Whether you plan on a week- or month-long vacation, itโ€™s important to take care of your refrigerator first. Otherwise, you may return home to a fridge full of spoiled food and a moldy smell throughout your home. Itโ€™s often not necessary to completely empty your refrigerator. Some items should be left inside so the cooling system can work at maximum efficiency, so your electricity bill doesnโ€™t go up.


Exactly how you prepare your fridge depends on the length of time you plan to be away.

1-4 Weeks

For shorter vacations, you donโ€™t need to unplug the fridge. But take the following steps to ensure you donโ€™t return home to ruined food and a strained appliance:

  • Empty the refrigerator, including all drawers and shelves, of perishable foods
  • Keep the fridge at least half full, using water-filled jugs, to maintain a steady temperature
  • Shut off the ice maker before leaving, as letting it run can cause a malfunction
  • Fill an empty freezer with bags of ice to maintain a steady temperature
  • Leave the temperature controls at their normal settings

1 Month or Longer

Only completely empty your refrigerator and freezer if youโ€™ll be away from home for over a month at a time. Once itโ€™s empty, wipe down the inside with a rag and cleaning solution. Turn off the temperature controls and unplug the fridge after everything is dry.

Also, turn off the ice maker. If there are any ice cubes still in the dispenser ice tray, discard them. For long-term departures, you also want to:

  • Empty the refrigerators reservoir
  • Turn off the water supply valve
  • Leave an open box of baking soda inside (to reduce leftover odors), or,
  • Use crumpled newspapers and a charcoal briquette, which will do the same thing
  • Keep the refrigerator/freezer doors ajar to prevent mildew

Other Refrigerator Prep Tips

If you plan to store some non-perishable items like cereal boxes or canned food, set the temperature to 38ยฐF. This will still keep the fridge cool. It can save money too, as excess energy wonโ€™t be used to sustain especially cold temperatures. Also, be sure to remove any items from the freezer that will easily melt. The freezer temperature should be set to around 5ยฐF.

And, before you leave, set a meal schedule and avoid buying any perishable items in the days leading up to your vacation. Munch on any leftovers, but purchase smaller items and avoid buying stuff that will take a while to finish. Also, compare expiration dates to the time youโ€™ll be away for; this way, you wonโ€™t have to guess whether items will still be good or not later.

When you get back, remove any water jugs or newspapers and coal you left in the fridge right away. Wipe down or scrub the interior sides and drawers. While there is a little work to do, at least youโ€™ll know everything is fresh. It also helps you keep your fridge organized.

Wilshire Refrigeration & Appliance: Trusted for Factory-Certified Service

Wilshire Refrigeration & Appliance provides factory-certified installation, repair, and maintenance of leading-brand refrigerators in Southern California and Las Vegas. Our technicians are trained at our state-of-the-art training facility to handle any issues with Sub-Zero refrigerators. When new parts are needed, we can install them quickly as our service trucks are fully stocked. If you notice any changes in refrigerator performance or have questions about how to prepare your fridge before going on vacation, contact us at 800-427-3653 or email our team at service@wilshirerefrigeration.com.