How To Defrost and Clean the Freezer

How to defrost and clean the freezer - you really can save a heap of money if you annually defrost and clean the freezer ..

I rely on my freezer to get meals on the table.

It’s also great for making the most of leftovers and cooking up stuff in advance if I’m being virtuous and meal planning

But all too easily the freezer can become a money burner when it’s frosted up with ice. 

So you really can save money if you annually defrost and clean the freezer.

Not to mention reduce the general ickiness of all those pesky peas and berries and the like that somehow always manage to get into the most awkward corners … yuk!!

Thick ice and crumbs everywhere in my freezer!!

And it really is worth doing … even if you don’t need to defrost … as it’s a great opportunity to “cook the freezer” and use up all the older stuff in danger of going to waste.

Top tip. if you have the brain-bandwidth to plan it, you can ‘cook the freezer’ the week before you plan to spring clean it. 

An empty freezer is a godsend if you’ve got to defrost it, because it means you’ve got time to do it properly without the temptation to take short cuts that can damage your freezer.

How to Defrost the Freezer

There are all sorts of tips for defrosting the freezer quickly … everything from melting with a hairdryer, hacking at the ice and using glycerine, vinegar and salt to melt the ice.

My advice would be DON’T use any of the above!

The hairdryer is obviously dangerous, but you also have to be very careful about what you put in the freezer as you can end up damaging seals, lining and pipes.

My low risk approach may not be the quickest … but if you’ve “cooked the freezer” and left stuff with neighbours you don’t have to rush and these easy steps are safer …

  1. Switch off the freezer
  2. Take out any fittings that you can safely take out and wash in warm soapy water
  3. If you’ve got an upright:
  4. Put a container under the draining point … might just be a bit of plastic that flips out
  5. Put down newspaper or towels on the floor
  6. Put bowls of lukewarm water on throughout freezer … you’d think hot water would be better but this weird thing called the mpemba effect means lukewarm is quicker
  7. Wipe the the lowest point of the ice with a warm cloth … melting the lowest ice first will increase the speed the rest of the ice melts … and repeat every 20 minutes or so
  8. Shut the door in between wiping
  9. Resist the temptation to hack at the ice … even with a plastic utensil … after a while big chunks of ice will start to come away just from wiping; try to remove pieces from the bottom first as this will speed up the process

How to Clean the Freezer

Some people clean the freezer with vinegar … but personally, I stick to hot soapy water.

Although I am a massive fan of vinegar for cleaning all sorts of other things, I don’t use it on the freezer as there is a risk of the acetic acid dissolving seals, lining and and pipe coating.

Wipe down everything you can with a microfibre cloth and soapy water.

If your freezer is anything like mine it’s almost impossible to get all the crumbs and errant peas out from between the pipes just by wiping so … making sure there is a big basin and plenty of newspaper to catch the water … I tip bowls of warm soapy water all over the freezer.

And then rinse out by tipping more water over.

Don’t forget to wipe the seals, between the doors and underneath the freezer.

Once everything is clean, dry off with a microfibre polishing cloth. 

Switch Back on Two Hours Before Refilling

Once you’ve got the freezer all defrosted and clean and dry, you need to switch it back on for 2 hours to get the temperature to the right level before putting food back in it.

If you don’t you risk food partially defrosting and then refreezing.

Now I am not going to try and convince you cleaning the freezer is great fun!

But if you treat it as an opportunity to use food up, it’s a pretty low effort background activity and as it saves me money on food and electricity it’s time well spent as far as I am concerned.

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