How to defrost a freezer quickly - a foolproof way to defrost a freezer in under an hour

This is the quickest way to defrost a freezer, and it’s so clever

Blue kitchen with gold hardware, wooden parquet floor and silver fridge freezer
(Image credit: Future PLC)

How to defrost a freezer quickly, and in under an hour is not only possible but surprisingly easy to do with this simple shortcut, no hairdryer involved!

Did you know that even the smallest build-up of ice in your freezer can drastically increase your energy bills? Yes, your freezer has to work even harder to regulate the interior temperature when it’s full of ice. We understand that the usual process of how to defrost a freezer won't work for everyone. If we're being honest, who has a whole 24 hours to wait for a freezer to defrost by itself while their food goes off in the process?

We’ve asked the experts to share their tips on the quickest way to defrost a freezer - and you’ll be happy to know that we've found a shortcut that will take you less than one hour to complete this task.

How to defrost a freezer quickly 

‘The best time-saving option when it comes to defrosting your freezer is by defrosting it while it's still switched on and plugged in,’ says Nicholas Auckland, heating and energy expert at Trade Radiators. This makes it one of the best ways to defrost your freezer without having to turn it off, and it harnesses the power of heat and steam to do so.

Blue kitchen with gold hardware, wooden parquet floor and silver fridge freezer

(Image credit: Future PLC)

What you'll need


1. Empty your freezer

You probably don’t need us to tell you that freezer food needs to be kept frozen, which means you should keep it away from heat and steam at all costs. Because of this, you’ll need to empty all of the food in your freezer before you start defrosting it. 

As this method of defrosting a freezer quickly should take you less than an hour, you could probably get away with putting your frozen food in the fridge until you’ve fully defrosted your freezer. However, if it’s your first time trying out this hack or you’d rather not risk it, we’d suggest putting your food into a cooler box or bag with some extra ice blocks in there for good measure. 

blue kitchen with white fridge, open shelves and wooden floors

(Image credit: Future PLC)

2. Place towels at the bottom of the freezer

If you want to defrost a freezer quickly, you need to prepare yourself for some mess. As the ice melts, the water needs to go somewhere. That’s why we’d always suggest placing towels at the bottom of your freezer (or at the edge of each compartment) to catch this water before it floods your kitchen. 

Ian Palmer-Smith, an appliance expert at Domestic & General, explains, ‘To stop your room from becoming one big puddle, add towels along the floor in front of the freezer. Even a thin layer of ice in your freezer can produce a lot more water than you may expect.’

3. Fill bowls with boiling water

When the freezer is empty and you’ve prepped the appliance with towels, you then need to grab your best kettle and boil some water. Then, pour this boiling water into some bowls. 

How many bowls you need to fill depends on the size of your freezer. However, it’s suggested that you should factor in one bowl per shelf or compartment. So, if you have a larger freezer with seven drawers, you’ll need to fill seven bowls with boiling hot water. If you have a smaller freezer, you might only need two or three. 

If you don’t have many spare bowls, you could also saucepans or oven dishes. In fact, anything that will successfully hold hot water should work well. 

black kitchen cabinets with pink tiles and hob

(Image credit: Future PLC/Bee Holmes)

4. Place bowls in the freezer

Place your bowls of boiling water in the freezer on top of a tea towel to protect the racks, if you can. Then, the heat and steam generated by the boiling water should help to speed up the ice-melting process. 

However, you should never put boiling water straight onto the ice. Not only could this potentially damage the appliance as a whole, but it’ll also freeze incredibly quickly and possibly make the ice situation in your freezer even worse. 

Try to avoid scraping away at the ice, too. Nicholas says, ‘Using spoons or utensils to hit the ice in order to make it melt faster may also cause additional problems, as hitting the ice could potentially damage the freezer walls and cause it to break.’

Instead, let the steam work its magic for a few minutes. In an ideal situation, you should be able to see the ice melt within 10-15 minutes. But if you haven’t given your freezer some TLC in a while, you might need to leave the bowls in there for longer. If that’s the case, refresh the boiling water every 15 minutes to ensure it doesn’t cool down too much. 

When you can visibly see that the ice has melted, appliance expert Simon Hughes at suggests, ‘Mop up any melted ice with the sponge, and remove any chunks of ice that have fallen off inside the appliance.’ 

Stainless steel American-style fridge freezer in a white kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC/Fiona Walker-Arnott)

5. Tackle thicker ice with cloths

If you want to defrost a freezer quickly and you have some particularly thick ice in your freezer, there is an extra step you can take. You’ll want to wear some protective gloves for this step, though.

To tackle this thicker ice, soak a microfibre cloth in boiling hot water before wringing it out slightly. Then, hold it against the thick ice for a few seconds before giving it a wipe. 

You might need to repeat this process a few times to get rid of the ice completely, but it should work wonders if you have particularly stubborn areas. 

blue kitchen with white worktop and belfast sink

(Image credit: Future PLC / Lizzie Orme)

6. Re-stock your freezer

When you’ve successfully defrosted your freezer, you need to make sure that all of the melted ice has been mopped up and the freezer is dry. The aim is to stop any excess water from freezing and becoming ice once more.

Only then can you get to work on restocking your freezer and putting everything back together again. While using this heat and steam to defrost a freezer quickly should do the trick, experts warn against using a hairdryer - a dangerous hack that has become increasingly common over the years. 

‘Don’t be tempted to use electronics such as hairdryers or electric heaters,’ says Ian. ‘Whilst this could technically speed the process up, there is always risk when mixing water and electricity, so I’d advise sticking to a bowl of hot water.’

blue smeg fridge freezer in light and bright kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)


How do you defrost a freezer in 15 minutes?

If you keep on top of regular freezer maintenance, you may be able to defrost your freezer in just 15 minutes using the steam technique. To do this, place bowls of boiling water onto each shelf or into each compartment of your freezer. 

The heat and steam from this boiling water should be able to speed up the defrosting process in just a few minutes, so make sure you have some towels handy to wipe up the water. 

However, if you have a freezer that has a large build-up of ice, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to defrost a freezer that quickly. You should be able to do it in under an hour, though. 

Can you speed up defrosting a freezer?

Yes, you can! You don’t have to wait for a freezer to defrost itself on its own. By placing bowls of boiling hot water into the freezer, you can speed up the process and use the heat and steam from the water to melt the ice. 

It’s important to refresh this boiling water every 15 minutes, though, so it stays hot enough to melt the ice properly. 

How long does it take to defrost a freezer?

It can take up to 24 hours to defrost a freezer, but that’s only if you choose the longer method. If you want to know how to defrost a freezer quickly, you can do this by placing pots of boiling water into your freezer. The heat and steam from this boiling water will help to melt the ice in no time. 

Using this method, you could defrost your freezer in as little as 15 minutes if you have a small amount of ice build-up. If you have a large amount of ice build-up, it’ll still only take you less than an hour. 

It’s never been quicker (or easier) to defrost a freezer. So, will you be adding it to your list of jobs to do this weekend?

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.