How often should you defrost a freezer? Experts weigh in

We asked the experts for their best defrosting advice to determine how often you should defrost a freezer

woman opening up freezer drawer to support guidance on how often should you defrost a freezer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How often should you defrost a freezer? It's all too easy to neglect this somewhat tedious kitchen cleaning task, however, there are several advantages to defrosting our freezers that give cause to make it more of a priority.

Defrosting your freezer is an essential task not only for better food preservation but also to maintain the lifespan of your appliance, by ensuring it's working at maximum efficiency. But much like how often you should clean your oven this task might not feel as pressing when it comes to your kitchen cleaning routines.

We spoke to the appliance experts to determine how often they recommend defrosting a freezer for best results. So whether you’ve never tackled the task before or participate in a yearly defrosting ritual there is definitely always time to learn how to defrost your freezer like a professional.

How often should you defrost a freezer?

Defrosting a freezer can seem like a mammoth and messy task, which is why many of us put it off for so long. However, putting it off for too long can lead to your freezer malfunctioning and your food thawing. That’s why it’s best to keep on top of it and know how often you need to do it! 

Speaking to Nick Small, the refrigeration expert at, he recommends keeping an eye on your freezer’s ice build-up. He explains, “Ice build-up is of course inevitable, and each freezer will accumulate this at a different rate depending on usage.”

We would recommend defrosting the whole appliance at least once or twice a year,” he continues. “You can also keep an eye on the freezer walls and when you see around a quarter of an inch of ice, simply repeat the steps above.” 

woman opening freezer with food inside to question how often should you defrost a freezer

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Does defrosting a freezer make it work better?

The simple answer is yes. When a freezer has too much ice build-up the airflow that keeps your food safely frozen at a certain temperature can’t make its way around the appliance. Therefore the functionality of the freezer decreases. 

This means that not only will your food start thawing but also the motors that push that air flow around will begin to malfunction from being overworked. 

So it’s a good idea to stick to the yearly defrosting schedule to keep your foods safely frozen and your freezer running at its optimal efficiency. It could even be one of the tasks on your spring clean checklist to make sure it's done on an annual basis.  

What happens if you don't defrost a freezer?

There are more reasons than you may think for defrosting your freezer twice a year. One of the main reasons which is also really helpful during a time of rising energy costs is that it can help reduce the amount of energy your freezer is using.

Appliance expert at Bosch, Lucy Baxter, is quick to point out the numerous benefits of defrosting your freezer. She says, “Over time, a thick layer of ice can build up on the inside of your freezer, which can damage the appliance, affect the temperature you need to keep your food at for safety reasons, reduce the appliance efficiency, increase your electricity bill, and make it tricky to get things in and out.” 

Not only does defrosting your freezer make the appliance a lot easier to use whilst also being a way to save on energy bills during an energy crisis.

woman placing saucepans filled with water to speed up the process of defrosting the freezer

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How long does it take a freezer to defrost?

Unfortunately defrosting a freezer is not really a task you can speed through. Some unconventional viral cleaning hacks and unrecommended ways might hurry things along but these can actually cause more harm than good. Yes, chipping away with a knife or using a hairdryer is best avoided.

However, there are some safe and effective ways to speed up the process. Nick Small, from, suggests placing a bowl of hot water in the freezer whilst the door is open. This will allow the appliance to thaw quicker and add heat from the inside. Just make sure you’ve laid a towel down underneath the freezer to soak up all the water.

Overall the defrosting process should take a couple of hours. Depending on the size and make of your model this will of course vary. It’s always best to keep your frozen food in a cool bag during the process and allow the freezer to completely defrost before switching it back on and filling it back up. You could even use our guides on how to clean a fridge, how to clean the microwave or even how to descale a kettle whilst you wait.

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.