How to Shut Down Your Fridge (Short & Long Term)

Keeping your fridge in good nick is essential for ensuring it runs smoothly and efficiently for years to come. But what about when you’re going on holiday or moving house? Knowing how to properly shut down your fridge is important to prevent unpleasant odours, mould growth, and malfunctions while it’s not in use. This guide will outline the steps involved in shutting down your fridge for various durations, along with some helpful tips and troubleshooting advice.

What to Do Before You Shut Down

  • Empty the Fridge: Take everything out, including shelves, drawers, and door compartments. Give it a good clean to remove any spills or expired food that could cause nasty odours. Here’s a tip: a baking soda solution (one tablespoon of baking soda to one litre of warm water) is a great way to tackle grime without harsh chemicals!
  • Defrosting (Optional): If you have a manual defrost freezer, defrost it completely before shutting down to prevent a build-up of ice. Modern frost-free fridges, however, won’t need this step.

Short-Term Closure (Under a Month)

Leaving your fridge running might be the most energy-efficient option for shorter breaks, especially if it’s well-stocked. You can even adjust the temperature a tad warmer to save even more energy!. However, if you’re unsure or going away for a longer period, it’s best to err on the side of caution and proceed with a full shutdown.

Long-Term Closure (One Month or More)

For extended shutdowns, it’s recommended to turn off, unplug, and give your fridge a thorough clean. This helps prevent odours, mould, and malfunctions while it’s out of action.

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Shutting Down and Cleaning Procedures

  1. Turn it Off and Unplug: Locate the temperature control and switch it to “Off”. Then, pull the plug out of the mains. Safety first!
  2. Cleaning Time: Now for the cleaning! Use your baking soda solution or a mild dish soap solution to wipe down all the surfaces inside the fridge, including shelves, drawers, and door compartments. Pay close attention to areas prone to spills and crumbs. Rinse well with clean water and dry everything completely with a clean cloth to prevent moisture build-up.
  3. Leave the Door Ajar: Prop the door open slightly (by about 5cm) to allow for air circulation and prevent musty odours and mould growth.
  4. Extra Odour Control: Placing an open box of baking soda or a container of leftover coffee grounds in the fridge can help absorb any lingering odours.

Considerations for Specific Fridge Features

  • Ice Maker: If your fridge has an ice maker, turn it off and shut off the water supply valve connected to it before unplugging the fridge.
  • Water Dispenser: Some fridges have built-in water dispensers. Consult your fridge’s manual for specific instructions on how to drain any residual water from the dispenser line before shutting down the fridge.

Restarting Your Fridge

When you’re ready to use your fridge again, don’t just plug it straight back in! Let it sit with the door closed for a few hours first. This allows the internal temperature to stabilise and prevents the compressor from working overtime. Then, wipe down the shelves again and restock your fridge with all your favourite groceries.

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Top Tips and Troubleshooting

  • Moving Fridge? If you’re moving house, there are extra steps to take to prepare your fridge for transport. These might include securing loose parts, emptying and defrosting the fridge, and transporting it upright. Refer to your owner’s manual or consult a professional mover for detailed instructions.
  • Manual Not Helpful? Your fridge manual is your best friend when it comes to specific instructions and troubleshooting. It might contain additional recommendations or steps specific to your fridge’s features.
  • Power Outage: If your fridge loses power while you’re away, the amount of time food stays safe depends on how full it is and the time of year. A full freezer can generally stay safe for up to 48 hours if the door remains closed. Discard any food that has thawed and feels warmer than 5°C.
  • Lingering Odours: Even after cleaning, you might find there’s a bit of a lingering smell. Try leaving a fresh box of baking soda in the fridge for a few days to absorb any odours.

By following these steps, you can properly shut down your fridge and ensure it stays fresh and functional for years to come.

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