Freezer maintenance

Freezers generally look after themselves well enough, but over time frost and ice may build up on the freezing elements and shelves. This makes the freezer less efficient, and takes up valuable space. The freezer will then need to be defrosted. ('Frost-free' freezers should not need this treatment, but may need to be defrosted for cleaning.)


For defrosting, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Generally the pattern goes as follows.

  • First remove all the items in the freezer, and keep them frozen by wrapping them in newspaper, and sealing them in cardboard boxes; or put them in insulated cooler boxers; or give them temporary lodgings in a neighbour's freezer.
  • Disconnect the freezer from the electricity supply, then wait for the frost to melt. Put trays and cloths at the base of an upright freezer to catch the meltwater. The manufacturer may also suggest that you speed up the process by placing an open bowl of boiling water in the base of the freezer.
  • Once the frost has melted or loosened, you can remove all the debris, and wipe the surfaces clean, leaving them dry.
  • Then you can start up the freezer again. Wait half an hour or so until it is fully cold before putting your frozen food back in.

Power failures

If you have a power cut, or the freezer breaks down, the items within the freezer should remain frozen and safe for up to 48 hours –  provided that you do not open the door.

After 24 hours, however, you should work out a strategy for moving the food.

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