Cleaning Your Freezer

freezer full of food

Spring Cleaning Tips: How To Clean Out A Freezer

The freezer is a place for long-term food storage, which makes it easy to forget what we’ve put inside. Over time, all the pot roasts, stews, frozen vegetables and more can leave behind leaks and debris, which gather in the nooks and crannies and then freeze over, leaving behind a challenging cleanup situation. Freshening up your freezer isn’t an ordinary cleaning task, but it does help to keep food fresh as well as prevent cross contamination, so it’s important to understand how to handle it when the need arises.

If done properly, cleaning your freezer should only take about an hour of your time. Considering the health and safety benefits, that is one hour well spent. Here are the reasons why you should consider adding freezer cleanup to your list of chores, plus a few helpful tips to get you started.

Causes of a dirty freezer

There could be several reasons your freezer is dirty. Exploding carbonated beverages (like soda cans or beer bottles), leaky containers such as partially melted ice cream, or food debris from open packages can all add up. Over time, spoiled food from the fridge can leave a lingering odor as well. Even dirty hands can transfer bacteria to your freezer.

Is your dirty freezer dangerous?

Because most people are under the assumption that no, or little, mold and bacteria can grow in freezing conditions, it’s easy to shrug off a deep clean. However, scientists have found that many common species of bacteria thrive in frigid conditions. If food is not properly stored in clean, airtight containers, it can be exposed to bacteria living in the freezer including open ice.

What You Will Need to Clean a Dirty Freezer

In order to clean your freezer, you simply need to wipe it out with a water and vinegar solution (mixed in equal parts). You may also use a chlorine solution if you suspect bacterial contamination. As a note of caution, never mix your chemicals. Also, be sure to check the manufacturer’s label for proper ratio of chemicals to water. You cannot safely clean a surface with bleach alone.

To properly clean your freezer, you will need:

  • Clean, disposable cloths, rags, or sponges
  • Spray bottle or bucket
  • Vinegar (if using)
  • Chlorine bleach (if using

What is the best way to clean a freezer?

First, empty all freezer contents into a portable cooler, sink, or other large container. Pack the contents in ice if there is anything that defrosts quickly, like ice cream. Dispose of any food items that may be old or improperly packaged.

Next, turn off the freezer to let it defrost and clear out any loose debris or bits of food stuck on ice that may harbor bacteria. You will need a clear surface to work with. Warm water may help, but if you use any rags, be sure to grab a fresh one before you begin the final stage of the cleanup process.

When your freezer is totally empty, you are ready to clean. Prepare your cleaning solution in the bucket or spray bottle. Spray or wipe down the freezer with the solution. Ensure that you get into the cracks and corners. If you have an ice maker, be sure to clean that thoroughly as well.

Follow any cure time directions if you are using a bleach product. Finally, wipe the freezer dry with a clean cloth.

How to Keep Your Freezer Organized & Clean

It is easier to clean your freezer if you keep it organized. An organized freezer means there is less opportunity for bacteria to grow. Plus, food is easier to find and less likely to go to waste. If you’ve cleaned out your freezer already, these tips will help ensure everything inside stays orderly and safe:

  • Freeze things in bags flat
  • Store bagged items in bins
  • Stack flat items on top of each other
  • Store all open food in sealed, airtight containers or bags
  • Label everything not in its original package

A clean freezer prevents odor build up, which can impact the flavor of your food. It also helps keep your food safe to eat. Most homeowners have all the tools they need to make freezer cleaning a part of their cleanup routine. Overall, this is one step in your spring cleaning that you don’t want to skip.

While you may not need a professional biohazard cleanup company to clean out your freezer, if you ever find yourself in an extraordinary situation, such as hoarding, there might be more at play. For anything more than a typical cleaning, give us a call.