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Here’s how to defrost a freezer quickly – whether it’s a chest deep freezer, an upright or your fridge freezer!
Once the gardening and outside work is finished for the season, it’s time for me to get going on the inside work. Not only giving the house a good cleaning, but also doing a little appliance maintenance. Cleaning out my frost-free freezers is pretty high on the list, because it’s one of the hardest working appliances we have.
We have four, including the two big drawers under our refrigerator. We also have an upright freezer (awesome) and one chest freezer (also very good). That’s a lot of storage for meat, vegetables and fruit.
We need to make the most of our food storage space and give both of them a good cleaning and organize them properly. Regular maintenance will also extend the life and that’s a good thing.
Many fridge freezers and upright models do self defrost, but most chest freezers need to have a good manual defrost a couple of times a year.
The Fastest Way to Defrost a Freezer
Why Have a Freezer?
We would never be able to live as frugally as we do, if we did not have a couple of freezers.
Instead of raising our own meat (in quantity) we would have to buy meat on a regular basis at the store. Much more expensive. And it’s not just meat that gets put in our freezers.
Usually what happens at our place is, the chest freezer gets filled with all the berries we harvest in the summer.
Bags of freshly picked and blanched frozen peas also get tossed in that freezer.
Since it is housed on our main floor, it’s easier for me to get the peas frozen and tossed in there, rather than having to go downstairs to the upright.
The upright freezer holds all of our meat, which, depending on what we have raised that year and the previous year is: Pork, chicken, fish and beef.
How can I Defrost my Freezer Quickly?
I’m going to show you how I defrost my freezer fast – usually in an hour or less, this chore is done. At the end, my freezer will be clean and free from ice, plus all my frozen food items will be organized efficiently.
How to Defrost a Freezer in Under an Hour
Unloading and Organizing Frozen Food
Our freezers are quite new and are both energy efficient, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a good defrosting and cleaning at least twice a year. Even frost free freezers need regular maintenance.
And you can lower your electricity bill by making sure you don’t let the ice buildup in your freezer. And I’ve found a way to speed up the process to get this job over and done with.
I gather some of the twenty odd (it seems) coolers we have. I have no idea why we have so many – they tend to gather for conventions at our house. And they just don’t leave!
Even though I have tried to organize the meat by type in each of the freezers, inevitably chicken ends up mixed with pork, and fish ends up with beef.
The first thing I do for the defrosting process is unplug the freezer. You can turn down the adjustable thermostats, if you can’t easily reach to unplug the freezer. Then, after opening the door, I leave the door open to let warm air in will help things go quicker.
Use Coolers to Hold Frozen Food
I try to fill each cooler with ONE type of meat, to start with the reorganization. This makes it quicker when I reload the freezer after cleaning.
It takes a LOT of coolers to hold the meat and you can see the overflow starting. Berries seem have migrated from one freezer to the other!
If we go to California, we always bring lots of citrus fruits home with us. I freeze mason jars of lemon juice every year.
We use the juice to make home made Lemonade and also use it in cooking. The pink juice is grapefruit.
How to Defrost a Freezer
Once all the frozen food is out of the upright freezer, I want to make the rest of the job go as fast as possible, because I want to be able to get the frozen food back in the freezers.
Using a large stock pot or two, fill them with water to boil on the stove. The more pans you can use, the quicker and easier this job will be.
Very carefully bring the pots of boiling water to the freezers. I set the pans of hot water on each of the shelves in the freezer.
Always put a couple of old towels on the base of the freezer floor, because it’s guaranteed you will need something to sop up all that melted ice and excess water.
Close the door and leave it alone for 10 or 15 minutes.
While you wait for the ice to melt, put more water in the kettle to get it boiling so you can replace the water in the pots. Every large bowl of hot water you can get in the freezer will help make this job go faster.
Make sure you’ve got a large bucket or empty cooler to wring out the towels into.
How to Melt Big Chunks of Ice
If you’ve got some large chunks of ice that are really stubborn about melting, use a plastic spatula or plastic scraper to see if you can pry it from the freezer wall or shelves. Always use plastic when you are scraping the ice.
You can also use a hair dryer to melt the worst of the ice if you need to.
Once the water is all sopped up, I just use dry towels to wipe the interior and inside freezer door. Wipe down the door seal and the cord as well. Then I toss all the wet towels into one of the empty coolers to bring to the laundry room.
Plug the freezer in again, adjust the temperature control if needed and get started organizing the frozen food. Double check that the power on indicator light is lit up.
How to organize a deep freezer
You’ll find you can get the freezer all defrosted and cleaned in about half an hour. Once I’m done, I start right away to refill the shelves.
Take the time to organize the inside of your freezer again. Organization goes a long ways to having the maximum freezer space, especially when the freezer is really full. I try to put pork one on shelf, chicken on another. Fish and bagged berries in the freezer storage baskets at the bottom of the freezer.
Doesn’t this look better?
Take inventory of what is in your freezer. It’s also a good idea to take an inventory of your pantry and a cold room inventory as well.
This way, you can get a great idea of what you need to plant in the garden this year.
If you’re thinking of buying a freezer, think about the amount of food you will need stored. A rough idea is to allow 1.5 cubic feet of freezer space per person; you can find more information here.
Whether you have a frost free upright freezer or a manual defrost chest freezer, it’s a good idea to clean and organize them a couple times a year.
Can you defrost a freezer without turning it off?
Yes, you can defrost a freezer without turning it off. Just follow the same steps as above – it will take longer, though, because the freezer will be trying to stay as cold as possible (with it being plugged in).
Is it worth defrosting a freezer?
Yes, it is absolutely worth it, for several reasons. Defrosting your freezer will help it run more efficiently, because the ice build up will be gone. And when your freezer runs efficiently, it takes less electricity, saving you money every month!
Defrosting your freezer on a regular basis also helps you reduce any food waste. You should use this time to competely organize the contents of your freezer.
Move the older food to the front (or top of a chest freezer) and be sure to use that food first. You will also be able to organize by type of meat, types of frozen vegetables, etc.
This will help you save money in the end, because as you notice you are running low, you can add these items to your grocery list and watch for them to come on sale.
Bottom Line: Now that you know how to defrost a freezer quickly, add it to your scheduled maintenance list for household chores.
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latest updated November 2022