How To Clean Your Commercial Popcorn Machine

Popcorn machines are everywhere now, and not just as a money maker for concession stands. Corporate America has started using them as a relationship builder, as well as to help appeal and attract the best employees; many offices have added commercial popcorn machines and keep the popcorn hot, popped, and free as an employee “perk” all day long. Service businesses have incorporated popcorn machines into their lobbies and waiting rooms, providing free popcorn in an effort to build a better relationship with their customers.

A bank chain in central Virginia took this to the next level: not only do they have popcorn machines in their lobbies to provide free popcorn to their walk-in customers, they also loan out their machines to clubs, charities, and nonprofit civic organizations as a way to give back to their community.

These additions have been effective for one simple reason: everybody loves popcorn. According to the Popcorn Board, Americans consume 14 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually, which translates to 43 quarts per man, woman and child. It is one of the most wholesome and economical foods available.

Now, regardless of whether your commercial popcorn machine is for profit or for building relationships, you will want to clean and maintain your machine daily. Daily cleaning is necessary to both maximize the lifespan of your machine and also to guarantee you are serving the best tasting popcorn.

Rapids suggests cold kettle cleaning using Carbon Off, which has two benefits. 1) Getting burned is much less likely as you will not be heating cleaning chemicals inside the kettle and 2) it also keeps the exterior surface of the kettle clean and shiny, which is visually appealing to your consumer.

Popcorn kettle cleaning kit sold at Rapids Wholesale includes Carbon Off, rubber gloves, spatula, steel wool and sponge

Steps to Cold Clean Your Commercial Popcorn Machine

  • Turn off your heat switch, motor switch, warmer, and light switch. Leave your machine off for at least 30 minutes. You want your machine completely cold.
  • Put on rubber gloves to protect your skin.
  • Unplug the kettle and lift it out of the hanger, removing it completely from the inside of your popcorn machine.
  • Lift up and out to remove the drop pane on the front door.
  • Wipe down the warming tray and remove the tray from the machine.
  • Remove the crumb door.
  • Place your kettle on a hard surface. Never soak in a sink.
  • Spray the inside and outside of the kettle with Carbon Off. Carbon Off needs to be pre-shaken well, and then sprayed in a smooth line. Do not spray like hair spray. You want to lay down a smooth layer of Carbon Off on the kettle, inside and out. If you are using Carbon Off gel, paint the Carbon Off on the inside and outside surface of your kettle.
  • Let the carbon off sit for 20 minutes, then pull it off with a scraper spatula.
  • With clear water and clean rags, remove the remaining Carbon Off. Rinse and wring your rag in clean water and wipe off the Carbon Off. Repeat a couple of times to make certain all of the chemical is rinsed off.
  • With a clean towel, dry the kettle.
  • Wipe down the glass and doors with a non-ammonia based cleaner.
  • The drop pane, warming tray, and crumb drawer can all be washed in a sink using your non-ammonia based cleaner
  • Use a towel to dry all of the parts before putting your machine back together.

To get you started, Rapids sells everything you need in a Popcorn Kettle Cleaning Kit that includes Carbon Off, rubber gloves, steel wool, a sponge, and a spatula scraper.