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Home & garden.

Updated: 17 Dec 2021

How to defrost your fridge freezer

Defrosting your fridge freezer doesn't have to be a hassle. Our expert guide explains how to get the job done quickly.
Lisa Galliers

Some see it as a chore, but defrosting your fridge freezer can help to improve its efficiency, not to mention clearing space for extra food. Our guide reveals common defrosting mistakes and highlights how often this job needs doing.

If you're having problems with your fridge freezer, the issue might not be a mechanical one. A fridge freezer stuffed with more ice than food won't work as well as it should, which is why defrosting is so important.

Many modern fridges and freezers have an auto-defrost setting or come with frost-free technology that can save you some time, but older alternatives aren't always so well-equipped. Keep scrolling for some top tips on defrosting your fridge freezer.

See our full range of fridge freezer reviews.

Why should you defrost a fridge freezer?

Frosted-up fridge freezer

Unlike frost-free models, static fridge freezers need to be manually defrosted. It might not be a particularly fun task, but it's an important one.

For one, defrosting your fridge freezer will improve its efficiency, as thick ice blocks can limit the appliance's effectiveness at keeping your food at a specific temperature.

It can help with nasty smells, too. By defrosting a fridge freezer, you'll be able to scrub down the sides of the fridge freezer that might have previously been unreachable. You'll be able to squeeze more food in once all the ice blocking space has been removed, too.

How to defrost a fridge freezer quickly

Read our top tips below on how to defrost your fridge freezer quickly.

1. Plan in advance

It makes sense to plan ahead. Knowing when you're going to get the job done means you can eat your freezer food rather than try and find a place to store it all on the day. Cleaning your freezer on a cooler day means the food you've removed will stay cold for longer.

If you need to turn your fridge freezer off to defrost, then you'll need a place to store food while defrosting your fridge freezer. A cooler box is a good idea. After your fridge freezer is switched off, it won't take long for the temperature to warm up, even if the door stays closed. Once you switch the appliance back on, our tests have found that the fastest models will take several hours to cool down, while the slowest models will take well over 12 hours.

2. Turn it off

The first step is an obvious one – turn off your fridge freezer and let it defrost on its own. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, it's best to avoid using a hairdryer or other electrical products to speed up the process of removing ice as it poses a safety risk.

3. Have some towels ready

Layer some towels around the base of the fridge freezer to soak up any water which you'll inevitably get during defrosting.

4. Take care when removing ice

Defrosting a fridge freezer

Don't use a sharp implement to remove ice, and If you're hammering away at an ice block at the back of your fridge freezer, make sure you don't accidentally chip the back of the freezer wall. Doing so could potentially cause the refrigerant to leak out. Use a plastic ice scraper instead.

5. Cleaning up

After all of the ice has thawed, finish off by cleaning the inside of the fridge freezer with some warm water and a drop of detergent. You can wipe it clean with dry towels before you switch it back on and put your food back inside.

How often should you defrost a fridge freezer?

How often you need to defrost your fridge freezer can depend on its size and what type of fridge freezer you own. Obviously, fridge freezers with auto-defrost settings are easier to deal with.

As a guide, it's usually time to defrost your fridge freezer when frost and ice are interfering with its normal operation, such as making it hard to shut the door or getting drawers in and out. 

Is your fridge dirty or smelly? Read our guide on how to deep-clean your fridge.

How to defrost a fridge freezer without turning it off

Defrosting using water

If you're unable to completely turn your appliance off, then there are ways to defrost your fridge freezer.

One method involves boiling some water, carefully pouring that water into a baking tray or pan and placing that in the freezer when it's empty. The steam from the hot water will work its way around the shelves and help to melt the ice faster.

Do keep in mind, though, that if your fridge freezer is still on and you have the door open, it will continue to use electricity. And in some cases, you may increase the use of electricity as your appliance tries to cool the freezer compartment down. 

How to buy the best fridge freezer

Whether you're shopping for a new freestanding, integrated or American-style fridge freezer, or trying to learn more about your existing appliance, our expert guides can help.

To see which fridge freezer brands top our tables for test results and reliability, head over to our guide to Which fridge freezer brand to buy in 2022.

Alternatively, you can use our how to buy the best fridge freezer guide to find the perfect option for your kitchen.

Cheap frost-free fridge freezers

To help save you precious time on the chore of defrosting, we've rounded up the top five cheapest frost-free fridge freezers. These are all frost-free fridge freezers which are currently cheaper than average, and widely available. 

Head to our fridge freezer reviews to see all the brands and models we've tested. 

Which? members can log in to view our recommendations below. Not a member? Join Which? and get full access to these results and all our reviews.

Last updated: December 2021.

  • 84%
    £579.00

    This freestanding fridge freezer is great. It's often on offer, making it cheaper than average, and models that cost twice as much still can’t match this one for performance. It chills and freezes rapidly to provide a great home for your food, and yet it's also very economical for it's size. It's also frost-free so saves you the hassle of tackling this chore.

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    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

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  • 82%
    £478.36

    This freestanding frost-free fridge freezer keeps food perfectly chilled and frozen around the clock, even when the room temperature changes. It's cheaper than average and for its size, is pretty energy efficient. The frost-free technology will also save you the chore of having to defrost it.

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  • 81%
    £569.99

    This frost-free fridge freezer is outstanding. It aced our tough tests to earn our Best Buy recommendation. It’s a great home for your food thanks to its ability to chill and freeze rapidly. The thermostat is reliable and it's quiet and very efficient, too.

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  • 78%
    £449.00

    The average price of the American fridge freezers we've tested is £1,000, with the most expensive costing more than £2,000. This excellent frost-free model costs a fraction of the price. You should be able to fit 18 supermarket carrier bags of food in the spacious fridge freezer and you can count on this fridge to rapidly chill all of it, helping to maximise the freshness of your food.

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    Digital first month only £3.99, then £7.99 p/m, cancel any time

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  • 70%
    £489.00

    You won’t go too far wrong if you have this energy-efficient frost-free freestanding fridge freezer in your kitchen. Not only will it save you the hassle of defrosting it, this appliance is extremely accurate. The temperature inside is incredibly consistent and remains stable even when the room temperature outside goes up or down. It's also cheaper than average for the freestanding models we've tested.

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After a cheap fridge freezer? We've not only picked out the best fridge freezer deals, we've also selected the top five cheap fridge freezers.