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

How to Thaw a Freezer Quickly

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

We’ve rented numerous apartments that had manual-defrost freezer of several brands. 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 thawing quickly by directing hot air from heat gun or hairdryer into it.
Freezer thawing quickly by directing hot air from heat gun or hairdryer into it.

We’ve only tried this thaw freezer routine on stand-up units (those with a plum door on the front). But this method fast thaws out 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. E.g. a nearby shelf.

For either chest or upright freezer defrosting, heat guns and hair dryers work best in our opinion.  Heat guns work especially well because unlike hairdryers, they have a built-in stand that allows you to easily sit them on the floor 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 Thaw 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 to Keep Food Frozen While Freezer Thaws

Next, remove all food items to a some insulated coolers nearby so that frozen meat, vegetables, and bread, remain frozen throughout this routine. We in fact, prefer defrosting freezers in winter time because we can sit the coolers outside until thawing is complete, and the cold outdoor temperatures virtually guarantee that nothing will melt out there for several hours at least.

4. Get your Heat Source Ready, to Continue with How to Thaw 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 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. We place a few big towels there to sop up the drippings.

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 Thaw a Freezer Quickly

Then, wash out the interior of the freezer with a soapy cloth and warm water, to eliminate old-food smells inside.  Then rinse it out with another clean cloth.

Note that the area may still be near freezing cold.  So spending too much time on this step may numb your hands.   Thus, 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 manual thawing. You will likely need several towels, for larger freezers especially.

10. Move the Freezer Back to where you Want It

We suggest doing this so you won’t have to move it once it is running again and full of food.  Moving the unit as it runs can damage it.  Plus, it will be much harder to reposition when loaded with heavy food.  So before you plug it in and load it up, place it precisely where you want it to be.

11. Turn On the Freezer Once More

But before you power it up, wipe off its cord, especially the AC plug part.  Make sure there’s not dirt or corrosion on the prongs.  If so, clean it up or install a new plug to avoid excessive heating of the outlet.  Also, inspect the cord for damage at this time, and replace 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.  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.

13. Done with How to Thaw a Freezer Quickly

Cautions for How to Quickly Thaw a Freezer

Do Not Use Heat from Flames !

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 thawing a freezer quickly, with any heating device. At close range, an 1875-watt heat gun for example can generate significantly hotter (and thus, very dangerous) air. So position the heat source 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, it has cooled enough to not melt any plastic parts therein.

Be Mindful of 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, and collect on the floor. So as mentioned earlier, be sure to place plenty of towels in front of the freezer, and position the heat source close enough for effective thawing yet far enough away that the water and ice do not spill on it.

Electric Shock Risk

Keep the heat source and cord well away from the dripping water to limit the risk of electrocution or short circuits.  That appliance should have the third (grounding) prong on its power cable.

Related Posts to How to Thaw a Freezer Quickly

    1. Defrosting Freezer with Hairdryer Instructions
    2. How to Defrost a Deep Freezer
    3. Mainstays Refrigerator Freezer Thermometer G761 Review
    4. Defrost Upright Freezer Quickly, How To
    5. How to Defrost Stand Up Freezer Fast


References for How to Thaw Out a Freezer Quickly

    1. Where to Buy a Freezer

Revision History

    • 2023-01-30: First published.