8 Easy Steps To Defrost A Freezer Quickly And Efficiently

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Having to defrost a freezer manually is a task that most people don’t look forward to. It can be a messy chore, plus it could take quite a bit of time.

It’s essential to prepare your freezer adequately before you begin the defrosting process to minimize food spoilage and reduce the risk of damage to the freezer.

Here is how to defrost a freezer in 8 easy steps:

1. Move your food to a cool location

Move the food in the freezer to a cooler filled with ice or frozen cooling packs. If you don’t have a cooler, try wrapping the food up in cooling packs in a blanket and setting it in a cool part of your home. If this isn’t possible, your next best option may be to ask a neighbor if you can store your food in their freezer for a little while.

2. Turn the freezer off 

Before defrosting your freezer, you’ll want to turn it off or unplug it completely to eliminate the safety risk of standing in water while working around an electric appliance. If you have a refrigerator/freezer combination, the food you have stored in the refrigerator should be fine for 1-2 hours, even with the appliance unplugged as long as you leave the door closed.

3. Place towels around the bottom of the freezer

As you defrost your freezer, water will pool as it melts, so you want to be prepared to mop it up. It might be helpful to put several layers of towels on the floor, bunching them around the base of the freezer. You can also place baking trays under the edge of the freezer to prevent water from pooling on the floor.

Use a drainage hose (if you have one)

Some freezer models come with a drainage hose on the bottom to help remove the melted water when you’re defrosting. If your freezer has one, put one end of the drainage hose in a bucket to drain the melted water into it. Try placing shims under the front part of the freezer to encourage the water to flow toward the drain.

4. Remove the frost layer

A. Leave the freezer door open

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The air outside is likely warmer than the air inside your freezer, so use that to your advantage by leaving your freezer door/lid open. If the door/lid to your freezer automatically closes, you might need to prop it open. Depending on how thick the frost is in your freezer, it will likely take around 2-3 hours for the ice to melt completely.

B. Scrape out the ice

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Ice will melt faster if you scrape it out. Try using the edge of a spatula to scrape the frost in your freezer into a bucket. Alternatively, you can use an ice scraper, but take care to avoid damaging the lining of the freezer, which will in turn likely void its warranty. Steer clear of ice picks, knives, and any other sharp instruments. 

C. Set a bowl of hot water in the freezer

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Place a bowl of hot water in the bottom of the freezer to speed up the defrosting process. Depending on how much room you have in the freezer, you can add several bowls of water to melt the ice even faster. The steam will help to melt the frost. Change out the bowls every couple of minutes or as they get cold. Remember to be careful to avoid burning yourself as you move the bowls of hot water.

D. Use a portable fan

To help accelerate the melting process, try putting a fan near your freezer. Ensure the freezer door/lid stays open and position the fan, so that room temperature air circulates into the freezer. The air will help to melt the ice a bit faster.

E. Defrosting using a handheld steam cleaner

If you have a steam cleaner handy, you might want to try using it to expedite the defrosting process. For this to work, you’ll need to direct the steam at the ice, keeping it away from any cooling mechanisms. You might also want to wear rubber gloves and take care not to burn yourself in the process. The ice should melt much faster, so make sure you have plenty of old towels to catch the water.

F. Use a hot cloth

Soak a cloth in a bowl filled with hot water (you’ll want to wear gloves to avoid scalding yourself). Hold it against the frost to help it to melt. Wring the cloth, scrape at the ice, and repeat the process. You’ll need to refill the water several times as the ice will cool the cloth. Avoid pouring hot water onto the ice, which could damage your freezer.

G. Defrost your freezer using rubbing alcohol

If you only need to remove a thin layer of ice to remove, you could try defrosting your freezer with rubbing alcohol. For this method, you’ll first need to soak a cloth in hot water first, then pour a small amount of alcohol onto it. Rub the cloth on the little pieces of ice at the edges, grasping the loose areas and wiping around the frost to remove it. 

5. Take out shelves and drawers and wash them

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Take the shelves, drawers, and other removable parts out of the freezer. To wash the freezer shelves and drawers, start by filling your sink with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Once the removable parts warm up to room temperature, put them in soapy water to soak. After about 3o minutes, scrub them down thoroughly with a dishcloth. Rinse them with clean water and leave them to dry. It’s essential to wait for the removable parts to come to room temperature because glass shelves are fragile and could easily crack if you change the temperature too quickly.

6. Wipe down the freezer interior with baking soda

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Once the frost inside the freezer has melted, you’ll need to wipe down its interior (including the walls, the bottom, and the door/lid) to clean and deodorize it. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to 3 cups of water. Dip a soft cloth in the water, gently wring it out, and use it to wipe down the freezer.

7. Dry the inside of the freezer and the removable parts

Remove as much excess water in the freezer as possible using a clean, lint-free towel. Allow the freezer to air dry for 10-15 minutes by leaving the door open. Wipe down the drawers and shelves and allow them to air dry as well.

8. Put everything back in the freezer and turn it on

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Put the shelves, drawers, and other removable parts back into the freezer. Turn the freezer back on. Put any food you might have had saved back onto the drawers and shelves. If any items may have thawed and reached an unsafe temperature, you might need to get rid of them.

Why does frost build up in a freezer?

Frost forms in the freezer when room temperature air enters the freezer from the outside. The cold temperature inside the freezer causes the moisture in the air to freeze and accumulate as frost when it comes into contact.

Warm air finds its way into the freezer whenever you open and close the door/lid. Frost also tends to build up when you put a yet-to-be-frozen pack of food (or food that’s still hot) into the freezer. 

Why is it important to defrost a freezer?

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Keeping your freezer free of frost will mean you have more space to store food. If you leave frost to build up long enough, it can prevent the door from closing all the way, which can affect the freezer’s effectiveness. 

As well as taking up the space where your food should be, the frost can act as an insulator. That means that your freezer will need to run longer and work harder to penetrate that layer of ice to keep your food cold. As a result, it will cost you more electricity bills to run your freezer.

How often should you defrost a freezer?

You should defrost your freezer at least once a year or more often if your appliance is prone to frost build-up. You should also routinely defrost your freezer if the ice build-up is more than a quarter-inch thick. 

How to prevent frost in a freezer

  • Stock food properly 
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A general rule of thumb for stocking food in your freezer is to be up to two or three pounds of food per cubic foot of space. Frost can quickly build up in your freezer if it’s too full or empty.

  • Keep the freezer door/lid closed

When you open your freezer door/lid, you allow cold air from the freezer to escape and introduce humidity. Humidity contains moisture that turns into frost in colder temperatures. Therefore, every time you open your freezer, the temperature inside it rises, forcing the appliance to work harder to keep stored items frozen. To prevent this, gather everything you need at once to avoid unnecessary trips. 

  • Organize your freezer properly
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Keep items stored in your freezer organized so that it’s easier for you to find what you need faster. This will subsequently reduce the number of times you’ll have to open and close your freezer. 

  • Avoid storing hot foods

Avoid storing hot food in your freezer at all costs – steam from hot food turns into humidity, increasing frost build-up. Always let hot food cool off first before storing it.

  • Dry off food before storing in the freezer

By the time you get home after buying frozen food from the store, the items will probably have started to defrost, leading to moisture accumulation on the outside of the packaging. Before storing these items in the freezer, wipe off all the moisture to prevent frost.

  • Use the right storage containers

Always use appropriate storage containers to minimize access to air. If you’re storing items in plastic containers, they should fill up the container to avoid leaving extra room for air. If you use plastic bags, they should be freezer or storage bags that are thicker than standard sandwich bags.

Final thoughts

There are several ways to defrost your freezer, but you can save yourself all the effort by preventing frost from building up in the first place. If you want to avoid dealing with frost altogether, your best option is to buy a frost-free fridge freezer.

Last update on 2023-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Zoltan Szatmari

Zoltan is a test and industrial engineer from Europe who loves learning anything new and working on small projects. When he is not working, he is usually hiking or going to the cinema.

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