How to defrost a freezer

It’s not a fun job but, like many kitchen chores, it’s an essential one. Read our tips on how to defrost the freezer.

Much like cleaning the oven, defrosting the freezer has to be done from time to time. So why so we need to defrost our freezers? The answer is all down to the unavoidable change in moisture every time you open the freezer door.

Because there’s moisture in warm air, this gets into the cold environment of the freezer. Over time, this moisture freezes and builds up. Before too long it’s deep enough to hide a woolly mammoth. That’s when it’s time take up the challenge and get defrosting.

How often should you defrost a freezer?

It’s not unusual for people to defrost their freezer once a year, or as long as they can feasibly get away with it. However, if the interior walls of your freezer have already developed about a quarter of an inch of ice it’s a good idea to remove it then to maintain your freezer’s efficiency.

Realistically, that could be pretty frequent depending on your use and conditions in your home, we’re more likely to attempt defrosting when the build-up is noticeable. Avoid leaving it too late, as previously mentioned, as it can affect the efficient running of your freezer and start to effect the opening of drawers, or even keeping the door shut.

How long does it take to defrost a freezer?

There are a few variables to this, such as the temperature of the room and different ways you use to speed up defrosting, but it mainly comes down to the how much ice has built up. If you leave there’s a lot of ice and you’re simply turning the freezer and leaving the door open it can take more than 24 hours.

With that in mind, it’s worth getting it over with as quickly as possible and setting yourself a good amount of time to work on clearing the ice. That way you don’t end up waiting forever for a working fridge!

Defrosting a freezer tips

Be prepared! The more ice you’re defrosting, the more water you’re going to have to deal with. Put down towels to mop up excess water and place shallow containers by the door.

Remove everything from the freezer, including food, containers and trays. If you’re doing this in winter, you can move food outside (if the temperatures are below freezing), otherwise your options will be to leave perishables with a friend or neighbour. Alternatively, you might have to defrost everything and prepare a banquet!

You don’t need to wait for the ice to melt away on its own. You can use a few different things to speed things up, including: a hair dryer, bowls of hot water on the shelves, rubbing alcohol and a hot cloth, a fan to circulate warm air into the freezer (be careful of water with electricity though)

If you need to scrape away at the ice, be careful. Try using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula to avoid damaging the walls. Avoid using anything sharp or metal.