What temperature should a fridge be?

Correct fridge temperature should be between 0 degrees and 5 degrees

It’s important to keep your fridge temperature set correctly. It needs to be between 0 – 5 degrees Centigrade.

If the temperature is too cold, it’s wasting energy, and may freeze milk or vegetables. But if it’s not cold enough, your food and drink won’t last as long. For example, milk can last up to 10 days at 4 degrees, but only 7 days at 7 degrees.

Some fridges manage the temperature automatically, but many do not – does yours? If your fridge displays a digital temperature at all times, it probably keeps it at the correct temperature.

But if you have a manual temperature control inside the fridge with numbers, then it is unlikely to be sophisticated enough to maintain the proper temperature.


Manual temperature control is very crude

Manual temperature control

The previous photo is of my own fridge’s temperature control. As you can see, it’s not a “temperature” control, it’s basically low to high. The thing about these type of thermostats is that they will give different fridge temperatures at different room temperatures.

So when the ambient temperature changes, such as from winter to summer, this type of control needs turning up or down to maintain the correct temperature.


Use a proper fridge thermometer

Having a fridge thermometer inside the fridge will help you set the control optimally. Just adjusting it, so that it always feels cold is fine, but it’s not accurate enough, nor is it optimal. You can save money by keeping the temperature between 0 and 5 degrees centigrade.

Temperature may fluctuate

Bear in mind that many modern fridges have an auto defrost cycle, during which they raise the temperature up 3 or 4 degrees to melt the frozen water on the back wall.

This has the effect of raising the temperature every so often. I spent a lot of time constantly turning the fridge down, then back up when it got too cold before I realised…


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So if you see the temperature has risen above 5 degrees, check back again in a few hours before adjusting. Also, first thing in a morning when the fridge door has been closed all night, the temperature should be lower than during the day when the door gets opened. Try to make sure it doesn’t drop below 0 degrees during the night.


Special thermometers are used for fridges and freezers – do not use mercury filled thermometers

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2 thoughts on “What temperature should a fridge be?”

  1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hi Silvia. If you only have numbers, you need to keep a fridge thermometer in the lower shelf of the fridge, and keep adjusting the dial to keep the fridge temperature in the correct range. There’s no other way. Our fridge only has numbers, but we find it doesn’t need changing much.

    A fridge with a simple thermostat that only works in numbers is very crude. It’s just warm, cold and very cold, in increments. With a proper fridge thermostat you can always ensure the correct temperature to prevent wasting of energy, accidental freezing of milk, and premature wasting of food and milk because it isn’t being kept cold enough.

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