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How to clean a freezer without turning it off

How to clean a freezer without turning it off
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If your freezer could do with freshening up but you don’t want the hassle of unplugging it then you might be interested in this guide for how to clean a freezer without turning it off. 

This easy method requires just a few household cleaning materials and can be used with any of the best freezers (opens in new tab). However, if you want to know how to clean a freezer (opens in new tab) and you don't mind turning your appliance off to melt ice build-up, it's worth noting that this is a more effective method. However, being able to clean your freezer without turning it off is perfect for a top-up clean, or for when you don't have time to wait for the ice to melt on its own. 

In this guide we speak to food safety expert Jenna Brown who is a fully qualified Environmental Health Practitioner with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, specializing in food safety. As a mother herself, she draws from her expertise in food safety and public health to give accessible help and advice through her website Food Safety Mum (opens in new tab) & Instagram page @thefoodsafetymum (opens in new tab).

We ask her advice on how often we should be cleaning out our freezers?

“Ideally, you should aim to clean out your freezer at least every 6 months. Seasonal changes are a perfect opportunity to have a freezer clear out and make sure that you're keeping on top of how long foods are in your freezer to keep them free from freezer burn.” 

When you’re ready to embark on cleaning out your freezer, here are our step-by-step instructions on how to clean a freezer without turning it off.

How to clean a freezer without turning it off

1. Gather your materials

Make a note of this list of necessary cleaning materials needed to clean a freezer without turning it off. These are all products that should be readily available in a store near you:

Hot soapy water in a bowl
Sponge
All-purpose antibacterial cleaning spray
Towels
Rubber gloves
Spatula 

2. Prepare your freezer

Ensure that you properly prepare your freezer before you start the process of cleaning it. 

What the expert says…

Food safety expert Jenna Brown tells us, “Most food will usually remain frozen solid for the amount of time you need to clean the freezer, but make sure you keep any food which may defrost quickly; such as ice cream, small cubes of frozen food or frozen bread, in a cool box with a few ice packs and other frozen food to stop it from defrosting.”

• Remove any freezer food and store it safely. Hot soapy water and antibacterial spray will be needed.

• Lay towels inside and outside of your freezer to absorb the melting ice water and hot soapy water.

• Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from the cold ice and harsh chemicals in antibacterial cleaning products that are not safe for skin contact.

• Place your bowl of hot soapy water in the bottom of the freezer - this will help to melt ice around it with steam while you use it to wipe down the inside of the freezer.

3. Wipe inside with warm water

This is the crucial step for how to clean a freezer without turning it off. As you wipe the inside of your freezer down with the hot soapy water and sponge, the heat and dish soap will cause the ice build-up to melt away. Scrape away any larger clumps using a spatula. If you are encountering stubborn ice build-up you may find it useful to also use a freezer–specific de–icer to help melt them. 

Regularly wring out your towels to stay on top of the melting ice. You may wish to use a mop and bucket at intervals during your cleaning process if you find that the melted ice water is becoming excessive.

4. Sanitize the inside

The final step is to sanitize your now ice–free freezer. Use an all-purpose antibacterial cleaning spray and wipe out any crevices in your compartments or drawers with a clean sponge to ensure that any bacteria has been eliminated. When this has dried off you can return your food to your freezer. 

Jenna explains why keeping your freezer clean is so important, “It's easy to neglect your freezer. Scattered crumbs and a build up of dirt inside the freezer are just some of the reasons you will want to clean it out, as well as the fact that keeping your freezer defrosted will help keep it running optimally.

Although you might only be cleaning your freezer out every few months, don't forget to disinfect the door handles regularly as these are the hand contact points where germs can build up.”

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Tanisha started her career in commercial retail buying for one of Amazon UK’s Top 10 revenue grossing online homeware retailers. Years spent obsessing over homeware products made it an easy career switch to writing about them. Her freelance career has seen her craft customer-focused web content for brands big and small, as well as writing articles in the health, lifestyle, home and retail sectors.

With contributions from