What’s the right temperature setting to keep my fridge and freezer?
In short, the refrigerator should be set to maintain temperatures at or below 40 F and above 32 F to avoid freezing. The freezer should be set at 0 F.
Some additional considerations to keep in mind when setting or adjusting the temperature:
- Temperature changes in the refrigerator and freezer can be caused by a variety of activities, such as:
- Opening and closing frequently during prep for parties, while the kids are home from school, etc.;
- Overstuffing with food when stocking up on extra groceries for the holidays or storing more leftovers than usual; and
- Adding large amounts of unfrozen food to the freezer at once. (For best food quality, add no more than 2 pounds of unfrozen food to the freezer in one 24-hour period).
- To account for temperature swings, you can adjust the settings when your fridge or freezer use deviates from the norm, but be cautious to not overcompensate and don’t forget to return settings to their normal positions when life returns to normal.
- Meat, deli and fruit and veggie bins sometimes have their own controls and can be adjusted accordingly. If you ever store items in locations other than their usual spots (e.g., lettuce in the meat bin), remember to adjust the temperature to best accommodate the items inside.
- Because of wear and tear -- such as leakage around the door seals -- the controls on older refrigerators may need to be adjusted over time to keep the temperatures at the prescribed settings.
--As told to Jessica Tolliver
About the Expert
Lucinda Ottusch is an expert at the Whirlpool Institute of Kitchen Science.