A Step-by-Step on How to Defrost a Fridge Freezer

How to Defrost a Fridge Freezer

When was the last time you defrosted your fridge freezer? If the drawers are sticking and the ice is threatening to take over, its probably way overdue. So whats the most effective way to go about it? How often will it need doing? And how long is it likely to take?

Dont put it off any longer. In this article, well give you several good reasons why that built-up ice needs to go, as well as a step-by-step guide to defrosting your fridge freezer without too much effort or mess. Well cover:

Fridgemaster Fridge Freezer

Before you begin: check your manual

We always recommend checking the user manual before defrosting your appliance and if you dont have it any more, you should be able to find it available to download from the manufacturers website. Even though the same process applies to most models, its still a good idea to check youre not going against any of the guidance.

The manual should also tell you how often you need to defrost your fridge freezer usually once or twice a year.

Why you should defrost your fridge freezer

As well as making it easier to open drawers, see whats in the freezer and get food out, defrosting the fridge freezer will actually make it more efficient. Without all that ice the freezer wont have to work as hard to maintain the right temperature, meaning itll be cheaper to run.

Even if your fridge freezer has an auto defrost function, ice will still build up its pretty much unavoidable. Over time, the ice can make it difficult to open the drawers, take up space that could be used to store food and even prevent the door from closing properly, forcing the appliance to work even harder. It may also mean food goes off quicker than it should.

Emptying and defrosting your fridge freezer is a great opportunity to give it a clean, as well as do a quick stock take of what youve got in there, what needs eating and what should probably be thrown away.

How long does it take to defrost a fridge freezer?

So how long does it take a fridge freezer to defrost? Obviously you dont want to leave your frozen food out for too long, but you also dont want to rush the job and risk damaging the freezer. So its best to allow around two hours for the ice to melt.

Of course, that will vary depending on the model of fridge freezer you have, how much ice there is and whether you simply turn the appliance off and wait for the ice to melt or use another method to speed things up. A quick Google will give you a whole range of answers everything from 15 minutes to a more leisurely 24 hours.

The most time-consuming part of the job is waiting for the ice to melt. While you can read about all sorts of hacks for getting this done quicker, be very cautious about what you try. You dont want to damage your fridge freezer or cause an accident just to save waiting an hour or two.

Bosch Fridge Freezer

Things youll need to defrost your fridge freezer

You dont need any special equipment or products to defrost your fridge freezer, just everyday items youll already have at home. Youll need:

  • A clean cloth to wipe down the inside surfaces and leave everything clean and fresh.
  • Some old towels or rags to soak up the water and avoid a giant puddle in your kitchen. You may need a few.
  • Cool bags or boxes plus some blocks of ice to store your food while the fridge freezer is turned off. If you happen to have a second freezer with some extra room, even better!
  • Washing up liquid and antibacterial cleaning spray to clean freezer drawers and inside walls and remove any unpleasant smells.

You may also like to have:

  • A large bowl you can fit on a freezer shelf or in a drawer.
  • A pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from chilly ice and hot water.
  • A plastic ice scraper or spatula to help gently remove melting ice.
  • Baking soda can be used in place of kitchen or multi-surface spray. As well as being antibacterial, its also great for getting rid of lingering odours.

The process of defrosting a fridge freezer

Defrosting the fridge freezer is never going to be the most exciting item on your to-do list. But at least its not difficult just follow our simple step-by-step guide.

1. Unplug the fridge freezer

Step one: turn off your appliance and unplug it from the mains. If the plug is on the floor, pick it up and tape it out of the way so it doesnt get wet as the ice melts. If your fridge freezer has a drainage hose, put the end into a washing-up bowl or bucket.

2. Remove all of the contents

Next, youll need to take all your food out of the freezer (this is the part where you discover you have six half-empty boxes of fish fingers).

Fridgemaster Fridge Freezer

If you have the luxury of a second freezer you can put the food in there. If not, the best approach is to pop it into a couple of cooler bags or boxes along with plenty of ice cubes. Or, if its winter, you could put it in carrier bags outside. If you dont have any of these options, try to store the food in a cool place. Remember some foods cant be refrozen once theyve thawed, so get meal planning and try to use those up before you begin.

3. Take shelves and drawers out

Take out the freezer shelves and drawers. If ice is getting in the way or theyre stuck, you may need to wait a little while first. If theyll fit, put the shelves and drawers in a sink of warm water with some washing up liquid. If not, you can spray them with antibacterial cleaner and wipe them down with a clean cloth, or use dry bicarbonate of soda sprinkled on a damp cloth and then rinse.

Get ready for the next step melting the ice by having plenty of old towels, cloths or rags to hand. We recommend laying a couple on the floor around the freezer and more to up the water as you go.

4. Melt the ice

This is the part that you dont want to rush, despite some of the advice youll find online.

The best way to defrost a fridge freezer is to empty it, leave the door open and let it defrost naturally over a few hours. In reality thats not always practical, especially if you dont have anywhere cold to store your food. So what can you do, and what shouldnt you try?

One good method is to fill a bowl with boiling water and stand it on a towel inside the freezer. Replace the water a few times to keep it hot. You could also try using a fan to push warm air from the rest of the room into the freezer compartment. One method we dont recommend is using a hairdryer to melt the ice. It may be effective, but using an electrical item that close to water is just too dangerous.

Aside from using heat to melt the ice, you can also use a plastic scraper or spatula to gently remove any large lumps of ice as they come away. Dont use a knife or anything sharp to chip at the ice you may puncture the walls and destroy the fridge freezer.

5. Clean the fridge freezer

Now your fridge freezer is empty and free from ice, its time to give it a little freshen up.

Avoid disinfectants like bleach and stick to a regular antibacterial spray, or simply use dry bicarbonate of soda sprinkled on a damp cloth. Rinse well afterwards and dont forget to clean the door seal try using an old toothbrush to remove hard-to-reach crumbs and dirt.

Once your fridge freezer is sparkling clean and smelling fresh, dry it with a tea towel and replace the clean shelves and drawers. All done!

6. Replace the food and turn the freezer back on

Turn the fridge freezer back on and start to replace your food, checking that its still frozen. If you find any meat or fish that has started to defrost, either cook it (you can refreeze most meat after cooking) or throw it away.

Next steps

It may be the sort of task you put off for way too long. But defrosting your fridge freezer is a straightforward job thats well worth doing. Not only do you get the satisfaction of a cleaner, more efficient fridge freezer, itll also give you the push you need to audit and organise the contents. You may even find a meal or two youd completely forgotten about.

If, however, your fridge freezer is advancing in years and you think it could be time to invest in a newer, more energy-efficient model, you can take a look at our fridge freezer buying guide or view our current range of fridge freezers.

If you need help choosing, were just a phone call away. Get in touch.


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