Freezer defrosting sped up considerably by directing hot air from heat gun into it.

How to Defrost a Freezer Quickly

We’ve found this way for how to defrost a freezer quickly works well, is safe, and allows for easy cleanup.  This works for frost free as well as manual defrost models, as long as you can safely aim your heat toward the interior of the unit.

We’ve rented many apartments that had manual-defrost freezer models. Indeed at this very moment, we have a vertical Frigidaire commercial freezer here, that needs annual defrosting to keep clear the cooling coils built into each of its shelves.

Picture of a freezer defrosting quickly by directing hot air from heat gun or hairdryer into it.
Freezer defrosting quickly by directing hot air from heat gun or hairdryer into it.

We’ve only tried this defrost freezer routine on upright, vertical units (those with a plum door on the front). But this method will defrost a chest freezer also (those with a horizontally-positioned door on top). In those cases, just find a place above the freezer from which to aim the heat gun down into the freezer compartment, instead of up from the floor as the routine below shows.

For either chest or upright freezer defrosting, heat guns and hair dryers work well.  Heat guns work the best because unlike hairdryers, they have a built-in stand that allows you to easily sit them on the floor (or on a nearby shelf or chair for the chest freezer case) and aiming the heat through the open freezer door.

So to defrost our Frigidaire freezer quickly, we perform the following procedure every six months:

How to Defrost a Freezer Quickly, Step by Step

1. Disconnect Freezer from AC Power

Unplug the freezer, without touching its thermostat.  Leaving this alone preserves its current temperature setting.

2. Prop Freezer Door Open

Then, block open the deep 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 Containers

Next, remove all food items to a couple of insulated coolers nearby so that frozen meat, vegetables, and bread, remain frozen throughout this routine.

4. Get your Heat Source Ready, to Continue with How to Defrost a Freezer Quickly

Next, aim the hot air device from the floor up into the inner chamber of the freezer. Next, turn it on, making sure that you turn its intake vent completely open.  This gives maximum hot air discharge with the least chance of overheating.

5. Watch that Ice Buildup Quickly Disappear

Then, wait until all the ice inside melts; frequently mopping the floor at the freezer’s front.  This can take around an hour for heavily accumulated ice.

6. Every so Often, Wipe Up Water

Many freezers have a drain plug that you can open, as well as a drain tube that you can route into a cellar drain or bucket.  But if not, or you can’t use that draining facility, wipe up the ice water as it drips down into the bottom of the unit.

7. Done with the Heat Source

Once all the ice disappears, turn off the heat gun / hair dryer, and set it in a safe place to cool, away from furniture, draperies, carpets, and other items that it could burn.

8. Clean Inside of the Unit to Continue with How to Defrost a Freezer Quickly

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

9. Thoroughly Dry Inside the Freezer

Then, dry out the inside with a few clean bath towels.  You want to leave as little water there as possible, so as to lengthen the time before the next defrosting. You will likely need several towels.

10. Power Up Your Freezer Again

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

11. Move all Food Back into the Freezer

As you replace each food item, wipe off any wetness.  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.

Cautions for How to Quickly Defrost a Freezer

Do Not Use Flame Producing Heat Sources !

Avoid using blowtorches, kerosene heaters, and such because these can start a fire or damage your freezer. Simply put, they’re just not safe for this task.

Risk of Severe Burns

Of course, caution is the operative word when defrosting a freezer quickly, with any heating device. At close range, an 1875-watt heat gun for example can generate significantly hotter (and thus, more dangerous) air than a hairdryer does. So position the heat gun at least two feet from the open freezer to assure that by the time that hot air reaches the freezer’s inside walls and shelves, that it has cooled enough to not melt any plastic parts therein.

Watch Out for Falling Water and Ice

Also keep in mind that some large chunks of ice and much water (perhaps a gallon or two in the worst cases) will fall out of a thawing freezer as defrosting continues, and collect on the floor. So be sure to place plenty of towels in front of the freezer, and position the heat source 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 heat source and cord well away from the dripping water and ice, and to limit the risk of electrocution.  That appliance should have the third (grounding) prong on its power cable, and you should plug it into a GFI outlet, and avoid using long extension cords.

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    5. Refrigerator Freezer Thermometer, Smart Choice 5304487199 Review

References for How to Defrost a Freezer Quickly

    1. Where to buy a Freezer

Revision History

    • 2023-01-29: First published.