How To Clean The Freezer

updated May 30, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Gina Eykemans)

Freezers read like a crime scene. If a forensics expert took a look, the conversation would go something like this: “If you’ll refer to Exhibit A, you’ll see the dinner party leftovers from four months ago that should be been eaten by now. And Exhibit B, the surplus of Costco ground beef purchased last month because it was “too good a deal” to pass up.”

Because the freezer is a place for long-term storage, it’s easy to forget what we’ve put inside — and it’s also easy to let sneaky leaks go un-wiped and for food debris to gather in its nooks and crannies. Today, let’s talk about how to clean the freezer in just 30 minutes.

Because your freezer may not fall into your usual cleaning routines, it’s good to set aside some time to freshen it up (and dispose of some unlabeled mysteries). By raising the temperature and spraying in a little vinegar and water, it’s easy to get your freezer back to top form. And hopefully forensic experts will no longer be able to trace your footsteps through the mysteries contained within.

The whole process will take you about thirty minutes (depending on just how long it’s been since you last cleaned).

1 / 14
Time to clean the freezer! (Image credit: Gina Eykemans)

What You Need

Large cooler

Rubber gloves (optional) Mild, fragrance-free dish soap Hot water Vinegar Sponge Wash cloth

Paper towels or dish towel Baking soda (optional) Toothbrush (optional)


1. Turn off the freezer: Switch your freezer off or unplug the unit — whichever is easiest.
2. Empty the ice: Empty any ice trays into a bowl and place in the cooler. Soak the trays in a sink full of warm, soapy water.
3. Unload the freezer: Take out all the frozen food and put it in the cooler.
4. Remove and wash all detachable drawers and shelves: Let the units come to room temperature before cleaning to avoid cracking. Once they’ve warmed up, wash them in a sink full of warm, soapy water. It’s best to use fragrance-free dish soap if possible to avoid transferring any scents back to the freezer, which can be picked up by food. Rinse thoroughly and set aside to dry.
5. Make a cleaning solution: Make a solution of equal parts hot water and vinegar OR 1 quart hot water with 2 tablespoons baking soda. Transfer to a spray bottle and liberally spray the inside of the freezer.
6. Wipe the inside: Wipe out the freezer with a sponge or dish cloth. Reapply the cleaning solution as needed. For stubborn, stuck-on food particles, spray your cleaning solution on a paper towel and place it over the sticky area. Let it soak for 10 minutes, then wipe away. If necessary, use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the area.
7. Wipe down the doors and door seal: Don’t forget to wipe down the freezer door and the surrounding seal! You may also find a toothbrush helpful here.
8. Dry the inside: Dry the inside of the freezer thoroughly with a paper towel or dish towel.
9. Replace the shelves and drawers: After the inside of the freezer is completely dry, replace the shelves and drawers.

10. Replace all food, ice, and turn the unit back on. Take a look through your frozen foods as you place everything back in the freezer. Toss anything that has developed freezer burn and organize your remaining frozen foods by priority. Don’t forget to turn the freezer back on!