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How to Manually Defrost a Freezer? (11 Simple Steps)

How to Manually Defrost a Freezer? (11 Simple Steps)

If your refrigerator or freezer-only unit doesn’t have an automatic defrost setting, you’ve likely had to deal with the task of manually defrosting the unit. It’s a necessary chore, but not necessarily difficult.

In this article, Appliances Connection will explain the correct way to defrost a freezer. Because if you’ve ever seen what happens when you don’t defrost a freezer, you know how bad it can get. Frost occurs a tiny bit every time you open the freezer door due to the moisture of the air outside infiltrating the compartment and settling on the inner surface. It only takes about a half-centimeter of accumulated frost to begin affecting your appliance’s performance. Frost also costs you money—because the more frost covering the freezer compartment, the more energy the unit will use. Full freezer models that require manual defrosting, such as the GE 28 Inch Freestanding Upright Freezer or Avanti’s 24 Inch Freestanding Upright Freezer can really drain electricity if not properly cared for.


While defrosting a freezer is a fairly simple task, there are certain steps you will want to take for the good of your appliance.

Let’s go over the defrosting process and answer some basic questions.

  1. Unplug or turn off the appliance.
  2. Remove all food from the freezer. If another freezer is not available, it’s a good idea to fill a cooler with ice and place the food in it to prevent thawing.
  3. Keep the freezer door open.
  4. Place towels or a plastic liner on the floor in front of your freezer. You can also stuff the bottom of the compartment towels to absorb more moisture. Certain freezer configurations have a drainage port and hose attachment to allow the water to escape. If your freezer has one, make sure the end of the hose is in a proper receptacle.
  5. Simply wait for the ice to melt. If you want to speed things along, there are some things you can do like using a fan to circulate more air into the compartment. You can also fill a pot or pan with steaming hot water and place it in the freezer on top of a towel to collect the melted runoff. Do not use a knife, fork or ice pick to hack at heavy build up. All it takes is one mistake and you can break through the icy coating and damage the interior.
  6. As the ice melts, soak it up with towels or dishrags, depending on the amount of water.
  7. Once all the ice is melted use a towel to completely dry the freezer interior.
  8. Now, you can clean the freezer. It’s best not to use a chemical or household cleaner. Instead, you can make a cleaning solution from four cups of warm water with one tablespoon of baking soda, or from equal parts warm water and vinegar. Wipe the top, sides, and back of the compartment thoroughly. Then wipe every surface dry.
  9. Plug in the freezer again and wait for it to reach its normal operating temperature.
  10. Return the food items to the freezer.
  11. Your freezer is now defrosted.

How long does it take to defrost a freezer?

That depends on many factors such as just how much frost and ice has accumulated and the temperature of the room where the freezer is located. It usually takes hours, so be prepared to be patient.

How often should I defrost my freezer?

While it’s typically a good idea to defrost your freezer once a year, you should use your own judgement. When you start noticing the frost layer thickening or icing over—or when it becomes a nuisance—that’s usually a good sign that you should defrost.


And that’s how you manually defrost a freezer. It’s not laborious, but it is time-consuming. All you really have to do is plan ahead and set aside some time for the task. We hope this article will be helpful to you when you decide to defrost your freezer.

Please leave any questions or comments below.


Can you defrost a freezer with food in it?

Technically, yes, but it is inadvisable. You don’t want the food to thaw and plus food items would get in the way during cleaning.

Can you pour hot water to defrost a freezer?

This is also inadvisable. It may sound like a good idea, but having hot water sloshing around a freezer compartment (which does have vents connected to the cooling system) can lead to bad results.

Can you defrost a freezer overnight?

Certainly, as long as you take precautions to keep the melted water from spreading and store the food in another freezer to prevent spoilage.