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Defrosting a freezer without turning it off

Updated August 10, 2017

Over time, the buildup of ice in a freezer can make it difficult to get food in or out. If you find yourself struggling to free your ice-cube tray from what looks like an arctic cave, it's probably time to defrost your freezer. For most people, this means turning the device off, but it's possible to defrost your freezer while keeping the power on; it simply requires a little patience.

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  1. Remove all food from your freezer. Place it in a cool environment such as a cooler filled with ice or, failing that, your refrigerator. Alternatively, wait until your freezer is empty to defrost it.

  2. Place towels along the floor beneath your freezer and in front of the door. These will absorb any water that runs off during the defrosting process. Keep a few spare towels handy to mop up any excess.

  3. Open your freezer door and leave it open. The warm air will gradually melt the ice buildup in the freezer.

  4. Blow hot air onto the ice using a hair dryer to speed up melting. Keep the dryer a safe distance away from the freezer and out of contact with water from the melting ice.

  5. Break up ice buildup using a wooden spoon or spatula as a scraper. Don't try to chisel the ice away; simply use your scraper to gently but firmly remove ice as it begins to melt.

  6. Return the food to your freezer. To keep ice buildup manageable, periodically check the ice level and defrost as necessary.

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Things You'll Need

  • Cooler (optional)
  • Towels
  • Hair dryer
  • Wooden spoon or spatula

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.

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