How To Defrost A Refrigerator? [6 Tips]

Last Updated on September 23, 2022 by P. Simon

Can you imagine living without a fridge freezer? Well, ice buildup in the refrigerator can be a pain in the neck. It’s a problem you want to get rid of as soon as possible. When ice accumulates in your freezer, your favorite foods get freezer ban, and you end up tossing most of it in the bins.

What is worse, though, is that when ice covers the interior temperature sensors and air vents, they exhaust your refrigerator by making it work over time-wasting energy and exacerbating the ice buildup.

So how often should you defrost your freezer, and how do you do it? Let’s get right into it.

How To Defrost A Refrigerator?
How To Defrost A Refrigerator?

How Often Should You Defrost Your Freezer?

Whether your refrigerator defrosts automatically or not, it’s recommended that you defrost it at least once or twice a year. However, it’s essential to check your manual for a definitive answer on this.

If your refrigerator is defrosted manually, you should defrost it when the ice in the freezer thickens to a quarter or half an inch. Letting it build thicker than this compromises the energy efficiency of your fridge and makes the eventual defrosting process longer.

What You Need to do Before Defrosting

  1. Always unplug the fridge before beginning the defrosting process, however little time you think it will take to defrost. Leaving the refrigerator running when defrosting makes defrosting all the more challenging and causes unnecessary electric energy consumption.
  2. Also, remember to transfer all the food from the unit to an iced cooler to prevent the most perishable foods from spoiling. This step is crucial because it also gives you a chance to take out spoilt or expired food from the freezer.
  3. Remember, thawed meat such as turkey and chicken should not be refrozen. Thawing breaks the meat down even more, a process that leaches out moisture, thereby reducing the quality and taste of the meat.
  4. Try to use all refrigerated or frozen meat within the week before defrosting the refrigerator because the frozen and thawed meat will produce bacteria faster than fresh meat.
  5. Use a couple of old bath towels to absorb the moisture at the bottom shelf of the freezer to prevent leakage as the freezer defrosts.
  6. Although the defrosting procedure is similar from model to model, it’s essential to take out your refrigerator manual and go through it to avoid going against any guidance.
  7. Remove the shelves and drawers to speed up the defrosting process. Once you remove them, take the chance to clean them in the sink with some soapy water. If the drawers are too big to fit in the sink, you can wipe them with an antibacterial spray and
  8. Not only will this help speed up the defrosting process, but removing shelves and drawers will give you an excellent opportunity to provide them with a thorough clean.

6 Tips on How to Defrost a Refrigerator

1. Wait for Ice to Melt

This is a simple method of defrosting. You only need to move the refrigerator away from the wall, unplug the fridge, and open the doors to let the ice melt at room temperature. Moving the refrigerator from the wall will enable you to clear any leaks and clean beneath and behind the refrigerator.

Put a few towels beneath the fridge to absorb the water that will leak as the frost melts. Mop excess water with an extra bat towel to prevent the water from spreading to the rest of the room.

It may take between one to twenty fours hours for all the frost or ice to melt.

So this method of defrosting requires a lot of time and begs for attention. However, if you do not have the time or patience, consider trying out a few of the faster-defrosting processes below.

2. Use a Blow Dryer

If you don’t have time to wait for all that frost to melt away, especially in the cold season, you could try a faster way of defrosting, such as using a blow dryer.

Image by Ryan McGuire de Pixabay

If you follow all the essential safety precautions, using a dryer to defrost the fridge could be a safe and fast way of melting the built-up ice. These safety precautions include,

  • Standing clear of any stagnant water.
  • Keeping the dryer and its cord away from the ice or water
  • Focusing on an area at a time will ensure that your drier does not overheat.
  • Keep the dryer’s end away from the fridge’s wall or the coils to prevent damaging the refrigerator.
  • Lining the base of the freezer with absorbent cloths to catch the melted ice.

As the edges begin to melt, continue to blow hot air on the ice while at the same time using a plastic scraper to scrape the ice from the walls gently.

Only use a hairdryer if your refrigerator does not have Styrofoam insulation, which could melt.

3. Use a Fan

Alternatively, you could use a fan instead of a dryer to defrost your refrigerator. Using a fun is less strenuous than a blow dryer because it evenly circulates warm air in the fridge or freezer. However, this method could raise room temperature if the season is hot, making the house unbearable hot.

Use a Fan
Use a Fan

It, therefore, works best during winter when the weather is cold– the fan not only melts the ice but also keeps the house warmer- and if the freezer or refrigerator is located at the garage.

To use the fan for defrosting, unplug the refrigerator and open the doors. Set up the fan outside the freezer. The hot air will allow the ice to melt faster.

Although this process could also take up a considerable amount of time, especially if the ice buildup is thick, it is faster than waiting for the ice to melt at room temperature. What’s more? You need not put in much effort.

4. Set Bowls or Pans of Hot Water on the Shelves

If you don’t fancy using a blow dryer or a fan to defrost your refrigerator, you could melt the ice using the traditional method of placing pans of boiling water on the shelves behind closed fridge doors. The steam from the hot water melts the ice and naturally loosens up from the wall.

Once the ice is loose enough, you can fasten the process by using a plastic scraper to gently scrape the ice from the walls or remove it by hand with a sponge after about 30 minutes. Replace the boiling water after every 10 minutes or so, depending on the thickness of the ice.

It’s essential to place a thick towel beneath each pot or pan because they may damage the shelves. Also, ensure that there is enough room in the fridge to fit the pots and pans.

5. Use a Hot Cloth and Rubbing Alcohol

If you only have a thin layer of frost, you do not need to use any methods discussed above. You can use a hot cloth with some rubbing alcohol on it.

To defrost the fridge using this method, dip a kitchen cloth in boiling water, and pour rubbing alcohol onto it. Then use the damp cloth to rub on the ice to loosen it.

When using this method, it’s best to concentrate on little ice pieces at the edges. Once the ice loosens up, remove it gently and then wipe around the ice stamp to remove it.

6. Scraping

You can opt to scrape office. This is the most popular method of defrosting a refrigerator quickly. However, it could easily damage the inner parts of the fridge, so when using this method, you need to work carefully.

This method requires you to have a wooden spoon or a plastic spatula. Avoid using metallic objects to scrape off the ice because you could easily puncture a gas line or the wall of your freezer or hurt yourself.

This method can be tedious, so it’s best to use it alongside any of the other techniques mentioned in this article.

Once you have melted all the ice and frost in the refrigerator, use a baking soda tablespoon, dissolve it in warm water, put it in a spray bottle. Spray the surfaces and use a cloth to clean any mess inside the fridge. Use warm water and a clean cloth to rinse the refrigerator before you dry it with a towel.

After cleaning the fridge, close the doors and then plug it back in. Allow the refrigerator to cool down for about an hour before you put the food back.

The DOs & DON’Ts of Defrosting

Do the following when defrosting your fridge.

Plan ahead

If you have a thick layer of ice in the fridge, the defrosting process may take several hours. Therefore, it would be best if you had an iced cooler ready to keep your perishables temporarily.


Take this chance to clean the fridge’s interior and exterior, including the condenser coils, to maximize its efficiency after the process.

Plug off the refrigerator

This will speed up the defrosting process and avoid unnecessary energy loss.

Keep a bunch of old towels at hand.

To avoid the hustle of mopping the melting water every time it drips, place a bunch of old towels or newspapers at the bottom of the fridge or freezer compartment to soak it up.

Don’t do the following when defrosting the fridge.

Use an ice pick, knife, or other sharp objects.

Don’t use a metallic or sharp object to scrape the ice. You might puncture and damage the walls of the fridge. Use a plastic spatula instead.

Be careless with electricity.

Standing in a puddle of water or letting the appliance get into contact with melting ice when working with a hairdryer to heat the fridge may cause electrical shock.

Wipe down the seals of your unit’s door.

It’s an all too easy–and unhygienic–place for food to get stuck.

Close the door when defrosting.

War air is needed to defrost the ice.