How to defrost a freezer

Want to defrost and clean your freezer but not sure where to start? Here’s our handy step-by-step guide.

Why defrost your freezer?

Over time, ice can build up inside your freezer. Not only does this take up valuable space where food could be, but it also insulates the freezer and causes it to work harder to stay cool – this uses up more electricity.

Many modern freezers are frost-free, meaning they don’t need to be manually defrosted, or include a self-defrosting function, but older models may need to be defrosted by hand.

You should defrost your freezer as soon as you notice ice build-up. If this happens regularly, check your freezer door’s seal as it may have a fault. You might also want to thoroughly defrost your freezer ahead of moving house or just to give it a good clean.

How to defrost a freezer

Step 1: Clear out the contents
First you’ll need to remove everything from your freezer. Transfer food to insulated cool-boxes if you have them, with plenty of ice packs to prevent them thawing. If you don’t have anywhere to store frozen food, why not take the opportunity to use up all the contents of your freezer in the weeks beforehand?

Remember, previously frozen food should not be frozen again once it has defrosted. The Food Standards Agency advises that defrosted food can be stored in the fridge for up to two days before it is cooked or eaten.

Step 2: Turn it off
The safest way to defrost a freezer is to turn off the power and let the ice melt naturally. Attempting to remove the ice in any other way may be dangerous to you and could also damage the inside of the freezer.

Line the freezer with dry towels – you may also want to put towels on the floor outside. Remove any drawers, baskets or inserts, but if they’re frozen into the ice leave them alone until it has melted or you risk damaging the interior.

Step 3: Give it a good clean
Once the freezer is fully defrosted, remove the towels and any debris. Next, use a microfibre cleaning cloth and warm, soapy water to wipe down the inside of the freezer. Get into corners, shelf runners, crevices and anywhere else dirt can collect. If you need more cleaning power, put baking soda in a dish and dip the cloth in – this is great for gently scrubbing stubborn dirt. Wipe away with clean water.

Step 4: Refreeze correctly
Ensure the inside of the freezer is fully dry before switching back on, this will prevent it from icing up again immediately. Put any drawers or shelves back and then wait until it the temperature has fully settled before refilling with food.