What To Do If Your Freezer is Left Open Overnight

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OH NO the freezer is open!

So you’re innocently going downstairs to do a little laundry and you turn and notice THE FREEZER WAS LEFT OPEN OVERNIGHT. What do you do? I’ve experienced this TWICE now, and it can sure be a day wrecker.

Who would leave the freezer open overnight?

In my house, it’s absolutely “NOT ME” who left the freezer open. No one wants to be responsible for this grocery budget ruiner. Usually, we don’t even bother asking because we’re too busy trying to scramble and save as much as possible.

And honestly, I don’t believe anyone would leave it open on purpose. It’s always an accident. The guilty party already feels bad, why make it worse.

I have a few tips to get you through the hardest parts of this experience. It’s no picnic but before you panic, throw everything out, and call it a total loss grab a cup of coffee and read this post.

What To Do If Your Freezer is Left Open Overnight-2

What to Do if Your Freezer is Left Open Overnight

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Take a Deep Breath

  1. Take a deep breath and assess the situation. Is there water pooling under the freezer? Are the food packages wet and soft? Are things leaking? Is anything still frozen?

Snoop Around

  1. Check to see if the door was just left open or did you have a catastrophic failure of your freezer?

Is it Plugged In?

  1. If the freezer is plugged in, the light is on, and it’s trying to work then it’s probably still working.

If It's NOT Working

if the freezer is not working, then you will be working with a lot more defrosted goods. You’ll probably need a cooler to put all the thawing food items in to keep them cool.

Just Left Open?

  1. If the door was just left open a crack, it’s time to assess the contents. Anything wet, soft, leaking, and thawed should be removed. Often things in the freezer will stay frozen even if the door is left open a crack. I’ve found that stuff at the front of the freezer and the top of the freezer are the first to be thawed.

Assessing Damage

  1. Once you’ve removed all the thawing items, you have to decide if you’re going to cook them or toss them. In my opinion, if meats are cool to the touch OR semi-frozen, they are still able to be consumed, but you must cook them first. Do not refreeze thawed meats. Vegetables and fruits can be refrozen but will need to be used soon because they will get freezer burned a lot more quickly.

Can You Cook It?

  1. When my freezer has thawed, I usually end up cooking as much as possible. I batch cook food, make a complete meal and refreeze. That is a safe method, by the way, to cook and refreeze items as desired.

Time to Throw Out the Warm Stuff

  1. Anything warm to the touch should be discarded, it may be unsafe to consume. I have cooked that meat for our dogs before though. If that’s something you feel like doing it’s an excellent way to use up meat you think is questionable. But do not consume meat that has been defrosted and is warm, it is unsafe.

Maybe Add a Water Detector under your freezer door?

This product sits right on the floor UNDER the freezer door. If both pieces of metal on the bottom get wet YOU ARE GOING TO HEAR IT. This a great LOW COST option but you need to be in your house for it to work!

So there you have it, what to do if your freezer is left open overnight, I hope you never have to go through it. But if you’re a homeowner with room for an upright freezer you’re probably going to experience this problem at some point or another. I’m sorry, it sucks, but working through this list will help you make the most of your freezer contents.

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6 thoughts on “What To Do If Your Freezer is Left Open Overnight”

  1. I agree. What about frozen bags of veggies?

    I have a rule. I stock up on sales through Memorial Day. Then I eat through the freezer and do NOT buy what I cannot eat in 2 weeks until after hurricane season Mid October. I live in VA on the East coast.

    I also put expensive meat/seafood low in the stand freezer with ice and ice packs.

    Reply
    • I used my best judgment. If they are soft they CAN be refrozen but use them quickly. Meat can’t be refrozen. And yes good tip, I’ll add that, keep your expensive items lower in the freezer!

      Reply
      • I accidently left the freezer open when I left for work. So it was open about 8 hours. It had things like Hot Pockets, Jimmy Dean sandwiches, frozen dinners, etc. that I had just got from the store in there, so they didn’t have any frost on the outside when I found them, but were still relatively cool to the touch, and the ice cream I had in the freezer from another day had frost on the outside. Do you think most of the food in my fridge is probably safe to eat? I didn’t have any leftovers or meat or anything fresh or raw like that, and it seems to have stayed at a fairly cool temperature and is running fine now.

        Reply
  2. I notice this morning there was water on the floor in the garage the freezer door was open. Everything feels cold but boxes are wet, can I save these items, meats pies, cookie dough, fruit, ice cream?

    Reply

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