Why It’s Important to Defrost Your Freezer

published Feb 9, 2015
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: magnetisch)

I chose literature as my major over science, two subjects I had loved in high school. The swaying factor? Math.

I haven’t escaped science (or math) altogether, though. Cooking is science! Maybe that’s why I liked science in the first place. And you know where science comes into my life regularly? The freezer.

How Long Can Food Stay Frozen?

Most home cooks and scientists know that freezing food is a great method of food preservation. It stops the growth and movement of microbes that lead to food’s decay. It doesn’t kill them, but it stops them in their tracks.

Frozen food is good indefinitely when kept at 0°F, so says the USDA.

What’s the Problem with Frosty Freezers?

Unfortunately, neither your freezer nor mine stays that cold all the time. The temperature inside a home freezer fluctuates each time the door is opened.

Warm air has more moisture than cold air. When warm air meets cold air, it condenses or turns to water. Each time you open your freezer, a little bit of warm air seeps in and condenses. That moisture freezes, typically on the sides and shelves of a standard freezer in the form of frost.

Why You Should Defrost Your Manual-Defrost Freezer

A frost-free freezer is equipped with a heating coil and temperature sensor to prevent the accumulation of frost on the insides of the appliance. However, if your freezer is not frost-free, you may find that the accumulation grows. The walls of ice not only take up valuable real estate in your freezer but they also make it more difficult for your freezer to work efficiently.

Since we stock our freezers full of good stuff to help us save money and time, we want to make sure that these appliances are running well. Defrosting your manual-defrost freezer once a year or when the frost build up covers a large area and exceeds 1/4-inch is a great way to keep your machine running well.

Tips for Defrosting Your Freezer Without Hassle

An easy and less-stress way to thaw your freezer is first to use up the contents before unplugging. Eating down the freezer can save you money because you won’t be buying more. Remember, you’ll be using up what you have, that stuff you already paid for, before it loses quality in a freezer with fluctuating temperatures.

Once you’ve eaten down the freezer, unplug the machine, open it up, and let the ice melt. Beach towels can help soak up the water that melts off the sides. Wipe down the sides of the machine before plugging it back in and commencing the big refill.

If you’re not in a place to eat up everything, you can place the frozen items in a cooler or in a cool space wrapped with blankets to keep them frozen. A pan of hot water placed in the unplugged, empty freezer can help speed up the thawing process.

It’s so refreshing to have a clean slate: an empty freezer with frostless sides is a great project for refilling. Plus, you’ll have a freezer that runs more efficiently, saving you money in more ways than one.