Whether you have a deep freeze/chest freezer, or an upright freezer/refrigerator freezer, it's important to defrost it on a regular basis. You'll need to defrost manual-defrost freezers at least once a year, or when the frost accumulation is between 1/4- and 1/2-inch thick. Not only will a build-up of ice and frost reduce your storage space, it will make your appliance work harder and use more energy. It's best to defrost your freezer when there isn't much food stored in it, as the process will most likely take several hours.
Upright or Refrigerator Freezer
Begin the defrosting process of an upright or refrigerator freezer by placing old towels around the bottom of the appliance to soak up any leaking water. Set the temperature control to "off" and unplug the freezer. Be sure to place any frozen food in insulated bags or large coolers to keep it cold while you're defrosting the freezer. Next, if your refrigerator manufacturer recommends it, place bowls of hot water into the empty freezer to facilitate the defrosting process and leave the door open. Replace the hot water as it cools. If the manufacturer doesn't recommend this step, simply keep the door open and allow the freezer to defrost naturally. Remove large pieces of ice from the freezer as they loosen, and place them into the sink. The melting ice will drain into a freezer pan via a hose. You can also sponge the water out so that the pan doesn't overflow. After the defrosting process, clean the freezer with a solution of 1 tbsp. baking soda and 1 quart water. Wipe the clean freezer dry with a cloth, plug it back in, set the temperature to "normal," and replace the frozen food.
Deep Freeze/Chest Freezer
If you're defrosting a chest freezer, also known as a deep freeze, start the process the same way that you would with the upright freezer. If your freezer model features a drain with a hose adaptor at the front, remove the drain cap, insert the hose connector and hook up the hose. Then, remove the drain plug that is inside the freezer. Remove any excess water with a sponge or absorbent cloth. You can place bowls of hot water into the freezer and leave the door open to speed up the defrosting process. After the chest freezer has been defrosted, clean the appliance in the same manner as the upright freezer, dry it, and replace the drain plug and the defrost drain cap if your model features one. Finally, plug the freezer back in, set the temperature to "normal" and replace the food.
Although a frost-free freezer requires no manual defrosting, clean it out at least yearly to prevent the build-up of food residue and grime. Unplug the freezer and remove any food as if you were defrosting the appliance, and then clean it with the baking soda and water solution. Dry the freezer, plug it back in, set the temperature to "normal" and replace the food.
Defrosting a Freezer Quickly
If you need to defrost a chest or upright freezer quickly, unplug the appliace and remove all of the stored food. Leave the freezer door open and place towels around the bottom of the appliance to collect any water. If your model features a drain pan, empty it as needed to prevent overflow. Next, you can either set up a fan to circulate directly into the freezer to speed up the melting process, or scrape the ice off with a plastic object, such as a spatula, to remove the ice faster. You can also use both methods at once for the fastest process. Avoid trying to melt the ice with a blow dryer, as it'd be dangerous to use it around the melting ice and water.