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Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to defrost a freezer quickly. This is by far the best and safest way to defrost your freezer or the freezer compartment in your fridge.

It’s important to defrost your freezer regularly, because freezers can be real money-burners when they are frosted up with ice. Oh and of course it’s much easier to use your freezer and actually fit stuff in it, if it’s frost-free!!

Why you shouldn't use salt to defrost a freezer, can you use salt to defrost a freezer
Don’t use salt to defrost your freezer!


There are all sorts of tips around for defrosting the freezer quickly, including:

  • Salt – salt will help the ice melt more quickly, but it will also help your freezer element corrode and cause damage to seals and lining
  • Vinegar – there is a risk of the acetic acid in vinegar dissolving seals, lining and and pipe coating
  • Melting with a hairdryer – it’s just plain dangerous to use an electrical appliance near melting water!
  • Hacking ice with a knife – again, it’s just plain dangerous and there’s a high chance of damaging yourself and the freezer

My advice would be DON’T use any of the above methods to defrost a freezer!

Instead, use my LOW RISK approach to defrosting.


If you have the brain-bandwidth to plan it, you can ‘cook the freezer’ the week before you plan to spring clean it. 

An empty freezer is a godsend if you’ve got to defrost it, because it means you’ve got time to do it properly without the temptation to take short cuts that can damage your freezer.


  1. Switch off the freezer
  2. Take out any fittings that you can safely take out and wash in warm soapy water
  3. If you’ve got an upright freezer put a container under the draining point (it might just be a bit of plastic that flips out)
  4. Put down newspaper or towels on the floor
  5. Put bowls of lukewarm water throughout freezer. You would think hot water would be better, but this weird thing called the mpemba effect means lukewarm is quicker
  6. Wipe the the lowest point of the ice with a warm cloth. Melting the lowest ice first will increase the speed the rest of the ice melts
  7. Repeat every 20 minutes or so
  8. Shut the door in between wiping
  9. Resist the temptation to hack at the ice … even with a plastic utensil … after a while big chunks of ice will start to come away just from wiping; try to remove pieces from the bottom first as this will speed up the process
  10. Now you are ready to clean the freezer before you start loading it up with food again


Some people clean the freezer with vinegar, but personally, I stick to using hot soapy water.

Although I am a massive fan of vinegar for cleaning all sorts of other things, I don’t use it on the freezer as there is a risk of the acetic acid dissolving seals, lining and and pipe coating.

Wipe down everything you can with a microfibre cloth and soapy water.

If your freezer is anything like mine it’s almost impossible to get all the crumbs and errant peas out from between the pipes just by wiping, so make sure there is a big basin and plenty of newspaper to catch the water. I tip bowls of warm soapy water all over the freezer.

And then rinse out by tipping more water over.

Don’t forget to wipe the seals, between the doors and underneath the freezer.

Once everything is clean, dry off with a microfibre polishing cloth. 


Once you’ve got the freezer all defrosted and clean and dry, you need to switch it back on for at least two hours to get the temperature to the right level before putting food back in it.

If you don’t you risk food partially defrosting and then refreezing.

Now I am not going to try and convince you cleaning the freezer is great fun!

But if you treat defrosting your freezer as an opportunity to use food up, it’s a pretty low effort background activity and as it saves me money on food and electricity it’s time well spent as far as I am concerned.


Monday 6th of March 2023

I used an electric skillet filled with water and plugged into a GFCI circuit moved it from the bottom to the top it worked very well much faster than boiling water in pots


Saturday 9th of January 2021

We have swapped from 1 large freezer to using 2 smaller ones. Although it might not seem cost effective, we found that we are more likely to defrost on a regular basis (because it is easier and quicker) and when/if a freezer dies we don't lose everything. Also, the newer freezers seem to be cheaper to run. Also, we don't need to open both of them all the time, they return to temperature quicker once closed, you can reach everything better and when you move house it costs you less. Removal guys here charge extra for each heavy item.


Monday 8th of February 2021

Aha, now this helps me understand why when we moved into our current home, the previous owners had two small freezers - we had been expecting a fridge and a freezer, which immediately put us in a fix!!! It sounds like it's working very well for you, great to have this idea on here to inspire others. Thank you!

Michelle Moms Are Frugal

Tuesday 13th of May 2014

I love the post on how to clean a freezer. I don't think I have ever cleaned mine due to the fact that I have never cleaned a freezer! Thanks for the step by step advice.

Cristina Pop

Tuesday 13th of May 2014

These are some pretty awsome tips about the freezer. And you also reminded me that I have to defrost mine :))

Carrie at Kenarry Ideas for the Home

Saturday 10th of May 2014

After reading this, I now want to defrost my freezer. I can't remember the last time I did it... What a great idea to have a link up at the end of this story to gather more cleaning tips for your readers! I shared a few of ours.