Can Ice Machines Make You Sick?

Everyone knows the benefits of having an ice machine.

There’s nothing more refreshing than a cold drink on a hot summer day, and ice has so many uses in the kitchen and the home more generally.

If you can install an ice machine, there’s very little reason not to. However, like all household appliances, there are things you must do to keep your ice machine in perfect working order.

Just because your ice machine is cold doesn’t mean that it can’t be a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of things you definitely do not want in your drink.

This sounds scary, but don’t fret. Technically, the answer to the question of whether your ice machine can make you sick is yes, but only if you aren’t aware of the issues and don’t maintain your machine properly.

We’re going to take you through some of the common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

It’s going to get a bit gruesome, but when you’ve read all of the information in this guide you’ll know exactly what to look out for and how to solve it.

This guide will make sure that your ice machine remains a worry-free zone and provides you with years of refreshing service.

General Dirt And Dust

Let’s start with the most obvious problem. If your ice machine is in your kitchen, it’s in a high-traffic area of the home.

Particularly if you have pets or kids, but also if you don’t, you’re going to have a lot of activity in your kitchen.

The kitchen is also a haven for bits and pieces of particulate matter from toast crumbs to oil droplets, flour particles to household dust (all of those appliances, surfaces, and corners are perfect for allowing dust to gather).

While you doubtless clean your kitchen regularly and thoroughly, it’s important to make sure that you don’t neglect your ice machine in this, particularly the interior and any ventilation ports.

A lot of ice machines are air-cooled, meaning that they use a fan to draw air from their surroundings to keep them at a consistent, low temperature.

Naturally, any dust and dirt that is airborne can be carried along with that air into your machine.

There will be a filter on your air inlet that traps the vast majority of this airborne contaminant, so make sure that it’s checked and cleaned regularly.

Also, keep the area around the air inlet clean to prevent the build-up of dust and dirt there, which will be drawn in over time by the fan.

Dust and dirt can also accumulate within the hopper of the ice machine itself, so you should give the interior a good clean with an antibacterial cleaner regularly.

This also helps with tackling some of the other issues that are coming up in the next part of this guide.

Slimes And Molds

Surely slimes and molds can’t flourish in such a cold environment? Sadly, that’s not the case.

Your ice machine is wet and dark, and the particles that inevitably get in via either the air intake or from use provide a great environment for the slow accumulation of unwanted substances.

Slimes and molds are two of the most common issues with ice machine cleanliness.

While they’re at the lower end of the harm scale, though in some cases they can make you sick, they are definitely not something you want in your drink.

The most likely accumulation points for slimes (generally pinkish in color) and molds (mostly grey) are around areas where water sits.

This is particularly true in the dropper area, so keep a good eye out for anything off-color appearing there.

Happily, slimes and molds are easily dealt with through regular cleaning.

You won’t be able to prevent them from happening completely, but if you make sure to visually inspect the interior of your ice machine regularly and clean it using a good kitchen cleaner you will be able to keep them at bay.

You will also learn where these sorts of problems tend to occur over time, so you can target your cleaning efforts more effectively.

Dangerous Germs

This is the big one. While you might not think a refrigerated box is a logical place for pathogens like E. Coli, salmonella, and other digestive viruses, ice machines can be a really good breeding ground for these nasties.

Unlike molds, slime, and dirt, a big problem here is that you can’t see viruses and bacteria.

The presence of mold, for example, doesn’t indicate an E. Coli outbreak in your ice machine.

This is obviously positive in one sense, but the reverse is also true.

Just because you can’t see mold doesn’t mean that you might have something to deal with.

Once again, the best way to manage the possibility of disease growth in your ice machine is to practice assiduous cleaning.

A regular cleaning schedule with your favorite kitchen cleaner is the simplest way to keep your ice machine safe.

The other big tip here is to avoid contamination from foreign objects.

A lot of people like to use their ice machines as additional cold storage for things like bottles and food.

Unfortunately, this is an effective vector for external contamination as the packaging of any of these items can carry bacteria and viruses, which are then allowed to breed.

If you are intent upon keeping bottles in your ice machine, they need to be sparkling clean.

It’s best to avoid doing so completely if you want to eliminate a major route for contamination.

Key Takeaways

Like anything in your kitchen, your ice machine can carry a risk of causing you sickness.

In the same way that you make sure your refrigerator is fresh, your surfaces shine, and your oven is at its best, you have to keep your ice machine sparkling clean.

There are a variety of ways in which your ice machine can cause you problems, but they are all easily defeated by including your ice machine in your regular cleaning routine in your kitchen.

You don’t need anything special to do it, and there are no hidden issues that you need to be aware of besides those mentioned already in this guide.

Once you know your way around your ice machine, you’ll know exactly where your problem spots will be and you can target them to keep everything healthy and clean.

Here are some quick tips, just to sum all of this advice up:

  • Empty and clean your ice machine regularly, at least once a week.
  • Get the interior as dry as possible, then use an antibacterial kitchen cleaner.
  • Check and clean your air intake filter for dust and dirt, and make sure the exterior of your ice machine is clean too. This stops dirt and dust from building up.
  • Wash your hands or any implement that you use to get ice from the machine. You can introduce dirt and germs very easily on your skin, cutlery, or glassware.
  • Don’t use your ice machine for storing bottles or food. This is a very effective vector for introducing germs. It’s what the fridge is for!

Follow these tips and your ice machine will keep you cool, rather than making you unwell.