Guide to defrosting your freezer

The gradual buildup of frost happens in most refrigerators and it can do damage if you don’t defrost your freezer regularly.

It’s not a chore anyone relishes, but defrosting your freezer is a necessary evil, as the more the frost grows, the worse the damage to your fridge. The frosty coating can interfere with the proper running of your fridge. The ice may block up the ventilation ducts, or its mass may interfere with proper airflow around the interior, leaving colder or warmer sections throughout the fridge.

Here are the main causes of frost buildup:

Constant opening and shutting of the fridge and freezer doors

When you open the fridge door, warm, moist air from your kitchen can hit the cool dry surfaces of your fridge, causing condensation to form. Once the fridge shuts and the temperature drops, this moisture can start to freeze on the coolest sections of the interior.

Hot food stored in the fridge

If you put warm leftovers in the fridge, the temperature difference can create condensation. If the food is still steaming hot when you put it in the fridge, the steam also introduces extra moisture to the fridge’s environment.

Damaged seals

Damaged or broken seals mean your fridge door doesn’t seal properly, so warm air from your kitchen can leak into the cool fridge even when it’s closed. This creates temperature variations and condensation. You should check your fridge seals regularly to ensure they are not broken or damaged.

The defrosting process

Before you start your defrost you need to store your food in coolers, or under ice in the laundry or kitchen sink. Try to  eat as much of the frozen food as you can in the days before, to reduce the amount you have to store while defrosting.

To begin defrosting, turn your fridge off at the power source. Remove all food items, containers and shelves from the freezer. Place thick towels on the floor beneath your fridge and have some spare towels to swap when those on the floor become soaked.

As the ice begins to melt you can scrape it off to speed up the process. Other methods include using a:

  • blow dryer to get hot air behind the ice
  • a fan to push warm air into the freezer
  • set bowls of hot water within the freezer to melt the ice
  • scrape the ice with a heated metal spatula
  • use a wet/dry vacuum to melt the ice with air and then suck up the water.

Remember to follow basic safety precautions with electrical appliances.

Once all the ice has melted, clean your freezer, dry it off and replace the shelves.  Close the door and let the temperature get back to normal, then restock the shelves.