How to Stop Vending Machine from Clogging: Some Quick Clogging Fixes

How to stop your vending machine from clogging : Prevention and quick fixes

The biggest challenge of maintaining almost all vending machines, is preventing the milk and hot chocolate from clogging in the machine. Good news is there are a few easy ways to prevent this from happening, and if it does happen it is relatively easy, although it can become frustrating, to resolve the problem:

Why do vending machines clog?

There are two reasons why vending machines clog, or rather why the product (usually milk powder or creamer) clogs inside a vending machine. The two primary reasons are: Product issues, cleaning and maintenance issues and machine issues.

Vending Machine Ingredient Problems:

There are 4 ingredients that can potentially clog inside of a vending machine: Instant coffee, milk powder or creamer, sugar and hot chocolate. By far the most problematic ingredient of all these is milk powder or creamer. Milk powder and creamer are inherently not free flowing products. When they try to pour there is friction created between each of the particles causing them to eventually stick and later clog. This friction causes the powder to stick to itself which eventually causes build up and then clogging. There are a few ways to limit this from happening but one must keep in mind that unless constant maintenance and servicing is done in conjunction with these fixes, your vending machine is likely to continue clogging.

There are four options when it comes to using milk for vending machines and each has a different effect on clogging:


A la Cremora or other store bought brands. Creamer is a combination of glucose and palm oil and besides for being unhealthy, is the worst milk powder option when it comes to clogging. All creamers are made to be used manually (meaning measured in a tea spoon and then mixed into a cup of coffee) No creamer has been properly designed for use in vending machines.

Combination Milk Powder

Combination milk powder or milk creamer is a combination of milk powder (dehydrated milk) and creamer. Combination is better than creamer when it comes to clogging but not quite as good as pure milk powder.

Pure Milk Powder

Pure milk powder is, as the name suggests, only milk powder which has been dehydrated to become a powder. The taste of pure milk powder is almost identical to that of normal milk except it does contain slightly more lactose which makes it a little sweeter than normal liquid milk. Pure milk powder is better than any milk powder concoction which contains creamer and the second best of all milk options when it comes to preventing clogging.

Pure Milk Powder with free flowing agent

Because all of the preceding milk options are made for generic use (Generic use is any use including simply measuring it out with a spoon and pouring the product into ones cup) they are all prone to some sort of clogging. To prevent this free flowing agent (usually 1%) is added into the mixture to prevent friction between each of the particles. Using pure milk powder with free flowing agent is ones best ways to prevent clogging other than anti-clogging maintenance procedures.

Vending Machine Maintenance Problems:

Regardless of what ingredient is used, there still needs to be some level of daily maintenance performed to prevent clogging from happening. Because friction is caused regardless of how free flowing your product is, you need to perform daily tasks to ensure clogging doesn’t disrupt the running of your machine.

99% of clogging occurs in or around the mixing bowls of a vending machine. The mixing bowls are the parts of the vending machine (shown below) where the water and milk mixture is mixed before being dispensed.

vending machine milk clog
Milk Powder Build Up
Milk Powder Clogged
Mixing Bowl Clogged with Milk Powder

There are three ways to maintain your machine to prevent clogging from happening:

1)      Use the simple clean function which most vending machines have – The simple clean button essentially swirls water inside of the mixing bowl flushing out any build up or debris inside of the mixing bowls.

2)      At the end of each day remove the mixing bowls and wipe with a dry cloth – there is always some product which the flushing procedure doesn’t get and this ideally would be done manually

3)      Try to ensure that no moisture is left in the mixing blows at the end of each day – moisture is the biggest reason for buildup. As soon as dry ingredient touches water and is not dispensed or flushed out, clogging starts to set in.

Key Points to Prevent Vending Machine Clogging:

  • Try to always use a milk powder which doesn’t contain any creamer and ideally has some free flowing agent already mixed in.
  • Perform daily and weekly cleaning and maintenance tasks
  • Always clean mixing bowls with dry cloths to prevent moisture and wetness from occurring.