How to De-Frost Your Freezer without Flooding Your Home: If left alone, your freezer is just as big a breeder of germs as the fridge. The reason for this is bacteria can still be present, even when frozen, and if, for example, you suffered a power outage, the bacteria from raw, thawed meat could then contaminate the freezer itself. Think about this, you would probably never eat your food off a dirty plate, so why store it in a dirty freezer?
Before you can get to work cleaning the freezer, you need to defrost it first. It’s a real chore but it’s got to be done, so let’s get right down to it!
Firstly, a note about auto-defrost.
It doesn’t really work – sorry, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but true.
Auto-defrost works by temporarily raising the temperature slightly, causing a mini-thaw. Unfortunately, this can encourage the dreaded ‘freezer-burn’ as well as microbe growth in your food, as it is constantly re-frozen.
The best way is to avoid icing-up in the first place by making sure the door seals are in good order and you always shut the door firmly. This is because as warm moisture enters the freezer, it interacts with the cold walls inside, causing ice to form.
If the inside of your freezer resembles an arctic cave, however, here is what to do:
1. Remove the food by transferring it to a cool box or another freezer, if you’re lucky enough to own one. This is also a great time to make a note of what exactly was in there. Throw away any items that have gone past their freeze-by date or are freezer-burned – like those horrible turkey-steaks your kids were mad on back in 2006! If you are storing the food in a fridge/freezer, take the food out of the fridge compartment, too.
2. Turn off the power, unplug it, leave the door open and get ready to roll up your sleeves! Never try defrosting with the power on. You will burn electricity quicker than a rock-concert and stand a good chance of electrocuting yourself as little pools of live melted ice appear beneath your feet.
3. Get some towels and a bucket. The towels go into the bottom of the freezer and on the shelves to help absorb the defrosting ice. Additionally, tuck some towels on the floor against the door to catch any water that drips out. Use the bucket to ring out the towels.
If you have a lot of melting ice, then grab a clean mop and use it to keep the floor around the appliance dry.
Often, old freezers have a tray beneath them with the freezing compartment above. Make sure to keep emptying these trays as the ice melts by dumping the contents into the bucket or into the sink.
4. Wait for the ice to melt. This is by far the best and safest method but if you’re like me and have had a patience by-pass, or unlike me actually like hard work, then…
5. Scrape away! However, don’t do what I did first time I tried this as a housewife (too) many years ago. I scraped away using a bread knife, slipped on a stubborn bit, sliced through my finger and managed to pierce the coolant ducts with the tip. There was a faint hiss and an odd, sweet, bubble-gum smell. In one stupid moment, I had trashed my freezer by releasing all the coolant gas, and had to spend the rest of the morning at the doctor’s getting my finger patched up only later to return to a soaking wet kitchen and a mountain of ruined de-frosted food.
The moral? Never use a sharp object – only use a plastic spatula or spoon – and be careful – very careful when using it!
You may have heard of other, more ‘adventurous’ methods like using blow heaters, hair dryers and alike to melt the ice but, unless you intend to electrocute yourself or blow all the fuses in your house, I would not recommend using them at all. Water and electricity should never mix – period!
I did try a method of placing bowls of very hot water inside the freezer, then shutting the door, but unfortunately, this never worked for me. The water in the bowl simply froze, and the bowl would stick fast to the shelf it rested on. Avoid!
6. Finally, clean the freezer. Simply, clean it in exactly the same way as you do the fridge.
7. Refreeze and repack the freezer. Make sure the freezer is down to about -5F to -10F before you put your food back in.
Now both your fridge and freezer are spotless and you’ve done a great job of keeping the bugs at bay from your food. The trouble is, you’ve nothing clean to cook it with, so let’s start with the easiest appliance to deal with – the microwave oven.
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