Stainless steel mobile ice bins are most commonly used in bars, outdoor dining areas or catering events. Although cleaning them can be an easily forgotten task, this can be a crucial mistake. The fact of the matter is the FDA treats ice as a special food product & ice bins need to be thoroughly cleaned just as any other piece of kitchen equipment.
In this article, we will go in-depth on the correct cleaning methods for sanitizing the exterior, interior & the scooper of a stainless steel ice bin. We’ll also offer up some preventative maintenance tips to prolong the life of your ice bin.
Why Clean an Ice Bin Anyway?
Believe it or not, an ice bin is one of the dirtiest pieces of equipment used in commercial kitchens. This is because the water inside of the bin can develop slime, bacteria or mold at any time which will contaminate the entire unit.
A contaminated ice bin is a huge problem because it can be affected with E. coli & salmonella. The mold & fungus transform into germs that will make patrons fall ill. With so many hands reaching into an ice bin to scoop, the ice itself may become contaminated by human contact.
The bottom line is it’s better to regularly maintain your ice bin than letting it fall by the wayside.
Let’s start by cleaning the exterior of the ice bin. This should be performed daily.
- Use a clean soft cloth (no wool or wire pads) & a gentle cleanser (no abrasive or chlorine bleaches).
- Wipe down all surfaces thoroughly – even the underside, lid, handles & the ice scoop holder if applicable.
- Rinse, rinse, rinse – sanitize the exterior multiple times until the bin shines bright.
- If you want to add a little something more, go over the exterior with a stainless steel polisher & let it sit for awhile; just remember to rinse it off when done.
Here’s where the most important cleaning will happen. These methods should also be performed daily.
- Before we even begin, completely empty the interior of the ice bin. Make sure there is no ice present & the interior is dry to the touch.
- Once again, take a soft cloth with a gentle cleaner & clean all areas inside of the bin. That means the top, bottom & sides.
- Don’t forget about the drain or any perforated bottoms if applicable.
- Cleaning the interior should end how it started – empty & with zero moisture.
Don’t forget this last piece of the ice bin. Once again, try to perform this daily.
- Using your gentle wash cloth & cleaner, go over the handle & scoop thoroughly.
- Dry the scooper off completely. Leave no moisture behind.
- When finished, place the scooper back into the holster, not inside of the ice bin.
Preventative Maintenance Tips
To keep your ice bin in the best condition & avoid any replacements, it’s best to remember the following tips:
- Always wash your hands before operating any part of the ice bin.
- The ice scooper should never be stored inside of the bin itself. Keep it on the exterior in the designated holder or some other safe, clean storage place.
- Never use glass or your hand to scoop the ice – use the scooper instead. Glass can easily break inside of your ice bin & this will force you to dump out your bin which will be a gigantic waste.
- When your ice bin is not in use, keep the door/lid closed. This will prevent any airborne debris such as dust or algae flying into the bin potentially causing contamination.
- Sanitize your ice scoop regularly. This cannot be stressed enough.
- When service is over, avoid putting unused ice back into the ice bin.
- Never use the ice bin as a substitute for a freezer or cooler for drinks, food, etc. An ice bin should only be used for storing ice & that’s it.
IMC/Teddy wants you to get the most out of your stainless steel ice bin & this includes regular maintenance & care. Please feel free to check out our stainless steel maintenance tips here for more information.