How to Defrost a Freezer: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Defrost a Freezer: 14 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Defrost a Freezer: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

Over time, a thick layer of ice tends to form on the inside of the freezer if it does not have an automatic defrost system. Modern freezers usually have a mechanism to remove excess ice without any assistance. However, for older or cheaper models, you may need to do this task manually. Ice in the freezer reduces its efficiency, consumes more energy and reduces the space available for food. De-icing is a very simple process, but it can take an hour or two to do.


Part 1 of 3: Preparing the Freezer for Defrosting

Defrost to Freezer Step 1

Step 1. Eat as much food as you can in advance

Emptying the freezer will make the process easier. About a week before defrosting the freezer, cook and eat everything you can.

Also, this is a good way to consume foods that are about to go bad

Defrost to Freezer Step 2

Step 2. Move food from the freezer to a cool place

If you can, ask the neighbor to use his freezer for a while. Another option is to store food in a cooler filled with ice or ice-gel bags.

If you don't have a cooler or other similar container, wrap the food along with gel ice packs in a towel and leave it in a cool place in your home

Defrost to Freezer Step 3

Step 3. Turn off the freezer and unplug it

It is a good idea to unplug it from the wall outlet to make it easier to work and move around the freezer. If the model is a combination freezer and refrigerator, the food can stay inside for an hour or two without any harm - as long as the door remains closed.

Some freezers have a switch to turn it off without having to unplug it

Defrost to Freezer Step 4

Step 4. Place old towels and baking sheets around the base of the freezer

The defrosting process will cause a lot of water to come out of the freezer, so it's best to prepare. Gather several layers of towels around the base of the freezer. Place the pans on top of the towels, but under the corners of the freezer; this will serve to keep excess water under control.

Defrost to Freezer Step 5

Step 5. Find the drain hose, if there is one, and place the end in a bucket

Some freezers have a drain hose at the bottom to help control water flow. If your model has one, place the tip in a small bowl or bucket so that the water drains into the container.

You can also place shims under the feet of the freezer to direct the water flow to the side of the hose

Part 2 of 3: Removing the Ice Sheet

Defrost to Freezer Step 6

Step 1. Remove the shelves and leave the freezer door or lid open

Hot air is the first tool to melt the ice sheet. Leave the door or lid supported if necessary, as some freezers automatically close the door. This is also a good time to remove shelves, drawers and any other removable parts from the freezer.

  • If some shelves are stuck, leave them until the ice melts some more.
  • If you leave the freezer open and do nothing else, the complete thaw should take two to three hours, depending on the thickness of the ice.
Defrost to Freezer Step 7

Step 2. Scrape off excess ice with a spatula to thin the layer

If the ice layer is too thick, scraping off some of the ice will make it melt faster. Use the tip of a spatula to scrape ice into a bowl or bucket; that way it will finish melting out of the freezer.

You can also use an ice scraper, but be careful as it can damage the freezer lining

Defrost to Freezer Step 8

Step 3. Place a bowl of hot water inside the freezer to speed up the process

Place a bowl in the bottom of the freezer. You can add multiple bowls of hot water if space is available. Use boiling water if you can, but be careful not to burn yourself when moving the bowls.

The steam will help melt the ice. Change the bowls as they cool down - this should take about five minutes

Defrost to Freezer Step 9

Step 4. Use a hair dryer to melt the ice faster

Set the hair dryer to the highest temperature and set it about 6 inches away from the ice. Blow the hot air towards the ice sheet to greatly speed up the process. For safety reasons, remember to keep the cord and dryer well away from water. Also, keep moving the dryer over the ice so you don't make any areas too hot.

  • Some vacuum cleaners can also be used. Use the vacuum cleaner hose to blow hot air directly onto the ice and melt it.
  • You can also use a steamer to unwrinkle clothes. Leave it at the highest temperature and move it over the ice.
Defrost to Freezer Step 10

Step 5. Continue scraping the ice while it is melting

The pieces of ice will start to slide down the walls of the freezer. Use the spatula to place them in a bucket or bowl to speed up the defrosting of the freezer.

Also, use a dry towel to soak up any water that has accumulated on the floor

Part 3 of 3: Returning to Normal Freezer Operation

Defrost to Freezer Step 11

Step 1. When shelves and drawers are warmer, wash them in a sink full of soapy water

Fill the sink with warm water and add a few drops of detergent. Once the pieces are at room temperature, let them soak in the sink.

  • After soaking them for a few minutes, rub them with a sponge into the warm soapy water mixture. Finally, rinse the parts well with clean water and shake them to remove excess water.
  • You should wait for the parts to reach room temperature, as glass shelves can crack with a very sudden temperature change.
Defrost to Freezer Step 12

Step 2. Clean the inside of the freezer with baking soda and water after removing all the ice

Add a spoon of baking soda to 1 L of water. Dip a cloth into the solution and wring it out. Use the damp cloth to clean the inside of the freezer, including the walls, door or lid, and the bottom of the freezer.

Baking soda will help clean and deodorize the freezer

Defrost to Freezer Step 13

Step 3. Dry the removable parts and the inside of the freezer with a towel

Remove as much moisture from the freezer as possible with a dry towel. Run it on shelves and drawers, switching to a new towel as needed.

  • Allow the freezer to dry naturally for 10 to 15 minutes. Leave the door open and go do something else in the meantime. When you come back, the freezer and shelves will be completely dry.
  • It is important to remove all moisture so as not to form a new layer of ice in the freezer.
Defrost to Freezer Step 14

Step 4. Put everything back in the freezer and turn it on again

Snap shelves and drawers back into place. Turn the freezer back on or plug it back in. Finally, put food on shelves and drawers.

Throw away any food that has thawed or reached an inappropriate temperature, especially fish


  • Place a fan on a chair or other support and let it run at full speed to blow hot air into the freezer.
  • A vacuum and water vacuum is great for speeding up water and ice removal.
  • To reduce the accumulation of ice in the freezer, dip a paper towel in vegetable oil or glycerin - a product found in most pharmacies - and lightly cover the inside of the freezer. In addition to decreasing ice buildup, this will make the defrosting process easier next time.


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