Now that the festive period is over and done with for another year, I’m guessing you have a sparsely populated fridge or freezer. Why not take advantage of the situation and give it a proper clean out and defrosting before it sees heavy use again.
You may think it’s as simple as turn it off, wait a few hours and wipe down. Sadly, No it’s not. I shall explain.
Firstly, you are going to need a few items to make this go smoothly and painlessly as possible. Get yourself some old newspapers, a thick sunday paper should do the trick, a couple of small plastic or metal buckets, some clean water, a shallow bowl (a washing up bowl is ideal), a stack of clean cloths and a specialist fridge cleaner.
Below are links to purchase De-icer products to help you defrost your unit quicker.
I would always recommend a non metallic ice scraper or plastic spatula be kept close to hand to assist in the ice removal.
“But why do I need to defrost my fridge and or freezer?” I hear you cry. Well besides the compartment drawers being easier to open and close, your appliance will be more energy efficient, which means it won’t cost as much to operate, which means pennies in your pocket.
I will assume you have already emptied the fridge / freezer of food and other perishables and also removable drawers and shelves.
Lay out the newspaper in front of the appliance door and push some underneath as well, this is to catch water and any crumbs or bits of food that were trapped in the ice. Check to see if your appliance has a catchment tray, some models, this is underneath the fridge / freezer where melt water can be collected, other models have an interior trough or hollow to do the same job. It may even be designed to collect in the bottom most drawer.
Unplug and open the door. While you are waiting for the ice to melt, it is the perfect time to clean the shelves and drawers that you removed earlier. Just add a few drops of an all purpose cleaner to 3-4 cups of water in a small bucket (Don’t use too much cleaner or too little water as it will be hard to rinse off and you do not want a residue left behind). Wet a cloth in the cleaning solution in the bucket and wipe all the surfaces and parts that you have removed, rinse the item with clean water to ensure it is clean and residue free and place to one side to dry off. Save the remaining cleaning solution to use on the interior surfaces of the fridge / freezer.
Time to check on the thawing. If you still have a thick layer of ice, this is when to use the scraper or spatula to help remove it. Ideally you want to let the ice melt at it’s own speed but if you need to use an implement to remove it, take care not to damage the interior finish. If you use a de-icer spray for freezers or fridges, the main point to remember is that they will help to accelerate the melting process, they WILL NOT melt the ice for you.
Once all the ice has melted, examine the inside of the appliance, the parts that dont ever touch your food, you can just wipe those down with a clean dry cloth. The other areas, use a wet cloth from the cleaning solution you used on the shelves and drawers and wipe those down. Ensure you get in all the nooks and crannies.
Pay particular attention to the door. Ensure you wipe the rubber gasket (seal) around the door carefully to make sure it is clean and also carefully inspect the rubber to make sure it has no pinprick holes or cracks that would compromise the seal when the door is closed. Don’t forget to wipe the surface where the seal makes contact with the body of the appliance, keeping both these scrupulously clean will ensure the door seals properly. If you do see a break or the rubber looks old, you may need to have the gasket replaced.
Using a clean wet cloth, rinse off any soapy areas and either dry the interior surfaces with clean dry cloths or allow the freezer / fridge to air dry (time permitting). If you switch on the freezer while the interior surfaces are still wet or damp, you will get a layer of ice almost immediately and that is to be avoided where possible.
Power the unit back up and replace the drawers and shelves you removed for cleaning. Check your manufacturers instructions for thermostat and temperature settings and wait until any low temperature warning lights are green or out completely before replacing the food.
Don’t forget, whilst the unit is empty, clean underneath and also wipe down the exterior surfaces too but take care around the coils and any exterior fans at the rear and that’s it, you are done.