How to Defrost an RV Refrigerator Freezer *Quick & Easy*

It’s important to defrost your RV refrigerator freezer regularly to keep it running properly and keep your food frozen at a safe temperature. These 3 defrosting methods are quick and easy leaving you more time for adventures!

How to Defrost Your RV Refrigerator Freezer - Always On Liberty-2

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How to Defrost Your RV Refrigerator Freezer

RV Refrigerator Freezer with Ice Buildup - Always On Liberty

The question of when should you defrost your RV refrigerator freezer all depends on usage.

There’s a few variances that affect your fridge from outside air temperature, air temperature inside your RV to how many times you open and close your refrigerator door.

All of which present the environment in which can speed up the icing process inside your freezer part of your refrigerator.

Actually, this isn’t just about RV refrigerators but all refrigerators that are not self-defrosting.

So, the short answer to when you should defrost your freezer is when the frost layer reaches at the least, .12 inches (3mm) thick.

Evident icing will build up on the cooling fans in the back of your refrigerator. You’ll also notice some ice buildup on the interior roof, sidewalls and bottom of your freezer.

If you ignore it, the ice may build up so much to affect proper sealing around the edge of your freezer. Equally important, by keeping your refrigerator freezer from icing up, you also maximize the efficiency of your RV refrigerator.


How to Defrost RV Refrigerator Freezer with Ice Buildup - Always On Liberty

Your RV freezer ices up due to high ambient humidity. Every time you open your freezer door, you’re allowing warmer humid air to enter the freezer.

Thus, condensation occurs. The condensed moisture then freezes to the cooling grill and other surfaces inside your freezer. Through time, after repeated openings, the ice builds up.

There are actually 3 different ways you can defrost an RV refrigerator using heat, hot water or the open air.

For all de-icing methods, you’ll need to turn off your refrigerator.

Also, you’ll need to empty your freezer entirely of all contents. You can either stuff all of your frozen foods in the refrigerator or store them temporarily in an ice chest. They will keep for several hours if you don’t lift the lid of your cooler.

For us, since it’s only a 30-40 minute job to defrost our RV refrigerator freezer, we just neatly pack all of our frozen food in the kitchen sink and cover it with a towel.

Since the power is off on your refrigerator, it’s the perfect time to clean out and scrub down the inside of your refrigerator.

So, the ice chest frozen food storage idea may be your best option for keeping your frozen foods intact.

Once all of your contents are removed from your freezer, Place a large clean, dry towel on the bottom of the inside of your freezer.

Also, place another clean, dry towel on the floor in front of your refrigerator.

The towels will help catch any chunks of ice and absorb any water from the melted ice. Keep a spare towel accessible should the towels inside your freezer become saturated.

The only tool you should use to dislodge any ice from any surfaces inside your freezer is a silicone spatula. You can use it to help separate the ice or try to shave ice into smaller sections.

I do not recommend using metal or sharp tools to remove any ice. You never want to puncture a hole in the walls of your freezer or damage the cooling coils in the back of your freezer.

Now that those steps are taken care of, let’s get on with the 3 freezer defrosting methods.

✰ READ MORE  RV Refrigerator Storage Ideas and Organization Tips

Can you defrost your freezer using a hair dryer or heat gun?

Defrosting RV Refrigerator Freezer with Hair Dryer - Always On Liberty

We oftentimes get asked, “can defrost your freezer using a hair dryer or heat gun?”.

The answer is, “of course you can!” The heat defrost method is a much faster and more efficient process to de-ice your RV freezer.

Now, to use a hair dryer or heat gun, working top to bottom, slowly heat up the ice to loosen it. Slowly sweep  your hair dryer back and forth to melt the ice so it separates from the surfaces.

But, always keep your heat device at least 5″ from the ice surface. If you get your heat gun or hair dryer closer, you risk melting the inside walls of the freezer.

Can you use hot water to defrost your freezer?

Defrosting RV Refrigerator Freezer with Hot Water - Always On Liberty

If you do not have a hair dryer or heat gun, you can still defrost your RV refrigerator freezer quickly using the Hot Water Defrosting Method.

First take the preliminary steps of removing your frozen foods from your freezer. Then, you’ll need to draw super hot water from your tap (not boiling) into a large bowl.

Then, place it on the bottom of your freezer on top of the towel. Make certain it won’t spill. Then, close your freezer door.

Every 5-10 minutes, open the freezer and replace it with new hot water.

Once the ice starts to dislodge and melt, use your silicone spatula to separate it from the surfaces until all chunks of ice are completely removed.

Can you defrost your RV refrigerator freezer just by unplugging it or turning it off?

Turning Off RV Refrigerator - Always On Liberty

While you can defrost your RV refrigerator freezer without turning off your refrigerator, to get optimal defrosting, I highly recommend turning the refrigerator off.

The last method of defrosting your RV freezer is the open air defrosting method. It is also the slowest method of defrosting your RV refrigerator.

The open air method is when you want to just walk away and let your freezer defrost without any de-icing assistance except for the air.

As stated earlier, turn off your RV refrigerator, remove all contents from your freezer and place multiple towels on the floor and a thick bath towel (folded) inside your freezer.

Then, leave the freezer door open to allow the ice thaw on its’ own. You may have to prop it open using a pool noodle or something to lean to keep it open

Now, this freezer defrosting method isn’t as popular as the other two, it’s still a viable option if you don’t have the time or patience to perform the other defrosting methods.

I personally don’t recommend using this method in hot weather or if your RV does not have the air conditioning unit on. You don’t want to leave your frozen foods to thaw in your cooler or refrigerator.

I do want to note, this freezer defrosting method will not work for those on a tight schedule or live in a tiny RV. 

Freezer Thermometer - Always On Liberty

Once you’ve finished defrosting and cleaning your freezer, close the freezer door and turn your RV refrigerator unit back on.

However, you really shouldn’t restock your freezer with your frozen foods until the freezer temperature reaches 32° to 5° Fahrenheit (0° to -15° C). That may take a few hours after defrosting. On warm days without air conditioning, it may take upwards to 12-15 hours.

Once your freezer reaches the optimal freezing temperature, it’s time to restock with all of your frozen foods in the cooler or ice chest. 

Clean the inside of your RV refrigerator

Cleaning RV Refrigerator - Always On Liberty

While you’re defrosting the freezer part of your RV refrigerator, it’s the perfect time to clean out the refrigerator part.

The first thing you’re going to need to do is remove all contents from your refrigerator. Ditch anything that’s either expired or showing sign of spoilage.

While you’re doing this, it’s a good idea to give the inside of your fridge a good cleaning. Personally, we do this when we’re hooked up to water and sewer.

Remove all shelves and drawers and wash each thoroughly with hot soapy water, rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.

Then use hot soapy water and a soft cloth to wipe down every inch of the inside of your refrigerator. You may need to use a small brush to remove food spills from cracks and crevices. Dry with a clean dry cloth.

Once the inside of your RV refrigerator is clean and dry, just restock it with all of your contents and close the fridge door.

Try to refrain from opening the refrigerator for a few hours so it will get back down to the right temperature to keep your perishables from spoiling.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, to ensure that your refrigerator is doing its job, you need to keep its temperature at 40° F or below; the freezer should be at 0° F. 

These temperatures inhibit the growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, listeria, and E. coli.

We highly recommend keeping both a freezer and refrigerator thermometer in each to ensure optimal temperatures.

RV Refrigerator Freezer with Frozen Food - Always On Liberty

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Final thoughts on how to defrost your RV refrigerator

As you see, it’s not difficult to learn how to defrost your RV refrigerator freezer. While it’s not a difficult chore, it is necessary to keep your freezer from ice buildup as it impairs proper function of the freezer cooling system coils. 

How to Defrost Your RV Refrigerator Freezer - Always On Liberty

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