Advice on defrosting a freezer

Be kind to your freezer – defrost it before your frozen foods do!

Regular maintenance gives a freezer and your frozen food a longer life. In fact, regular checks and upkeep will help you save you money by keeping your foods as fresh and tasty as the day you purchased them for longer. In the UK today having a freezer is pretty much essential. Not many of us think much about this and we take our freezer for granted.

Make sure you regularly defrost your freezer – this will help preserve your food at the correct temperature (about -18˚C) and help your freezer minimise energy waste.

When to defrost

Recognise the signs in your freezer. A good way to know that it is time to defrost is when you see around 1/2 inch thickness of ice around the inside of the freezer.

Another way is to look out for ice crystals forming on packages. Luckily most freezers today are made to be frost-free and require little or no defrosting. However, if you have an older model and you want to keep it running efficiently, use these steps to do so. Taking the time to defrost periodically will save you the headache of having a huge mess later down the road.

How to defrost

Follow these tips for safety in thawing:

  • Wrap frozen items in newspaper and place in a box in a cold area
  • Unplug freezer and wedge open door
  • Remove freezer drawers
  • Place towels or any type of absorbent material at the bottom and in front of the freezer to mop up the water as the ice thaws
  • Do not use any sharp implements to remove the ice build-up from the freezer, as this will damage the appliance
  • Once all the ice has thawed, clean the freezer and drawers with warm water
  • Wipe the freezer dry and replace the drawers
  • Plug freezer back into the mains and make sure the thermostat is set correctly
  • Re-pack the freezer.

Stay Switched On!

Keep the temperature constant. If you look after your freezer your frozen food and frozen ready meals will last longer and stay fresher. Frozen ready meals are packaged professionally to keep them airtight and this avoids freezer burn but you will need to ensure that you always keep the freezer on so that frozen food and frozen ready meals never thaw and refreeze. Frozen meals can last a long time if you run your freezer efficiently.

Reducing energy usage

Your freezer can cost you just £18 per year! 

  • Make sure your freezer is not over packed with food or ice, as this will prevent the freezer from maintaining a low temperature.
  • Keep a check of what you’ve got in the freezer – this will help in keeping your freezer door open for less time, and in turn waste less energy.
  • Remember, every degree colder means the freezer will use nearly 2 per cent more energy!

If your freezer fails

What to do if your freezer fails

  1. Don’t Panic!
  2. Keep the doors of the freezer shut
  3. Check that it is switched on at the mains
  4. Replace the fuse
  5. Check with friends and neighbours if they can store your frozen food and frozen ready meals
  6. Call a service engineer – if the engineer is likely to be prompt, keep the freezer door closed. Depending on how full the freezer is, food can remain frozen for 24 hours or more. The more full the freezer, the longer the contents will remain frozen
  7. After the repairs have been made do the following:
  1. If the frozen food has defrosted, remove it from the freezer and check their temperature close to the surface of each item. If it is warmer than the temperature of a refrigerator (>4°C) discard the products and check your household insurance policy or any freezer warranty you have, you may be covered.
  2. Take this opportunity to thoroughly clean the surfaces according to the freezer manufacturer’s instructions. Allow to dry with the door open and the freezer switched off, prior to restocking the freezer.
    1. If foods have thawed but are still colder than 4°C store them at the bottom of a refrigerator and use within 24 hours. Once fully cooked many foods can be frozen to be used within one month. Foods intended to be consumed frozen (e.g. ice cream) should be discarded. Check the instructions on your frozen ready meals for consume by dates after defrosting.
    2. If foods are still frozen and have not softened, turn the freezer to its maximum setting for 24 hours, before restoring to a setting, which maintains a temperature of -18°C.