When Was the Last Time You Cleaned Your Freezer? Here's How to Do It—and Build This Task Into Your Routine

According to our experts, you should be tackling your freezer's cavity once per month.

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Your freezer does a lot of heavy lifting: Not only does it perfectly preserve your leftovers and frozen meals, but it also works hard to keep your favorite things, like ice cream, ready when you need something sweet.

Unfortunately, the appliance's cold air (and leaky containers) contributes to some major messes, including frost build-up, frozen spills, and stains. To tackle each one—and keep your freezer cleaner for longer—you'll want to tackle this chilly cleaning job several times a year.

What You'll Need

Before you get started, you'll need to make sure you have the right tools for the job, says Justin Carpenter, the founder and CEO of Modern Maids. "You can clean your freezer with just a few supplies and materials," he says. "We recommend using an antibacterial disinfectant cleaner, but nothing harsh, like bleach. A great option is the Mr. Clean Multi-Surface Cleaner; our clients rave about the refreshing smell."

If you'd rather go the DIY route, Alex Varela, the General Manager of Dallas Maids, a house cleaning service in Frisco, Texas, suggests making your own cleaning compound. "Mix together half a cup warm water, half a cup vinegar, and half a teaspoon dish soap in a spray bottle to create a deodorizing cleaning solution," Varela says.

Whichever route you take, make sure you also have a microfiber cloth on hand to wipe up as you go and a nonabrasive scrub brush for any stubborn stains.

Commercial Cleaners

  • Antibacterial cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth

DIY Solutions

  • Spray bottle
  • Warm (not hot) water
  • Vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Microfiber cloth

Extra Tools

How to Clean Your Freezer

The first thing you'll want to do is unplug your freezer and give it a little time to de-frost, says Carpenter. "This allows us to carefully deep clean the freezer without missing any areas and ensure that it is disinfected properly," he says. "We have seen, on some occasions, frost build up over dirt or debris, which makes the cleaning much more difficult."

Since your freezer needs to thaw, you'll need to place any items stored inside in another chilly place for the time being; Carpenter suggests placing them in a cooler with some ice. Then, follow these steps.

  1. Spray the freezer cavity with a cleaning agent; let it sit for 10 minutes. "This is the most important step in the cleaning process, because a lot of people will spray a cleaning solution and then immediately wipe it off," says Carpenter. "If you're doing this, then you might not be killing the micro bacteria. If you read the labels on the cleaning products, they will say how long the product should dwell for before wiping away."
  2. After the allotted time is up, wipe up your spray and any messes left behind with a microfiber cloth. "A microfiber cloth is superior to a paper towel for many reasons, but most importantly because it traps the dirt in the fibers for a cleaner finish," says Carpenter.

How to Remove Frozen Stains

Not every mess will lift easily, which means you may need to either go back over some spots or turn to a stronger cleaning agent. "To tackle tough stains in your freezer from things such as leaked ice cream or sticky frozen residue, we recommend using Dawn Heavy-Duty Degreaser," says Carpenter. "Dawn is safe to use in your freezer, and because it is a degreaser, it will loosen the stains and allow you to scrub them away with the abrasive side of a kitchen sponge."

If all else fails, Carpenter turns to a Magic Eraser, "which always safely gets the job done when needed," he says.

How to Keep Your Freezer Clean Long Term

For the best, longest-lasting results, Varela says to make cleaning your freezer part of your semi-regular cleaning routine. "Cleaning your freezer once every four to six weeks is more than okay," Varela says. "For deep cleaning, you could do that three to four times a year."

If you want to avoid a major undertaking when your freezer's cleaning cycle rolls around, or just want to keep your freezer cleaner for longer, Varela says you should stay on top of messes; tackle them as soon as they occur: "Definitely clean your freezer right away if you notice that something spills. Also, if you have time, remove your food every one to two weeks and quickly wipe down your freezer."

How to Fight Freezer Odor

To fight odors, employ the usual household staples. "Add a quarter cup baking soda and the juice of a lemon," Varela says. "Mix until you form a paste and then place it inside the freezer."

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