Your refrigerator is one of the most essential appliances in your home. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to store eggs, milk or butter. You wouldn’t be able to keep your fruits and veggies crisp and cool. You wouldn’t have a place to stock your proteins, your beer, your orange juice or leftovers.
Refrigerators range in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the size, model, and brand that you buy. But even the most expensive fridge won’t be of any use if it’s not set to the right temperature.
So what should that refrigerator temperature be? Keep reading to learn if your refrigerator is set at the right temperature.
What Is the Ideal Refrigerator Temperature?
Your refrigerator should be set to between 35 and 37 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature required to keep food cold enough to preserve it. Anything warmer can cause food to spoil. Anything colder can cause food to freeze.
And it doesn’t matter what type of fridge you have; the ideal temp is in that sweet spot between 35 and 37 degrees.
How to Set the Temperature on Your Refrigerator
Every refrigerator is different. Some have digital control panels that allow you to set the interior to a specific temp. Others have a dial with vague “coldest” and “warmest” indicators. Some have interior dials with markings that range from 1 to 10.
If your refrigerator has a dial that doesn’t indicate the exact temperature, consult the instructional manual that came with the appliance. That’s the best way to ensure that you’re turning that dial in a direction that makes it colder rather than hotter.
Keep in mind, it is common for certain parts of a refrigerator to be colder than others. It usually depends on where your freezer is located. If you have a bottom freezer, the back of your lower shelf will likely be the coldest spot. If you have a top freezer, the back of your top shelf may be the coldest area.
Ideally, you want the warmest spot in your fridge to be at that 35-degree mark.
How to Test Your Refrigerator’s Temperature
If your refrigerator has a digital control panel it will be easy to know what its internal temperature is. But if you have a dial or a knob on the inside, the only way to really know the temperature is to use a fridge thermometer.
The best way to use a refrigerator thermometer is to place it in a cup of water inside your fridge. Placing it in water will give you a more accurate reading of what the temperature of the inside of your food is. Simply placing the thermometer on a shelf will only tell you the air temp of the fridge, not the actual temperature of your food.
If you don’t already have a fridge thermometer, it’s worth buying one.
How to Maintain the Right Temperature
Once you have the right temperature set inside your fridge, there are a few things you’ll need to do to keep it at that temp.
Now that’s your refrigerator is at 35 degrees, here’s how to keep it that way (and keep your food safe):
Keep It Closed
Try to minimize how many times you open the refrigerator door. When you do open it, try to be quick in retrieving items and don’t leave the door open for too long. The longer you leave the door open, the warmer the interior temperature will get.
Make sure that the seal on your refrigerator (and freezer) door is tight. It should take a slight bit of force to open the refrigerator door. If you can open it with ease with your pinky finger, the seal isn’t tight enough!
Keep It Clean
Every refrigerator has cooling vents. Sometimes they’re located in the back of the fridge and sometimes they can be found at the bottom. Wherever they are, be sure to dust them. The more dust that collects on those cooling coils, the less effective your fridge will be.
Keep It Stocked
It’s also important to keep your fridge full – but not too full. In a packed fridge, the air will circulate less. But with an almost empty fridge, the temperature can change easily just by opening the door. Ideally, you’ll keep it full but not too full.
The other thing you can do to keep your refrigerator at its optimum temp is to never put hot foods inside. Before you stash your after-dinner leftovers, let them cool down. Otherwise, the heat of the food can elevate the temperature inside the fridge.
Why Is It So Important to Set Your Refrigerator to the Right Temp?
There is actual science behind why you need to keep your refrigerator at the right temperature.
If the temperature is too high, food can spoil faster than it should. And while wasting food is never a good thing, that’s not the worst of it. An interior fridge temp higher than 40 degrees can actually cause bacteria to grow and cause food-borne illnesses.
Unless you’re trying to get sick, keep that fridge at 35 degrees at all times!
What Temperature Should a Refrigerator Be?
No matter what type of refrigerator you have, it’s crucial that you set the temperature between 35 and 37 degrees.
To check the temperature, use a fridge/freezer thermometer.
To maintain the temperature, open the door as little as possible. Keep your fridge full but not packed. Dust the cooling vents to keep your appliance running as smoothly as possible.
Here’s the bottom line:
If your fridge is set too low, items can freeze. If it’s set too high, bacteria can grow and you run the risk of creating food-borne illnesses.
Keep yourself and your family safe and make sure that the fridge is set where it belongs – somewhere comfortably between 35 and 37 degrees!
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