If a refrigerator doesn’t defrost automatically, defrost its freezer when 1/4 inch of ice crystals accumulates. The freezer will function better and the task will take less time.
Turn the refrigerator dial to Defrost or Off,- remove all food from the freezer and from the tray under the freezer (if the freezing compartment is inside the refrigerator). Wrap the food in newspaper or put it in an insulated chest to keep it cold. If your refrigerator has a drip spout to drain water, put a pan under the spout. Leave the freezer door (but not a refrigerator door) open while the frost melts.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see how long you must leave the refrigerator turned off for proper defrosting. Some must be left at room temperature for 24 hours if more than 1/2 inch of frost has formed; 1/4 inch of frost may melt in an hour.
To hasten thawing, you can place pans of boiling water on the freezer floor. Never use an ice pick to gouge out the ice; you might damage the freezer’s lining. Use a soft spatula to scrape away slush and a pair of sponges to mop up water; squeeze out one sponge while the other soaks up water. If the freezer has a tray under it, empty the tray frequently.
Before you return food to the freezer, wipe the food packages dry. The less moisture you introduce into the newly cleaned compartment, the less quickly a new layer of frost will form.