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How to quickly thaw a freezer

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Nothing puts a damper on a morning like having to dig through the ice planet of Hoth to get to your frozen waffles. Unruly frost is usually caused when air from outside somehow enters the freezer. So if this is something that happens often, you should check the seal on the door and make sure it isn’t so full that it can’t close all the way. In the meantime, you should fix the problem at hand and defrost that freezer. Some people say this process takes forever and needs to be constantly monitored, but that’s not our style at DT. We want to get you out of the kitchen as fast as possible, so you will only need 30 minutes to complete these tried and true methods. Order a pizza and get to work. 

For all these methods, you will have to empty out the freezer. It shouldn’t take long to finish defrosting, but you might want to grab a cooler for your food just in case you’re worried about your frozen foods melting or leaving behind harmful bacteria like salmonella. If you don’t have a cooler on hand, put everything in a garbage bag with some extra chunks of ice from inside the freezer and tie the top. With the items close together, the food will stay cooler longer. 

Once the freezer is empty, turn it off. If you can’t turn it off, turn it all the way down. Now take a wooden spatula and scrape all the sides down and throw the spatula in a bowl or sink. You don’t have to use a wooden spatula for this, but be very careful about using any sharp objects that could puncture any part of the freezer. If you start stabbing willy nilly with a knife or chisel of some sort you could put a hole in the freezer walls, which would let outside air in and render it useless. This is only to take the base layer off so if the ice doesn’t come off easily, don’t force it, that could cause damage too.

Now that it is mostly clear of ice, it’s time for the final defrost process. There are three routes you can take at this point, but in any case you’ll want to get a towel ready because things are about to get melty.

Method 1

Get a fan and set it up in front of the open freezer. That’s it. This will take a little while depending on how strong your fan is, but the benefit of this method is that you can set up some towels to catch any drips and walk away from the kitchen.

Method 2

Fill a shallow pan with boiling water and place it in the freezer. If your unit has a shelf in the middle, put a pan on each level. Close the door and walk away. After five minutes, go back and put more boiling water in. Repeat this until the freezer is basically free of ice. Soak up the water with towels and go about your day.

Method 3

Get a wet/dry vacuum, and put the smallest attachment nozzle on it. Set it to “blow,” start from the top down and slowly move over every surface. This is a better option than a hair dryer, not only because it will take less time, but also because the hair dryer carries with it the risk of electrocuting yourself. When chunks start to come loose, switch the vacuum’s setting to suck up the water and ice. Then switch from “suck” to “blow” and start on another layer. Do this until everything is dry.

Once everything is clean and dry, turn the freezer back on (or up if you simply turned the temp down) and then put all your food back. 

What do you think of our guide to dethawing a freezer? Do you have another method you like? Share it with us in the comments below.

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Emily Schiola
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Emily Schiola is an editorial assistant at Digital Trends where she covers mostly social media and how-to pieces. In her…
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