How to Defrost a Chest Freezer – Properly

If the interior of your chest freezer looks like it’s lined with a layer of permafrost, or the inside of an igloo, it may be time for a defrost session. Frost inside your freezer isn’t actually harmless – it costs you energy efficiency and space.

That means that you’re paying higher energy bills while having less space to actually store frozen goods. Ideally, you’ll want to defrost your chest freezer at least once a year. You should also prepare for a defrosting session whenever you notice ice accumulation reaching 1/4 inch in a large portion of your freezer.

Luckily, defrosting is a pretty easy thing to do. However, you’ll need to be a bit methodical to ensure that you’re defrosting your freezer properly and safely. Let’s go over all the basics of defrosting a chest freezer.

Is Frost Buildup in My Freezer a Sign That Something Is Wrong?

First, we should address the big question that might be on your mind if you’re noticing some blizzard conditions inside your freezer. Frost isn’t usually a sign that anything is wrong. Frost builds up in a freezer whenever there’s an opportunity for warm air to enter from the outside.

This includes whenever you dip in to open or close the door. Additionally, you’re inviting frost to form if you place a package that’s not fully frozen inside the freezer. Your risk of frost goes up substantially if you’re placing warm or hot items inside your freezer. The bottom line is that everyone can expect some level of frost. Defrosting your freezer once or twice per year should be enough to keep everything clear!

A Guide to How to Defrost a Chest Freezer Quickly

The quickest method for defrosting your chest freezer will actually depend on the freezer model you own. Some chest freezers have a defrost drain, while others don’t and may have to defrost by hand. We’ll cover how to do both.

First, you should know about the prep steps before the actual defrosting process. Here’s what to do to prep your freezer for your annual defrosting:

  1. Remove all of the food from your chest freezer! It’s important to avoid allowing food to defrost while you work in the freezer. You can often keep everything at the right temperature using a large cooler. If possible, plan ahead to begin “eating down” your frozen inventory in the weeks leading up to a planned defrosting session!
  2. Be sure to unplug your freezer to increase your safety while working.
  3. Line your freezer’s exterior with towels that can be used to soak up any dripping water that will be accumulating around you. Keep a few spare towels around to help you soak up any extra moisture throughout the process.

You can now begin the actual defrosting process once all of these details have been covered! You’ll want to set aside a nice chunk of time that will allow you to cover both transferring your frozen goods and handling the actual defrosting process.

While you may want to do some cleaning up by hand inside your freezer, some caution is needed. Never try to remove ice from the inside of your freezer using something like a knife or ice pick. These sharp items can actually wreck your freezer’s liner. You might also want to turn off any low-temperature alarms that are fitted to your freezer before you begin.

How to Defrost Your Chest Freezer If It Has a Defrost Drain

You’re in luck if your chest freezer has a defrost drain! Be sure to locate the hose adapter that came with your freezer when you bought it before you begin. To start, you’ll be locating that drain plug on the exterior of your freezer. It should come loose with a twist-and-pull motion.

Next, insert the hose adapter into your drain before connecting with the hose. The free side of the hose should then be positioned to empty into a drain or pan.

You’re now ready to remove the drain plug located in the interior of your freezer. You will now simply wait until the draining process is finished. Once it’s done, you can replace both the exterior and interior plug.

How to Defrost Your Chest Freezer by Hand

Defrosting a freezer by hand takes a little more “elbow grease.” Start by unplugging your chest freezer. Next, just keep your lid open for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow the ice inside your freezer to soften a bit.

It helps if you close the lid for about 10 minutes to let everything “steam up.” Next, you’ll want to gently pour in a pot of hot water to really kick the melting action into high gear. It’s now time to get into scraping mode. This is not the time to use a sharp or pointed object. Instead, use a spatula, wooden spoon or other non-sharp object to gently scrape away ice.

Getting Back to Business

You’ll need to defer to your chest freezer’s manual whenever you stop and start your freezer. However, you’ll generally find that getting back up and running again means letting your freezer chill for up to six hours before you begin placing items back in.

A good tip to follow is to wipe any moisture from items as you place them back inside your freezer. This will help to prevent a new frost buildup that will require you to do the defrosting process sooner than you need to!