How to Defrost Your Freezer Without a Mess


Most modern fridges and freezers have an automatic defrosting function. The freezer cycles cooling and airflow to reduce the amount of frost that builds upon the sides. But automatic defrosting doesn’t always work. Maybe you have an ancient fridge that never had automatic defrosting, or perhaps your defroster is broken or flawed and can’t keep up with the frost in your freezer.

Either way, you need a plan to defrost before that sharp, fluffy ice steals space you need for freezer pizzas and frozen strawberries. Or whatever you stock in your freezer. The problem is that the traditional methods of opening your freezer and applying a hairdryer are incredibly messy, time-consuming, and put any current frozen food at risk of melting.

Instead, we have a fast, easy way to defrost your fridge or freezer without making a huge mess. 


Start by gathering your supplies, You’ll need several towels, a pitcher, and a metal spatula. Run the water hot from your sink and fill the pitcher.

  • Pitcher
  • Hot Water
  • Towels
  • Metal Spatula
  • Oven Mitt

Empty the Freezer

The first step is, of course, to empty the freezer. Pack all your frozen items into a cooler with ice or ice-packs. If you don’t have a cooler, store it all close-together near the back of your fridge. This is the best way to keep your frozen items cold and, ideally, frozen while you work. Clear out all the food and remove any racks that are not currently frozen into place. 

Place a Towel At the Bottom of the Freezer Compartment

Now roll or fold-up a towel and place it along the bottom front of your freezer, propped just inside the door pocket. Press the towel down so that the bottom is definitely against the floor of the freezer. The towel will catch any water or ice from the defrosting process. Be prepared to change out the towel if it becomes soaked or mop up around the towel if water escapes. You may also want a plastic laundry basket or bin ready to receive soaked towels. Defrosting a freezer is a wet business. 

Pour Warm Water Over the Frost Buildup

Now for the defrosting. Grab your pitcher of hot water and pour it over the worst of the ice build-up. You can also use a ladle or measuring cup for precision melting. The ice should melt very quickly and form a growing puddle that will be soaked up by your freezer towel. Refill the pitcher as many times as necessary with hot water from the sink. You can also use a washrag soaked in hot water for a similar purpose. You will see those ice mounds disappearing in a snap, without leaving your freezer hanging open for an hour. 

Use a Steamer or Turkey Baster

Using hot steam or hot water is the safest way to melt any ice buildup to ensure you do not damage the cabinet.

Wipe Down with Towels

Last but not least, wipe up when you’re done. Toss your soaked freezer towel(s) into the hamper and use a dry towel to mop up any drips or puddles that may have occurred along the way.

This method of defrosting your freezer leaves you with a pristinely frost-free freezer and a lot less mess than just letting the thing air out and drip all over the place. Now all you have is a load of wet towels to run through the washing machines and warm spatula for your troubles.


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