How to Speed-Clean Your Kitchen Freezer

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Don't have a day or two to let your freezer defrost? Want to skip straight to the good stuff and get it over with? You're not alone. Instant gratification is a common desire among everyone, particularly homeowners with a cleaning itch. So don't let your freezer dictate the terms of your cleaning arrangement. Instead, take charge and follow these quick and easy steps. You'll be done with it in under 30 minutes.

Get the right stuff. Before starting your clean, you'll need a few things. For one, rubber gloves, which will protect your hands from the cold and from cleaning solution chemicals. Also have on hand the following: a large cooler, a sponge, a rag, rubbing alcohol, a plastic spatula, white vinegar, dish soap, paper towels and a premeasured spray bottle.

Unplug your unit. You'll need it to be off in order for your freezer to properly thaw out and accept cleaning treatments as you go. Put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands, and then empty the ice from your freezer trays into a large cooler to get it out of the way. Remove the freezer trays and scrub them with water and just a little liquid dish soap. Sponge them down, and set them aside to air dry.

Unload the freezer. Throw away anything that is expired or freezer-burned. If you're unsure, then toss anything covered in ice crystals. Those are typically beyond repair, anyway. Wipe any excess ice off boxes of frozen dinners you want to keep, and put everything that you're keeping into the cooler with your ice.

Remove drawers and detachable shelves. Place them all in the sink, and scrub them with soap, water and a sponge. If necessary, let them soak in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes while you move on to other steps. Like with the ice trays, let the shelves and drawers sit and air dry. Use this time to make sure your freezer is properly defrosted for the next step. Most will defrost themselves every 8 to 12 hours, but if for some reason yours has more than ¼ inch of ice on any of the walls or the base, then you'll want to manually defrost. To do so, dip a rag in rubbing alcohol, and cover the ice with it. Chip away any frost with a plastic spatula. Don't use a metal spatula, which risks scratching your freezer's interior and making it more prone to freezer burn. Once the ice is removed, wipe the walls down with the rubbing alcohol rag, and then move on to the next step.

Make a cleaner. Using a premeasured spray bottle, make your own freezer cleaning solution. Pour 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 teaspoon dish soap into the bottle, and shake well to blend it together. Spending more time shaking is better than not spending enough. This will help to avoid patchy cleaning jobs in your freezer.

Clean the interior. Spray the interior of your freezer with the cleaning solution, making sure to get the walls, roof, bottom and any nooks and crannies. Wipe down all the walls and shelves with paper towels to avoid mildew buildup.

Plug the unit back in. Now that your freezer is cleaned out, plug it in and let the cool air circulate in it again. Making sure everything is dry, replace the ice trays and any shelves or drawers that you removed for cleaning. To fight odor from the cleaning solution or any remaining moisture, hang an odor-fighter in the back of your freezer. These can be purchased at most grocery stores and any hardware store. Carefully place all your food items back into the freezer.

With just a half hour of your time, you can have your freezer ready to stock up on all your favorites, without the worry about cleanliness or odors. Save yourself some time and grief this season, and put it toward something you actually want to do, like actually eating that popsicle.

Last Updated: July 21, 2011
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for

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