How to prepare your fridge-freezer for moving

Fridge-freezers, like pets, are not best suited to moving home. If you are moving your fridge-freezer, it will require a little bit of planning and prior preparation in order to prevent water escaping, protect the appliance and avoid having to unnecessarily throw away perfectly good food.


1. First, what to do with the food

The most obvious option is to plan your meals for the week before so that you use up as much as possible from the fridge-freezer before you need to empty and defrost it. It’s always a shame to throw away food, so if you do have a significant amount of food that you’re not going to use, consider giving it away to neighbours or using a service such as Olio, where you can share unwanted fresh and frozen food with others in your local community.

For food you plan to keep, you’ll need to keep your frozen food frozen and your fresh food chilled, using cool boxes or temporarily storing items with a friend or neighbour. For guidelines on storing food, take a look at this food safety page on the NHS website.


2. Defrost 24 hours before the move

Once your fridge-freezer is empty, switch it off and start the defrost 24 hours before you need to move it. Keep the doors open while the unit defrosts – it will speed up the process. Check the user manual that came with the appliance, as there may be specific defrosting instructions for your particular appliance.


3. Remove glass shelves and other removeable components

Remove glass shelves and other removeable accessories, such as door shelves and fruit and veg drawers. Clean them thoroughly and allow them to dry fully. Then wrap and pack them separately, taking care to fully protect any glass components with bubble wrap or other suitable protective material.


4. Put down towels

Put down plenty of towels to absorb any water egress from the unit. There’s likely to be at least a small amount; more so if you don’t have a frost-free appliance. Make sure you check the defrosting process regularly, replacing any soaked towels with dry ones.


5. De-icing by hand

As the appliance begins to defrost, you may be able to help it along by removing large pieces of ice as they soften, but be careful: don’t force the removal of any stubborn ice, and don’t use metal utensils, such as knives, to dig out ice from the unit, as you may damage the appliance. Using a plastic or wooden tool, such as a spatula, will help prevent damage. Be patient, and if a piece of ice is not coming out easily, leave it to defrost some more. If in doubt, allow the ice to melt in its own time.


6. Clean your fridge-freezer and leave the doors open

Once the fridge-freezer is fully defrosted, it’s time to give it a thoroughly good clean, inside and out. It’s also a good time to clean the coils at the back of the unit, using a brush or gentle vacuuming, while you have easy access to them. One of the pleasures of a move is filling your now squeaky clean, fresh looking and enticingly empty fridge-freezer with goodies. This is one of the few times you’ll be able to give it a really good clean, almost back to showroom condition, so invest some energy into it; it’s worth the effort.

Leave the doors open after cleaning to allow any residual moisture to evaporate. It’s important that the unit is completely dry before you move it, especially if you’re planning to store the fridge-freezer for an extended period of time before using it again. Even the smallest amount of moisture trapped in the appliance can cause mould and bad smells to accumulate.


7. Final checks before moving

Before you give the ok for the fridge-freezer to be moved, check the following:

  • The fridge-freezer is empty, clean and completely dry
  • Secure the doors closed with tape, or use a ratchet strap or similar tie around the unit to hold the doors shut while moving
  • Removeable components are clean, dry and safely packed
  • Fresh and frozen food from the unit is safely packed for the time it will be out of the appliance
  • The area where the appliance stood is clean and dry

8. How long do I need to wait before plugging my fridge-freezer back in?

Opinions vary on how long you need to leave a fridge-freezer before plugging it back in. The recommendation used to be 24 hours to allow the compressor oil to settle, but these days some manufacturers’ instructions state as little as 30 minutes. If your fridge-freezer has been kept upright during the move (which it always should be), then you probably don’t need to wait as long as 24 hours before firing it up for action, though bear in mind that you’ll need to allow sufficient time for the unit to reach the required fridge and freezer temperatures before safely storing your food. Check your manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular model.


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