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15 Refrigerator Do’s And Don’ts (Avoid #7 At All Times)

Refrigerator Do's And Don'ts

“I just bought a new refrigerator. How can I prevent dents and residues in it?”

Buying a new appliance is really one exciting and fulfilling moment.

I, myself, baby-ed my mini-fridge for weeks when I first bought it!

So, yes, I understand how you feel.

And since you’re here, let me share my proven-and-tested tips in maintaining a refrigerator. So…

Continue reading to know:

  • 15 do’s and don’ts in maintaining a refrigerator.
  • Rule-of-thumb on keeping leftovers in the fridge.
  • List of food items that you shouldn’t store in a fridge.
  • How and where exactly to store each type of produce.
  • And that’s only the beginning…

8 refrigerators do’s

#1: Leave allowances around the fridge

Good ventilation is necessary for your fridge to run efficiently.

And do you know how you can ensure such?

By leaving adequate gaps or allowances around your fridge.

Doing so helps the air coming from the fridge’s vents to circulate freely. As a result, it helps the fridge to cool without issues.

So, before setting up your fridge in your kitchen…

Measure the dimension of the fridge. 

Then, measure your kitchen cabinetry. And see if the space can provide enough allowances for your fridge.

Here’s the allowances measurement your fridge should have:

  • Rear: 2 in (5 cm).
  • Top: 4 in (10 cm).
  • Sides: 2 in (5 cm).

Note: The measurements above are the minimum standard. You can leave as much space as you want around your refrigerator.

#2: Maintain the right temperature

Whether you’re storing food items in the fridge to preserve or cool…

Maintaining the right temperature is necessary. 

As doing so helps preserve the food correctly. Plus, it helps maintain the refrigerator.

According to the FDA, the right temperature is as follows:

  • Freezer: 0°F (-18°C).
  • General compartment: 40°F (4°C).

“My refrigerator’s switch only has ‘Low,’ ‘Medium,’ and ‘High’ options.”

If that’s the case, review your user’s manual.

In there, you should find the fridge’s temperature guideline.

If you’ve lost your manual, contact your manufacturer’s support for assistance.

Tip: Generally, you should set your refrigerator to Medium. Then, turn your freezer to High.

#3: Fill up the fridge

Unlike other appliances, you have to keep your fridge running for it to work better.


Its condenser coils and compressor (which handles its cooling function) rely on thermal mass.

Thermal mass, in simple words, refers to the material’s ability to store, absorb, or release heat.

The more thermal mass the fridge has, the better it functions.

Technically, the food you put in your fridge has stored heat on it.

So, to increase the fridge’s thermal mass and help it perform better, fill up the refrigerator.

(Yes, bottled waters count too!)

Important note: While filling up the fridge is helpful, you shouldn’t cram the shelves too much. Refer to Refrigerator Don’ts #4 to know why.

#4: Dedicate a space for each food item

Dedicate A Space For Each Food Item

Have you seen those “Let’s-restock-my-fridge!” TikTok videos?

I bet you’ve thought about buying new fridge organizers because of that.

I mean, I wouldn’t judge you… those organizer bins are fancy-fancy.

Fridge aesthetic? Sign me up!

But more than making your refrigerator look neat and fancy, organizing your fridge can help:

  • Preserve food properly.
  • Ensure good ventilation.
  • Avoid food spoilage and wastage.

That said, you should learn how to store your food correctly. 

And when I say store your food correctly, I mean learn precisely where to put them.

Here’s a simple guideline for storing food items in refrigerators:

Note: This applies to typical refrigerators with their freezer on top.

Shelf locationTemperatureWhat food to store
DoorWarmestFood that doesn’t necessarily need preserving, such as oil, flour, condiments.
Bottom WarmestReady-to-eat food, such as snacks, refrigerated pastries.
MiddleMost consistentFood that needs preserving, such as leftovers, cut fruits and vegetables.
Top (Freezer)ColdestFood that needs to be cooked or chilled, such as, poultry, seafood, raw meat.
Crisper drawersHumidFood that needs moisture, such as green vegetables.

#5: Cover stored food

Mixed smells from different food can produce unpleasant odors.

To avoid that, cover every food you keep in the fridge, especially:

  • Leftovers.
  • Liquid condiments.
  • Raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

Doing so also helps prevent spillage in your fridge. Which would create a more unpleasant odor, leave residues, and damage your appliance.

For leftovers and wet foods, make sure to transfer them to closed glass containers. Transparent plastic containers would work as well. That way, you can easily see its content.

For foods that won’t fit on containers, use plastic wrap or aluminum foil to cover them.

Pro tip: You can also use smaller containers and plastic wraps to separate food items. That way, you can speed up their cooling and prevent premature food spoilage.

#6: Throw away 4-day-old leftovers

Do you always store leftovers in your fridge?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Except that leftovers that are refrigerated for too long hold a risk.

Leftovers, especially wet foods, can faster develop bacteria, molds, and yeast. Which can not only contaminate your other supplies. But also mess up your tummy.

According to the USDA, you can store leftovers only for up to 3 to 4 days.

Anything beyond that should be thrown away.

Note: This applies to cooked food and highly-perishable goods. Other types of foods like chips can last for a week or longer.

“I know. But I often forget that I have leftovers in my fridge…”

Then, consider dedicating a shelf exclusively for your leftovers.

That way, you’ll know at one glance if there are leftovers in your fridge.

You can also attach sticky notes on your leftover containers, noting which day you stored them.

#7: Defrost the freezer

Refrigerators today have a self-defrosting mechanism. It prevents further ice buildups in the freezer. 

But for older refrigerator models, you have to defrost your freezer manually.

“Why is defrosting necessary?”

Well, inches-thick ice build-ups in the freezer can cram the space. Leaving you with smaller storage for your highly-perishable goods.

Moreover, ice build-ups can affect the cooling function of the fridge. 

It can confuse the temperature sensor of the fridge. Causing it not to cool efficiently and eventually damage its compressor and condenser coils.

“Got it. So when do I defrost my fridge?”

Ideally, you should defrost the freezer at least once in 1 to 2 weeks.

Or when there are half-inch or more ice build-ups already.

Warning: Never use sharp objects to remove ice build-ups as they can damage the freezer.

Instead, open your freezer door or place a fan in front of it to speed up the defrosting process.

Also, make sure to turn the switch to “Defrost.”

Check out: What Is a Smart Inverter on a Fridge? 5 Things To Know

#8: Wait 24 hours before filling up a new fridge

Did you buy a new fridge?

If yes, just leave it plugged in and empty for 24 hours.

“Why? I have to store my supplies already.”

In the meantime, you can store your food in large containers or a cooler.

The reason?

I advise you to do this unless you want your goods to smell like a “brand-new car.”

Like other brand-new appliances, a brand-new fridge does have a plastic-y smell. Which can transfer to your food.

Plus, leaving it plugged and empty allows its motor and system to complete its initial run without errors.

That said, you have to leave your newly-bought fridge empty for one whole day.

You can use a timer or use this technique:

  1. Plugin your refrigerator.
  2. Set the right temperature.
  3. Place an ice mold filled with water in the freezer.

Once it becomes ice, take it as a sign to start filling up your fridge.

7 refrigerator don’ts

#1: Don’t open the refrigerator for too long

Yes, your mom was right. You shouldn’t open the fridge door frequently and for too long.

More than consuming more energy, opening it for too long affects its cooling function.


When you open the fridge door, warm air comes in.

That warm air mixes with the fridge’s cool air. And that creates moisture inside the refrigerator.

Moisture can affect the preserving process of food. Plus, it can also cause the food or drink to spoil faster.

So, to avoid that from happening, don’t open your fridge door unnecessarily.

Here’s how you can effectively do that:

  • Arrange food supplies in containers.
  • Dedicate a space for each food item.
  • Place necessary supplies in the front.
  • Remove empty containers and spoiled leftovers.

#2: Don’t use cleaning mixtures that contain harsh chemicals

Since your refrigerator stores the food you eat…

You should be cautious about what cleaning mixtures you’re using. As some of them contain harsh chemicals that can contaminate your food.

Instead, use natural or basic cleaning materials when cleaning your fridge.

Here’s are some safe cleaning mixtures you can use:

  • Water + vinegar.
  • Water + baking soda.
  • Water + mild soap (e.g., dishwashing liquid).

Tip: Baking soda is a natural odor absorbent. Put a small amount of it in the fridge to remove unpleasant odors.

Want to learn how to clean your refrigerator using baking soda? Then, watch this video:

#3: Don’t cram the shelves

Your fridge should have good ventilation, not only around it…

But also inside it.

A refrigerator preserves and cools supplies by maintaining cool air on the inside. And your fridge won’t be able to do that effectively if its vents are blocked.

That said, you should avoid blocking its vents.

One best way to do that is not to cram the shelves with too many supplies.

When filling up your fridge, make sure to leave at least an inch allowance on its sides and above it.

That way, the cool air can easily flow through and preserve stored food properly.

#4: Don’t store food supplies in plastic bags

When you go grocery shopping, some food items are packed in plastic.

While it’s convenient, keeping your food supplies with plastics on isn’t a good idea at all.

And that’s because it can:

  • Leave plastic-y odor.
  • Leave residue on the shelves.
  • Cause the food to spoil faster.
  • Make it harder to see the content.
  • Make your fridge look crammed and unorganized.

So instead, consider transferring your supplies to tightly-covered containers. 

Or at least place them on bins and trays.

Note: Other goods like milk can be exempted.

#5: Don’t store certain food items

Your fridge allows you to keep your food supplies safely.

But that doesn’t mean that you should put all your groceries inside.

Not only would it cram your shelves. But also certain food items are not supposed to be “preserved.”

Either because they would: 

  • Harden.
  • Spoil faster.
  • Lose their texture.
  • Mix smell with other foods.

Here’s a list of some of the most common foods you shouldn’t store in a fridge:

  • Basil. 
  • Apple.
  • Bread.
  • Garlic.
  • Onion. 
  • Honey.
  • Potatoes.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Coconut oil.
  • Coffee beans.
  • Unripe avocado.
  • Unripe banana.
  • Opened canned goods.

These food items are supposed to be stored at room temperature.

So, if you have any of these, better leave them on your pantry or kitchen table.

#6: Don’t store highly-perishable goods on the door shelf

Another thing that you should never forget is that:

Never put highly-perishable goods on the door shelf.

The reason for this is that the door shelf is one of the warmest areas in the fridge.

And since highly-perishable goods need cool air to preserve, the door shelf isn’t the best place for them.

“What are highly-perishable goods?”

Highly-perishable goods are food and drinks that are prone to spoilage. As they don’t have any chemicals or properties that protect them from bacteria or other microorganisms.

Some examples of highly-perishable goods are:

  • Poultry.
  • Raw milk.
  • Red meat.
  • Fish and other seafood.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables.

For meat, fish, and poultry, you should put them in the freezer.

For raw fruits and vegetables, put them on the crisper drawers or middle shelf.

#7: Don’t put warm food or drinks

And most importantly, never put warm food or drinks in the refrigerator.


When the food is too hot, the fridge’s condenser coils and compressor will work harder to cool it down.

And once that happens repeatedly, the mentioned parts can get damaged. And so, it can affect the fridge’s cooling function.

To avoid that, cool down the food first before putting it in the fridge.

Place it on a table for about an hour. Then, make sure to cover it securely.

Doing this will help preserve your food properly and maintain the refrigerator.

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