How do I defrost my freezer?

By Lyle Weischwill | May. 23, 2022 12:16 pm PST

While most upright freezers have automatic defrost systems that prevent frost buildup continuously, many chest freezers need to be manually defrosted when ¼ to ½ inch of frost builds up inside the freezer.

How fast the frost builds up depends on where you have the freezer (inside your home or in the garage) and how often you open the lid to retrieve food.

When the freezer is in the garage or a similar area that isn’t climate-controlled (air conditioned), then warm moist air will cause lots of frost to build up as you open the lid. If you open the lid once or twice daily, you may need to defrost the freezer twice a year.

If your freezer is indoors or you only get food out of it every other day or so, then you’ll likely only need to defrost the freezer once a year or so.

When you see lots of frost inside the freezer, defrost it as soon as possible.

How to Prepare for Defrost

The exact preparations that you’ll need to make before defrosting your freezer can vary by model. Read and follow the instructions in your freezer’s Use & Care Guide if the preparation procedure differs from the process described below.

Take these steps to prepare for defrosting your freezer:

  1. To avoid having to store lots of food, let your food supply dwindle if possible for a week or two before defrosting.
  2. Safely store food in ice chests and in your refrigerator’s freezer. You may be able to store some items inside your refrigerator as you defrost the freezer.
  3. Remove internal racks and/or baskets from the freezer.
  4. Pull out the defrost drain outlet plug.
  5. Place a shallow drain pan under the defrost drain outlet or connect a garden hose to the drain outlet to carry away the water that will drain out of the freezer as the frost melts. To connect a garden hose to the drain outlet, you’ll likely need a Freezer Drain Hose Adapter. The exact preparations that you’ll need to make before defrosting your freezer can vary by model.

How to Defrost the Freezer

Once you have the food stored and the drain prepared, follow these steps to defrost the freezer:

  1. Turn off the freezer and unplug the power cord from the wall outlet.
  2. Open the freezer lid and remove the defrost drain plug inside the freezer.
  3. Leave the lid open to speed up the defrost process.
  4. If you’re using a shallow drain pan under the defrost drain, monitor the drain pan and empty it as needed to prevent it from overflowing.
  5. Remove and discard any large chunks of frost as they soften to speed defrosting.
  6. Wash interior racks.

What to Do After Defrosting the Freezer

Clean interior surfaces using a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in a quart of warm water. Then wipe the interior surfaces dry.

Reinstall the drain plug. Disconnect the garden hose and hose adapter from the defrost drain outlet if you used that equipment when defrosting the freezer. Reinstall the drain outlet plug.

Plug in the freezer’s power cord and turn on the freezer. Reinstall the freezer racks and/or baskets and load your food back in the freezer.

If frost builds back up quickly, check the lid gasket for damage and leaks. Repair or replace the lid gasket if it isn’t sealing properly.

If your freezer stops cooling properly, schedule a Sears Technician to service your freezer.

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