How to defrost a refrigerator – fridge

I was reading a post the other day that made me cry, so I decided a post on the subject was needed. While using a hair dryer to defrost a fridge is a safe solution, it is probably the least energy efficient thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve done a bit of research, but am very open to other suggestions on how to efficiently defrost the fridge.

Firstly, why defrost the fridge?

  • Ice could break the fridge. Ice can expand, and so put extra pressure on the plastic and the pipework in a fridge, and lead to tears.
  • Ice is an insulator. Large amounts of ice can act as an insulator, meaning the fridge compressor must work harder to take the energy out of the appliance.
  • Ice reduces the volume of the fridge. I mean we’ve all had trouble squeezing that last goodfellas pizza in there.

So on the grounds that you save energy by defrosting your fridge, and the less than efficient way some do it, lets look at the other options.

The prerequisites to all these are

  • Plug the fridge out
  • Have the door open fully
  • Towels to collect the water, lots of towels
  • Bowls are even better than towels, assuming you can fit one under the fridge… a pan can be good here

The options

Let time do the work. If you simply plug out the fridge, and have done some planning meaning you can do without the fridge for a few hours. Just leave the door open

Use cold water. Mains tap water is about 15C (59F), which has plenty of capacity to heat up the water from the ice, melting it. The one drawback of this method is you increase the amount of water that will be flowing out of the fridge, and so the amount of towels, or bowls you need to catch it. For best effect I suggest using some sort of small spraying device… a water pistol would be good.

Use hot water. I know… your thinking… but you need energy to heat up the water, well your right, but water is a far better medium for transferring heat from one place to another than air, that’s why your radiator circuit has water in it, not air. So using hot water is far less offensive than a hair dryer, particularly if you have solar, wood pellet, or Natural gas heating. Hot water can be faster than cold if you are careful that you don’t put it in too fast, otherwise it is wasted.

Use a metal object. Ideally you would have a large block of metal for this. Alternatively you could use a pot of warm water. Metal is an even better way to transfer heat, and so will quickly melt any ice it touches, without increasing the amount of water to flow out of the fridge. The drawback is that it will only melt the ice it is touching, but the knock on effect will be to speed the whole procedure up. If you can do it, then it is a good way to start, then finish the job by moving over to the tap water.

In conclusion… Be patient, let time do the work. If you are in a hurry… regular tap water… the best solution

Other points

  • As solid chunks of ice fall off, take them out by hand
  • Don’t use a knife, you could burst the pipes
  • Some people suggest that you don’t plug out the fridge. That if you can just turn it to zero, then the light will help to speed up the defrosting process. On the off chance that the fridge continues to do some cooling though… I’m not sure its worth it.
  • The next fridge should be one that doesn’t need to be defrosted
  • In fact… why not buy the most efficient one available
  • Seriously… don’t use a knife

51 Responses to How to defrost a refrigerator – fridge

  1. apwagner says:

    Hey awesome article. If you want I have similar tips for appliances on my blog I think you might find it interesting.

  2. Yvette Kelly says:

    I see quite a bit of advice suggesting towels and pans to catch the melted ice.From my own experience I have yet to find a pan that fits under my fridge and the amount of towels you use and then have to wash after wards is a real pain.A really good idea is to use old newspapers.They absorb water just as well and you can just throw them away after or if you are really into being green you can out them outside to dry for as long as you want and then recycle as usual.

  3. bernie says:

    on the topic of not using a knife…….i once lost my patience while waiting for a freezer to defrost. thought i could chip gently at the wall of ice surrounding my appliance – i could not, and cost myself a new fridge freezer. seriously…..don’t use a knife!!!!!!

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    Tip for easier and faster defrost: Thank goodness I don’t have to defrost anymore. But if you do. When you defrost the next time, after you wipe freezer down and dry it, take a small amount of cooking oil and wipe the top, sides and bottom of freezer. Then, the next time you do to defrost, when that ice begins to loosen up, tap it an it will drop off in chunks or just simply drop off. Cuts the defrost time in half.

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