Time to Clean Out the Ice Machine

August 08, 2014

What’s potentially lurking in your icemaker? Read on to find out...

Spring is long past, but Summer is in full swing. You probably did a full spring-cleaning but you might have forgotten to clean one of the most popular summer conveniences, your icemaker. Now might be the time to break it down and scrub it clean.

What’s potentially lurking in your icemaker? Read on to find out.

Bacteria: Since the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is vigilantly making sure harmful levels of bacterial pathogens are being kept out of the US water supply.  According to Dr. Pritish Tosh an infectious diseases physician and researcher at the Mayo Clinic, it's very rare that you should be worried about ice water being dirty from the start. However, it’s your job (at home) to ensure that the clean water isn't being contaminated during the freezing and dispensing process. Ice is a ready-to-eat food, and like any kitchen appliance, utensil, cutting board, etc that directly touches food, the ice machine needs to be treated the same way.

Mold: may be the biggest culprit of ice contamination and can grow in home freezers. The cold temperatures of freezers may make it difficult for mold to grow, but the problems start when freezers are regularly turned off for extended periods of time. At home, if your freezer or icemaker has been off for sometime, it should always be thoroughly cleaned before using. If you have a second home, make sure to thoroughly clean out the icemaker before you start the first batch of ice.

Contamination from dirty hands: If you use an ice scoop or your hands without washing them, the cubes could become contaminated with whatever was on your hands. You may remember to wash your hands before meals, but do you remember to do so every time you're grabbing some ice?  Now’s the time to start. And if you are using a scoop to get the ice out, clean it often.

While thinking about contaminants lurking in your ice cubes may be disturbing the health risks are minimal for the average immune system, but precautions must be taken. Regardless, you should play it safe and avoid contaminating your home's ice by regularly cleaning storage devices, ice scoops and your hands!

The Huffington Post
Dr. Pritish Tosh
Martin Bucknavage