Sustainability made simple

How to Defrost a Fridge Step-by-Step (And Why You Should)

how to defrost a fridge
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pexels

If you don’t want to damage your kitchen floors and expensive kitchen appliances, it’s crucial to know how to defrost a fridge correctly. Use our step-by-step guide.

Defrosting a fridge is a task that every kitchen owner has to master. Even if you have a “frost-free” fridge model, it can still build up a layer of ice over time, making occasional defrosting necessary. Frost builds up when warm, humid air from the outside is rapidly cooled inside the fridge. It can happen if you leave the fridge door open, the door has a bad seal, or hot food is put inside to cool. In these cases, you will have to know how to defrost your fridge safely.

Why Your Should Defrost Your Fridge

Remember to defrost your refrigerator at least twice a year. Clearing off the built-up ice will ensure the fridge is running as effectively as possible. The more efficiently your fridge works, the more money you’ll save on your energy bill. Those small savings will add up over time and help lower your carbon footprint.

If your fridge comes with a built-in freezer, you will need to defrost both of them. Learn how to defrost a freezer quickly and sustainably.

What to Consider Before Defrosting a Fridge

To avoid food waste, try to use up produce before defrosting your fridge.
To avoid food waste, try to use up produce before defrosting your fridge.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Engin_Akyurt)

It’s always a good idea to check a user manual first to make sure you are not missing any specific details. Once you figure out how to defrost your fridge, prepare well-absorbing towels or other pieces of fabric you can use to catch melting water and clean surfaces. Avoid using microfiber cloths for cleaning, choosing cotton towels instead.

Defrosting a refrigerator with a freezer might take up to 8 hours. You’ll need to find a way to preserve any food that can spoil at room temperature. You can ask your neighbors if you can use their fridge. If this is not an option, you can place the food in a cooler bag with ice or pack it in a box and cover it with blankets for insulation.

In order to avoid food waste, try to plan to defrost in advance and use up as much produce as possible before you switch off your fridge.

How to Defrost a Refrigerator in 6 Steps

Learn how to defrost your fridge to save on your energy bill.
Learn how to defrost your fridge to save on your energy bill.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / stevepb)

Step 1: Switch off and unplug

Spread out some large pieces of cloth on the floor where the water is most likely to leak. Save the extra towels for cleaning the fridge’s interior. Then switch off and unplug the fridge.

Step 3: Empty the fridge

You must completely empty your fridge in order to properly defrost it. Use this opportunity to check your food and get rid of anything that is past its expiration date. You can plan your menu for the day to include products that are about to expire.

Step 3: Remove shelves and drawers

While defrosting your fridge, remove all shelves and drawers and wash them. Be careful with the plastic parts, because cold plastic can be brittle and shatter easily. Avoid using any chemicals while cleaning the refrigerator, try using a natural DIY cleaner instead.

Step 4: Leave open

Leave the fridge wide open until the ice layer melts and can be wiped off. Avoid defrosting a refrigerator overnight. You won’t be able to replace the towels if they become too soaked. While the fridge is defrosting, you can pull it away from the wall to clean up any water and dirt. Use this chance to vacuum clean the metal grid on the back of the fridge. When this grid is covered in dust, your fridge needs more energy to keep the insides cool. 

Step 5: Clean and restock

Once the ice layer has melted, wipe and dry the inside of the fridge. You don’t need any chemicals for that. You can easily clean your fridge with apple cider vinegar.

Step 6: Switch it back on on

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you keep your refrigerator temperature at or below 40°F and your freezer temperature at or below 0°F. If you aren’t sure how to set up the correct temperature at the gauge, consult the user manual.

How to Defrost a Fridge Quickly

Use a pot of boiling water to defrost your fridge quickly.
Use a pot of boiling water to defrost your fridge quickly.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / music4life)

If you can’t wait until the ice melts naturally, this is how to defrost a refrigerator quickly.

  1. Boil a pot of water. 
  2. Carefully put the pot of boiled water into the fridge to speed up defrosting. Make sure to use a pot rest. 
  3. After the ice has melted, clean and dry the inside of the fridge.

Avoid using electric appliances such as a fan or a hairdryer to melt the ice since they will waste a lot of energy and put you at risk of electric shock. And don’t use ice picks, knives, or any other sharp objects to remove ice as they can easily scratch and destroy the fridge.

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