When to Defrost the Refrigerator When Moving

Updated February 21, 2017

Defrosting your refrigerator before you move ensures it is frost-free, clean and dry. Refrigerator manufacturers recommend drying the refrigerator completely before attempting to move it. When you arrive at your destination, your clean, defrosted refrigerator should smell clean, dry and ready for its place in your new home.

Manual Defrost Refrigerator

When a refrigerator is a manual defrost model, it requires running it through a defrosting cycle before you move it. Defrosting typically involves turning the refrigerator control dial to the defrost setting or to "Off." You should remove all the food and ice cube trays from the refrigerator before defrosting it to avoid any messes. You will also need to allow the ice ample time to melt.


Many newer models of refrigerators are "frost-free." These types of refrigerators do not require defrosting and should have little to no ice build-up. Simply turn off the refrigerator and allow it to sit until it is warm inside. Giving it time to warm ensures any small amount of ice build-up in the freezer melts.

Recommended Timeline

When time permits, defrost the refrigerator or turn it off -- if you have a frost-free model -- one week before you plan to move. This gives the refrigerator sufficient time to defrost or dry. Refrigerator manufacturers recommend cleaning the refrigerator and freezer once it completely thaws out. You should allow the refrigerator to dry after you clean it; you'll want to wipe down the walls thoroughly to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Defrosting and cleaning the refrigerator the week before you move guarantees you are moving a dry refrigerator so you can prevent any mould growth.

Warnings and Suggestions

If you are short on time, you can fast track the process by placing a pan of hot water in the freezer to decrease the time it takes the freezer to defrost. You may also place an empty pan underneath the freezer to catch any excess draining water. You'll want to avoid using a knife or other sharp object to remove the frost from the freezer walls as this can cause damage to your appliance. An appropriate tool to remove frost build-up, when necessary, is a plastic scraper. Do not use any electrical instruments to defrost your refrigerator as this can result in electrocution.

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About the Author

Sommer Leigh has produced home, garden, family and health content since 1997 for such nationally known publications as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Midwest Living," "Healthy Kids" and "American Baby." Leigh also owns a Web-consulting business and writes for several Internet publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in information technology and Web management from the University of Phoenix.