Did you know that -80 freezers are the most energy intensive type of “plug load” equipment in a laboratory environment?

A freezer cleanout is a great way to mitigate this consumption—while saving you time and effort in the future! Organizing your freezer will make it easier to find needed samples, and eliminating old materials will free up space for new samples, minimizing the need for a new freezer. This is a great cost saver! In addition, by clearing frost buildup you will save energy, improve ease of access, and ensure the longevity of your freezer.

Two Case Studies:

In the Spring of 2011, two labs participated in a pilot Freezer Cleanout Program. Each lab cleaned out one –80 freezer and disposed of old samples. The following results were achieved:

  • Lab 1: 44 Boxes of Samples Disposed of, providing 2.75 racks of new space
  • Lab 2: 67 Boxes of Samples Disposed of, providing 4.2 racks of new space

Get started:

  1. Inform the lab of the upcoming cleanout in advance so they can plan their participation.
  2. Allow for the backup freezer to reach the temperature setpoint.
  3. Have each researcher clean out their shelf, boxes, and/or racks. FREE foam gloves are available to FAS researchers to protect your hands from the cold while organizing a freezer. 
  4. All samples that will be kept should be labeled with the researcher’s name and transferred into the backup freezer. 
  5. All unnecessary samples should be disposed of following EH&S protocol. Any questions should be directed to your safety officer, lab manager, or your PI.
  6. Researchers should take turns cleaning out their sections to avoid excess warming.
  7. The lab manager should be on hand to answer questions.
  8. Once the cleanout is complete, place a freezer map and inventory on the door of the freezer to keep samples organized and minimize the amount of time needed to find a sample. Each shelf and rack should be labeled with the name of the person responsible for that section.
  9. Clear excess ice buildup with a soft cloth or rubber mallet. Be careful to avoid tearing the rubber seals and gaskets. FREE ice scrapers are available to FAS labs to assist with frost removal.
  10. If you notice any issues with your freezer, report them to your PI or facilities team immediately.

Contact energy@fas.harvard.edu for your free freezer cleanout supplies!