Regular cleaning and sanitizing is critical with soft-serve machines. Operators should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, using the appropriate tools and chemicals, to ensure a long service life.

For easier maintenance, heat treatment units are only disassembled and cleaned every two weeks. These machines go through a timed heating-and-cooling cycle each night, which kills virtually all bacteria in the dairy product.

Here, Jon Russell, owner of Russell’s Service Co. in Leesburg, Ga., talks about the importance of properly cleaning and maintaining soft-serve machines.

  • With the exception of heat treatment systems, soft-serve machines need to be taken completely apart, cleaned and sanitized each night.
  • Run food-safe sanitizers through the machine and then rinse them out prior to use. Use soap and water to wipe off the outside. Remove splatters throughout the day. Dispenser caps must be soaked each night.
  • Like refrigeration systems, clean and check a soft-serve machine’s condenser monthly.
  • These units require tune-ups on the seals and gaskets every six months. Replace torn door, draw handle and auger shaft seals. Neglecting this maintenance can result in ice cream mix leaking out of the freeze chamber to the back of the machine, potentially compromising the motors and gear box.
  • Typically, broken handles and nozzles can be easily fixed.
  • Compressor failure on a unit that’s more than 10 years old signifies that it’s time for a new machine. The same is true for irreparable leaks.
  • Product temperature needs to be monitored daily to ensure ice cream is at the proper thickness.