Restarting a Freezer after Defrosting: A Foolproof Formula


Defrosting a freezer is not an exciting task, but it’s necessary. These days, more and more freezer models are being manufactured with the “No Frost” function, which is an automatic ice removal mechanism. However, older and some low-cost models require regular removal of ice the old-fashioned way.

The process of defrosting a freezer is very similar to defrosting a refrigerator. You may even think that defrosting the freezer is very easy. All you need to do is turn the appliance off, open its door, and wait for the ice to melt, then clean it, and turn it on again. And that’s it!

Well, unfortunately, even with this simple process, we sometimes make critical mistakes, which most often result from us being too impatient.


So, why should you worry about defrosting your freezer and what do you need to look for?

When restarting a freezer once it’s fully defrosted, you need to remember about a thorough cleaning of the whole appliance. Regular deicing and cleaning a freezer will ensure its proper functioning, long lifespan, as well as reduced energy bills.


Not only a layer of ice may that’s formed in the freezer reduces the efficiency of the appliance, but it also makes it harder to take out and put food in.



Defrosting is quite simple but you need to do it correctly. Go ahead and follow our foolproof formula to defrost your freezer the right way.


How Do You Start the Defrosting Process?

As far as the time needed to fully defrost the deep freezer is concerned, it depends on the type of appliance. In the case of some models, it can take even several hours.

Before you start defrosting, turn the knob of the thermostat to the STOP (0) position, and disconnect from the mains.

You must remember to protect the kitchen floor against water that can flow out. In this case, insert a suitable tube (or a small container in the shape of a tube) into the groove at the bottom of the freezer into which water will drip.


Now it’s time to empty the freezer contents completely.

But What to Do with Food When Defrosting a Freezer?

The frozen food is worth putting into cooler bags so that they stay cool, even when you are busy cleaning the freezer. If you do not have cool-bags, you can put the food in a clean container (e.g. a bowl) and wrap it, e.g. with blankets, towels, or thick layers of newspapers, and store them close together.

You may also ask to use a neighbor’s freezer for a while. Also, when there are freezing temperatures outside, you may keep the food on your window ledge or a balcony.


How to Clean a Freezer and What Products to Use?

When the whole defrosting process is over, you can move on to cleaning the freezer.

To clean it, you need to use a soft cloth or sponge so as not to damage or scratch the walls of the appliance.


MISTAKE: Don’t scrape the ice! It is not allowed to scrape the ice from the walls of the appliance with sharp and hard objects. This causes scratches and, consequently, can damage the inside of the freezer.


For cleaning, you can use warm water with a washing-up liquid. But a better remedy that you can prepare yourself is water with the addition of baking soda. Apply a ratio of 1 teaspoon of soda per 4 cups (1 liter) of water. Baking soda will help clean and deodorize the appliance.

If there is some major dirt or traces of mold locally, then you need to use a solution of water with vinegar. Use 3 teaspoons of vinegar per 4 cups, or 1 liter, of water. You may even rub the place with vinegar alone.

When cleaning the fridge and freezer, vinegar will work great because it will get rid of the fridge odors of questionable origin. By using vinegar to clean, you will save your time and energy.


MISTAKE: Do not use chemical agents for cleaning the freezer interior as they can damage the plastic parts of the freezer and are harmful to health.


After cleaning the freezer interior thoroughly with a washing-up liquid, rinse everything with clean water. And if you are using vinegar to clean, you don’t need to rinse, just leave as it is. You don’t have to be afraid of the vinegar smell because it fades away quickly.

Remember to clean the inside and outside of the freezer door as well. Wipe the door seals with a cloth moistened with glycerin so they don’t crack later, and so the door is easier to close and open.


MISTAKE: The most common mistake is that when we clean the freezer (or a fridge), we basically think only about its interior, not paying attention to the exterior and particularly, what is on the back of the appliance, such as the coils. And this also requires care and thorough cleaning.

The coils, which are the cooling elements, should be vacuumed at least twice a year. To prevent any damage, use a crevice or upholstery tool and carefully suck up any debris and dirt from each side of the coils.

Then, you can wash it from the outside with the same solution you used to wash inside the freezer, but it can also be done with washing-up liquid.


Wash freezer shelves and drawers in a sink as soon as they warm up. You should wait until they reach room temperature, because the glass drawers may break if you move them too quickly from a freezing environment and submerge in hot water.

Fill the sink with hot water and some washing-up liquid and soak the drawers for a few minutes and wash them with a sponge. Rinse properly and shake off excess water.



Restarting the Freezer

Next, make sure to wipe the whole appliance dry. Wipe the removable parts and the interior with a fresh, dry towel to remove as much moisture as possible from the freezer. Also, dry the shelves and drawers, using a new towel if necessary.

Let the freezer get dry for about 10-15 minutes by leaving the door open. After that, the freezer and shelves should be completely free of moisture.

Otherwise, everything that is wet will turn into ice again when the freezer is switched on, which you don’t want.


MISTAKE: A big mistake you can make is to close and turn on the freezer too quickly after defrosting. If you don’t wait until the appliance is completely dry, the moisture remaining inside will freeze back quickly and all your work will go for nothing.


Finally, after making sure that the interior is completely dry, put all the removable parts back in the freezer and switch it back on.

Bear in mind that after you restart the freezer, it is possible to hear some noises coming from the appliance. It is because the compressor will operate louder and the coolants will flow louder as well. But this does not mean a malfunction of the freezer. It is normal and, after some time, the intensity of the noise should decrease.


TIP: To prevent the ice from accumulating in the freezer too quickly, soak a paper towel in vegetable oil, or glycerin (which can be found in most pharmacies). Use it to gently cover the interior of the freezer. This will reduce the accumulation of ice and it will not be so difficult to remove.

Once you plug in the freezer afterward, it immediately starts to run and cool. Set the ideal freezer temperature for your needs. It should be somewhere between 0°F and -10°F, or -12°C to -18°C.


When Can You Put Food Back in the Freezer after Defrosting?

Before putting the frozen products back on the shelves and in the drawers, wait for the freezer to reach the proper temperature. It may take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to reach and stabilize at the proper temperature, which is  0°F, or minus 18°C. Once the freezer is ready, you can now put your food back in your appliance.

The speed at which the freezer reaches the desired temperature also depends on the ambient temperature and food load.

You may also use a thermometer to monitor the freezer temperature and take notice of the time needed for future defrosts. Adding frozen foods after the first hour will help lower the temperature more, similar to adding ice to a cooler.


TIP: Remember to never freeze food while it is still warm. This can melt other things that are already inside, and even lead more to the dreaded build-up of ice.


Discard any foods that you think have been thawed and have reached a dangerous temperature, especially items such as fish.


Related Questions:


How Often Should You Defrost Your Freezer and Why?

The vast majority of people hate defrosting their freezers. Luckily, self-defrosting equipment was invented! But those who don’t have it yet and are notoriously putting this task off can get a surprise when they receive a high electricity bill.

You should clean it as often as possible, and thoroughly defrosting a freezer – at least once every 6 months. Preferably, you should start thinking of defrosting your freezer as soon as its door starts giving trouble when you try to open it.

Alternatively, defrost it sooner if you notice the frost and ice that is formed in the freezer has reached a thickness of 0.2 inches (3-5 mm), as it must be removed then.

The cleanliness and regular defrosting of the freezer is extremely important for at least two reasons: hygiene of food storage and proper use of the appliance itself.

The first point is obvious, we will not want to keep your food in a place that is dirty and smells bad. Dirt lying in various places does not, by any means, contributes to energy saving.

A thick layer of ice in the freezer causes the appliance to freeze less efficiently, and to maintain the right temperature, it will consume more electricity. If only 0.4 inches (1 cm) of ice is in your fridge or freezer, energy consumption can increase by 10%!

Ultimately, it may also happen that you will have to replace the freezer sooner if it breaks down.

If you’re also interested to learn how to increase the efficiency of your refrigerator, read our article: HOW TO INCREASE REFRIGERATOR COOLING


When Is the Best Time to Defrost?

The most suitable time to deal with this uninteresting task will be winter. All frosted products can be then transferred into appropriate containers and taken out to the balcony, or placed outside the window (as mentioned above).

Bringing a neglected freezer to a usable condition will take some time and it would be a shame to thaw the food products. Then you would not only potentially lose your food (which you cannot refreeze after it’s already defrosted), but it could also lead to increased power consumption by the freezer.


How Can You Speed Up Defrosting a Freezer?

It’s recommended that you don’t interfere with the process of defrosting your freezer.

MISTAKE: It is also a common mistake to put hot items inside the defrosted fridge, such as a hot iron, or a pot with hot water, to speed up the whole process.

Some people also use hair dryers for defrosting. Of course, doing this, we will accelerate the melting of ice, but we can also cause the freezer to break down. It can damage the material from which your freezer is made! Modern refrigeration equipment is quite sensitive to sudden temperature changes.

Leaving the freezer door open might accelerate defrosting to some degree.

TIP: Place the portable fan on a suitable support (e.g. a chair) in front of the open freezer and adjust it to the maximum setting. This way, it will blow warm air inside the freezer, which will help remove water and ice faster.

Other than that, you just have to accept that the process takes time, and wait.


Final Thoughts,

Regular defrosting of a freezer is common sense and the right thing to do. But how often do we give in to procrastination? And then we realize the fact that we finally need to clean the freezer when we’re unable to open it.