How to Clean a Freezer Quick and Easy

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The inside of your freezer is a no-man’s land. Even if you’re the person who packages and freezes leftovers, the back recesses of any freezer become unexplored and crowded. Spills that happen in the freezer never get cleaned up and frost builds up over time. Leftovers that were unlabeled or forgotten about may have been lost for years, long past when they should have been thrown out and the tupperware reclaimed. You may have even tackled your freezer, looking to clean up old leaks and exploded soda spills, but ran into a hitch. Sponges shred themselves on frozen slicks and no one has time for that much scrubbing. Fortunately, there’s a better way. When you know the tricks, cleaning your freezer is so much easier than you imagined. We’ll explain step-by-step how to make cleaning your freezer a quick and easy process. 

Gather Your Supplies

The first step is to get your freezer-cleaning supplies together. Start with a cooler or insulated container that can hold all your frozen goods while you clean the freezer. Then collect your cleaning gear. YOu’ll need white vinegar and a spray bottle, a large water pitcher, a nailbrush or toothbrush, and a few clean towels. You will also want to run the sink hot for this process, as hot water is a key part of making the whole thing work.

  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • White Vinegar
  • Large Pitcher
  • Towels
  • Nailbrush or Toothbrush
  • Spray Bottle

Empty Frozen Items into the Cooler

Naturally, you’ll want to start by emptying your freezer so you can access every part of the freezer, including the racks. If you have a large cooler, carefully stack all your frozen goods into the cooler and pack with any ice you may have in bags or from the ice machine. If you do not have a cooler, use a box that keeps all the cold things close to each other. If you have room in your fridge, consider packing all frozen things tightly in the fridge to keep them moderately cold.

This is also a good time to sort everything in your freezer. If you don’t remember storing it and it has no label, throw it away. If it’s long past it’s freezer-date for freshness, throw it away. You’ll likely also discover a few lost treasures that will be cooked up in the near future, now that you know they were hiding in your freezer. Put a lid on the cooler and get read to continue. 

Remove Racks and Drawers to Clean Separately

Next, take out all the easily removable structures from your freezer. Remove the wire shelves and the pull-out drawers so that you can access as much of the freezer walls as possible. Since there are often a few spills and drips on the freezer racks, a smart approach here is to fill your sink with hot water and soak your freeze racks while you work.

When your freezer racks have soaked for a few minutes in hot water, it’s safe to take a sponge to them and clean all your freezer internal structure separately. Wash the racks, drawers, and any other components that may have been dirty or sticky inside your freezer. 

Place a Towel Along the Bottom Opening

This is about to get messy. The next smart step is to place a towel along the bottom opening of your freezer to catch flowing water and melting ice. If you have a freezer on-top model, then the towel will need to stop the water before it runs over the fridge door. If you have a side-by-side model, the towel will be in the freezer doorway, above the floor. If you have a drawer-type freezer, skip the towel for now because you’re not at risk of a serious leak. 

Pour Hot Water Over Frost and Frozen Spills

Now for the magic trick. All those frozen-in spills and annoyingly topographic frost formations don’t have to be tackled directly. Fill a large water pitcher with hot water. Then start pouring. Pour hot water over the worst spills. Pour it over the biggest frost ridges. And hold that towel in place to catch the water as it runs down and out of the freezer. You will notice sticky frozen puddles soften and become as easy to clean up as any liquid spill. You will notice frost mounts melting away without a tedious defrosting process. 

Mop up Puddles

With the same towel or a second towel, mop up all the now-melted mess inside the freezer. All the spills that have dissolved into the hot water can now be wiped up with a towel instead of needing to be scrubbed at for days. No need to reach into awkward angles or rip up a sponge on scrubbing something frozen and sticky. Hot water and towels together can solve most freezer messes and clean-up tasks. 

Spray Vinegar Over Entire Interior Surface

See anything left? It’s time for the acid approach. Vinegar is a very mild but pure acid that melts away minerals and soap scum among many other things. Vinegar is the bases of homemade surface cleaner and it’s great for cleaning the kitchen because it’s food-grade safe without any potentially toxic cleaning chemicals.

Fill a small spray bottle with white vinegar and set it to a wide-fine spray. Then spray the entire inside of your freezer. Close the freezer for a few minutes to let the vinegar sit. Then open the freezer and wipe out the vinegar with a damp towel. You may notice more grime coming up from the walls of the freezer. 

Scrub Stubborn Spills

If hot water and vinegar didn’t completely melt your problems away, then it’s time to scrub. Frozen messes tend to shred sponges, so you’ll want a brush-item instead. A nailbrush is a great item for this purpose, but you can also use a cleaning toothbrush or even a dishwashing brush for the same purpose.

Dip the brush in hot, mildly soapy, water and scrub in circles until the last of grime inside your freezer is gone. 

Dry and Refill with Frozen Foods

If you want to, spray one more round of vinegar or one more deluge of hot water over the inside of the freezer before drying it completely. The drier the inside of your freezer is, the less it will frost over. Finally, you’re ready to refill the freezer with frozen food.

Start by drying and returning the racks to the inside of your freezer. Then clear out the cooler and re-stack all your frozen items. Use this opportunity to organize your freezer and take steps to prevent lost frozen food in the future. Congratulations, you now have a fantastically clean freezer and it didn’t take all day of scrubbing.

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