freezer with ice

How to Defrost a Freezer

It may build up slowly, but many of us have experienced opening the freezer door only to be confronted by a block of ice.

It may not cause too much of a problem to have a little frost in the freezer, but it’s best to defrost your freezer at least once a year and more often if there is a large buildup of ice.

This is because your freezer has a built-in mechanism to remove frost and when there’s a large buildup, it will need to work harder. This means the appliance consume more energy, leading to an increase in electricity bills.

Plus, you get back more space in the freezer and the defrosting process won’t be too long if the buildup is smaller.

So read on to find out how to defrost your freezer quickly and how to prevent it from frosting over.


What Causes a Freezer to Over-Freeze?

freezer over freeze

The buildup of frost inside your freezer is caused by moisture building up on the evaporator coils.

This buildup of moisture can be caused by several different factors:

  • Opening the door too often and leaving it open too long.
  • A damaged door seal can let in too much moisture from the outside air.
  • Putting hot food straight into the freezer can cause excess condensation.
  • A broken thermostat: If the freezer’s internal thermostat is off, it may be overcompensating and pumping too-cold air into the freezer.


Can You Defrost a Freezer Without Turning It Off?

power off freezer

You can defrost your freezer without turning it off, but it’s best to turn it off completely.

Leaving the appliance on will slow down the defrosting process as your freezer will continue to try cooling down.

This then causes your appliance to work overtime to make up for the increasing temperature, leading to an increase in energy consumption.

If you have a fridge-freezer and you’re worried about the food in your fridge going off, keep in mind that a fridge stays cool for around 4 hours after it’s been switched off. You can defrost your freezer much faster than this.


How Long Does It Take to Defrost a Freezer?

It depends how much time you have. If you’re not in a hurry, you can unplug your appliance and leave it to defrost overnight. It can take around 24 hours to fully defrost this way.

However, if you’re in a hurry, you can take some steps to speed up the process and have your freezer defrosted and switched back on in around 2 hours.

pan with hot water in the freezer


What’s the Quickest Way to Defrost a Freezer?

Follow the steps below to defrost your freeze in around two hours or less:

  1. Prepare the food in your freezer and the fridge if it’s a fridge-freezer. Plan to defrost your freezer a while ahead of time and empty the freezer as much as possible by eating the food inside and not buying any more freezer items. If you don’t manage to use everything, put your food into a cooler or insulated freezer bag with some ice packs. Put these bags into the fridge compartment.
  2. Open the freezer door and unplug the power source of your appliance.
  3. Put some towels down to catch the melting ice.
  4. To speed up the defrosting process, boil some water in a pan and put the pan on top of a towel inside the freezer, the ice should begin to come loose. You can also close the door to allow the steam to better melt the ice. Some people also recommend using a hairdryer to melt the ice. Proceed with caution, as there can be an electrocution risk from the melted ice. In addition, the heat can also damage the plastic parts inside your freezer. If you do decide to do this, be sure to stand away from the appliance and avoid any standing water. Keep the hairdryer on the lowest heat setting.

defrost freezer with hairdryer

  1. Once the ice starts to detach from the inside of the freezer, you can remove the chunks with your hands. Put on waterproof gloves to protect your hands from the cold! If the ice needs a little help coming off, you can use a rubber spatula to scrape it. Don’t use sharp objects, such as a knife, as this can damage the inside of the freezer.
  2. Dispose of the ice in your sink and let it melt away. If you don’t want to waste the water, you could keep it in your watering can and water plants with it. Don’t consume it.
  3. Use a towel to mop up any water that has run out of the appliance and the excess water standing in the freezer.
  4. Once it’s dry, take this opportunity to clean the freezer.
  5. Close the door and turn the appliance back on.
  6. The time for the freezer to become operational will vary by model, but can be around 4-6 hours. Check your instruction manual before putting food back in.



How to Stop a Freezer from Frosting Over

freezer thermostat

To stop, or at least reduce, the buildup of ice in your freezer, you can take a few precautions:

  • Make sure that the freezer door seals properly and that there is no damage to the gasket. If there is, consider replacing it.
  • Check that the thermostat isn’t set to the maximum temperature and if it is, turn it down a little.
  • Ensure that food is completely cool before putting it in the freezer and never put hot items in.
  • Get in and out of your freezer as quickly as possible, don’t leave the door open for prolonged periods.
  • Keep the freezer well-stocked so that the frost doesn’t have space to build up, but not overloaded so that the freezer has to work too hard to keep everything cool.
  • Keep your freezer away from any hot appliances and make sure there’s space between the freezer and any other appliances or the wall.
  • Use a defrosting spray. This won’t work for huge blocks of ice but as soon as you see frost building up, give it a spray and a wipe it down to keep on top of the buildup.