Buying a freezer without an automatic defrost function saves electricity, but commits you to defrosting the freezer periodically. There are several reasons why ice builds up in a freezer, including the freezer having poor air circulation, being too full or being located in a humid place. Mostly, however, ice builds up when you repeatedly open and close the freezer door.

Follow these steps to defrost either an upright freezer or a chest freezer.

  1. Unplug the freezer.
  2. Empty the contents. Move them to the refrigerator or an ice-filled cooler to protect them while the freezer defrosts.
  3. Prop the door open and wait for the ice to melt. This may take several hours. You can speed up the process by placing a pot of hot water inside the freezer and closing the door. If you only have a small amount of ice to remove, using a hair dryer for a few minutes can help melt the ice. Don't try to chisel away the ice as it can damage your freezer's interior and its components.
  4. Catch the water from the melting ice. If your freezer has a drain system, remove the drain cap located on the floor of the freezer and pull the drain hose out through the opening. Put a pan under the hose. If your freezer doesn't have a drain system, use towels, rags or sponges to sop up the melted ice.
  5. Wipe the freezer clean, return the items to the freezer and plug it in.