How to Get Rid of Freezer Frost (In 5 Steps)

May 6, 2024
Refrigerator Repair

While freezer frost is relatively uncommon nowadays due to self-defrosting freezers, it can still occur in certain circumstances, or if you have an older model refrigerator. While it’s easy to put off removing it, getting rid of freezer frost can actually be done very quickly and easily! By following our five simple steps, you can clear your freezer of frost in no time. Read on to find out how!

What Causes Freezer Frost?

Before we get started, it’s worth knowing what actually causes your freezer to accumulate frost. While frost buildup used to be a normal part of owning a refrigerator, most modern fridges and freezers are now self-defrosting. In fact, automatic defrosting technology has been around since the 1960s! 

These days, frost buildup in your freezer is usually caused by a malfunction or a usage issue, such as:

  • Repeated opening: Each time the freezer door is opened, warm air from your kitchen enters its interior. The air contains moisture particles that will freeze on the interior of your freezer, leading to frost buildup. If your freezer is opened too frequently, this can exacerbate the issue.
  • Faulty door seals: If the door seals of your freezer are not completely airtight, warm, moist air will continuously enter your freezer, causing excess frost. 
  • Putting hot foods in the freezer: You should always wait for your food to completely cool before putting it in the freezer. Hot foods can lead to moisture condensing in the air of your freezer, and the moisture particles then freeze on the interior surfaces. 
  • Putting uncovered food in the freezer: When you put uncovered food in your freezer, the moisture in the food can evaporate and condense on the interior surfaces. 
  • High-humidity climate: In high-humidity, tropical climates, moisture can build up on the interior of your freezer even without frequent openings.
  • Malfunctioning defrost function: The defrost mechanism in a refrigerator heats the cooling element and melts the frost that has formed on it. The water produced then drains through a duct at the back of the unit. If this process malfunctions or is interrupted, it can cause frost buildup.
  • Underfilled freezer: If your freezer is left empty, it works less efficiently, resulting in more frost accumulation. Ideally, a freezer should be kept around two-thirds full for optimal performance. 

How to Remove Frost from Your Freezer

Step 1: Cut Power to Your Freezer

Before you begin the defrost process, cut power to your fridge. This will stop the freezing process, allowing the frost buildup to begin melting. It also reduces the risk of any electrical hazards.

Step 2: Empty Your Freezer

Remove all the items from your freezer’s interior. Have some coolers and ice packs on hand to keep your frozen food cold. If your freezer has a fridge compartment, you can leave the food inside. As long as the fridge door isn’t opened, it should retain enough residual coolness to keep your food fresh. 

Note: This is a great opportunity to check if there is anything you’ve been keeping in your freezer that you’re unlikely to eat!

Step 3: Prepare to Catch Runoff

If your freezer is particularly full of frost, defrosting it can be a messy business. Place some old towels to catch the runoff, and if your fridge/freezer has a drip tray and drainage system, make sure it is empty. 

Step 4: Warm up the Freezer

If you prefer, you can simply wait for the frost to melt by leaving the freezer door open. To speed up the process, you can add heat. Our favorite method is to place a pan of hot water inside the freezer compartment and close the door; in about 10 minutes, all the frost should have melted. You can also use a hairdryer on a medium setting, or place a fan heater aimed at the freezer interior—just make sure you keep any electrical devices well away from water! 

It’s never a good idea to pry or chip frost and ice from the freezer’s interior, as it’s very easy to accidentally damage the plastic or glass shelves. If there are still frozen spots, just wait a little longer or try one of the warming methods mentioned above until all the ice has melted.

Step 5: Clean and Dry the Interior

Once the ice has completely melted, wipe down the inside of your freezer with a soft cloth and gentle detergent. Once it is totally clean, dry the interior thoroughly with a towel until completely dry. This will prevent frost from building up again. 

Put the freezer items back in, making sure they are all dry. Restore power to your freezer—you’re done!

Preventing Frost Buildup from Returning

Once you’ve cleaned out the frost, follow these steps to ensure the frost doesn’t build up again.

  • Keep the freezer at the correct temperature: The ideal freezer temperature is 0°F (-18°C). Anything higher than this can lead to frost formation. 
  • Minimize opening: Try to avoid standing looking in the freezer, trying to decide what to make for dinner! The more the freezer is opened, the more opportunity there is for frost to form. 
  • Cool food before freezing: Always let food reach room temperature before placing it in the freezer. 
  • Cover food properly: Everything in your freezer should be kept in an airtight container or a freezer bag to prevent evaporation. 
  • Keep your freezer full: Ensure your freezer is at least two-thirds full for optimal performance. 

Keep an eye on the door seal: Faulty, loose, or damaged door seals are one of the most common causes of frost build-up. Check your seals for damage, and replace them if necessary.


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