When to defrost your freezer

Unless you have one of the newer, frost-free appliances, you’ll need to defrost your freezer now and again.

If you don’t defrost – and ice builds up – not only will it take up precious space that could be used to store food but it’ll actually mean that the freezer uses more power.

Incredibly, ice in your freezer actually insulates products. Your freezer is at its most efficient when cold air can circulate around food items. That means that all the ice in your freezer is actually costing you money, in the form of higher energy bills.

How often to defrost it

You should defrost your freezer once ice begins to build up on the walls. When it’s at a thickness of half a centimetre, your freezer will begin to work less efficiently.

This will probably happen every few months.

And if the inside of your freezer looks like an ice cave on Hoth, it's probably well past the time to get around to this task.

What to do

To defrost your freezer properly and safely, you need two things: time and old towels.

It’s important to allow yourself plenty of time as otherwise, you’ll be tempted to pick up a knife and hack away at the ice, which is dangerous. If you puncture the inside of the freezer, not only can you damage it, but you could release Freon (if you have an older appliance) or tetrafluoroethane gas, which can be hazardous if breathed in.

You should not try to break off or chip away at the ice. Let it melt naturally.

It's a good idea to defrost your freezer in the morning, when you plan to be home for the day. This way, you can keep an eye on the melting ice and won't wake up to puddles on the kitchen floor.

The first step is to unplug your freezer.

Remove all of the food and store it in a cooler. If any of the food defrosts, don’t return it to the freezer afterwards, as re-freezing defrosted food will increase the chance of food poisoning. You’ll have to fridge it and eat it within two days.

Remove any shelves or storage bins. If they are frozen into the ice, don't try to wrench them free. Instead, wait for the ice around them to melt.

Lay down newspaper or towels around the bottom of the appliance and place smaller, rolled-up towels along the front of the freezer to stop water escaping. As they become saturated, swap them out for dry towels.

Use this opportunity to wash freezer shelves, ice cube trays and bins in warm, soapy water. Make sure they're perfectly dry before you put them back in the freezer or they'll begin to freeze up again.

When the ice has melted, mop up around the freezer and then clean the inside – again, with warm, soapy water. 

Plug your freezer back in and you’re good to go!

Looking for more home appliance tips? We've got advice on how to maintain your dishwasher and how to maintain your washing machine.