Home » Will Unplugging A Fridge Damage It? Here’s What You Need to Know

Will Unplugging A Fridge Damage It? Here’s What You Need to Know

Most home appliances can be unplugged without any effect on their performance, but this could be different with refrigerators.

However, if you plan to be away for more than a month, you may consider unplugging your refrigerator. But is it really bad to turn off the refrigerator for long periods?

You must also have heard that keeping the fridge plugged throughout helps in maximizing its efficiency. So, the question is, does unplugging a refrigerator damage it?

In this article, I will talk about what happens when a fridge is unplugged and the precautions to be observed when unplugging.

What Happens When You Unplug the Refrigerator?

When you unplug your fridge and re-plug it right away, you might notice that the compressor won’t start right away. This is usually due to the accumulation of pressure.

The refrigeration compressor is essential as it lies at the center of the refrigeration cycle. Plugging and re-plugging the refrigerator immediately can cause damages to the compressor.

So, the best thing to do is to wait for at least 15 minutes before switching it on again. However, there is no harm in leaving your refrigerator unplugged for a longer period.

Besides, when the fridge is unplugged, the temperature starts rising, and the moisture is retained. This environment is suitable for bacteria and microorganisms.

Thus, bacteria start reproducing. It becomes worse, especially when the door of the refrigerator is closed. This, in turn, leads to a very bad odor in the fridge.

Does Unplugging a Refrigerator Damage It?

Generally, no. Unplugging a refrigerator won’t damage it. Just like most household appliances, unplugging your fridge won’t affect its performance. The problem usually arises if the plugging and unplugging are not correctly performed or done in quick succession.

6 Precautions to Take Before Turning Off and Unplugging a Fridge

If you are going on a vacation that will take more than 4 weeks, you might be worried about your fridge. When leaving the house, it’s always easy to unplug other appliances such as cookers and dishwashers.

But when it comes to refrigerators, it’s a different case. Here are 5 precautions that should be taken into consideration whenever unplugging a refrigerator;

1. Remove All Food

If you want to unplug your refrigerator, you should start by removing all the food. Then turn the circuit breaker off. Food in an unplugged fridge can easily go bad, especially the perishable ones.

2. Turn the Icemaker and the Temperature Control Off

If your refrigerator is fitted with an ice maker, make sure that you turn it off too. Don’t forget to bring it into a cleaning position to ensure that it is cleaned too.

Also, turn off the temperature control and water supply. If you are not sure of how to do it, you may refer to the fridge’s manual to ensure that you do it correctly.

3. Clean it Thoroughly

Your fridge may have accumulated some food particles on various parts, which may attract unwanted pests like roaches to your fridge. Thus, you have to clean the whole fridge thoroughly to avoid a bad odor when the fridge is unplugged. The ice maker should be cleaned too. You may consider using baking soda while cleaning to ensure that the fridge stays fresh.

4. Keep it Dry

Bacteria are likely to multiply in moist and warm areas. To prevent this, ensure that you dry the fridge with a clean piece of cloth after cleaning it.

5. Leave the Doors Open

Once the fridge is clean and dry, leave the doors open. This helps in facilitating air circulation in the fridge. It also helps in preventing the formation of bad odors and molds.

3 Types of Fridge Damage

1. Electrical

Electrical damage involves the electrical aspect of the unit. When this happens, the refrigerator’s performance will be greatly affected.

2. Physical

Physical damage only affects the appearance or cosmetic aspect of your unit and will not affect the performance of the fridge.

3. Mechanical

Mechanical damage usually affects the compressor but does not generally affect the performance of your refrigerator.


When is the right time to unplug the refrigerator?

The only time you should unplug your refrigerator is when you’ll be leaving your house for a long vacation.

Is it bad to unplug a refrigerator?
Generally, no. However, if you have food inside the fridge, unplugging your refrigerator will lead to the food warming up. When this happens, bacteria and moisture will start to seep in. The USDA recommends that any food left in an unplugged refrigerator for more than 4 hours should be thrown out.


Refrigerators are made to keep food cool and fresh 24/7. Ideally, always leave your refrigerator plugged.

But what if you want to go for a vacation and don’t want to leave any appliance connected? In cases where you are going out for less than 4 weeks, you might not need to unplug your fridge.

If you have to unplug, follow those precautions to ensure that you are not caught by disgusting surprises.

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