Picture of a typical upright stand up freezer, in need of defrosting.

How to Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly

We’ve found that an excellent way to defrost upright freezer quickly, is to use a heat gun or blow dryer.  The blowing warm air really speeds up how fast an upright freezer defrosts, whether it be frost free or manual defrost.

How to Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly, Intro

Have rented a few apartments equipped with manual-defrost freezers. Indeed at this very moment, we have a manual-defrost Frigidaire upright freezer here that requires semi-annual defrosting.  We defrost it two or three times per year. This keeps the cooling coils in the shelves clear.

We’ve only tried this defrost upright freezer quickly procedure on free standing, vertical  freezers (those with a near-plum door). But this method defrosts a chest freezer also.  Chest freezers are those with horizontally-positioned door on their tops. In that case, just find a place above the freezer from which to aim the heat gun down into the open chest, instead of up from the floor as the procedure below shows.

Heat guns work best for defrosting an upright freezer, we feel, due to their built-in stand.  That stand lets them sit on the floor (or on a nearby shelf or chair for the chest freezer case). Then, you aim the blowing hot air through the open freezer door as shown next.  You could use a hair dryer.  But hair driers generally do not free-stand the way you need them to for freezer defrosting.  However, if you only have access to a hair dryer, you can use it, as long as you don’t mind holding it throughout the defrosting.

So to defrost our Frigidaire upright freezer, we perform the following procedure every several months.

How to defrost upright freezer quickly. Freezer defrosting sped up considerably by directing hot air from heat gun into it.
How to defrost upright freezer quickly. Freezer defrosting sped up considerably by directing hot air from heat gun into it.

How to Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly

Unplug Upright Freezer from Power  

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

Prop Freezer Door Open

Then, block 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.

Put All Frozen Items in Insulated Coolers

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

Break Out the Heat Gun

Next, aim the heat gun from the floor up into the open freezer. Then turn on the heat gun.  Making sure though, that its intake vent is fully open for max hot air discharge.  This also helps prevent heat gun overheating.  Furthermore, position the heat gun far enough away from the upright freezer that no water from the melting ice drips on it.

Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly: Watch All that Ice Melt Away

Then, wait until all the ice inside has melted.  Mop the floor at the upright s front.

How long does it take to defrost a freezer like this one?  For us, it takes most of an hour for heavily built up ice.

Every Few Minutes, Wipe Up Water from the Melting Ice

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.  However, if not, or you can’t use that draining facility, wipe up the melting ice water as it trickles down into the bottom of the freezer.

Done with the Heat Gun

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

Clean Inside of the Upright Freezer

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

Thoroughly Dry Inside the Upright Freezer

Then, dry the inside of the freezer with an old but clean bath towel.  You want to leave as little water behind as possible so as to lengthen the time before the next required defrosting.

Reconnect Upright Freezer to Power

Push Freezer Back into Position Before Loading it Back Up

Move All frozen Food Back into Freezer

As you replace each food item, wipe off any wetness from condensation or melting ice.  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.

Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly Now Done

Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly: Advantages, Benefits, and Pros

Seriously Reduces Upright Freezer Defrosting Time

Using the heat gun in this way accelerates the defrosting operation such that with the heat gun a-blowing, I can clear all ice from the interior of my Frigidaire in less than a half-hour; without the heat gun, defrosting can take three to four hours.

No Need to Hold Heat Gun Once Positioned

I once upon a time used a hair blow dryer. However unlike the heat gun, these have no floor stand. So you’ve either got to hold the blow dryer in your hand throughout the entire freezer defrosting operation, or find some way to position it on a chair so that the warm air goes inside the freezer. For this purpose thus, heat guns are highly convenient.

Requires Less Work for Upright Freezer Defrosting

I’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. However, the pot required reheating on the stove every twenty minutes or so to keep the freezer ice a-melting. The heat gun solution is n my experience, by far the most convenient and speedy means to defrost an ice-caked freezer.

Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly: Disadvantages, Cons, and Problems

Risk of Severe Burns

Of course, caution is the word of the day when defrosting a freezer with a heat gun. At close range, an 1875-watt heat gun makes hotter (and thus, more dangerous) air than does a blow dryer. So put the heat gun at least two feet from the open freezer.  This cools the hot air reaching the upright freezer interior.  It cools it enough, that it does not melt any plastic parts in the freezer.

Beware of Falling Ice and Water as you Defrost your Upright Freezer Quickly

Also, large chunks of ice and many cups of water will run out of an upright freezer, as defrosting proceeds. For that reason, place plenty of towels in front of the upright freezer on the floor.  Then, position the heat gun close enough for effective defrosting.   Yet put it far enough away that the water does not spill on it.

Risk of Electric Shock

Keep the heat gun and cord well clear of the dripping water and ice.  Keep things dry lower the risk of electrocution. Whatever heat gun you use, should have the third (grounding) prong on its power cord.  Finally, plug the heat gun into a GFI outlet, and avoid using of long extension cords.

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References for How to Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly

  1. How to Defrost an Upright Freezer  from DoItYourself.com
  2. How We Defrost Our Deep Freezer   from Andrea Dekker
  3. What is a heat gun? on Wikipedia

Revision History

  • 2021-09-07: Revised the tags list.
  • 2019-08-11: Tweaked the targeting for ‘Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly’, removed ad code, and added more links and tags.
  • 2018-04-07: Revised the post content.
  • 2017-02-12: Originally published.