If you're wondering how to clean a freezer, you're not alone. With all the many things in the house to clean, it's easy to forget about the freezer — until you take a close look inside there and spot a hideous mess. Of course, it's best to not wait to clean the your freezer space until it gets to that point. But if you've already procrastinated far too long (hey, we've all been there!), the good news is that there's a pretty simple solution to making it clean and tidy once again.
How often should you clean the freezer?
It goes without saying that you should clean the freezer whenever you see dirt or food residue in there, or if you smell a funky odor that wasn't there before. But experts suggest that you clean it thoroughly at least once a year, even if it appears sparkly clean. If you have a manual-defrost freezer, you should defrost and clean either once annually or whenever there's more than one-fourth of an inch of frost over a large area in there. If you have a self-defrosting freezer or a frost-free freezer, you obviously don't have to worry about defrosting your appliance. However, you should still clean it out at least once every 12 months — or even more often if there is visible residue inside. (Psst: It might help to mark a cleaning date down on the calendar now so you don't forget. National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day is on November 15, but definitely don't feel obligated to wait until then to do it.)
How to Clean a Freezer
Remember, not all freezers are the same. Always be sure to consult your instruction manual first in case there are any special instructions you need to follow for cleaning your appliance. Then, take a look at the recommended freezer-cleaning strategy from the National Center for Food Preservation below:
- First, disconnect the power source and remove all the food. This is a great opportunity to asses what food you want to keep and what food you want to toss. If food is spoiled or freezer-burned, definitely throw it in the trash. As for the food you want to keep, store it in another insulated ice chest — or leave it in a friendly neighbor's freezer if you don't have any other storage containers that are appropriate for frozen food.
- If you have a manual-defrost freezer, it's time to do your de-frosting. Some manual-defrost freezers require you to put pans of hot water in there and close the door, while others recommend that you let them thaw naturally or with the help of another device. Always check your instruction manual if you're not sure. (If you have a frost-free freezer, feel free to disregard this step entirely.)
- After the frost has been removed, it's time to get scrubbing. Create a cleaning solution with one tablespoon of baking soda per quart of water, and sponge out the entire interior with it.
- Next, sponge with clean water. After there's no residue left over, dry with an absorbent cloth.
- Then, turn the freezer on and close the door. But wait, don't put the food back in just yet. You need to give the freezer 15 to 30 minutes to become chilly enough again so you can safely put everything back inside.
- Finally, return all the food to its rightful place. If any packages have moisture or frost still on them, wipe them off before putting them back in — and make a note to use those items first the next time you open the fridge.
Enjoying your much cleaner kitchen? Learn about some of the tastiest superfoods to put in there in the video below: