How to Defrost a Kenmore Side-by-Side Freezer

Kenmore Side-by-Side refrigerators are self-defrosting. Each unit comes with a built in defrost heater that works on a cycle. When the heater switches on, it warms the regions that tend to build up with ice in the freezer section. While the defrost function does not have a manual control, Kenmore suggests you clean both sides out monthly. This process involves turning off the power and forcing a manual defrost. If you have a problem with frost buildup, this routine and an adjustment to the temperature controls should work in conjunction with the automatic defrost to elevate it.

Step 1

Locate the digital control panel in the top refrigerator compartment. 

Step 2

Adjust the freezer temperature by pressing the down arrow to raise the temperature slightly.  Kenmore recommends changing the temperature by only one degree.

The freezer control is on the left side and clearly marked "Freezer". 

Step 3

Check the freezer in 24 hours to see if there is an improvement before making another adjustment. 

Step 4

Remove any food items that may be blocking the air vents.  In order for air to flow correctly and the temperature sensors to work, the vents must remain clear.

Units have vents in each section, three in the wall between sections and two in the back of the freezer.  Locate the vents by looking for slotted openings in the walls.

Keep food from blocking the air vents. 

Step 1

Unplug the refrigerator to turn off the power.  Remove any food items from both sides of the Kenmore.

Step 2

Take out any removable parts, such as shelves and crispers.  These sections will pull out of the unit easily.

Step 3

Use a clean sponge and mild dish soap to wipe down all interior surfaces on both sides of the appliance.  Do not apply an abrasive or harsh cleaner, such as window cleaner.

Step 4

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda into one quart of warm water and rewash the interior walls.  This will help remove any remaining debris and deodorize the unit.

Step 5

Reinstall the shelves and removable pieces after washing them and drying them.  Use a mild dish soap and clean cloth.

Plug the unit back in to return power. 

Things You Will Need

  • Sponge
  • Dish washing soap
  • Sink
  • Water
  • 1 quart bucket
  • Baking soda
  • Cloth
  • Dry towel


  • The website Appliance Aid suggests in the event of defrost heater failure, use a hair dryer to remove the ice buildup then replace the heater.


  • Some models may have an additional control for the chilled door bin. This will be located on the left-hand side of the refrigerator compartment. Turn the dial clockwise to make the bin warmer.

About the Author

Writing since 1999, Darla Ferrara is an award-winning author who specializes in health, diet, fitness and computer technology. She has been published in "Mezzo Magazine" and Diet Spotlight, as well as various online magazines. Ferrara studied biology and emergency medical technology at the University of Nebraska and Southeast Community College.

Photo Credits

  • Chris Clinton/Lifesize/Getty Images