker is exposed to hard water. You need to clean to descale it more often than you use soft water.
This would mean that in some cases, you clean the ice maker as often as monthly. Look for the following signs to tell when your portable ice maker needs cleaning:
- Strange ice smells
- Unusual ice taste
- Smaller ice than usual
- Visibly dirty ice maker interior walls
- Ice melting faster than it should
- Cloudy ice (in an ice maker that produces clear ice)
If your portable ice maker does not work properly, it could also be a sign that you need to clean it.
How to clean a portable ice maker
This section of the publication explains the expert tips to clean any portable ice maker to improve ice quality:
Disconnect the ice maker from the power source
Your first move should be to unplug the portable ice machine from the power source.
Next, drain out the water from the reservoir with a drain plug under or on the side of the ice maker. Some ice makers use the drain plug at the bottom.
Clean the interior
Your next focus should be starting the cleaning from the interior. Remove the ice basket and add a mild cleaning solution mixture to the water reservoir of your portable ice maker. EdgeStar also recommends the use of a 10:1 ratio of water to lemon juice or white vinegar.
After sanitizing with a cleaning solution or using remedies like vinegar, scrub the interior of the portable ice maker down. You could use a soft brush or rag to wash the interior walls.
Run your ice maker
Next, run your portable ice maker to make about 2 pieces of ice, then discard the ice. Drain the cleaning solution you added from the water reservoir.
Clean the water line
Take out the water line, clean and rinse it out. Add new water to the water reservoir, making sure it goes up to the water level mark. Run the portable ice machine again for a few pieces of ice and discard them again.
Dry the interior
Dry the interior of the portable ice maker. You should notice debris rolling towards the bottom of the water reservoir.
Clean the debris from the bottom of the ice maker and try to dry it. Attach the drain plug back to the portable ice maker.
Drain the water
Add fresh water to your water reservoir for making ice. Wash the ice scoop as well as any other component.
Rinse and repeat
Rinse the ice maker for about 3-4 until you get rid of the taste and smell of any cleaning solution you use. Consider using spray water on the hard-to-reach areas of the ice machine. You may now use your refreshing machine for ice.
Best portable ice maker cleaning solution
Perhaps, you consider vinegar a little harsh and skin-irritating. Here are mild cleaning solutions designed for portable ice makers:
PurTru Store Ice Maker & Ice Machine Descaling & Cleaning Solution – All Natural and Nickel Safe Descaler & Cleaner For RCA, Scotsman, Manitowoc, Follet and All Countertop, Undercounter and Freestanding Machines
We bought this ice machine descaler and cleaning solution because of the following:
Nothing is convenient like using a natural remedy that will not irritate. This cleaning solution uses a purely green formula to descale and sanitize your ice maker.
It does not contain nickel safe but is still powerful enough to descale and preserve the mechanical parts of your machine.
Unlike vinegar, this portable ice maker cleaning solution does not give a harsh odor.
We noticed that it does not make the ice taste bad, instead, it improves.
We have used this ice machine cleaning solution twice in 2 months and can confirm that it beats using vinegar.
Impresa Products Ice Machine Cleaner/Descaler – 4 Uses Per Bottle – Made in USA – Works on Scotsman, Manitowoc and Virtually All Other Brands (Ice Maker Cleaner/Icemaker Cleaner)
Impressa is like a household name when it comes to cleaning solutions for portable ice machines. Below are the reasons why this is so:
This cleaning solution does not contain nickel but is powerful and at the same time gentle on the ice maker components. It descales with ease and restores the machine’s performance.
Excellent at protecting your machine. It descales, getting rid of limescale or hard water mineral deposits to prevent corrosion.
Works with any portable ice maker, including yours. Will perfectly clean countertops, commercial, undercounter, and portable ice machines.
Affresh Ice Machine Cleaner, Helps Remove Hard Water and Mineral Buildup for Great-Tasting Ice
You have probably been told to “buy Affresh cleaner”. Well, you are not being misled, besides, thousands use this cleaning solution for their various ice machines.
Affresh is specially formulated to get rid of hard water and mineral buildup to ensure a clean machine that improves the ice taste.
Recommended by top brands
Here is another nickel-safe cleaning formula to buy.
We used this cleaning solution on a Frigidaire portable ice maker when the ice bullets got smaller. The ice was coming out yellow and slushy, so we used a brush and this solution to clean the machine and its hard-to-reach area.
Drained the water, added fresh water, ran it, and disposed of the ice. The ice bullets are now back in full size and clear.
How do you maintain a portable ice maker?
Your portable ice machine requires periodic maintenance to keep and ensure optimal performance and efficiency. Otherwise, it will produce poor quality ice and the components will degrade faster.
Do the following to maintain your portable ice maker in good condition:
Wipe it down often
Despite being designed to make ice, ice machines get unbelievably dirty. Bacteria infects them, reducing the ice quality. You do not have to wait for months to clean them. Perhaps, a weekly light cleaning like simply wiping it down with a damp rag should do.
When cleaned often this way, you would not have to invest so much time and other resources to regain clear and large ice. Moreover, the ice quality will not degrade so quickly during this period of frequent cleaning.
Replace the reservoir water
You could enhance ice quality and keep the machine clean by changing the water each day. The point is to keep fresh water in the unit for some sort of freshness instead of allowing yesterday’s water to build up limescale.
Use recommended cleaning solutions
You cleaning solutions like those recommended here to keep the machine and ice in good condition. Moreover, using harsh solutions will irritate you and cause the ice to smell and taste differently.
You do not also want harsh solutions that will affect the mechanical components of the machine.
Treat the water
Find out the water in your area from your local water supply. Hard water will easily form limescale and calcium in the ice maker. Perhaps, treating the water will get it in good condition to ensure not just clear ice but keep your machine efficient.