melting ice on blue background desktop image

Defrosting a Freezer Safely - Your Questions Answered

  • 7 min read

Written by Domestic & General

As it’s part of running a home, like cleaning an oven, there will come a time when most of us will have to defrost a freezer. That’s why we’ve put together some questions and answers to help. 

Why do You Need to Defrost a Freezer?

Defrosting a freezer is one of those jobs that we all tend to put off. However, if there’s a build-up of ice, this can end up causing further problems. Ice can prevent the freezer door from closing properly,  as well as driving the freezer to work harder. This in turn means that it becomes less energy efficient, driving up bills. Defrosting helps to keep your freezer working better for longer.

How Often Should I Defrost My Freezer?

freezer cover in ice

As a rule, defrosting the fridge should only be necessary once a year, but in order to make your freezer or fridge freezer last longer, it’s a good idea to regularly keep an eye on ice forming. A good guideline for checking for ice build up is to watch for frost forming at a thickness of just under a centimetre. If it’s getting to that stage, it’s time for a defrost!

How Do You Manually Defrost a Freezer?

The following steps give basic advice on defrosting the majority of freezers. We do recommend referring to manufacturer’s guidance for specific help when undertaking any maintenance and cleaning of appliances.

  1. Switch off the freezer – turning off the power and leaving the door open will start the process, this will bring the inside of the freezer temperature up.
  2. Put down towels – prepare for melting ice by laying towels at the bottom of the freezer and along the floor in front of it. Even a thin layer of ice around the inside of the freezer can cause a lot of water to run.
  3. Bowls of hot water – placed on the shelves, bowls of hot water will safely bring safely the temperature up faster than the ambient room temperature.
  4. Scraping the ice – chipping away at the ice is tempting, and might speed things up a little, but avoid using anything with hard edges. A silicon spatula is ideal.
  5. Drying – when the ice has all melted, give the inside of the freezer a thorough wipe down with a towel or cloths. If the water isn’t fully wiped away, you’ll end up with more ice when the freezer is switched back on.

Is a Manual Defrosting Freezer Better?

An automatically defrosting, or frost-free Freezer works by having a heating element that helps to manage the level of ice build-up. This is a convenient feature, and speeds defrosting along, but it also uses more energy than a slow defrost at room temperature.

Where Do You Put Frozen Food When Defrosting a Freezer?

a mix of frozen vegetables

The last thing anyone needs is to throw out perfectly good food, which is what most of us will be concerned about when defrosting. Traditionally, advice would suggest asking a friend, member of the family or neighbour for the use of their freezer. However, that’s not always an option today. You can keep frozen food in layers of newspaper wrapped thickly around each item.

Alternatively, cool bags and ice packs will also help to keep temperatures down. Winter is the best time to defrost a freezer, as it will help to keep food cooler for longer – and in a cold snap, it might even be better outdoors as long as it’s not raining.

Can You Use a Hairdryer to Defrost a Freezer?

Technically, it is possible, but there’s still risk when mixing water with electricity. Defrosting can lead to unpredictable drops of water, or even ice breaking off in chunks. Even with a great deal of care, it’s not a preferred method of clearing ice, and the same goes for setting up an electric heater or fan – used with exceptional care.

How Often Should I Defrost My Freezer?

As a rule, defrosting the fridge should only be necessary once a year, but in order to make your freezer or fridge freezer last longer, it’s a good idea to regularly keep an eye on ice forming. A good guideline for checking for ice build up is to watch for frost forming at a thickness of just under a centimetre. If it’s getting to that stage, it’s time for a defrost!

How Long After Defrosting a Freezer Can I Put My Food Back in?

thermometer showing temperature at -14 degrees

Before putting food back in the freezer, it needs to be at a temperature between -0 and around -14 degrees centigrade. That’s when the temperature is stabilised enough to freeze food effectively. This can take anything from just few hours to 15 hours. However, using a thermometer, as the temperature begins to drop past 0 degrees, adding frozen food will help to drop the temperature further.

We hope this has helped to answer your questions about defrosting your fridge, and we have more help and support for your appliances and guidance for around the home.