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How to Maintain an Ice Cream Machine

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Maintaining your soft-serve ice cream machine is essential to deliver the best product to your customers. To keep it in the best condition, you’ll need to regularly clean your machine, replace parts as needed, and be informed on how it operates. Use this guide as a resource to properly maintain your soft-serve ice cream machine.

How to Properly Clean Your Ice Cream Machine

Cleaning your machine involves three main steps: wash, lubricate, and sanitize. These are crucial to ensure your machine is effectively cleaned and safe for commercial use. Follow the steps below to clean your ice cream machine.

Wash Cycle

The first part of cleaning your machine starts with the wash cycle. You’ll want to use a specialized cleaner that breaks down dairy fats, oils and milk stones while being food safe. We recommend using one scoop of Stera-Sheen to two gallons of water. This needs to sit in the machine for at least two minutes.

Start by flushing out all the residual product mix from your barrel. Grab a bucket to catch it.

Select the wash cycle on both sides. This will empty the remaining product out.

  1. Next, do a cold water rinse, using a hose or buckets of water.
  2. Follow this with a warm water rinse, by adding warm, soapy water to the hoppers.
  3. Use a clean rag to wipe the walls of the hoppers to help break down fats and oils.
  4. Empty the warm soapy water through the nozzle to serve ice cream. Have a 5-gallon bucket ready to catch the excess.
  5. Follow this with another flush of clean water. Check that no bubbles or mix are on the top or coming through the nozzles.


Sanitizing the machine occurs after the cleaning process and before adding the product mix into the machine. This step is crucial to kill any germs in the system.

After this clean water rinse, run a sanitizer through the top. We recommend Stera-Sheen for optimal results.

When sanitizing your machine, follow the directions to mix properly and then pour into the hoppers.
Grab a clean rag to use in the sanitizing solution to help clean the hoppers’ walls and all surfaces that the mixer will touch.

  1. Run it through the nozzles into a bucket for disposal.
  2. Now, take out each component to clean individually. Note: this step is necessary for those pieces that weren’t touched by the sanitizer. Using a bus bin or bucket helps keep pieces together.
  3. Remember: always check your drip tray to make sure there isn’t any dripping in the back. If you notice any, you’ll need to replace any o-rings or seals as needed to maintain your machine.
  4. After hand cleaning all components, it’s time to put them back in the machine.

Final Steps

Now that you’ve washed and sanitized your ice-cream machine and parts, it’s time to reassemble it. This is a perfect opportunity to inspect parts for any issues as well as add food-safe lubricant to your o-rings. Always make sure to use food-safe lubricant to maintain the health and safety of your product.

  1. Don’t forget to lubricate your o-rings and seals right before you put them back in the machine using a sanitary lubricant.
  2. Check your blade life by running a resistance test.
  3. Wipe down the exterior of the machine with warm soapy water to remove any product.
  4. After all the equipment is back in place, it’s time to run a product test.
  5. Once all cleaning solution has been flushed from the system, refill the hoppers with a small portion of ice-cream mix to test.
  6. Discard the first run of ice cream to remove any remaining cleaning solution from the machine.
  7. Finally, add the rest of the ice cream mix, freeze your product, and then you’re all set to serve customers!

Please visit our support page, if you’re unsure of any step listed. There are user manuals and videos explaining the entire process.

Planning Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential for keeping your machine in top-performing shape. It will last for years if it’s properly maintained. Soft-serve machines need to be completely dismantled, cleaned, and sanitized every day for continued performance and health and safety. Note: this number can vary from one to 28 days, depending on the local guidelines and type of ice cream machine. Additionally, all disassembled parts need to be hand washed. Just make sure to rinse all items prior to first use.

Since cleaning your soft-serve ice cream machine can be a longer process, we offer full cleaning and maintenance packages. Working with our team helps you reduce labor costs, cut water usage, and eliminate heavy lifting. We can also check for any issues, schedule maintenance repairs, and keep your ice cream machine in top performance.

How Often Should Parts Be Replaced?

During weekly cleanings, make sure to check drip trays for any leaks. This will indicate a need to replace any o-rings or seals. Testing the blade life should also occur during regular cleanings. If there is good resistance, that indicates they are most likely in good shape. If they go straight in, it’s time for a replacement. Additionally, if any part has visual cracks or other issues, it’s time for a replacement.

Effectively Maintain Your Ice Cream Machine

Maintaining your ice cream machine doesn’t need to be a hassle. By following all the steps in the wash, lubricate, and sanitize process, you’ll be able to keep your customers happy. Don’t forget the value of regular maintenance on your machine for greater efficiency and longevity. Connect with our team today to schedule preventive maintenance.