How Often You Should Defrost A Freezer (Revealed)

Freezers need to be regularly defrosted. If you don’t, then it is going to cause all sorts of problems, namely food that will start to warm up, and potentially a freezer that breaks. So, how often should you defrost a freezer?

You should defrost a freezer at least once a year. This is true even if your freezer has an auto-defrost feature. You may need to do it more frequently if the ice build-up inside of the freezer is getting too thick.

I know that this is a complete answer already, but it doesn’t necessarily tell the full story. Throughout the rest of this page, I want to go into a bit more depth on how often you should defrost your freezer. I also want to give you some advice on how you can reduce how often you need to defrost.

Freezer frost: How often should you defrost a freezer

How Often Should You Defrost Your Freezer?

Ideally, you should be defrosting your freezer once per year. This applies even if you do not see a huge build-up of frost in your freezer. Try to make time each year to defrost it. The actual process only takes a few hours, with the freezer taking 4-12 hours to get back down to freezing temperatures once complete.

If you do it more often than this, then you will be spending a lot of extra cash on power to restart your freezer. You will also be really putting the freezer through its paces. After all, the components are going to need to work double-time to get that freezer back down to the required temperature.

That being said, if you have an older freezer that really collects ice and you aren’t ready to replace it, then you may need to defrost it every 6-months or so. However, even then, I suggest that this is something that you avoid wherever possible. It really does make your freezer work a whole lot harder than it really needs to.

I’d also suggest that you have a look through the manual for your freezer. Some of them give you a time period between defrosts. Try to stick to that as much as possible. I know that there are some more modern freezers that can cope with less frequent defrosting.

How Do You Know When Your Freezer Needs Defrosting?

As I said, you need to be defrosting that freezer every single year, even if it does not look like it needs defrosting. However, if you keep an eye on the ice build-up inside of the freezer, then you may find that you need to defrost it a little more often.

How Do You Know When Your Freezer Needs Defrosting

How often you defrost your freezer is really a balancing act. You want to defrost it before the build-up of frost requires the freezer to work harder and use more power. Ont the other hand you don’t want to defrost a freezer more often than it requires to maintain efficiency.

As you know, the whole purpose of defrosting a freezer is to get rid of the ice that has started to build up on the inside of it. So, a good thing to do is to keep an eye on the build-up of that ice.

Keep an eye on the inside walls of the freezer. If the ice seems to have built up to more than a quarter of an inch thick, then it may be time to defrost the freezer. Chances are, all of that ice is hampering the internal components of the freezer. It also means that you are going to have a lot less space inside of the freezer to store your food.

Do You Need To Defrost, Even If Your Freezer Has An Auto-Defrost Feature?

You will still need to manually defrost your freezer even if you have an auto-defrost feature or “frost-free” freezer. You will not need to defrost quite so often, however.

A freezer with an auto-defrost function will do its best to keep the ice from building up. However, it can only do so much. You may still need to defrost every year or so, but the process is going to be a whole lot quicker.

Thankfully, the ice on most auto-defrost units should never get to the point where it is layered on thick. It also shouldn’t get to the point where it puts needless wear and tear on the freezer itself.

The one thing that I do want to point out here is that if you have a freezer with an auto-defrost feature, you will need to think more about when to manually defrost it. This is because you won’t get that ice build-up that tells you when.

My suggestion is still to defrost the freezer roughly the same time every single year. Don’t leave it too long between defrosts.

What Happens If You Don’t Defrost Your Freezer?

Contrary to popular belief, having a lot of ice in your freezer isn’t a good thing. In fact, it is the opposite.

What Happens If You Don't Defrost Your Freezer

If you do not defrost your freezer regularly, then there is a good chance that the components will start to get clogged with ice. This means that the freezer will need to work harder in order to keep cold.

Not only is this going to require you to spend a lot more money on power for your freezer, but you will also have components that wear down a lot quicker. This means that you are going to have a freezer that breaks far faster.

I should also point out that freezers that are not defrosted regularly will often struggle to maintain the right temperature. This means that some of your food can get ruined. Remember, if food starts to unfreeze, a lot of it cannot be refrozen.

Basically, spend some time once or twice a year defrosting your freezer. A couple of hours per year could feasibly save you hundreds of dollars.

How Can You Increase Time Between Defrosting?

Each time you open up that freezer door, small amounts of air and moisture are going to get inside of it. This will eventually freeze causing a build-up of ice.

Therefore, the best (and only) way to reduce the need to defrost is to open up the freezer door as little as possible. If you do open that freezer door, then make sure that you have it open for only a few seconds at a time! 

A lot of people find that having an organized freezer will actually reduce the need for regular defrosting. Although, this is more down to the fact that when you know where everything is in the freezer, there is less of a need to keep the freezer door open for long periods of time.

Freezer options: manual defrost versus automatic defrost.

How Often You Should Defrost A Freezer – Conclusion

You should be defrosting your freezer at least once per year. It shouldn’t take too long to do.

You may need to defrost a little bit more frequently if your freeze is prone to ice-build up, which normally happens if you spend a lot of time opening and closing the door of the appliance.