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How to Defrost a Freezer Quickly

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By Elizabeth Masterman

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The typical way to defrost your freezer is to empty it, unplug it from the wall and leave it with the door open, but using this method takes time. If you’ve got a freezer full of food and nowhere else to store it, you will want to know if there’s a faster way to get the job done.

How Do You Defrost a Freezer Quickly?

There are several ways to speed up the defrosting process, such as placing a fan in front of the open freezer or placing bowls of boiling water on the shelves. The fastest way may be to use a hairdryer, but this can be dangerous, so we don’t recommend it! 

How Long Does It Take to Defrost a Freezer?

If you take the most straightforward and safest option, and simply unplug your freezer and leave it with the door open, it can take anything from 3 to 24 hours to thoroughly defrost, depending on how badly frosted it is. 

Of course, there are ways to speed this process up. You can even cut this to as little as 10 minutes…

What’s the Best Way to Defrost a Freezer?

Start by removing food from the freezer and storing it in the fridge or cool boxes with ice packs. This won’t stop the food from defrosting, it will just slow down the process, so it’s best if you can plan and make sure that you have used up everything in your freezer ahead of time.

Then you need to switch off your freezer at the wall and unplug it. Be careful where you put the plug, as you don’t want to leave it on the floor, where it may end up in a puddle of water.

Place towels on the floor in front of your freezer and inside the freezer at the bottom. Beach towels or bath sheets work best for this because of their size.

Towels in Freezer for Defrosting

It’s a good idea to remove any removable drawers or shelves at this stage. Then leave the door propped open and wait for all the ice to melt.

Take the Time to Clean Your Freezer

Once all the ice has melted, and you’ve wiped away all the water, you may want to use this opportunity to give the freezer a clean.

Don’t use any harsh chemicals. An antibacterial spray is a good choice, or you could dissolve one tablespoon of baking soda in a litre of water and use this as a cleaning solution.

Remember to clean the inside of the door, particularly around the door seals, where a toothbrush may come in handy. Don’t forget to clean the shelves and drawers too.

After you have cleaned your freezer, you will need to replace the shelves and drawers, close the freezer door, then plug the appliance back in and switch it on. You will need to wait for the freezer to reach -18oC before using it again, which will usually take several hours.

How Can You Defrost a Freezer Quicker?

As you can see, following the steps above would take several hours. There are a few things you can do to speed up the process, but each method comes with its own risks, and you must be careful so as not to hurt yourself or damage the freezer.

Bowls of Boiling Water

One popular technique is to place bowls of boiling water on each shelf of the freezer. The steam will help loosen any particularly thick bits of ice.

However, if you do this, be extra careful carrying the bowls of water to the freezer – oven gloves would be a good idea, and make sure there are no trip hazards between the kettle and the freezer.

Ice Scraper

You could also use an ice scraper (the type you use to remove frost from your car) or a soft spatula to help scrape the ice.

However, you could risk damaging the freezer and invalidating your warranty, so if you choose this option, take care.

Scrape Frost

Using these two methods together can reduce the time it takes to defrost the freezer down to as little as one hour.

What About Fans or Hairdryers?

Looking online, you will also find several suggestions that involve electrical appliances but bear in mind the risks of mixing electrical equipment and water.

If you choose one of these options, keep the electrical appliance and its cable and plug away from any water.

One of the least risky options is to stand a fan in front of the open freezer. This will circulate the air, moving the cold air away from the freezer and warmer air towards it, helping to speed up the melting process.

Another suggestion is to use a hairdryer to melt the ice, with some claiming this can cut defrost time down to as little as 10 minutes!

If you choose this method, though, be careful not to direct the heat at the same place for too long or hold the dryer too close to the freezer, as the heat could damage your appliance.

Using a hairdryer might speed the process up but it’s not a method we would recommend using.

Hairdryer in the Freezer to Defrost It

How Often Should You Defrost a Freezer?

You should defrost your freezer at least twice a year.

It’s a great opportunity to have a clear-out and make sure you haven’t got anything lurking at the back of the freezer that is really past its best. It also helps the freezer run more efficiently, saving you money and prolonging the life of your freezer.

Do All Freezers Need Defrosting?

Most new fridge freezers are frost free, meaning they don’t need to be manually defrosted.

However, frost-free freezers are often more expensive to buy and cost more to run, so weigh up the pros and cons before choosing this option.  They are also not 100% effective. They might claim to be frost-free, but you may still need to defrost them occasionally. 

If you have more questions about defrosting freezers then check these FAQs out:

How Do You Know When a Freezer Needs Defrosting?

You should defrost your freezer if you notice a build-up of ice. If it reaches a thickness of ¼ inch, this is a good sign that you need to take action. If you find you need to do this increasingly regularly, this may be a sign that there is a problem with the freezer.Ice Buildup in Freezer

Can You Defrost a Freezer Without Unplugging It?

This is not a good idea. Defrosting a freezer involves melting the ice, which results in puddles of water. Puddles of water mixing with an active electrical connection will only end badly!

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