Skip to Content

How to Clean and Defrost a Freezer

How to Clean and Defrost a Freezer

A freezer is one of the most valuable and necessary appliances in a home because it keeps food fresh and safely stores items for future use. Unfortunately, having frost on the inside walls of your freezer reduces its efficiency and increases your energy bill.

If you’re lucky to have a newer freezer model, it probably has a self-defrosting feature. However, if you have an older version, you probably have to defrost it manually.  

Read on to learn more about how to defrost a freezer and the process of cleaning a dirty freezer.

How to Defrost a Freezer Fast

Regardless of the type of freezer you own, it’s advisable to defrost it at least once a year or when layers of ice become more than a quarter of an inch thick. Do not forget to unplug the freezer before you start defrosting, irrespective of the defrosting method you opt for. Unplugging is a crucial safety precaution, which you shouldn’t overlook.

It’s also best to remove all food from inside the freezer and protect your floor with a large plastic shower liner or towels. Additionally, you might want to bunch up old bath towels or rags on the bottom shelf of the freezer to help absorb the moisture.

If you can move your freezer outside, you will ultimately have less of a mess to clean up once your freezer has defrosted.

Here is how to defrost a freezer fast:

Use a Blow Dryer

It’s perfectly okay and safe to use a portable hair dryer to defrost a freezer as long as you take basic safety precautions, such as these below:

  • First, ensure you stand clear of any standing water.
  • Keep the cord and the dryer away from any ice or water and focus on a single area at a time to ensure that your dryer doesn’t overheat.
  • Do not allow the end of the dryer to get too close to the coils or sides of the freezer because the high heat might damage the unit or the plastic construction inside your freezer.

Once you have considered the above precautions, you can defrost the freezer using this method:

  • Line the freezer’s base with towels to catch the melted ice.
  • Then, aim the hairdryer parallel to the freezer’s wall because your goal is to get the warm air behind the ice.
  • As the edges start to release, continue blowing hot air behind the ice and gently using a plastic scraper to pry the ice from the walls.

Use a Fan

A fan can help you circulate warm air into your freezer. However, this method will work best if the air in your home is warm enough to make a real difference. It works very well for anyone with a deep freezer in their garage.

Here is how to use the method:

  • Set a fan up outside of the freezer with the door propped open.
  • The airflow will help the ice to melt faster.
  • However, this process will still require time for it to work, depending on the thickness of the ice.
  • Heat a Metal Spatula

Using a hot metal spatula is a quick but dangerous method of defrosting your freezer. Here is how to do it:

  • First, wear an oven mitt and hold a metal spatula over a flame to heat it.
  • Then, press the heated spatula into the ice to loosen it and break it up.

This defrosting method is speedy and will work quickly in melting the ice in your freezer; however, it’s not advisable because you’re susceptible to burning yourself or causing damage to the unit. Therefore, if you opt to use this technique to speed up the defrosting process, it’s best to do so with caution.

Put Pans or Bowls of Hot Water on the Shelves

Placing pans or bowls of boiling water on the shelves and closing the door is a traditional way of speeding up the defrosting process of your freezer. Freezers are well-sealed; therefore, the steam from the hot water will help loosen the ice to help it melt off the walls naturally. After about thirty minutes, you can then remove the melted ice using a plastic scraper.

However, the heat from the bowls or pans might damage the freezer; therefore, if you opt for this technique, it’s advisable to place a thickly folded towel under the heated containers and ensure that there’s enough room to put the pan in the freezer.

You might also have to replace the pan with boiling water every ten minutes or so, depending on the amount of ice built up on the interior. When you replace the water, remove the melted ice with a sponge.

Use a Hot Cloth and Rubbing Alcohol

You can use a hot cloth and rubbing alcohol if you want to defrost a freezer fast. Here’s how to do it:

  • Dip a rag in boiling water and pour rubbing alcohol onto it.
  • Next, place the rag on the ice to loosen it.
  • Concentrate on little pieces at the edges, grasping loose areas and wiping around the ice to remove it.
  • The frost should start melting quickly.

This method is perfect if you want to remove just a thin layer of frost rather than large chunks of ice.

Use a Dry or Wet Vacuum

You can use the smallest nozzle accessory on a wet or dry vacuum and set the switch to blow. You can start at the top and then move down slowly over all surfaces. A vacuum is preferable to a blow dryer because it takes less time and eliminates the risk of electrocuting yourself.

You can switch the setting on the vacuum to suck up the water and ice when the chunks of ice start loosening. Then, start on the next layer until everything is dry.


Scraping the ice is one of the most popular methods of speeding up the defrosting process. However, if you opt for this method, ensure that you do it safely.

You can use a traditional ice scraper, a wood spoon, or a plastic spatula to avoid puncturing the wall of your freezer, a gas line, or hurting yourself. If you want to achieve efficiency, you can use this method and other defrosting methods.

How to Clean a Freezer

You might be pretty good at cleaning the fridge; however, it’s easy to forget that the freezer needs a little attention too, or you dislike the task. In addition, cleaning out the freezer often gets a bad reputation due to the amount of frost built up.

However, it’s pretty possible to clean your freezer in as little as thirty minutes if you have a modern refrigerator model.  

Here is how to deep clean a freezer efficiently:

Clean the Freezer With Vinegar

You can clean your freezer with vinegar. Here is how to do it:

What You Need

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Hot water
  • A large cooler
  • Ice
  • A spray bottle
  • An old toothbrush
  • Microfiber cloths


  • Remove all the food from the freezer and place it in your cooler with ice. Use this time to check the expiration dates on your frozen food. Toss the items whose expiration dates have passed.
  • Unplug your refrigerator, and don’t worry about the food inside the fridge. Food can stay cold for about four hours without power if you don’t open the refrigerator door. Cleaning the freezer shouldn’t take you more than an hour; however, ensure that people aren’t opening and closing the fridge as you work.
  • Make your cleaning solution by mixing equal parts vinegar and water in your spray bottle.
  • Spray the inside of the freezer generously with the solution and wipe it away with a dry microfiber cloth. You might have to repeat this step a few times to ensure clean the freezer.
  • If your freezer has any stubborn spills or food gunk, dip an old toothbrush in hot water. Scrub gently until the area is clean, and wipe any residue away with a microfiber cloth.
  • Wipe the inside of the freezer dry with a clean microfiber cloth, ensuring that you don’t leave any liquid behind.
  • Wash the freezer drawers, ice trays, and bins.
  • Plug the freezer back in and replace the food. If the ice in your cooler has started melting, wipe any liquid off the food items before returning them to the freezer.

Clean the Freezer With Bicarbonate of Soda

Bicarbonate of soda is great for cleaning your freezer because it will neutralize the odor in your freezer if it starts to smell. Here’s how to use it:

  • Ensure that you’ve removed all food from the freezer and placed it in a cooler with ice.
  • Unplug the fridge.
  • Make a cleaning solution by mixing two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda with a liter of hot water. Then, wipe the freezer’s interior using a damp cloth.
  • Wipe the freezer dry with a clean towel.
  • Sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda onto a damp sponge and give your freezer a good scrub if you’re dealing with stains or harsh residue. You can also let the stain soak in soda and water cleaning solution bicarbonate.
  • Wipe away any residue with a clean cloth.

How to Clean the Removable Parts of Your Freezer

If you’re cleaning your freezer, it’s also recommendable to clean your ice trays and any freezer drawers or bins. Here’s how you can clean yours:

What You Need

  • Warm water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • A clean kitchen sink
  • Dish sponge
  • Microfiber cloth


  • Ensure that the drawers, bins, and ice trays are at room temperature before cleaning them. Drastic shifts in temperature could cause your freezer accessories to crack.
  • Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with warm water to form a cleaning solution.
  • Wash your freezer accessories with the solution and dish sponge.
  • Rinse the accessories under the faucet to remove all soapy residues.
  • Let the items air dry or wipe them dry using a microfiber cloth before returning them to the freezer. This step is crucial because leftover drops of ice can form beads of ice, affecting the functionality of your freezer accessories. However, you can refill ice trays before placing them back in the freezer.

How to Clean a Freezer That Smells

A smelly freezer is primarily due to improper storage of highly odoriferous items or food spoilage. Spoilage can occur if you have a spillage that isn’t cleaned up, maybe because you thought you cleaned up the mess or didn’t do a thorough job as you assumed.

Cleaning your freezer thoroughly is time-consuming; however, it can remove all foul odors if you address the problem promptly.

You might be tempted to ignore the problem; however, this will only worsen the situation because the odors might eventually penetrate plastic interiors and rubber gaskets to invade the walls and insulation of the freezer, making them almost impossible to remove.

Before cleaning the freezer, you should get a few cooler bags or a cooler, empty your food from the freezer, and put it into the cooler bags or cooler. Be sure to toss any food that has freezer burn, isn’t properly sealed, or is an updated mystery item.

Here is how you can clean a smelly freezer:

Empty the Freezer

Unplug the freezer and remove all the racks, shelves, and ice cube trays. Wash these items separately in your sink using hot water and dish detergent.

After washing the items, sanitize them and the freezer shelves using bleach water made with a tablespoon of non-scented chlorine bleach per gallon of water.

Rinse, and air dry all the items or dry them with a clean dishtowel.

Clean the Freezer

Wipe down the inside of your freezer using a wet rag. Remove stuck-on spills by laying a damp rag on top of them for a few minutes to loosen them.

After dealing with the stuck-on spills, clean the inside of the freezer with water and baking soda solution. You can make the mixture by adding two tablespoons of baking soda to every liter of warm water.

The baking soda and warm water solution will help remove any smells. After washing, sanitize the freezer with a rag dampened in a tablespoon of non-scented chlorine bleach and a gallon of water.

When cleaning the freezer, remember to wipe down the inside of the freezer door and the sealing gasket around the door. Then, let the freezer air dry with the door open for at least fifteen minutes. If the odor is gone, you can refill the freezer; if not, you can try other cleaning methods to deal with the smell.

Other Cleaning Methods for Cleaning a Smelly Freezer

You can take additional steps to ensure you have a smell-free freezer if cleaning and sanitizing it didn’t do the trick. For example, you can try wiping down the inside of your freezer again with a mixture made of one part water and one part white vinegar to eliminate mold in your freezer that can result in an unpleasant smell.

If water and vinegar solution doesn’t work, soak some cotton swabs with vanilla, close the freezer door, and check back after 24 hours.

If the above solutions don’t work, you can place a shallow dish of coffee grounds, activated charcoal, baking soda and close the freezer door for at least ten days. You can also try packing the freezer with crumpled newspapers to absorb the odors and replace them every few days. Finally, remove the newspapers and wipe your freezer down with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution before putting your food back.

If the odor in your freezer remains even after going through the entire cleaning process, then it might have penetrated the freezer’s insulation. In this case, only a professional service company can help remove odors from the insulation.

How to Clean a Freezer Without Defrosting

Defrosting a freezer before cleaning it can be time-consuming, especially if you’re in a hurry. However, it’s possible to clean a freezer full of ice if you don’t want to defrost it. Here’s how to do it:

What You Need:

  • Hot water
  • Dishcloth or sponge
  • Baking soda or vinegar
  • Bowl
  • Paper towels
  • Fragrance-free dish soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Spray bottle


  • Remove food from the freezer and stash it in your fridge or a cool box. Don’t be tempted to clean your freezer without removing the food because you won’t reach the messiest parts at the back.
  • Remove any ice before you start cleaning. However, please don’t use a knife to remove the ice because it could damage the freezer walls and impair its ability to stay cold. Additionally, it’s pretty easy to slip on the ice and injure yourself.
  • Dip the sponge or dishcloth in warm, soapy water, and wipe over the ice. This process will melt the edges and break off the ice easily. However, don’t use boiling water because it could damage the freezer’s walls.
  • Throw the ice in the sink and allow it to melt.
  • Remove any detachable drawers or shelves.
  • Set the detachable drawers and shelves to room temperature because washing them while freezing can cause cracking or weaken them. When at room temperature, clean them thoroughly in warm water using fragrance-free dish soap.  
  • Make a cleaning solution using equal parts of vinegar and hot water or baking soda and hot water. However, don’t use vinegar and baking soda together because you’ll end up with a big, foaming mess.
  • Put the cleaning solution in an empty spray bottle and spray around the inside of your freezer.
  • Use your dishcloth or sponge to wipe out the inside of the freezer and spray more cleaning solution as needed.
  • Suppose the freezer has any food particles that won’t easily wipe away, soak a paper towel with the cleaning solution and place it over the top. Leave it for at least ten minutes, and you should be able to remove the stubborn food. You can also use an old toothbrush to scrub tricky areas.
  • Wipe down the seal, and use the same toothbrush to get into the folds before wiping the door down.
  • Use more paper towels to dry the inside of the freezer.
  • Replace the detachable drawers and shelves once the freezer is dry.
  • Close the door on the freezer and wait for at least 15 minutes to give sufficient time for the temperature to drop.s
  • Remove your food from the fridge or cool- box, sort it as you go, and throw out damaged or frost-burned food.

How to Clean a Freezer Before Use for the First Time

After buying a freezer, you might want to turn it on and fill it with food immediately after delivery. However, that’s a wrong decision because the freezer needs cleaning before use. It’s best to wash all new household appliances due to the specific smell that they have.

Failure to clean your freezer means that the unpleasant aroma will be absorbed into all the products you put in the freezer. Additionally, cleaning your freezer helps you get rid of dirt and odors, which might be due to the following:

  • Accumulated pollution during the production of the appliance.
  • The technical smell of plastic.
  • Dust and dirt accumulated during transportation and storage in the warehouse.
  • The manufacturing process of household appliances doesn’t happen in sterile environments; therefore, even if your new freezer looks clean, it’s best to sanitize it before using it.

You will be storing food in your freezer; therefore, it’s an excellent idea to give it a quick clean before using it. Here’s how to do it:

  • Give the freezer a quick wipe down using a solution made of warm water and dishwashing liquid.
  • Wipe down each cavity using the solution and dry it using a clean, damp microfiber cloth.
  • Ensure that the freezer is completely dry before putting any compartments back in.
  • Plug the freezer in. However, it’s best to remember that it might take a few hours to get down to the right temperature the first time it turns on.

How Often Should You Clean Your Deep Freezer?

Unless there’s a prolonged power outage, a lot of spillages, or you live in a high humidity area; you can deep clean your freezer once every three months. However, it’s best to follow your manufacturer’s recommendations regarding deep cleaning because they vary from model to model.

Check this too: Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker How to & Troubleshooting Guide

If you live in an environment with varying humidity levels, then owning a humidifier is one of the best investments you can make for your home. Dehumidifiers control humidity levels and make the humidity more tolerable. The perfect humidity in your living space increases comfort and keeps you and your home healthy.

However, figuring out the best settings for optimal humidity, knowing how to troubleshoot your dehumidifier, and learning the different settings can be a bit of a challenge. Keep reading to learn all you need to regarding fixing and using your Haier dehumidifier.

You might clean your fridge regularly; however, it’s possible to forget about the freezer. Therefore, ensure that you include the task in your deep cleaning schedule. The tips above will help you get started whether you want to clean a freezer with rotten meat or if you’re doing your regular cleaning.