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How to defrost a fridge

Defrosting a fridge helps it work better for longer, and it’s one of the simplest maintenance jobs you can do. Find out how to defrost a fridge here.


two water bottles in a fridge

The trusty home refrigerator has been around since the early 1900s, keeping food chilled and fresher for longer while also handily replacing the need for iceboxes or an icehouse. Since their introduction to our lives, knowing how to defrost a fridge has been a home maintenance essential, since it keeps your appliance working to its full potential and prevents anything shoved to the back from freezing into a permanent fixture. So, how do you defrost a fridge?

You will need:

  • A fridge
  • Large bowl
  • Cloth
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Antibacterial Spray


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6 steps to defrosting a fridge

Most appliances will come with a defrosting guide, especially now that some newer fridges actually have a defrost setting – so it’s a good idea to read the manufacturer’s guidelines before you get started.

  1. Unplug the fridge

    Leave the door (or doors, if you have a fridge-freezer combo) open to get some warm air in there.

    Step 1: person opening a fridge
  2. Take all of the food out

    This is a good opportunity to toss out anything that really shouldn’t still be in there, and to recycle the containers where possible. If there’s anything that might melt or spoil imminently once taken out, consider moving it to a cooler or icebox. If you’re doing your freezer at the same time, remember that some foods (like raw chicken) simply can’t be refrozen once they’ve thawed, so try to use these up in the week before you defrost.

    Step 2: person removing food from fridge
  3. Take out the shelves, if you can

    Wondering how to defrost fridge shelves? Chances are, they pop right out. Put them in the sink with a good quality dishwashing liquid and give them a good clean.

    Step 3: washing fridge shelves in sink
  4. Melt the ice

    This will happen in time anyway, but you can help it along. One option is to boil some water in the kettle, put it in a large bowl (being careful not to spill it on yourself) and shut it in the fridge cabinet for a while.

    Other guides might suggest using a hairdryer, or attaching a vacuum cleaner hose to the exhaust section and using the hot air to melt the ice in the fridge. While this could speed the process along, bear in mind that water and electrical appliances don’t mix well. Take all the necessary precautions, like preventing electrical items from touching the water, and let the ice melt naturally if you’re worried.

    There will be water to drain or soak up when you’re defrosting the fridge so mop this up with a towel as you go.

    Step 4: putting bowl of hot water into fridge to defrost
  5. Clean the fridge

    Cleaning your fridge is something you should be doing once in a while anyway as part of your overall kitchen hygiene routine. With all the food out of the way, it’s never been easier. Wipe down the fridge walls, floor, and any shelves you couldn’t remove with a good antibacterial kitchen spray, like one from Cif. (Always read the directions on the label first). Replace any remaining shelves from step 3.

    Step 5: person cleaning inside of a fridge
  6. Replace the food, and turn the fridge back on

    Now is a good time to establish a fridge organisation system. You’ll find things easier afterwards. Remember, raw meat and seafood needs to be kept in sealed containers on a low shelf to prevent cross-contamination through unwanted dripping.

    Step 6: person putting food back in fridge

Now your fridge should now be back to normal, and working to its full potential. Job done!

Originally published