7 mistakes experts urge you to avoid when defrosting your freezer before Christmas

If you're defrosting and cleaning your freezer ready for the Turkey order, make sure you don't fall for these mistakes

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

At this festive time of year, defrosting the freezer is always a good idea to make room for your turkey and an arctic roll or two. But you need to make sure you don't fall for these mistakes when defrosting your freezer which could make the job a lot harder than it should be. 

Any build up off ice is a clear sign you need to look into how to defrost a freezer, especially if it's preventing your freezer door from closing properly and clogging up valuable space you could use for storing food. Leaving your freezer to build up too much ice can prevent it from working properly and means it uses more energy. 

'Forgetting to defrost your freezer can have several negative consequences,' says Lucy Baxter, group marketing manager at Bosch. 'Firstly, the build up of ice and frost takes up valuable space, reducing the overall capacity of your freezer and leaving less room for storing foods. Additionally, the excess ice can hinder the proper functioning of the freezer, increasing energy consumption.'

Mistakes to avoid when defrosting your freezer

One of the key things to remember is allowing plenty of time to defrost your freezer. While your priority may be how to defrost a freezer quickly, it's essential that you do it safely and without damaging your freezer. But, before you start, we gathered the experts to give us their top tips for mistakes to avoid when defrosting your freezer. 

1. Not defrosting regularly

One of the biggest mistakes people make with freezers is waiting until there is a severe ice build up before defrosting it. Not only does this make the job take a lot longer but it can also affect how well your freezer works. 

'Ice build-up is of course inevitable, and each freezer will accumulate this at a different rate depending on usage,' explains Nick Small, refrigeration expert at AO.com. 'We would recommend defrosting the whole appliance at least once or twice a year.' 

Regularly check your freezer and if you start seeing ice build up, defrost it before it becomes a big problem, then it won't take as long to defrost.

Silver fridge freezer in a kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

2. Using sharp objects to scrape away ice

When defrosting your freezer don't use a sharp object to chip away at the ice, not only are you at risk of injuring yourself but it can also damage your freezer. 

'Avoid using sharp objects like knives or ice picks to chip away at ice as they can damage the interior of the freezer, puncture the cooling coils or cause leaks,' advises Rachael Kiss of Alliance Online. 'Using an ice scraper usually does the job well and doesn’t damage the freezer interior.' 

Although it takes longer, leaving your freezer to defrost in its own time is the safest way. 'When it comes to removing ice from your freezer, it's best to let the ice melt on its own,' advises Andhi Ermawan, founder of MyProsAndCons.com.  'To speed things along, you can put a pot of hot water in the freezer.'

3. Forgetting to protect the floor

basket towels

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

There's no denying defrosting the freezer is a messy job, so prep is key. 'With the freezer off, some of the ice will begin to melt so you may want to place a towel on the floor to protect it,' says Emily Barron, cleaning expert at Property Rescue.

Before starting the defrosting process, cover the floor with old towels and keep bowls handy for catching drips. Regularly wringing out towels will help to stop it flooding your floor.

4. Using a hairdryer to speed it up

It can be tempting to find ways to speed up defrosting but using a hairdryer can be really dangerous and there's a risk of electrocution. So play it safe and take your time, using bowls of hot water positioned inside can help speed things along. 

'Using an electrical item like a hairdryer to melt away the ice can be very dangerous,' explains Emily. 'Electrical goods should never be used near water. Instead, place all of your food into cool bags, turn your freezer off and allow the ice to melt away naturally.'

5. Not turning off your freezer

If you don't turn your freezer off then it will take much longer for it to defrost and with the door open it will go into overdrive trying to keep cool. 'At Miele we recommend opening the door and turning the freezer off before defrosting,' says Sophie Lane, product training manager at Miele GB.

'Switching the appliance off means the cooling system will be off, helping to quicken the process.' While your freezer is turned off, remove all of your food from the freezer and keep it somewhere cold like a garage in cool bags. Or try and use up as much food as possible before you defrost your freezer. 

White kitchen with double silver American fridge freezer, island and yellow pendant lights

(Image credit: Future PLC)

6. Closing the door while it's defrosting

Leaving the door closed when defrosting a freezer will mean it takes much longer for the ice to melt. Leaving the door open will help air flow around the space and aid with the defrosting process. 'If you're defrosting your freezer, you should leave the freezer door open as this will allow the excess water to drip away,' advises Matthew Glynn, product marketing manager at Hisense. 'Place towels and buckets or containers underneath to avoid mess.' Also, make sure your freezer is switched off while the door is open.

7. Forgetting to use hot water

black kitchen cabinets with pink tiles and hob

(Image credit: Future PLC/Bee Holmes)

One way to speed things up is to place a bowl of hot water carefully into your freezer so the steam makes the ice melt more quickly. 'Take your bowl of hot water and place this onto the bottom shelf,' explains Nick. 

'You can now leave the freezer to defrost, this should take a couple of hours. Once the ice has melted, remove the bowl of water and take your sponge. Wipe down the insides of the freezer with the sponge to remove any moisture and dry up the appliance.' 

Regularly change the bowls of water for fresh hot water, as it can cool quite quickly if the ice melts into it.


Should you leave the freezer door open when defrosting?

'Yes! Leaving the freezer door open during the defrosting process allows warm air from the room to circulate inside the freezer, speeding up the melting of the ice,' explains Lucy. 'Additionally, leaving the door open allows moisture released from the melting ice to escape easily, preventing the build-up of excess water inside the freezer.' 

How do you defrost a freezer without making a mess?

Ultimately, defrosting a freezer is going to be quite a messy job, but by prepping the area before you start, you can limit how much water leaks out from the freezer. 'Place towels around the freezer, use trays to collect water and keep a mop handy,' says Dennis Digwa, appliance expert at RGBDirect.

Protecting the kitchen floor is as important as being careful with what you use to defrost the freezer. 'Although protecting the inside cavity of the freezer is the top priority and external heat or sharp objects should not be used, it's important that your floor and space around the freezer is protected,' adds Natasha Sweet, product specialist at AEG. 'To reduce mess, lay a towel or cloth directly beneath the freezer while you start the defrosting process.'

No excuses now, make sure you're defrosting your freezer the right way and keeping it in the best condition to preserve your festive treats.

Amy Hodge

Amy Hodge has been working on interiors magazines for over 11 years. She's a freelance writer and sub editor who has worked for some of the UK's leading interiors magazines including Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors. She started at Style at Home just after it launched as food editor and is now chief sub editor for Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors.