Most modern refrigerators sold today run on a no-frost technology. This means that the freezer will not build up frost on its wall, ceiling and floor. However, not everyone will have a brand new refrigerator in their kitchens. Also, some people will prefer to use traditional refrigerators, because these use less energy than no-frost refs.
Most modern refrigerators that don’t run on no-frost technology will give you an easy way to defrost, though. You will usually just need to push a button, and the compressor will turn off. The refrigerator will cease from cooling, to let the ice melt. The melted ice will then drain off through the chiller pan, and the water will drain to a collecting pan usually found at the back of the refrigerator.
This no-pain defrosting method is a good way to maintain your refrigerator’s frost levels from becoming too thick. However, the problem here is that if you are lazy with defrosting and cleaning your ref, you will end up with a smelly refrigerator, with all the buildup of food and food-related odors.
Here’s how to properly defrost and clean a refrigerator.
Turn it off. Older refrigerators will require you to actually unplug the unit. On new refrigerators, you will just need to press the “defrost” button and turn the thermostat to Zero. To be sure, though, you can unplug the ref, since you will need access to the water tray at the back, anyway.
Remove everything. Take out all food items from the freezer and refrigerator. If you have items that might spoil, such as milk, meats and other perishable goods, it will be a good idea to purchase ice before defrosting, so you can store the foodstuffs in a cooler while you work on the refrigerator. Defrosting will take anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire day, so be sure you have enough ice for this purpose.
Since you’ve taken everything out, take this as an opportunity to sort out the items in your refrigerator. Throw out items that have already gone past their expiry date. Throw away leftovers that are too old. Throw away anything that’s already giving off a bad smell.
Speed up the melting process. Keep the refrigerator door open to let air circulate. This helps speed up the melting of frost. You can place a pot of hot water inside the freezer to accelerate melting. You can also set a fan in front of the refrigerator to let warm air inside. If your freezer doesn’t have a drainage spout, set a pan under the chiller or freezer to catch water.
Don’t scrape off the ice while it’s hard. Let it melt by itself. Once the ice is soft, you can already help remove it by prying it off or gently scraping. If you need to scrape off the ice, don’t use a metallic tool. Use a wooden or plastic spatula, so you don’t scratch the surface of the freezer.
Clean your ref and freezer. Use a mixture of mild dishwashing detergent and baking soda. These will help rid your refrigerator of bad smells. Baking soda will also get rid of stains.
Dry your refrigerator thoroughly before turning it on. Make sure you’ve returned all racks in their proper places, if you’ve taken these out during cleaning.