When Was the Last Time You Cleaned Out Your Freezer?

Ideally, a freezer should be thoroughly cleaned twice a year but it’s easy to overlook the freezer when doing household chores. By the time you wonder when the last time you cleaned your freezer was, you may think you are in for an all-day chore. However, there are ways to clean your freezer that will not eat up an entire day, and cleaning the freezer is beneficial to the food you freeze. A clean freezer smells better and does not transfer odors into items that absorb such smells easily, like ice creams and ice cubes. Additionally, if you have an older freezer model in which ice can actually build up in the freezer compartment, a clean freezer runs better and more efficiently, costing you less each month on the electricity to run it.

Cleaning a freezer effectively requires a little planning. It is best to clean a freezer when your frozen food supply is low, not after a big food shopping trip. When the food supply is empty or low enough that you can preserve the frozen foods in an ice chest, this is a good time to clean the freezer. Additionally, now is a good time to throw out old food items that have been in the freezer and may have frostbite or be well past their sell-by date. Many people think that frozen foods do not emit odors but this is not true. Old frozen food can cause smells that are absorbed into other frozen foods or may seep into the refrigerator, so discard old frozen food past its use date.

For most modern freezers, actual ice build-up is negligible, but if you have an older freezer, the first step will be to defrost the freezer. Turn off the freezer and leave the door open, allowing the ice to melt naturally. If there is significant ice-build up, do not attempt to pick away at the ice. You could slip and puncture the side walls of the freezer or cause some other form of damage. Instead, to speed up the defrost process in an ice-filled freezer, boil a pot of water and put it inside the freezer, closing the door, protecting the bottom of the freezer from the hot pan. The steam will help melt the ice and loosen the solid ice deposits. You may have to repeat this step several times, depending on the ice thickness. Once all the ice is melted, dry out the inside of the freezer with paper towels.

Once the freezer is ice-free and relatively warm inside, wash the insides thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Be sure to wipe out all smudges and crumbs, and when finished, wipe down with warm water to rinse out the soap. If your freezer seems to still have odors in it, you may want to dissolve some baking soda in warm water and wash down the inside of the freezer with this solution. It will help remove any lingering odors. Once finished, dry the insides of the freezer with a clean towel or paper towels. When the freezer is completely dry, turn it back on again and close the door. Once the inside has return to freezing temperature, you can refill the freezer. Now that your freezer is clean, consider keeping an open box of baking soda inside, which will absorb any odors and help keep your freezer smelling fresh until its next cleaning.

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