Jeff Flowers on February 23, 2015 41 Comments Your freezer is a necessary appliance and probably one of the most useful. It keeps food fresh and can safely store items for future use. Frost on the walls inside of your freezer reduces its efficiency and increases your energy bill. Many newer freezer models have a self-defrosting feature, but what if you aren’t lucky enough to have this feature? Let’s take a look at how often you should defrost your freezer, as well as a few methods to help you defrost it quickly. How Often Should You Defrost Your Freezer? No matter what type of freezer you own, it’s recommended that you defrost it approximately once a year or when layers of ice become more than a quarter of an inch thick. Please don’t forget to unplug your freezer before you start defrosting it. No matter what method on this list you use, this is an important safety precaution that one should not overlook. Also, make sure to remove all food from inside the unit, as well as protect your floor with towels or a large plastic shower liner. You may want to bunch up rags or old bath towels on the bottom shelf of the freezer to help absorb the moisture. If you are able to move your freezer outside, then you will ultimately have less of a mess to clean up once your freezer has been defrosted. Nevertheless, here are eight different ways you can quickly defrost your freezer. 1. Wait for Ice to Melt The obvious method — Unplug it, open the door and wait for the ice to melt. This defrosting method is the simplest, but also takes the longest, especially if you live in a colder area. It’s also the safest method of defrosting your freezer. Simply open the door, walk away and pack some patience. As the ice begins to melt, you may want to mop up the excess water with a sponge or a towel. You might also consider placing old towels on the floor to absorb water that runs out of the appliance. Perhaps you’re like me and not very patient. If so, let’s look at a few ways you can speed up the defrosting process. 2. Use a Blow Dryer It is perfectly safe to use a portable hair dryer to defrost a freezer as long as you use basic safety precautions. Make sure you stand clear of any standing water, keep the cord and the dryer away from any water or ice and focus on one area at a time to ensure that your dryer does not overheat. In addition, never allow the end of the dryer to get too close to the coils or sides of the freezer because the high heat may damage the unit. It could also damage the plastic construction inside of your freezer. Line the base of the freezer with towels to catch the melted ice. Aim the hair dryer parallel to the wall of the freezer. Your goal is to get the warm air behind the ice. As the edges start to release, continue to blow hot air behind the ice and use a plastic scraper to pry the ice from the walls gently. 3. Use a Fan A fan can help circulate warm air into your freezer. However, this method works best when the air in your home is warm enough to make a real difference. This works especially well for anyone that has a deep freezer in their garage. Simply set up a fan up outside of the freezer with its door propped open. The airflow helps the ice to melt faster. You will still need some time for this to work, depending on the thickness of the ice. But you can speed up the process without putting in much work. 4. Set Bowls or Pans of Hot Water on the Shelves A traditional method to speed up the process of defrosting your freezer is to place pans of boiling water on the shelves and close the door. Because freezers are well-sealed, the steam from the hot water helps loosen the ice so that it naturally melts off the walls. You can then remove it by hand using a plastic scraper after about 30 minutes. However, the heat from the pots and pans may damage the shelves, so if you use this technique to defrost your freezer, we’d recommend placing a thickly folded towel under the heated containers. Make sure that there is enough room to put the pan in the freezer. Keep in mind that you will have to replace the pan of boiling water every 10 minutes or so, depending on the amount of ice that is built up on the interior. When you replace the water, remove the melted ice with a sponge. 5. Heat a Metal Spatula One quick defrosting method, and likely the most dangerous, is to use a hot metal spatula. Wearing an oven mitt, hold a metal spatula over a flame to heat it. Then just press the spatula into the ice to loosen it and break it up. We don’t really recommend this defrosting method, as you are susceptible to burning yourself or causing damage to the unit. But we mention it here, because it will work in quickly melting the ice in your freezer. If you decide to use this method to speed up the defrosting process, please do so with caution. 6. Use a Hot Cloth and Rubbing Alcohol Dip a rag in boiling water, pour rubbing alcohol onto it and place it on the ice to loosen it. Concentrate on little pieces at the edges, grasping loose areas and wiping around the ice to remove it. The frost should start melting somewhat quickly. This approach works best when you need to remove just a thin layer of frost rather than large chunks of ice. 7. Scraping Scraping the ice is presumably the most popular method of speeding up the defrosting process. If you go this route, make sure you do it safely. Use a traditional ice scraper, a plastic spatula or a wood spoon to avoid hurting yourself or puncturing the wall of your freezer or a gas line. We’d recommend using this defrosting method in conjunction with other methods on this list. 8. Use a Wet/Dry Vacuum Using the smallest nozzle accessory on a wet/dry vacuum, set the switch to blow. Start at the top and move down slowly over all surfaces. It is preferable to using a blow dryer because it takes less time and eliminates the risk of electrocuting yourself. When the chunks of ice start to loosen, switch the setting on the vacuum to suck up the water and ice. Then start on the next layer and repeat until everything is dry. For complete efficiency, use this defrosting method in conjunction with other methods on this list. Once all the ice melts, you can clean your freezer with a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in hot, soapy water. Just dip a sponge in the mixture and rinse the inside of the freezer. Repeat until it is clean. Make sure that you wipe the inside of it with a dry towel. Plug it back in, and close the freezer door to cool it back down. In about a half an hour, you can transfer the food back into the freezer.