How Long Does it Take to Defrost a Mini Fridge?

Mini fridges are a great way of keeping things cool on a budget. They let you enjoy fresh foods and chilled drinks in your office, RV, garage, boat, college dorm, and pretty much anywhere else.

Like any other appliance, a mini fridge requires frequent maintenance and repairs.

Defrosting is one of the maintenance procedures. It involves the removal of accumulated frost in your freezer. It is imperative because it not only helps prolong the shelf life of your mini fridge but also increases its efficiency.

But how long does it take to defrost a mini fridge?  Here is everything you need to know about thawing out your favorite appliance.

How Long Does it Take to Defrost a Mini Fridge?

How long does it take to defrost a mini fridge?

The thickness of the frost will determine how long it will take your mini fridge to thaw. Most manuals recommend a defrost when the ice buildup hit a ¼ inch mark.

In that case, it should take your mini fridge anywhere between 8-24 hours to completely defrost. 

However, this time is dynamic. It can be more or less depending on other variables such as the frost size, your fridge’s brand, the size of the fridge etc.

frozen mini fridge

How to defrost a mini fridge: step by step

Defrosting may sound like an easy and unimportant procedure, but the case is actually the opposite.

When you choose not to defrost, your appliance and wallet pay the price. Ironically, the ice does more harm than good when left inside your fridge. It blocks the smooth flow of air, making it strenuous for your appliance to run efficiently.

As a result, your fridge is forced to work twice as hard. That means double the electricity consumption which is equivalent to hiked bills.

To defrost successfully without creating a mess, you need to first plan ahead. Planning prepares you on what to do with the food in your fridge so that they don’t spoil. You can choose to eat everything ahead of the defrosting day, give it away or use other storage alternatives.

To defrost your mini fridge;

  1. Flip it off then unplug it from the socket. This step is essential as it initiates the thawing process.
  2. Next you want to remove anything removable from your fridge, including the shelves.
  3. Lay out a full-sized towel at the base of your fridge. When the defrost begins, there will be water and moisture from the melted ice. The towel is there to contain the mess and protect your floor/space. Alternatively, you can use a drip pan.
  4. Prop open the door
  5. Opening the fridge door will raise the air temperature, speed up defrosting, and avoid weird odors.
  6. Clean your mini fridge. You can use a dry towel to wipe down all the remaining moisture inside and outside your unit.

Does a mini fridge defrost itself?

You’ve probably heard of frost-free freezers.

These are modern freezers that come with an in-built self-defrost function that automatically detects the accumulation of frost inside your fridge and thaws it without human interference. 

This type of mini fridges are of added advantage because they do not require you to unpack your mini fridge at all.

On the other hand, we are all familiar with manual defrost fridges. They  require occasional manual ice removal. In this case, you physically switch off and unplug your mini fridge to allow it to defrost.

Frozen mini fridge

How can I defrost my mini fridge faster?

Most of us will give anything if it means defrosting our mini fridge in less time. Fortunately for you, there are several useful tips that can help speed up the process.

Heat is the best way to speed up the process significantly. 

1. Use a bowl of hot water. Place a bowl of steam-rising hot water inside your freezer and close the door, leaving it to work its magic. This method can take as little as just two hours. Remember to check regularly and replace the water.

2.Choose a warm day and move your fridge to the sun. A simple temperature change can have your small appliance defrost in as little as 30 minutes.

3.Use a hair dryer. This is another not-so-recommended but effective way of  getting things done in less time. Most people opt for hair dryers and even though the method is effective, they risk possible electrocution.

4.Use a wooden spoon/spatula to carefully scrape the ice off. Don’t be tempted to use a knife or any other sharp tool as they will damage your fridge.

5.Use a fan. A fan placed in front of the open freezer will help circulate the warm air in the room into the freezer.

If none of these options work, try unplugging your appliance overnight, open the door, and let nature take its course.

How often should you defrost a mini fridge?

It is important to regularly defrost your mini fridge, but there is no hard-and-fast rule about how regular or how often you should do it.  

If you have a frost-free fridge, that’s good for you. Otherwise, you need to defrost your mini fridge as often as there’s enough ice buildup to interfere with normal operations.

How often depends greatly on the type of fridge, the use case (business or personal), what’s in there; what type of food are you storing in your mini fridge?

We recommend you defrost your mini fridge every 2-3 months. But most importantly keep an eye on the size of the ice, when it hits ¼ inch or when your fridge door starts being unable to close properly, that’s a sign that your unit needs a defrost as soon as possible.

mini fridge freezer

How do you defrost a mini fridge without unplugging it?

The best way to defrost a mini fridge is to unplug it. But, most of us consider that to be a difficult task, hence we wish to know how to defrost without unplugging.

To defrost without unplugging;

  • Remove all the food items from the freezer section, pack them tightly and move them to the fridge area or some other safe place.
  • If you choose to move your food to the fridge area, ensure that you tightly seal the door with a wrap. This ensures that the cool temperature is contained inside and prevents your food from warming up.
  • Cover the floor with fabric/towel. This prevents the water from messing  up your space.
  • Use a bowl of hot water. Place the bowl in the freezer section and let it do its magic. This will take a while but not long.

Alternatively, you can use a mix of hot water + vinegar or baking soda and a towel. Dip the towel in the hot mixture and use it to wipe off the ice.

Do you keep the door open while defrosting a mini fridge?

Certainly! When defrosting a mini fridge, it’s recommended to keep the door open. This allows for better air circulation, which can speed up the defrosting process. Additionally, keeping the door open helps to prevent mold and mildew from forming due to trapped moisture inside the fridge.


When you plan accordingly, defrosting your mini fridge shouldn’t be a hassle. It should take your freezer 24 hours or less to fully defrost.

Note that the longer you leave your refrigerator in a deeply frozen state, the more damage it will cause.

Some modern freezers have a defrost function that speeds up the process. Even though they don’t give instant results, it can do the deal in 12 hours or less depending on your fridge’s brand.

Older mini fridges require manual defrosting. You will need to unplug and unpack it for at least 24 hours.

To speed up manual defrosting, you can always use heat, i.e hot water, hairdryer or the natural heat from the sun. You can also make use of a plastic spatula to scrape the ice off.

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