You can save money by moving a fridge yourself. But is it feasible? Yes, if you take the time to learn how to move a refrigerator correctly.

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How to move a refrigerator

Moving into a new home or apartment is a challenging task. And if you’re planning on taking any of your large appliances with you, it can quickly become even more of a headache. 

Unfortunately, no magical formula will make moving a fridge any less painstaking and tedious. Not only are refrigerators cumbersome and bulky in size and shape, but they can also be incredibly costly. Add in the potential for damage and even serious injury, and it’s easy to see why learning how to move a refrigerator correctly can be crucial to ensuring a successful move. 

Can I Move a Fridge By Myself?

Depending on your situation, it might be best to leave the task of moving your refrigerator to the professionals. Do you live in a walk-up apartment building or need to move your fridge down a particularly steep flight of stairs? Maybe you have an existing injury that could be exasperated by moving a heavy appliance or don’t want to risk damaging your fridge during the move. 

Professional movers are generally prepared with the right equipment and expertise needed to move heavy appliances like refrigerators. So while it is possible to move a refrigerator on your own or with the help of a friend, hiring a moving company can help alleviate any added stress on your moving day. 

Related: How to Choose a Reputable Moving Company

If paying for a professional moving company isn’t in your budget or just isn’t an option for whatever reason, we’ve got you covered. 

Whether you need to know how to move a fridge out of a tight space or want to make sure this expensive household appliance doesn’t get damaged during your move, don’t panic. Here’s how to safely move a refrigerator from point A to point B, regardless of how far it has to travel. 

What Tools Do You Need to Move a Refrigerator?

When it comes to moving any large, heavy, or bulky appliance, preparation is key. Before moving your fridge out of its current spot in your kitchen, take the time to gather all the tools you’ll need to get the job done.

How to Move a Refrigerator By Yourself: Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Appliance dolly with straps
  • Measuring tape
  • Screwdriver or drill
  • Moving blankets
  • Tape or rope
  • Minimum of two people

How to Move a Refrigerator: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step One: Clean out and defrost the unit

The first step to moving a refrigerator is prepping it thoroughly for the move ahead. It may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you take out any food items and either discard or store them in a cooler. You’ll need enough ice to keep your food properly chilled for the duration of the move, as well as the period it takes the fridge to cool down once it is moved.

Pro Tip: Plan ahead by eating all your perishable food in the weeks leading up to the move. Meal prepping during this period will make you less likely to need to grocery shop last minute or rely on fast food.

After all of the food has been removed, clean the inside surfaces of the refrigerator thoroughly using a mixture of baking soda and water. You can also melt any remaining ice in the freezer section of the fridge by using a hair dryer. Just be sure to clean up any remaining water! Taking these steps in advance will prevent accidental water leaks while the fridge is in transit.

Optional tip: Adding a moisture-absorbent substance like activated charcoal inside the refrigerator will help prevent odors from building up during the move.

Related: A Complete Guide to Storing Food in the Fridge

Step Two: Disconnect fridge according to the user manual

A few hours before moving, it’s time to turn your refrigerator fully off. If you have an ice maker and water filter in your fridge, disconnect these well in advance using the instructions in your owner’s manual. It’s important to note that most moving companies will not disconnect the fridge for you, so you’ll need to do this regardless of whether you’re hiring movers or not.

After the refrigerator is unplugged and completely disconnected, protect it by rolling up the cord and taping it to the back of the fridge. Next, remove the refrigerator doors per the owner’s manual instructions or secure them closed using bungee cords or rope. You’ll want to store all loose screws and other small pieces together in a zip-lock bag for safekeeping.

Once your refrigerator is fully prepared for the move, you can wrap the exterior in moving blankets or cushioning to prevent dings and scratches. For extra protection, remove your refrigerator drawers and glass shelves that could break on the way to your new home. If you’re not going far, you can tape drawers in place instead.

Related: How to Protect Your Furniture When Moving

Step Three: Measure the fridge and doorways to create a moving plan

How you move your fridge from your kitchen to the moving truck will be largely dependent on your home’s floor plan, the fridge’s dimensions, and how narrow your doorways are. In some cases, you may need to remove both the doors in your home and the doors on your fridge so that it can fit through.

Before you begin, measure your refrigerator’s height, width, and depth. Then measure the height and width of your doorways and hallways. It can be incredibly helpful to map everything out on a notepad and create a concrete plan for how you will fit the refrigerator through each doorway. The last thing you want is to have the fridge all set and secure on the dolly, try to push it through a doorway, and realize after the fact that it won’t fit.

Step Four: Remove obstacles like doors as necessary

Based on the refrigerator moving plan you created, the next step is removing everything in your path that could get in the way. This could include removing doors from hinges, removing stair railings, and even temporarily removing furniture, pets, and children from the area. Ideally, you want a clear shot out of the house and onto the moving truck, so you can spend the least time and effort lifting, pushing, and transporting this heavy appliance.

Related: How to Keep Kids Busy on Moving Day

Step Five: Slide the fridge out and strap it onto the dolly

In case you didn’t know: Most fridges are actually on wheels, making sliding them in different directions a pretty easy task. To move your refrigerator physically, slide it forward to separate it from the wall. You can take extra precautions by lifting the fridge forward slightly and placing furniture sliders underneath the back of the refrigerator. 

Next, position yourself at the front of the fridge, grab both sides, and push it from side to side while guiding it forward. You may be able to pull your refrigerator forward easily in a straight shot, but if you have trouble, try wiggling it a bit to guide it where it needs to go. Just be sure to keep your knees bent and your back as straight as possible to avoid injury.

Once the fridge is separated from the wall, it’s time to load it onto the appliance dolly. Have one person lift the fridge slightly on one side. At the same time, the other person will slide the moving dolly underneath the side of the refrigerator that’s lifted off the floor. Loading the fridge onto the dolly on its side is an important detail here— do not push the dolly onto the front or back of the refrigerator. 

Finally, use the dolly straps to tighten the fridge into place and secure it on the moving dolly.

Related: How to Move Large Items With Ease

Step Six: Tilt the fridge back and move slowly with care

Slowly tilt the fridge back, making sure that both the top and bottom of the fridge are evenly positioned on the dolly. Remember, a fridge should not be tipped back more than 45 degrees. Walk the dolly with care to your first step. If you have to set the fridge back down at any time, do so slowly and with someone on the other side who can help you guide it down.

Why should you not tip a refrigerator? 

Tipping a fridge over or laying it fully on its side while moving can cause permanent damage to the appliance and cause several different chemicals and fluids, like oil and lubricants, to shift. Because you’ll be storing food inside your fridge, you never want these fluids to move around or leak into areas of the appliance where they shouldn’t be.

Once the fridge is securely tipped on the dolly, walk carefully as you make your way to your destination. If you need to take a break or set the refrigerator back down at any time, do so slowly and with someone on the other side who can help you guide it down.

How to Move a Fridge Down Stairs

If the layout of your home leads to moving your refrigerator down steps of any kind, you will want to take extra precautions. While one person moves the fridge forward with the dolly, the other person should be below it to help guide the dolly down the steps one at a time. 

It may seem counter-intuitive, but instead of pushing your fridge down the stairs, pull the dolly back toward you while you move down each step. All the while, keep the fridge tilted at a 45-degree angle. This will help you maintain complete control of the dolly at all times and prevent the weight of the fridge from falling too far forward. 

The person at the bottom should make sure the fridge always stays positioned toward the back of the dolly and doesn’t jut forward.

Step Seven: Guide the fridge into the moving truck

Using a plank or a comparable slanted surface, use the dolly to guide the fridge into the moving truck or pickup truck. A plank or platform is much easier to navigate than lifting the fridge onto the truck yourself.

Related: 9 Tips to Help Make Moving in Winter Months Less Annoying

Step Eight: Secure the refrigerator for the move

Once the fridge is in the truck and ready for the long trek ahead, avoid laying it on its side or tipping it too far back. Secure the refrigerator to the truck using additional straps, bungee cords, or rope along the top and sides of the fridge. 

Pro Tip: It’s easiest to keep the fridge on the dolly at this point instead of re-securing it once it reaches its final destination. That way, you can move your fridge into your new home as soon as you arrive without having to go through all the steps again.

How long should a fridge sit after moving? 

Once you get your fridge to its new location, wait a couple of hours before plugging it back in. Remember: Your fridge is full of different fluids that have now been shaken around on the drive over. Allowing your fridge to sit before plugging it back in gives everything time to settle back into the proper compartments. 

Once you plug your fridge back in, wait for the manufacturer’s recommended amount of time before you add food. Typically this ranges between 24-72 hours. If, for some reason, you had to move the fridge while on its side, keep it upright for twice as long as it was on its side before you plug it back in.

Related: The Best Way to Store Vegetables to Maximize Freshness

Other Helpful Tips on How to Safely Move a Fridge:

  • If you’re not plugging your fridge back in right away, keep the doors open to prevent odor build up.
  • Always store a refrigerator in the upright position.
  • Make sure the weight on the dolly is balanced before moving any large appliances.
  • If you need to move your refrigerator up a flight of stairs, consider positioning an additional person at the bottom. They can help lift the fridge up the stairs as you pull the dolly up a step at a time.

Check Out More Moving Resources:

About the Authors

Emily Malkowski

Emily Malkowski is a writer and SEO strategist with over 5 years experience, living in Buffalo, New York. Having graduated from University at Buffalo with a Bachelor's degree in Communications, her work has appeared in outlets like The American Prospect, Roadtrippers Magazine, Step Out Buffalo, and more.

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at The Spruce and Martha Stewart.

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