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How to Defrost Your Freezer

If you’re still living in the Ice Age—that is, with a non-defrosting freezer—you’ll need these ancient skills.


  • Step 1: Empty freezer Remove all food from your freezer and place it in cardboard boxes. Cover them with newspaper or cloths to keep the food from thawing.
  • TIP: If you have a neighbor who can store some items in her freezer, that’s the best way to go. Or plan a feast around your newly-thawed food.
  • Step 2: Empty trays Remove ice trays and empty the cubes into the sink. Let them melt down the drain.
  • Step 3: Empty fridge Remove all the food from your refrigerator and place it in cardboard boxes covered with newspapers or cloth.
  • Step 4: Set to “defrost” Turn your temperature control to 'defrost.'
  • TIP: If you don’t have a 'defrost' setting, simply unplug your refrigerator.
  • Step 5: Place a pan Place a large square pan at the bottom of your freezer to catch the melting water. Empty and replace it as necessary.
  • TIP: If your unit already has a pan there’s no need to use another one.
  • Step 6: Place a towel Place a dry towel underneath the refrigerator to catch melting water.
  • TIP: Never use a sharp object to chip away at the ice coating your freezer. This could severely damage your unit.
  • Step 7: Wash trays While the ice is melting, wash and dry your ice cube trays.
  • TIP: To speed up the melting, put a pan of hot water in the freezer.
  • Step 8: Chill Return food and newly-filled ice cube trays to the freezer. Then return the food to fridge. Now you’re ready to chill.
  • FACT: Up until the 1920s, when electric refrigerators came into use, people kept their food fresh in ice boxes—literally boxy cabinets that held a huge chunk of ice.

You Will Need

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Newspaper or cloths
  • A pan that will fit at the bottom of your freezer
  • A towel

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