When it comes to appliances, your freezer is one of the least likely places to get seriously dirty often. Unlike the refrigerator or your stove, it isn’t subject to frequent unsealed food exposure. When food goes into your freezer, it gets frozen and it isn’t as likely to be spilled and is less likely to release ambient odors because it needs to be sealed so well to be frozen.
However, when your freezer gets dirty, you will likely know it pretty fast. When you open it up, that cold air will be a potent waft of less than pleasant odors. Furthermore, you may even start to taste that smell in your stored ice that is exposed to it when the door is closed. Unfortunately, because the interior is frozen, if there are spots that need to be cleaned, it isn’t as simple as wiping it down with a cloth. So how does one clean a freezer when it needs it every once in a blue moon?
Turning Off Your Freezer
If you have already tried to clean some areas on your freezer without turning it off, you will likely have had a bad time with it. It is not effective and you will have to deal with constant freezing. In order to actually effectively clean your freezer, it needs to be turned off. However, the good news is that this is actually a really good opportunity to go through an do a little organizing.
Make sure your freezer or freezer / refrigerator combo is unplugged just so as it defrosts, you do not risk any electrical shock. If you have a lot of frost build-up, you first want to lay down some towels in case it overwhelms the drain and you will later want to look into why the defrost isn’t doing its job.
While your freezer is thawing out, you will need to remove the food to coolers or another freezer so it doesn’t thaw. While doing so, give some consideration to how long the food has been in there. The lifespan of frozen food is not infinite. Every food has a specific lifespan in a freezer, these include:
- Leftovers last up to four months
- Soups and broths last two months
- Raw beef lasts four months
- Raw chicken lasts up to nine months
- Fruits and veggies can last up to a year
When trying to figure out when you put that pound of ground beef in there, you should also be inspecting the packages. Regardless of age, anything with strange discoloration, smells, or leaks need to go in the garbage. Furthermore, if you see ice build-up in the package, it needs to go. Most of the time you want it to be gone because it will taste terrible. However, also keep in mind that these bad food items can contribute to a dirty freezer, requiring you have to do this more often.
Speeding Up the Defrost
If you have finished sorting your frozen food before the freezer thawed out or aren’t sure how long the frozen food will last in that cooler, there are ways to speed up the defrost process. Before doing so, remember to remove and empty the ice bin. This will not only produce a lot of water but greatly slow down defrosting.
To speed up the process, place a large container of boiled water inside your freezer and shut the door. Be sure to use a container that won’t get overly hot, like a microwave-safe bowl or a plastic container. Using the pot you may have boiled the water it could do some damage to the freezer casing.
You can also use a hairdryer on the low setting to speed up the process if you only have one or two spots of thick frost to tackle. However, as an electric tool, be very careful not to expose it to water.
As you are defrosting, make sure the water is being quickly drained away and not pooling too much. If it is pooling, you may need to investigate the drain to make sure it is not blocked.
Compared to some cases of defrosting, the actual cleaning of your freezer might go by in a flash. What you don’t want to do is use a harsh chemical cleaner to spritz down your freezer compartment. You might remove the bulk of it, but some will still linger and may result in an unpleasant cleaner smell when you turn the freezer back on.
The better option to clean your freezer is a simple scrub down with warm soapy water, using a green cleaner, or even just the old standard of vinegar and baking soda. The latter will also do a fantastic job removing any lingering smells as well.
When cleaning, be sure to remove any bins and shelving so you can clean them separately in a sink. You can’t get a full clean without removing these items. If you need to get that freezer up and running as soon as possible, you can take a clean cloth and wipe down everything that you have cleaned. It gets it dry faster so you can plug your appliance back in.
Once you are done cleaning your freezer, plug it back in and let it run. When the compressor shuts off, it is safe to put your food back inside. What you will want to do to help keep it clean is to keep out items that may leak either food itself or smells. To combat the accumulation of awful smells, you may also want to keep a box of open baking soda inside, but it does need to be changed every three months.
If your ice still tastes bad after cleaning your freezer, then your next suspect should be the actual water filter in your refrigerator. You will want to look into changing the water filter if applicable in your appliance. Once a freezer is cleaned, it should have no smell and thus it won’t impart a bad taste to your ice.