Getting an ice machine for your household is an investment, and we are not talking only about money. But, if you do get one, it is recommended to learn how to maintain and clean it, thus keeping your investment’s value for a longer time.
Now, considering that nugget ice machines are similar when it comes to design, we are going to propose some general rules on how and when to clean them. If you manage to do this every once in a while, the ice maker will stay by your side for a long, long time.
So, let us dive into the dirt (pun intended), and see what can be done about it!
When Is The Time To Clean The Ice Maker?
It is true that some models out there have a sensor that can warn you if the time to clean comes. Some even have special auto-cleaning operation modes that can help you along the way. However, we have managed to see a pattern of indicators that are typical for portable ice makers, no matter if they have the self-cleaning feature or not. So, what are these signs of dirt?
- The ice is getting too cloudy
- The ice cubes are starting to come out smaller, and they start melting quicker than usual
- The taste of ice overtakes the drink, no matter if its water or a rich cocktail
- If you can see the dirt inside the ice
- The dirt appears physically appears inside the machine.
The Cleaning Process
Once you have diagnosed that cleaning is due, here’s how to approach the task.
1. Unplug the Ice Machine from the Outlet
Make sure that the ice maker is unplugged. You are going to have to disassemble some parts, and electricity is not welcome, nor for the ice maker nor your safety. Double check that the cable is loose and unplugged.
2. Pour out any Ice that’s Left Behind
If there is any ice left inside, get it out, even the small chips and broken bits. Also, if there’s any water left in the tank. Even though completely draining is impossible, try your hardest to get as much out.
3. Disassemble Detachable Parts
Detach all easily-detachable parts. If you are unsure which ones are, consult the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer. Usually, the water tank, the ice bucket, and the ice chamber protector are entirely detachable. Remove them because you will wash them separately.
4. Wipe the Insides of the Ice Maker
Get some vinegar and a damp cloth. Start wiping the insides of the ice maker, while being extra careful around the freezing mechanism. Try to reach as much as the room inside allows you.
5. Clean/Wash the Detached Parts
The parts you have removed need to be washed with vinegar as well. After you clean them and wipe them with the wet cloth, you can also give them a rinse in the sink. Just make sure to dry the parts before putting them back into the portable ice maker. Assemble the ice maker into the default position.
6. Make some Ice Using a Cleaning Agent or a Homemade Mix
Make a mix of water, vinegar and lemon juice and pour it into the water tank of the ice maker. Plug the ice maker and turn it on. Set it to make a single cycle of ice. Throw away the whole batch into the sink or toilet.
7. Make some Ice with Water
Empty the reservoir and fill it with clean, warm water and run another cycle. This batch is there to clean the vinegar and lemon juice, so you should also throw it away.
8. Final Touch
Clean the outsides with a wet cloth (while the ice maker is unplugged), and you’re done.
How To Make Your Cleaning Agent?
People tend to make a mistake when it comes to cleaning machines that work with water in any form: they use way too strong cleaning agents and chemicals with a “the stronger, the cleaner” logic behind this choice. Well, we are going to tell you right away that strong cleaning agents have a higher chance of harming you than helping. Think about it! Strong acids not only damage the inner components, but they also stay and dissolve into the next couple (or tens) of ice cube batches.
So, for this reason alone, you have two options: buy a specialized ice maker cleaning solution, or make your own cleaning agent. Here’s what to do if you decide on the second option:
- Get some white vinegar, lemon/lime juice, and freshwater
- Mix vinegar and water in a 1:2 ratio (e.g., two cups of vinegar and 1 cup of water) into a bowl
- Add half a lemon/lime into the mix. It will enhance the smell but won’t raise the acidity of the solution.
Tips On How To Keep Your Ice Maker Clean for Longer?
As much as it is vital to learn how to clean your ice maker properly, it is also essential to prolong the clean period as much as possible. This level of cleanliness is achieved through some smaller tricks that, when grouped, have the potential to make a huge difference, hence keeping the ice machine clean for longer. Here are some golden tips from Ice Making 101;
- Turn off the machine during the night, if you do not need ice first thing in the morning. It may come off as logical to some people, but most of the dirt comes from unnecessary ice machine work.
- Even though your ice maker can cycle the same water back and again, do not allow it to cycle the same water more than once, or twice if necessary.
- Clean the ice tray every now and again. A lot of dirt comes from the ice storage and not the ice itself. Dust gets everywhere, so get the ice bin out and wash it.
Simple steps may take you a long way, and save you from a lot of potential problems. It is natural that you want to have fresh ice once you get a suitable ice machine, and well-executed maintenance is an essential part of the whole process.
After all, not every water source has the same water quality, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Now, do not worry, the first few times will take some elbow grease, and an extra minute or two, but once you get the hang of it, cleaning the ice maker will be as easy as using it.
So, secure the icy fresh cocktails of the future by cleaning your ice maker today!
Bonus guide: best manual ice crushers