How to Clean and Maintain your Commercial Ice Cream Machine

There are two things I love: England and ice cream. They fairly go hand in hand considering former British Prime Minister, Margret Thatcher, helped create soft serve ice cream during her time as a food scientist.  I like my ice cream smooth and creamy, no hard frozen chunks of toppings for me to crack a tooth on. Enter the underdog of summer treats – soft serve ice cream.

I know most people prefer hand-dipped ice cream because it offers a larger selection of flavors. However, I’ll argue that when done right, a cone filled with sweet creamy vanilla beats any fancy flavor you can think of. Plus, I think you get more ice cream with soft serve.

Enough about me; how do you guarantee you’re doing the soft serve thing right? Regular cleaning and maintenance of your commercial ice cream machines, that’s how!  Regular cleaning and sanitization of ice cream machines helps ensure food safety. One drop of that heavenly mix will create a haven for bacterial growth. Before you start, research local health codes for cleaning commercial ice cream machines. Most will require a daily or twice weekly disassemble and clean. After that, follow these four simple steps for cleaning and maintaining your machine. The result? Sweet, smooth ice cream worth of The Iron Lady.

Completely empty the machine: Start by emptying any unused mix from the freezing chamber. Wipe out any impacted ice cream that has hardened out of reach of the scraping blades. Ensure that there is a clear pathway for water to pass through the machine completely.  Flush it a few times until the water comes out clear.

Take it apart: Get out your owner’s manual and locate all of the parts that are suggested for removal when cleaning. Completely disassemble the ice cream maker, removing any detachable parts that come in contact with the ice cream. Commercial machines have dispensing handles and tips that come in contact with fingers and ice cream regularly. These tips and handles should also be disassembled and removed during every cleaning session.

Soak + Scrub: Pour a mixture of hot soapy water into the freezing chamber of your machine. Many ice cream makers now come with a wash cycle setting; run this if your ice cream maker includes this feature. If it does not, a kitchen scrub brush with a handle is recommended to clean all of the inner moving parts. Once finished, drain your machine of all soapy water and flush it again with clean hot water to remove all traces of soap. Next, place all of the parts into a tub of more hot soapy water. Add a tablespoon or so of bleach to kill any remaining bacteria and allow the parts to soak for 30 minutes, or until the water has cooled. Rinse all parts in clean water and allow them to dry on clean towels.

Reassemble : Finally, wipe down your machine and parts with a clean, dry towel and reassemble your machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additional best practices for ice cream machine maintenance include keeping the condenser coil clean. If the coil has a buildup of grease and dirt, you’ll need to use a degreaser and then wash the coil off. When you wash the coils of your commercial ice cream machine, be sure to cover the condenser fan motor and any other electrical components that might get sprayed. Note if the coil has a build-up of dry dust and lint. The best way to clean that is to wash it thoroughly with water. Also, open the side and back panels of your commercial ice cream machine and inspect the inside for debris.

Finally, check the drive belts and make sure they’re in good condition and adjusted to the correct tension, and make sure the drive pulleys are aligned correctly. You might want to keep spare tune up parts like o rings, seals, gaskets, food-safe lubricant, sleeves, bushings, and beater blades. These things will wear out and will need to be changed every three to six months.

One Response to How to Clean and Maintain your Commercial Ice Cream Machine
  1. Sarah Reply

    When you say “soapy water” do you mean just regular detergent? I can’t get proper sanitiser here so looking for alternatives.

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