How to defrost a freezer without doing anything stupid

This ‘how to defrost a freezer’ post is part two of my ‘cool posts about freezers’ series, so do go back and read ‘What weird crap do you have in your freezer?’ and check out 11 things you should have in your freezer now and always.

There are many aspects of general house care where I feel I’ve really got it together. My bathroom is always reasonably clean and I do that thing where you put a whole set of bedding into one pillowcase so you never have to rifle around in the airing cupboard for a matching set. (Honestly, that changed my life.)

Other things though, not so much. Take my car windscreen for example. It turns out that scraping off ice with the base of a tin of paint that you happen to have in your hand is not a good idea. I mean it looks fine – you couldn’t tell – except when it rains. Gawd.

Defrosting the freezer regularly is a similar weak spot for me, as you can see here:

How to defrost a freezer

I haven’t done it since we moved in 18 months ago and it has started to do the thing where it’s difficult to open the doors because there’s ice in the way. Also, it could really just do with being cleaned. The bottom of the freezer is a mess of peas, crumbs and, weirdly, hair.

How does HAIR actually get in a freezer? (Worrying.)

My usual method of getting rid of the ice in my freezer is, I suspect, on the same level of foolishness as the windscreen incident. Defrosting my freezer tends to involve me, a massive sharp knife, and sometimes a hammer. I’m not sure how freezers work exactly, but I’m guessing that if I stab a hole in one of the inside walls that it’s probably going to impact effectiveness. So, how to defrost a freezer without doing anything stupid?

I decided the best course of action was to consult the specifics of my fridge freezer. Luckily I have a box file in my spare room where I keep instructions for everything, because I am 40 years old and that’s apparently what happens to your life. I thought the manual might have some useful guidance for me in my quest to discover how to defrost a freezer. (You’d think wouldn’t you?)

I skipped to the ‘defrosting the freezer compartment’ section.

If the frost layer is greater than 5mm, it is necessary to defrost manually.’

My first issue with this is that it implies that if the frost layer was LESS than 5mm, that there would be a way to defrost the freezer NON-manually. I read the rest of the instructions, but there was no mention of any kind of automatic process, so immediately I felt tricked.

Set the temperature adjustment knob to zero’.

I eventually found this in the fridge. Apparently you can’t turn my freezer off and keep the fridge part on. Fine, fine, I’m sure the milk will cope.

Wrap the frozen foods in newspaper and place them in another freezer or in a cool place.’

I laughed at this for a while, like I might have a spare freezer just for when I defrosted this one. It turns out though, (I’d like to say this was planning but it wasn’t), that January is actually the best time to defrost your freezer, as you can just stick everything in a cool bag outside. Done.

Leave the door open until the frost has melted completely.’

SERIOUSLY? That’s IT? That’s all the ‘how to defrost a freezer’ help I get from a manual dedicated to the care and maintenance of fridge freezers? It’s not exactly rocket science is it? ‘Oh, just open the door and wait for it to melt?’ NO SHIT SHERLOCK.

The manual told me that this can be made easier by placing containers of luke warm water in the freezer compartment, so I put a mug of boiling water on each shelf. YOLO.

tips for defrosting a freezer

Certain appliances are fitted with the drainage system to lead the water outside: let the water flow into a container.’

This is an ABSOLUTE JOKE. The ‘drainage system’ is just a bit of plastic that folds out to create a kind of flap, but it’s worse than useless. What actually happens is that the water is channeled around the EDGE of the drainage system, where it doesn’t fit properly into the door frame, and then trickles out onto the floor and under the freezer, forming pools of water for your container to float in.

how to defrost your freezer easily

Where does the hair come from??

My freezer does have a sunken bit in the bottom, where the water collects before spilling out into the cat food bowls. If you have this I recommend soaking up the water here, with a cloth that you can then wring out into a container, to avoid the floor completely. As well as my baking tray collecting the water from the ‘drainage system’ I also had a thick towel to soak up leaks.

Clean and dry the freezer compartment carefully before switching the appliance on again.’

Well fine, I tried, only the design of my freezer is such that you can’t take any of the compartment doors off and they are full of TEENY TINY sections where dirty water can collect, ready to freeze again later, so fun times for me.

tips for defrosting a freezer


Wait for approximately 2 hours i.e. until the ideal storage conditions have been restored, before placing food in the freezer compartment.’

OR, close the freezer and forget you even defrosted it in the first place until you go to put the bins out the next day and trip over the cool bag. (Don’t do this.)

And that’s it – how to defrost a freezer without doing anything stupid.

Overall I’d say that defrosting the freezer was a VERY satisfying task, and definitely gave me that warm ’21st century housewife glow’ that we all long for whilst we’re browsing Pinterest and looking at pictures of bento box meals for toddlers.

It looks pretty nice now doesn’t it?

how to defrost a freezer safely

It’s all ready for my third and final post in my freezer series, which is going to feature fun freezer hacks and cool stuff you can freeze that you might not have thought about.

How often do you defrost your freezer? Any useful tips to share?



  1. Sarah
    17 January, 2019 / 10:38 am

    My grandma had a corner shop, and I have fond childhood memories of visiting on a weekend while she defrosted the freezers – which she had to keep running. I still use her hairdryer-spatula method more than 40 years on. Happy days☺️

    • Jo Middleton
      17 January, 2019 / 11:04 am

      Wow – she had to defrost them while they were still on? Impressive!

  2. andrea upton
    17 January, 2019 / 9:07 pm

    I use the hairdryer method too, it works well, is fairly quick and doesn’t do any damage.

  3. Jacky Montgomery
    5 March, 2019 / 8:10 pm

    Yep, I use the hairdryer method. I used to use the knife method until the day I actually went through the wall. The wall hurredly let out a gassy noise……….right in my face……….and I spent the rest of the day waiting to die (well hasn’t everyone read that freezer gases are dangerous?)
    This was some 20 years ago and I believe I am still alive. Yay.

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