When You Travel, Should You Unplug The Refrigerator And Leave The Door Open?

Refrigerators are essential home appliances.

They help keep perishables fresh and preserve foods, among other items.

As such, if you are planning to go on a holiday, especially for an extended period, your fridge is one of the appliances you need to tend to before leaving.

Otherwise, you may return to a fridge with spoiled food and a stale smell.

So, Should You Unplug The Refrigerator And Leave The Door Open?

Unplugging the fridge can help you save on electrical costs and minimize safety concerns. Further, leaving the door open allows moisture to escape, ultimately preventing mold from growing inside the fridge.

How To Prepare Your Refrigerator Before Leaving For An Extended Vacation

Refrigerators (and freezers) are probably the only household appliances that can remain plugged in 24/7, year in and year out.

While this means you can leave your fridge running when you’re going to be away for the weekend or a few weeks, should you leave the fridge plugged when going on a long vacation?

Well, if you are planning to travel for more than four weeks, it is vitally important to unplug your fridge and leave its door open.

Unplugging the unit will save energy costs while eliminating fire risk and other hazards associated with running electrical appliances.

Here is what to do before leaving on vacation:

  1. Empty the refrigerator and freezer, then wipe the inside surface with a rag dampened with a cleaning solution.
  2. Unplug it. Also, turn off the applicable circuit breaker.
  3. Turn off the icemaker and water supply to the fridge, then discard any ice cubes in the dispenser ice tray. Next, remove the reservoir and empty it.
  4. Place an open box of baking soda in the fridge to help trap odors. You can as well use dryer sheets or unused coffee.
  5. Leave the refrigerator door open. This will allow moisture to escape, preventing mold from growing.

The idea behind unplugging your fridge and leaving its door open when traveling for an extended period is to keep it in the same state it would be if it were stored.

Four “Unplugging Refrigerator” Before Traveling Considerations

1. Time You’re Going To Be Away

How long you plan to be away is perhaps the most crucial factor to consider before you can unplug your refrigerator.

As a general rule of thumb, if you will be away for not more than a month, leave the fridge running; otherwise, unplug it.

Of importance, you should never leave any perishables in the fridge unless you are going to be away for a weekend only.

If you are going to be away for a few weeks and want to leave the fridge running, put jugs of water in the refrigerator compartments to help keep the temperatures steady.

2. Costs

Refrigerators are not the most taxing appliances energy-wise.

This is especially true considering that they are designed to run 24/7.

Even so, when traveling for a long period, you may want to save on energy costs by unplugging it.

On the other hand, the hassle of emptying, defrosting, and disconnecting your refrigerators might not be worth the small electrical savings if you are traveling for less than four weeks.

3. Refrigerator Contents

No matter how long you plan to be away, the contents of your refrigerators are a key determinant of whether you should unplug the unit or not.

For instance, if you have veggies and plan to travel for two weeks, you may consider giving them away or leaving the fridge plugged in.

In contrast, if all you have in the fridge are hardy condiments that can survive for long, you may just want to leave the fridge plugged in and set it at a warmer temperature.

Always see what you have in the fridge and make a prudent decision depending on how long you are going to be away.

4. Safety Concerns

Safety is paramount at all times.

When contemplating whether or not to unplug your refrigerator when traveling, it is imperative to consider the safety of your property.

This is very important, with electrical appliances being prominent causes of fire in residential properties.

While refrigerators do not pose a serious threat, even when left running for long hours, any electrical appliance can be a fire hazard, especially if it has faulty components or wiring.

For this reason, if your fridge is not in pristine condition, it is best to unplug it before leaving your home for a vacation. It is simple, but it can save your property.

Three Situations That Make It Worth It To Unplug A Refrigerator

Fridges are designed to run continuously, so it seldom makes sense to unplug them. All in all, there are times when it makes perfect sense to unplug your refrigerator.

Here are some of the scenarios that give you a reason enough to unplug your fridge:

1. When Going On An Extended Vacation

There is no good reason to keep the inside of your fridge cold when it is not being used.

Running the unit will consume energy, and like other electrical appliances, it poses a fire risk.

Unplugging the refrigerator reduces the risk of electrical fires when you are away while helping you save on energy bills.

2. If Your Fridge Malfunctions

Malfunctioning can signify another serious issue.

If your fridge is unable to stay cold, it is best to switch it off and unplug it, then call in a professional to fix it.

3. When You Are Cleaning

In most cases, wiping your fridge will leave it clean.

However, if you need to deep clean your refrigerator, it is imperative to unplug it for safety reasons. Remember to dry each area thoroughly before plugging the fridge in again.

Will Unplugging Your Refrigerator Harm It?

Unplugging your fridge poses no threat to the unit. The only serious concern arises when you unplug the refrigerator and hurriedly plug it in again.

Replugging a refrigerator shortly after you unplug it can overload its compressor as it strains to continue circulating the cooling gas throughout the appliance.

Consequently, this can overload your motor and potentially cause it to fail.


Whether or not to unplug your refrigerator when traveling depends on a number of factors.

In most cases, you should be able to leave your fridge plugged in and running if you are going for less than one month.

If you are going to be away for quite a long, consider emptying the unit, unplugging it, and leaving its door open.