How To Properly Ship a Refrigerator When You Move

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated October 15, 2021
A young woman looking inside a refrigerator
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Get your fridge to your new home without worry or damage

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Committing to moving a refrigerator is a big deal. The expense, the heft, the size, the prep work—they’re all working against you. But if you follow these tips for properly shipping a refrigerator, you’ll get it to your new home in the same condition you packed it, just in time for a fresh start in your new digs. 

3 Ways To Ship a Refrigerator During a Move

There are multiple ways to ship a refrigerator. Your budget and time constraints will probably guide your decision.

Do-it-Yourself

If you choose a budget-friendly DIY, you’ll need a truck, a dolly, straps, a ramp, and a few friends (plus a little bribery) to help move the heavier items down the stairs. Make sure you have extra straps, bungee cords, and tarps on hand to secure your refrigerator in the truck, especially for long hauls. 

Moving Company

Most professional moving companies have a few options to choose from and, according to HomeAdvisor, cost between $600 and $1,650 for the entire move depending on volume and distance. To save money, you can prep the fridge for transport and get it to the curb yourself for loading. This is known as economy shipping. Or, you can invest in a “white glove” service that handles all the prep work (minus the food removal and cleaning) and moves your fridge into your new home. 

Freight Shipping

Though more common for businesses, you might consider freight shipping if you have an oversized unit or multiple refrigerators. With this option, you are responsible for preparing the fridge by wrapping it with moving blankets. Unfortunately, freight shipping also requires expensive crates for safe passage in the truck.  

5 Tips For Shipping Your Refrigerator Safely

A refrigerator filled with fruits and vegetables
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With a little care and caution, you can deliver your fridge without dents or dings. 

1. Measure for Fit

Before worrying about the costs and hassle of moving your fridge, carefully measure its dimensions, as well as its new location, to confirm your fridge will fit. Also, measure all relevant doorways and hallways.

Here’s a look at a range of standard exterior refrigerator specifications:

  • Width: 28.75 inches to 39.75 inches

  • Height: 61.75 inches to 71.25 inches

  • Depth: 28.75 inches to 34.625 inches

If you don’t have access to your new home, ask the current owner or Realtor to send you the measurements. Even better, if they also include a picture and the size of their existing fridge so you can compare fits. 

2. Clean Your Fridge

Cropped hand in glove cleaning a refrigerator
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Before you clean out the refrigerator, eat up whatever food you can to prevent waste and unnecessary packing. (Party, anyone?) 

Take care to clean, sanitize, and dry the refrigerator completely, including all that forgotten grime and grease laying on the top of your fridge. After all, no DIY move should be plagued with mold and mildew. You can also place a contained pack of baking soda or other charcoal product inside to prevent refrigerator smells and moisture.

3. Disconnect and Defrost

Unplug the fridge and turn off the valve supplying water to the refrigerator door according to the owner’s manual. Then, disconnect all hoses and water lines (you may also need to drain any remaining water in the tubes into an empty bucket). If you’re unsure how to do this, consult a handyperson near you to disassemble it properly. 

Also, you’ll need to defrost the fridge for at least 24 hours (preferably more) before prepping it to move.

4. Prepare the Refrigerator Parts

The shelves and drawers will shift during the move, so wrap each interior drawer, shelf, and storage pan separately. Use protective sheets of bubble wrap or foam and load them into a sturdy moving box to ensure there aren’t any broken parts when you arrive. If you use tape, buy painter’s tape; it doesn’t leave adhesive residue behind. 

If you hired a professional moving company, follow their guidelines for preparing your fridge. They might ask you to box them separately or tape them shut.

5. Wrap the Exterior Tightly

The stainless steel finish or fridge’s fun color was probably a huge selling point when you bought it. To protect the exterior, tape the doors shut and then snuggly wrap the refrigerator with moving blankets secured with straps.

If loading your fridge into a pickup truck, place a blanket or pad along the tailgate to prevent scratches. For longer hauls, store your fridge on its side and turn it against a wall or barrier to secure the doors. 

6. Move and Unload the Refrigerator

Once your fridge arrives at your new location, unload the fridge using a dolly and one of those helpful friends from earlier. Slowly tilt the fridge back, making sure that both the top and bottom of the fridge are evenly positioned on the dolly. Try not to tip your fridge back more than 45 degrees. Slowly maneuver your fridge into the home, being careful to avoid any obstacles along the way. If it helps, remove your doors for more space.

7. Wait to Plug In the Refrigerator

Though tempting, do not plug in your fridge right away. Let your refrigerator sit in the upright position for 24 hours before plugging it in (consult your manufacturer’s guide for specific wait times by brand). If you plug it in before allowing the refrigerant and lubrication oils settle in place, you could burn out the compressor. Allow the fridge to cool completely before placing food inside, usually within 24 hours.

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