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How to defrost a fridge freezer in 7 simple steps

Are your freezer drawers sticking? Or are you noticing ice build up at the back of your fridge? Follow these simple steps to get your fridge freezer frost free in no time.

Updated Reading Time: 5 minutesBy Cleanipedia Team

A view of the inside of a fridge with fruit and vegetables inside
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Knowing how to defrost a fridge freezer is one of those slightly boring but necessary life skills we all need. After all, it’s hard to imagine living without a fridge freezer, so it’s important to do everything you can to keep yours in great condition.

Defrosting your appliance is really important if you have a manual defrost fridge freezer. But even if you have a ‘frost free’ model, these can still build up a thin layer of ice over time, so you might not be able to get away without doing the occasional defrost.

And it’s definitely worth doing. Defrosting your fridge freezer will not only make it much easier to open drawers and get food out, but it’ll also make sure it’s operating as efficiently as possible (so you’ll save yourself a bit on your electricity bill too).

Plus, it’s a great opportunity to give your fridge freezer a proper clear out and a thorough clean – so don’t forget to take a look at our top fridge cleaning tips too.

Before you start: check the manual

The steps to defrost a fridge freezer are usually similar from model to model, but it’s important to check your appliance’s user manual before you start to make sure you’re not going against any of the guidance.

The manual is also a great place to check how often you need to defrost your fridge freezer. As a rule, it’s usually once or twice a year, but the manual will give you the definitive answer for your specific model.

How to defrost a fridge freezer

You will need:

  • A large bowl
  • A clean cloth
  • Some old towels or cloths
  • Cool bags/boxes and some ice blocks (to store your food in during defrosting)
  • Washing up liquid and an antibacterial surface spray (for cleaning)
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  1. Unplug the fridge freezer

    The first step to defrost a fridge freezer is to turn it off and unplug it. It’s important to make sure you leave the doors open to allow it to warm up faster.

    Step 1: person opening a fridge
  2. Remove all the contents

    This is where those cool bags and some ice blocks will come in very handy. If you move quickly, you should be able to preserve the most important contents from your fridge freezer in the cool bags.

    This is also a great opportunity to go through the contents of both compartments and throw away anything that’s been there too long.

    (If you don’t have cool bags, try to store everything in a cool place. But remember, some foods – like raw chicken – 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 the shelves and drawers out

    Not only will this help speed up the defrosting process, but removing shelves and drawers will give you a great opportunity to give them a thorough clean.

    Simply wash them in the sink or a washing up bowl with water and some good quality washing up liquid (or if the drawers are a bit too big, you can wipe them down with antibacterial spray and a clean cloth).

    Step 3: washing fridge shelves in sink
  4. Arrange towels/cloths around the bottom of the fridge freezer

    Melting the ice in the freezer is going to result in a fair amount of water draining out. So it’s important to pad out the floor around the freezer with some old towels or cloths to soak up the water.

  5. Melt the ice

    This is the part of the process which can take a long time and which most people are desperate to speed up. Don’t fear, we’ve got some suggestions to do just that below.

    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.

  6. Clean the fridge freezer

    With everything out of the fridge freezer and the ice melted, now is the perfect time to clean and dry the inside surfaces.

    Take a look at our fridge cleaning guide for more tips on getting your fridge freezer sparklingly clean. And we’ve got some great advice on getting rid of bad smells in your fridge too.

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

    You’re almost there. Now it’s time to replace the contents of your fridge freezer, which gives you a great opportunity to arrange everything exactly as you want it.

    Make sure to double check any frozen food to see if it’s still frozen. If it’s raw meat or any other product which expressly says not to refreeze it, then you’ll need to use it up as soon as possible (or if you can’t do that, unfortunately you might need to get rid of it).

    Step 7: person putting food back in fridge
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How do you defrost a fridge freezer combo quickly?

  • Use a bowl of hot water

Simply fill a large bowl full of boiling water and place it in the freezer compartment with a towel under it and close the door. (If there’s ice build up on the back of your fridge, you can do the same in there too.)

  • Use a hairdryer

You can use a hairdryer to speed up the melting process, but be careful! Electrical implements and water aren’t a good combination, so make sure you don’t touch the hairdryer to the appliance.

  • Scrape off the ice

This method is usually easier once the ice has melted a little. Use a plastic spatula or other plastic implement to scrape the ice from the sides. Make sure you don’t use anything metallic, particularly not a knife! For more tips on melting the ice quickly, take a look at our guide to defrosting your freezer fast.

How do you defrost a fridge freezer without turning it off?

It’s not possible to properly defrost a fridge freezer without turning it off. But if you’re worried about your food unfreezing, don’t fear. Follow our handy tips above to speed up the defrosting process.

How long does it take to defrost a fridge freezer?

Without any help, it can take up to eight hours for a fridge freezer to completely defrost. However, if you follow some of the suggestions above, it’ll be much, much quicker than that.

Why is it important to defrost a fridge?

Defrosting a fridge is important for multiple reasons. As the fridge operates, moisture from the air can condense and form ice on the evaporator coils and other interior surfaces. This ice build-up can hinder the fridge's cooling efficiency, leading to uneven temperature distribution and potential spoilage of perishable food items. Defrosting allows the fridge to function optimally by removing accumulated ice, improving airflow, and ensuring consistent cooling throughout. It also helps prevent excessive energy consumption and extends the lifespan of the appliance. Regular defrosting is key to maintaining food freshness, reducing energy costs, and promoting the efficient operation of the refrigerator.

Originally published