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How to Defrost a Mini Fridge?

How To Defrost A Mini Fridge?

Your mini fridge might come with a rinky dink little freezer compartment inside of it, which could actually be more of a problem than a convenience.

These can freeze up badly, and the ice can block the cold air flow from coming in, which ironically raises the air temperature in your fridge and can force food to spoil.

Yes: over-freezing can lead to higher temperatures in a weird, roundabout way.

If you don’t know how to defrost mini fridges, that’s okay: we’re going to go over the process from start to finish. It’s important to do it properly so you don’t damage your mini fridge, so let’s just get into it.

Are There Defrost Settings on a Mini Fridge?

frost removal tool

It depends on what mini fridge you get.

Some basic models that have a barely-passable freezer compartment (the kind with a bunch of ways for the frigid air to escape), and your defrost setting just shuts that down to allow water to drip down. Nothing fancy.

Most mini fridges do not have a defrost setting, at least not one that is viable to use. Your best bet is going to be to take the manual route.

If you’re using your mini fridge to store sensitive things, such as insulin, you’ll need to make sure you have a separate refrigerator to store it in while you defrost your mini fridge.

Why Does a Mini Fridge Freeze?

large ice block in freezer

There isn’t nearly as much temperature control between the freezer of your mini fridge, and the fridge section itself.

Because a freezer’s temperature is so low that it freezes moisture, any moisture that seeps into your fridge (where the freezer container is stored in the top corner) will be frozen, and add frost onto the exterior of your freezer bin.

It’s not the best design. There’s a reason that your residential refrigerator has a separate fridge and freezer, divided by full layers of insulation.

Mini fridges freeze because of temperature settings, moisture buildup, and in many cases, a bad gasket. Gaskets are easy enough to replace, and play a more crucial role in your mini fridge than you might think.

If there’s a bad seal, the air temperature will be off, forcing the compressor on, which will speed up the freezing process of all the moisture seeping into your mini fridge. It’s a conundrum, just pay attention to your gasket seal to prevent it.

How to Defrost a Mini Fridge: Step-by-Step

Time to get to work. This is a quick and simple way that you can defrost your mini fridge without being too labor-intensive.

One of the main reasons you want to defrost your mini fridge properly is to start with a quite literal clean slate, and clear out any bacteria in your fridge that’s been harbored by moisture buildup.

1. Empty Your Fridge

empty mini fridge

Straightforward: just get everything out of your mini fridge, and find somewhere safe to put it.

If you don’t have another fridge, that’s okay: you can buy a styrofoam cooler for the time being, and store it there with sufficient ice.

Your mini fridge is going to need some time to defrost properly, so do your best to get enough ice to stash your perishables in a cooler, or have another area in mind.

2. Turn Off Your Fridge

Most mini fridges come with a freezer bin in the upper right corner, which becomes flush with the door when you close it.

This isn’t a good enough seal, which is when frost starts to gather outside of the freezer bin. Turn the fridge off, and leave your door open.

All of this frost is going to melt, so it’s a good idea to put down some cotton towels inside of your fridge, and a reliable bucket or container underneath the freezer bin.

This will allow you to catch all the runoff that drips from the front of the freezer bin and simply dump it in a drain.

3. Allow Full Defrost

full defrost in mini fridge

If you had a lot of frost buildup, it’s going to take a while to let it all fall away.

Many people don’t defrost their mini fridges until your door has trouble closing, which is not a good way to approach the situation. A full defrost could take all night, leaving you to split this task up into two separate days.

However, if you do this on a regular basis, then you’re going to have much shorter defrost times. Let the ice melt and collect, and then get to it the next day.

4. Clean Up

Take that damp towel and get it out of the fridge. Use another one to wipe down all remaining moisture in your entire refrigerator.

Wipe along the top of the inside of the fridge, the entire inside and outside of the freezer basket, and even the gaskets (you wouldn’t believe how much moisture gets trapped in there).

Dump the container that had water in it, and leave the bucket to be sanitized later before you put it away. Now that your fridge is dry, the towels are in the hamper, and the runoff is all gone, it’s time to sanitize.

Take a solution of two parts water, one part white distilled vinegar, and put it into a spray bottle. If you don’t have a spray bottle handy, that’s okay: just soak a face cloth in the solution for the same effect.

Spray or wipe down the entire fridge. Use a dry towel to soak up any residual solution before finishing. Your fridge will have a slight vinegar scent to it, which will dissipate in 24-72 hours.

5. You’re Done

Plug it back in, let the freezer run, and wait for the freezer to reach 32°F before you put any frozen goods back inside of it.

Depending on how long you had to leave it unplugged, it might take anywhere from two to ten hours to reach ideal temperatures. You’re done!

Bonus Tip: If your fridge takes too long to kick on, it could be due to dust buildup on the compressor and coils. Simply turn your mini fridge around and view the back, and while it’s off, dust everything that you can see.

Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to get everything up, and your mini fridge should freeze much faster.

Why do You Need to Clean a Defrosted Mini Fridge?

defrosting mini fridge

Let me ask you this: what happens when you open your freezer, then close it again?

Humidity from the air gets inside, which freezes, and becomes frost. This is particularly why your mini fridge freezer gets so frost-ridden in such a short amount of time.

The same process happens with your fridge, but the humidity and moisture isn’t visible right off the bat. It isn’t freezing, so you don’t really have a visual indicator like the frost buildup. At least frost is cold enough that there’s no bacterial presence or growth.

The moisture in your refrigerator, particularly after you’ve defrosted the freezer bin, is like a petri dish for pathogens. Pathogens are known to relate to respiratory issues, urinary infections, and exploitation of compromised immune systems, such as those in autoimmune disease sufferers.

Your mini fridge is like a bacteria bomb, and without cleaning it, you’re lighting the wick. It’s only a matter of time until it does something destructive, such as tamper with your food and get you sick.

If you are defrosting your mini fridge, you should also be cleaning it out. I hate to say it, but most auxiliary mini fridges (secondary refrigeration units) aren’t cleaned as often as they should be.

How Often Should I Defrost my Mini Fridge?

defrosting mini fridge with ventilator

As needed. If you’re using this as your primary refrigeration unit, you might have to do this once every three months or so.

If it’s simply being used as a beverage cooler or something along those lines, then you should be good with once every six months, but again, do it as needed.

The frost isn’t the issue when it comes to bacterial growth in your refrigerator. You can clean your fridge out without defrosting your freezer, but you can’t really get away with it in reverse.

It’s still recommended to clean your fridge out often though: twice a month if it’s your primary unit, once a month if you’re just using your mini fridge sparingly (like at the office).

You can also keep antibacterial wipes handy if you want to just wipe it out quickly instead of ripping everything out of the fridge instead.

Keep the Frost to a Minimum

Now that you have a full rundown of how to defrost your mini fridge, it’s time to keep it in optimal operation, and check frost buildup at least once a week.

Depending on the settings you have for your mini fridge, this might only need to happen once every three to four months if you’re lucky.

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