It will be on everyone’s To-Do list, usually at the very bottom on the “Really must get around to this someday” section, but the Ice Machine, Ice Buckets, Scoops and tongs are things that should be kept very clean.  There can be certain things lurking in your Ice Trays that you really don’t want in your pub or to serve to your customers.

Top 4 ice nasties

  • Mould – Mould is found far too often on the door seals, door lips and exposed parts of Ice Machines in both pubs and restaurants. The very cold temperatures can make the growth and spread of mould slow down but every time you open the door (or in some cases leave it open for extended periods of time) you are letting in warm air and causing condensation to form which will encourage mould growth. It can be even worse if you regularly switch your ice machine off overnight or for extended periods.
  • Bacteria – E. Coli, Salmonella, Listeria and Norovirus are just a few of the harmful germs and bacteria that can grow and become established in unclean ice machines. All of these are harmful to public health and can even cause death in the young, the frail & elderly, they also will have an impact on your Food Hygiene Rating if an inspector comes to call. Over time if a bacterial contamination is not dealt with it can form a biofilm (also known as slime) Slime is an organic residue secreted by the germs which protects them from damage and allows further growth – and is hard to shift when established. Whatever tools you use to dispense ice, be it a glass, metal scoop or tongs will be contaminated with whatever is on your hands, and if you drop them back into your ice machine or ice bucket then each ice cube will get a nice coating of contamination.
  • We all know we are in a rush but do you remember to wash your hands before serving each drink?  No, and no one would have time in a busy pub but this makes washing your hands at the right time, such as after bathroom breaks or after handling dirty glasses, all the more important. In 2007 a report by an American newspaper found that almost 20% of restaurants and bars in Chicago have ice or ice machines contaminated by high levels of faecal matter (that’s poop for the layman), isn’t that something tasty to have with your cocktail or glass of cola!
  • Limescale – If you do not have a water softener or water filtration system then you could get a build up of limescale within the machine. Remove the limescale with a food safe descaling product during your regular clean as bacteria & germs find hard water scales the perfect place to grow.

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Your ice machine should be cleaned out regularly, we recommend at least once per month, it’s something you can due during your normal line cleaning day or when the bar is closed.  If you see any signs of mould and/or slime before a month has passed clean it anyway.


Top tips for a clean machine:

  • Switch the machine off.
  • Remove and dispose of any ice already in the machine (just let it melt in the sink, it wont take long).
  • Check your manual and then remove and clean the air filters with a soft brush.
  • If you are using a water filter system, check its working properly and regenerate/change the cartridges as needed.
  • Spray the inside of the machine with a food safe sanitising spray (try Cellar Hygiene Spray) and leave it for the required amount of time to work.
  • Wipe the internal surfaces, paying special attention to any lips, ledges and seals.
  • Following the manual, clean the water baths, ice baths, cube crushers and other mechanical components.
  • Bring the machine back into service but make sure you dispose of the first batch of ice made after cleaning to ensure no chemical residue is left behind.

Other Cleaning

Ice buckets, scoops, tongues etc should all be cleaned properly after each service period in the same way you would clean the utensils used in your kitchen, after all ice is classed as a food.

Make sure you wash those hands regularly and follow good hygiene practices, as cleanliness is next to godliness as your grandma used to say!!

If you have any burning questions about any aspect of cellar and bar hygiene just ask our friends at CellarCraft.