8 Tips for Defrosting Your Freezer

If you’ve ever pulled an item out of your freezer and noticed that it looks like it’s covered in snow—that’s frost. Frost in the freezer can indicate various issues. If you’ve experienced this problem before, you’re probably wondering why you have frost buildup in the freezer and what you can do about it to ensure that future midnight snacks or quick dinners are saved.

Let’s discuss how to defrost a freezer.

Why is Your Freezer Frosting Up?

Ice buildup in a freezer occurs when moisture comes into contact with the coils inside the appliance. The moisture then freezes, which can lead to odors, loss of storage space, and ineffective sealing of the freezer door.

The most obvious consequence of freezer frost is freezer burn. Freezer burn occurs because of dehydration from changes in temperature within your freezer, exposure to air, and food being in the freezer for too long. When moisture evaporates from the food, ice crystals form on its surface. As anyone who has still tried to bake that frostbitten pizza knows, freezer burn can make even the most enticing grub inedible. 

How to Defrost a Freezer


Follow these steps for defrosting a freezer to keep your frozen food as fresh as possible.

1. Keep the door closed. Every time you open your freezer door, cold air escapes and introduces humidity to your freezer’s ecosystem. Humidity contains moisture—which then turns into frost. When the temperature inside the freezer rises, the appliance must work harder to keep items frozen. To prevent this, avoid unnecessary trips by gathering everything you need out of the freezer at once.

2. Organize your freezer. Although it might not be the most thrilling activity, if you take the time to organize your freezer, it will be easier for you to find what you need faster. This will reduce the chances that you’ll have to open and close the freezer multiple times.

3. Stock your freezer correctly. Generally, freezers should be stocked with two to three pounds of food per cubic foot of space. Frost can build up easily in freezers that are too empty or too full.

4. Avoid storing hot items. Storing hot foods can create frost in the freezer due to the humidity. After cooking, give your freezer a break by letting the food cool off to room temperature. Then, place the food in the refrigerator before storing in the freezer.

5. Dry off food before storing it. By the time you get food from the freezer aisle of your grocery store to your home, it has probably started to defrost a bit, creating moisture on the outside of the packaging. Before putting these items away, wipe them off with a cloth to remove water and prevent frost.

6. Use the right storage containers. One simple way to ensure a frost-free freezer is to use appropriately sized storage containers that minimize access to air. If you’re using plastic containers, they should be approximately the same size as the food inside them, without extra room for air. If you’re using plastic bags, be sure to use freezer or storage bags, which are generally thicker than normal sandwich bags.

7. Maintain a consistent temperature. To keep your freezer from working too hard, keep it inside the house or in a temperature-controlled garage. Additionally, the interior freezer temperature should be around zero degrees Fahrenheit. To monitor the temperature, try using a freezer thermostat.

8. Manually defrost it. If you still find that your freezer is covered in frost, try to defrost the freezer manually. Simply unplug it, prop open the door, and let the ice melt naturally. Make sure that you place towels around the freezer so that water doesn’t pool around it. While your freezer defrosts, place any frozen food in a cooler. 


In addition to learning how to defrost a freezer, the best way to ensure that your appliance stays in tip-top shape is to conduct regular freezer maintenance. Also, consider signing up for a home warranty plan with refrigerator warranty coverage to help prevent steep freezer or fridge repair costs if parts and components break down due to normal wear and tear. Our ShieldGold™ and ShieldPlatinum™ plans include coverage for your refrigerator and freezer.

Choose American Home Shield® coverage to protect your budget and enjoy peace of mind that your home systems and appliances are in good hands. Check out our affordable warranty plans, and choose the one that fits your household best.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

See more in: 
Consumer Affairs Icon
Home Warranty Awards Icon
Women’s Choice Award Icon
Need help?
Talk to our Shield Agents 24/7.