How to Defrost Your Freezer (in 7 Steps)


On the face of it, defrosting the freezer is a simple process; you just need to remove all the items from the freezer and then turn it off. However, to make sure you do not damage the freezer and to reduce the time it takes, we recommend reading this guide before you pull the plug out.

The benefits of defrosting your freezer include creating more room in the freezer and saving money due to the reduced amount of electricity that a defrosted freezer requires. Defrosting the freezer also gives you the chance to organize the freezer and throw out food that is past its expiration date.

If your freezer does not have a defrost feature or the defrost feature is not working as it should, simply follow the steps below to defrost, clean, and better organize your freezer.

1. Empty the Freezer

Defrosting the freezer means turning off the power to the freezer. Therefore, to stop the frozen food from defrosting and potentially spoiling, you will want to move the food to a suitable location. You will also want the freezer to be empty so that you can remove chunks of ice, apply the defrosting techniques below, and give the freezer a clean after it has defrosted.

Frozen food can be stored in a cooler with ice and cooling packs, or you can ask a neighbor if you could use their freezer for a few hours. Wrapping up freezer food in newspaper can also ensure the food stays frozen for longer.

2. Disconnect the Power

The next step is to unplug the refrigerator or freezer to allow it to defrost. If it is not a stand-alone freezer, some refrigerators may have a separate switch to turn off the freezer and keep the refrigerator going. If your refrigerator does not have this feature, food in the refrigerator should be okay for a few hours if you keep the refrigerator door closed.

Leave the freezer door open until large chunks of ice start to break off.

3. Put Trays and Towels Down

Before the ice starts melting, you will want to put down some trays and towels to collect the water as the freezer defrosts. Place towels down around the base of the freezer; then place trays on the towels to collect the water. Make sure to have some extra trays and towels standing by, as there could be a significant amount of water.

4. Use the Drainage Hose (if There Is One)

Some freezers have a drainage hose to drain water from the refrigerator or freezer. If you have a drainage hose, put the end of it into a bucket or container and allow it to drain.

5. Remove Freezer Trays and Drawers

When you can, remove trays and drawers from the freezer. Before cleaning the trays and drawers, allow them to reach room temperature first to stop them from cracking with the temperature change.

Wash the trays and drawers with soap and water and allow them to dry before putting them back in the freezer after it has defrosted.

6. Clean the Freezer

Before cleaning the freezer, make sure all of the ice has been removed. Tools can be used to remove stubborn pieces of ice; however, tools that may damage the freezer should be avoided. To protect yourself and the freezer, a plastic spatula, traditional ice scraper, or wooden spoon are best to use rather than a knife or a steel tool.

Once the ice is removed, combine equal parts of white vinegar and hot water into a spray bottle, or you can combine one tablespoon of baking soda and four cups of hot water. Spray the mixture inside the freezer and clean with a soft cloth. An old toothbrush or soft scrubbing brush can be used to remove stubborn stains. After cleaning, dry the freezer with a dry cloth. Make sure all the surfaces are dry before restocking the freezer.

7. Organize Your Freezer

While you have an empty freezer, it is a good time to throw out food that has expired or is no longer needed. Food could also be labeled or stacked according to its expiration date.

Food in the freezer should also be packed so that there is room for the cold air to circulate. An overpacked freezer will reduce the freezer’s efficiency.

Before returning food to the freezer, make sure to dry off any moisture on the food packets to keep frost from forming.

How to Defrost the Freezer Faster

Use a Fan

To defrost the freezer faster, a fan can be used to circulate room-temperature air around the freezer. Depending on the air temperature, a fan will slightly reduce the time it takes to defrost the freezer.

Use Steam

Steam can also be used to expedite the defrosting process. Pans, pots, and bowls can be filled with steaming hot water and placed inside the freezer on top of some paper towels. The paper towels will protect the freezer surfaces and help clean up the water from the defrosted ice.

Use a Blow Dryer

Using a blow dryer to assist with defrosting will help speed up the process, but it must be done safely. The biggest risk from using a blow dryer is electrocution, so make sure to keep the blow dryer and plug away from any water. Make sure to stand clear of any standing water as well.

When using a blow dryer, you also need to be careful not to damage the freezer with the heat from the blow dryer. Make sure to avoid coils and the sides of the freezer, and set the blow dryer to a low heat if possible.


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