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Home & garden.

Updated: 10 Jun 2022

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.

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. Read on for some top tips on defrosting your fridge freezer.

Head to our round up of the best fridge freezers to help you decide what type of fridge freezer you need.

Why should you defrost your 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.

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. Defrosting your fridge freezer will also 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 your 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 has been removed, too.

How to defrost your fridge freezer quickly

Defrosting a fridge freezer

Need to defrost your fridge freezer in a hurry? Here's what to do...

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

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 to defrost your 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. 

Use the 'Frost-free freezer' filter on our fridge freezer reviews to see all the frost-free models we've tested.

How often should you defrost your 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.