How to defrost and descale home appliances

Defrosting and descaling are simple tasks that, when done regularly, can keep your home appliances running at their best. Here's how to do both.

How to defrost and descale home appliances

Defrost your freezer

An iced-up freezer won't run efficiently, so it's worth defrosting regularly. Run down your supplies first, so you have less food to keep cold while you work.

  1. Choose a cold day. Switch off and unplug the freezer. Remove ice trays, racks and containers.
  2. Pack food into a cooler or bags and put them outside. Or wrap in newspaper and blankets and leave in the coolest place indoors. Use coolers for ice cream or soup, which melt quickly, and pack them tightly.
  3. Put old towels covered with newspaper on the floor and your largest roasting pan on the bottom shelf inside the freezer to catch excess moisture. Leave the door open.
  4. Mop up as the ice melts. Don't chip away ice with a knife — use a plastic scraper.
  5. To remove lingering smells, clean the freezer with two teaspoons baking soda in four cups of warm water, then dry thoroughly.
  6. Wash racks and drawers in warm soapy water and dry. Rub the inside with glycerine before you put them back — ice will come away much more easily next time you defrost.
  7. Check food before you replace it and discard anything that's out of date or has deteriorated. Repack with the oldest food at the front.

To speed defrosting

  • Put pots of hot water inside the freezer and refill as necessary.
  • Spray the inside with a store-bought defroster.
  • Use a steam cleaner designed for defrosting.
  • Never use a hair dryer, which could electrocute you if it gets wet.

Descale a kettle

  • Special descaling solutions are available to buy, but white vinegar is ideal for attacking lime scale.
  • Mix together equal parts water and white vinegar. Fill the kettle and leave it overnight. Empty, rinse, refill with water, reboil and empty.
  • It's now ready to use. No taste of vinegar will remain.

The easy way to descale a shower head

  • Unscrew the head and soak overnight in a bowl of white vinegar. If it has several parts, unscrew these if possible and soak them separately. Remove any remaining deposits with an old toothbrush.
  • If the shower head can't be unscrewed, pour the vinegar into a plastic bag and pull it up around the head to immerse it. Secure firmly in place and leave overnight. Finish off with a toothbrush.

Defrosting and descaling is an essential part of home appliance maintenance. Doing both of these tasks regularly can help keep items working at their best, and may prolong their lifespan.

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