How to Defrost a Chest Freezer

How to Defrost a Chest FreezerI went downstairs to our big chest freezer to dig out a package of hamburger for dinner.  Just one problem:  There was so much frost in our freezer, that the sliding bins weren’t sliding and so I had to unearth a bunch of other food just to get to the back corner where the hamburger was hiding.

Sound familiar?  It’s time to figure out how to defrost a chest freezer.

It’s important to defrost a chest freezer on a regular basis.  Your freezer will perform better, last longer, and most importantly, you’ll be able to extract food from it when you need it.

---------- Continues after advertisement ----------

The process for defrosting a chest freezer is pretty simple.  The actual task does take some time and effort.  The end result is very worth it.

How to Defrost a Chest Freezer

Defrosting the freezer
Supplies needed:

  • A large cooler or two, depending on the size of your freezer
  • A plastic spatula
  • A pan of boiling water
  • Towels
  • Elbow grease
  • Patience

1) Move everything in your freezer to either another freezer or coolers.   Now is the perfect time to pitch food items that are no longer recognizable.

2) Remove any baskets or freezer organizers if you can.  I had a couple of baskets that I couldn’t remove until I took care of some of the big frosty ice chunks first.

3) Unplug the freezer.

Use a hot pan of water to defrost a freezer

Use a pan of boiling hot water to defrost a freezer.

5) Place a pan of boiling hot water in the freezer and close the lid.  (The towel also keeps the pan from freezing to the freezer!)

6) Wait a bit.  I don’t remember how long I waited… maybe 15 or 20 minutes. (This is why you need a freezer or coolers!) Shutting the pan of boiling water in the freezer helps loosen the ice.

7) Use a plastic spatula to knock the ice off the sides of your freezer.  I actually used a plastic spreader that I got as a promotional freebie from a local business.  It worked great.  Just remember: NEVER use anything sharp to get the ice off the insides of your freezer.  You could accidentally puncture the lining of your freezer rendering it useless.

8) Remove the big chunks of ice from the freezer.  I found that a plastic dustpan worked really well at scooping up the water and ice from the bottom of the freezer.

9) Drain the water out of your freezer. Find the drain in the bottom of your freezer.  Attach the spigot if you have one.  Place a shallow pan under the spigot to catch the water.  Open the drain to let the ice water run out.  Put the drain plug back in when you are done.

10) Now that your freezer is frost-free, wipe it clean with towels.  If it’s really dirty or smelly, you can clean it with a mix of baking soda and water.  Make sure the freezer is completely dry when you’re done.

11) Plug the freezer back in.

12. Let the freezer work for a little bit before putting the food back in.  Because I worked quickly, my freezer hadn’t warmed up too much.  My frozen items were still very frozen, so I went ahead and put all of the items back in about 20 minutes after it was cleaned out.

Enjoy a clean, frost-free freezer!

A frost-free chest freezer

Just look at this beautiful, frost-free chest freezer. Time to fill it up!

What I learned from defrosting a chest freezer

I don’t know any way to make this a fun task.

Defrosting a chest freezer is a very good way to take an inventory of what food you have on hand and what you should stock up on next time there’s a sale.   It’s also a good way to tell what food items were a mistake for you to buy. You’re not getting a super great deal if a sale item just languishes in the bottom of your freezer because no one wants to eat it.

A clean freezer is an organized freezer.  I’m much more motivated to cook at home when I know what is in my freezer and be able to access it easily.

Finished Defrosting

Finished Defrosting: I can find things again!

When  is the last time you defrosted your freezer?  Got any tips to make this task easier? 


About Christina Brown

Christina is a wife and mother dedicated to figuring out how to live a simpler, happier life on a budget.


  1. says

    Really great tip about defrosting your freezer. I’ve always used a dryer to help defrost it a bit, but this sounds much easier. Love the baskets in your freezer. Where did you get them? :)

    • says

      Thank you, Teresa. I’ve heard of folks using hair dryers to defrost their freezers, but I am a little nervous about mixing electricity with water.

      As for the baskets – They came with the freezer! I’d love to get another one for the bottom of the freezer – but for now, a cardboard box is working just fine!

      • Teresa Locklear says

        I usually only use the dryer for the tops to loosen it, so I can then get a good start to scrape it off (LOL) I was hoping I could find those baskets somewhere :) I use 2 large ones that a friend gave me that she used in her bedroom closet system (LOL)

  2. Jennifer says

    Thanks for this, I was pretty sure I knew how to do it, but that’s something I’m tackling this week and I wanted to be certain. I’m pretty sure under supplies you mean boiling water, not bowling water, that might be interesting though. ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *