How to Defrost a Freestanding Freezer



If your freestanding chest freezer or upright freezer has 1/4 to 1/2 inch of frost lining the inside walls, it's time to defrost. Otherwise, your freezer works less efficiently, and you give up real estate inside the freezer.

Start by moving the frozen food to ice chests to keep it cold and then unplug the freezer. Your next steps depend on the type of freestanding freezer you have and are explained below.

Once defrost is complete, clean interior surfaces using a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water. Then wipe the surfaces dry.

For troubleshooting tips and more how-to help, check out our DIY freezer repair page.

Defrosting Freezers with a Defrost Drain

Upright and chest freezers with defrost drains can use a 1/2-inch garden hose adapter to drain directly into a floor drain.

Upright Freezer

  1. Remove the drain plug on the inside floor of freezer by pulling it straight out.

  2. If the freezer has a base panel, remove it from the cabinet and find the drain tube near the left center under the freezer.

  3. Place a shallow pan under the drain tube to catch water as it melts, checking the pan occasionally to avoid overflowing.
  4. Replace the drain plug when defrosting is complete.

Chest Freezer

  1. Remove the exterior drain plug.

  2. Place a shallow pan under the drain outlet.

  3. Remove the drain plug inside the freezer.

  4. As the pan fills, empty it so it doesn't overflow.

  5. Replace both drain plugs when defrosting is complete.

Defrosting a Freezer without a Defrost Drain

Place towels or newspaper at the bottom of the freezer to catch frost as it loosens and falls. 

  • If the frost is soft, use a plastic scrapper to gently scrape the frost loose. 
  • If the frost is hard and glazed, place deep pans filled with hot water on the freezer floor, close the lid and let it sit for 15 minutes to allow the frost to soften. Repeat this step as necessary.