Every time you open your freezer, air seeps in. Once trapped inside, water vapor from that air condenses and turns to ice. And so, little by little, your spacious freezer turns into a cramped igloo. Defrost about twice a year so that your freezer lasts longer and both your food and utility bill stay cool.
Clear out food. Remove all of your food, relocating it to coolers with ice or another freezer. Pay special attention to ice cream and frozen fruit juices, which require extra low temperatures to stay frozen.
Power down. Turn the freezer’s thermostat dial to “off” (if it has one) and unplug it from the power source. Note: This is the safest way to defrost your freezer, but just be aware that your fridge will turn off, too. As long as you keep the fridge door shut, the food in there will stay safe for about four hours.
Remove containers. Take out any drawers, shelves or ice cube trays. Wash them separately with hot water and dish soap.
Prepare for puddles. Place old towels on the floor surrounding the unit. These will be crucial for soaking up water as the defrosting magic occurs. Place another towel inside the freezer itself to soak up water at the source.
Open the door. Keep the freezer door wide open, allowing air to circulate. Tip: Position a fan to blow air toward the freezer. It will speed up the melting process while also helping to evaporate moisture!
Add boiling water. Boil a large pot of water and then carefully place it in the freezer (if it won’t fit, carefully transport to a smaller bowl). Close the freezer door and allow the steam to fill the unit. After ten minutes, remove the bowl and collect any newly fallen ice chunks. Soak up the puddles with your towels.
Wipe. Dip a washcloth or towel in the (now less boiling) boiled water and wipe around the surface of the freezer, making a point to dab the shelves and seal around the freezer door where ice accumulates.
Let it sit. Keep the freezer door open for a few hours, or until all remaining ice is melted. Wipe dry. Tip: A fan will speed this process along, too.
Restock. Once all of the ice is gone, plug the freezer back in. Return drawers, shelves and ice trays. Give it at least an hour to return to the right temperature before restocking with food.