Picture of the left side of the Conair Infinity Pro hairdryer.

Defrosting Freezer with Hairdryer Instructions

We’ve found that when you position it properly, a hairdryer significantly shortens the amount of time that defrosting a freezer takes, whether that freezer be a frost free or manual defrost model.

Now we have rented a few apartments equipped with manual-defrost freezers and refrigerator freezers. Indeed at this very moment, we have a manual-defrost Frigidaire commercial freezer that requires semi-annual defrosting (two or three times per year) to keep clear the cooling coils built into each of its shelves.

Freezer defrosting sped up considerably by directing hot air from a typical heat source like a hair dryer into it.
Freezer defrosting sped up considerably by directing hot air from a typical heat source like a harr dryer into it.

We’ve only tried this defrost freezer procedure on upright, vertical  units (those with a vertically positioned door). But this method will defrost a chest freezer also (those with a horizontally-positioned door on top). In that case, just find a place above the freezer from which to aim the hairdryer down into the open chest, instead of up from the floor as the procedure below instructs.

About Using Hairdryers for Defrosting a Freezer

For either chest or upright freezer defrosting, heat guns work well because they have a built-in stand that allows for sitting them on the floor (or on a nearby shelf or chair for the chest freezer case) and aiming the ejected hot air through the open freezer door.

But if you don’t have a heat gun, then the common hairdryer is the next best defroster to use.  It provides the same amount of heat as a heat gun in terms of watts output, although on the highest speed settings, hairdryers can be a bit noisier than the heat gun.

Picture of a Conair Infinity Pro hairdryer, aimed upward from inside a Pyrex bowl.
A Conair Infinity Pro hairdryer, aimed upward from inside a Pyrex bowl.

And since hairdryers generally do not have feet that let you stand them up, we place ours into a deep bowl as we show above.  Doing this aims the hot air stream upward from the floor toward the open freezer.  Just be careful not to block any of the intake vents on the sides or rear of the hair dryer.  Furthermore, use a heat resistant bowl to support the hairdryer.

Defrosting Freezer with a Hairdryer, Step by Step

1. Disconnect Freezer from AC Power

Unplug the freezer, without touching its thermostat.  Leaving this set where it is preserves its current temperature setting so that you don’t have to mess around trying to figure out where you had it positioned before defrosting.

2. Block Freezer Door Open if Needed

Then, prop open the freezer door with a board.  Take care not to force it too far wide, lest you break the hinges, the door, or the freezer case itself.

3. Move All Freezer Contents to Insulated Coolers

Next, remove all food items to some insulated coolers nearby so that frozen meat, vegetables, and bread, remain rock-solid throughout this operation.

4. Break Out the Hair Dryer, to Continue with Defrosting a Freezer with a Hairdryer

Next, aim the hairdryer from the floor up into the interior of the freezer. In this case, we’re using a Conair Infinity Pro model.  But most any 1000 to 1875 watt model will do nicely.

Next, turn the hairdryer on, making sure that none of its intake vents is blocked.  This gives max hot air discharge with min chance of overheating.

5. Watch that Ice Quickly Dissolve

Then, wait until all the ice inside has melted; mopping up the floor every now and then at the freezer’s front.  This can take the better part of an hour for heavily accumulated ice in a deep freezer to melt away.

6. Every so Often, Wipe Up the Water from Dripping Ice

Note that many tall freezers feature a drain plug that you can open, as well as a drain tube that you can route into a drain or bucket.  This drain catches most of the water.  But if it doesn’t, or if you can’t use that draining facility for whatever reason, wipe up the water as it trickles down into the bottom of the freezer.

7. Done with the Hairdryer

Once all the ice has gone, turn off the hairdryer, and set it in a safe place to cool, away from furniture, draperies, carpets, and other items that it could scorch or burn.

8. Clean Inside of Freezer to Continue with Defrosting Freezer with a Hairdryer

Then, wash out the interior of the freezer with a soapy cloth and warm water, and rinse it out with another fresh cloth. The innards may still be near freezing cold.  So spending too much time on this step may chill your hands.   Therefore, be quick about it.

9. Thoroughly Dry Out the Freezer Interior

Then, dry the inside of the freezer with a large old bath towel.  You want to leave as little water behind as possible so as to lengthen the time before the next required defrosting. You will likely need at least several towels for this.

10. Move the Freezer Back to Desired Position

Be sure you finishing repositioning the freezer before starting it running again, to avoid damage to the compressor and coil piping inside. Furthermore, do not load it up again with food until you have it sitting exactly where you want it, and you verify that the compressor starts properly in the next step.

11. Power Up the Freezer Again

Dry off the cord, especially the AC plug.  Make sure there’s not dirt or corrosion on the prongs.  If there is, the clean it up.  Also, inspect the cord for damage, and replace it if frayed, nicked, stiff, or it shows any other signs of aging.

12. Move all Food Back into the Freezer

As you replace each food item, wipe off any wetness from condensation or dripping ice.  Indeed, to avoid having to defrost again for as long as possible, you’ll want to assure that your food containers are as dry as possible before storing them again in the freezer.

Advantages, Benefits, and Pros of Defrosting a Freezer with a Hairdryer

A Hair Dryer Seriously Shortens Freezer Defrosting Time

Using the hairdryer in this way speeds up the defrosting such that with the hairdryer a-blowing, we can clear all ice from inside our Frigidaire in less than a half-hour. But without the hairdryer, defrosting might take three to four hours.

No Need to Hold Hairdryer Once Set Up

Though the hair dryer does not have supporting feet for standing it on the floor, you can achieve a similar effect by placing it in a heatproof bowl as we describe above.

Defrosting a Freezer with a Hairdryer Requires Less Work

We’ve also tried the pot-of-boiling-water trick, you place a pot of boiling water inside the freezer and then close the door, sealing in the heat from that pot. This worked okay. But we had to reheat the pot on the stove every twenty minutes or so to keep the freezer ice a-melting fast. The hairdryer  solution is, in our experience, by far the most convenient and quickest means to defrost an ice-logged freezer.

Disadvantages, Cons, and Problems with Defrosting Freezer with a Hairdryer

Risk of Burns

Of course, caution is the word of the day when defrosting a freezer with any electric heating appliance like a hairdryer. At close range, an 1875-watt hair dryer can produce very hot (and thus, dangerous) air. So position the hairdryer at least two feet from the open freezer to assure that by the time that hot air reaches the freezer’s internal walls and shelves, that it has cooled sufficiently so as not to melt any plastic parts therein.

Beware of Falling Ice and Water

Also consider that some rather large chunks of ice and significant amounts of water (perhaps a gallon or two in extreme cases) will be falling out of an upright freezer as defrosting continues and collect on the floor. For that reason, be sure to place plenty of towels in front of the freezer on the floor, and position the hairdryer close enough for effective defrosting yet far enough away that the water and ice do not spill on it.

Risk of Electric Shock

Keep the hair dryer and cord well clear of the dripping water and ice, and to virtually eliminate the risk of electrocution, this device should feature the third (grounding) prong on its power cord, and you should plug it into a GFI outlet, avoiding the use of long extension cords.

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References for Defrosting Freezer with Heat Gun

    1. Where to buy a Freezer
    2. Where to Buy a Hairdryer

Revision History for this Defrosting Freezer with Hairdryer Post

    • 2023-01-30: Originally published.