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How to defrost a chest freezer

Updated February 21, 2017

A freezer full of delicious frozen foods will make your life easier and will probably even save you money, but sooner or later you will need to defrost it to maintain peak performance. If just the thought of it conjures up images of buckets of hot water and melting ice draining onto your kitchen floor, don't worry. Defrosting a chest freezer is much easier than Grandma's old refrigerator that spit miniature ice bergs onto the floor after hours of defrosting. Read on to learn how to defrost a chest freezer.

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Empty the freezer of all food. The easiest way to do this is to plan ahead and defrost your freezer in the spring after you have eaten most of your frozen foods. This allows you to start the summer with plenty of room to freeze summer fruits and veggies. If that is not practical, store your frozen food in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator or tightly packed in coolers.

Unplug the chest freezer from the wall and open the top to allow the freezer to defrost. If you are not in a hurry, leave the freezer open and let it defrost naturally.

Speed up the process by placing a big bucket of hot water in the freezer and closing the lid. The steam from the hot water will melt the ice from the inside of the freezer. You will need to change the water several times as it will cool off quickly.

Place a folded towel on the bottom of the freezer under the bucket of water to prevent doing damage to the freezer.

Look for a drain at the bottom of the freezer. This should be slightly above floor level and may be concealed by a piece of moulded plastic.

Open the drain and place a shallow pan under the drain hole to catch water from the melting ice. Be sure to check this often and to empty it before it gets too full. Replace under the drain.

Wipe the inside of the freezer with an absorbent towel once the ice has melted and drained through the drain hole. Be sure to wipe up any remaining water on the bottom of the freezer. Don't forget to close the drain.

Clean the inside of the freezer with baking soda and water. Be sure to clean all racks and shelves. Pay special attention to corners and don't forget top wash down the underside of the lid.

Dry the inside with a clean soft cloth.

Plug in the freezer and return you frozen food to the freezer.

Tip

Most freezers need to be defrosted once a year, but may require it more often.

When you notice 1/2 inch of frost build-up on the inside of the freezer, it is time to defrost.

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Things You'll Need

  • Hot water
  • Baking soda
  • Shallow pan
  • Towels or soft cloth
  • Cooler

About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

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