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Don’t Put Things on Top of Your Fridge

Contrary to what most of us think, the top of your fridge isn’t intended to be an extra shelf. Here’s why.

Let’s face it, the chances are high you have at least a few things sitting on top of your fridge right now.

Maybe it’s cereal boxes, maybe it’s old candles, or maybe it’s dry canned goods that you don’t have room for in your cabinets or pantry. Some folks—like a member of our editorial team or two—have found Halloween candy from a couple of years ago up there!

While many of us see it that way, it’s not a good idea to think of the top of your refrigerator as storage space. The items you store there will not only be exposed to residual heat, but can easily tip over and hurt someone in your household.

Let’s run through why you should have this space free from stuff right now!

Why You Shouldn’t Put Things on Top of Your Fridge

Literally every fridge manufacturer advises against keeping things on top of the appliance.

At the same time, these manufacturers understand that most folks are going to end up sticking something up there anyway—which is why they also have a couple of guidelines that you should stick to.

For one thing, you need to be sure that you don’t put any heat-generating items up there. (We will explain why in a minute.)

Secondly, you want to make sure that anything up on your refrigerator that could fall off and injure someone in your household is taken down as soon as possible.

Third, you need to be sure that you aren’t putting any more than 45 pounds worth of “stuff” up top. Ideally, you wouldn’t even get close to reaching that weight limit.

Now that we’ve squared that away, let’s dig into why you shouldn’t be using your refrigerator as an extra shelf in the first place.

It’s Tough to Reach Stuff Up There!

Unless you play for a team in the NBA, the odds are pretty good you’ll have a tough time reaching the top of your refrigerator—especially the back part of that fridge, against your kitchen wall.

Sure, you might be able to pull things down from the front of your refrigerator without having to jump on a step stool or breakout a ladder. But, as far as storage space in the kitchen goes, this is one of the more inconvenient flat spots in the room.

Your Fridge Runs Hotter Than You Think

For obvious reasons, a lot of people don’t think of their refrigerator as a heat-generating appliance.

If you’ve ever put your hand on the backside of your refrigerator after it had been plugged in for a day or two, though, you know just how much heat it pumps out. This thing gets hot!

A fridge is basically a box with a compressor that moves a liquid, called “refrigerant fluid,” through a system of coils:

  • The coils on the inside of the fridge contain cold, low-pressure liquid that cools your food;
  • The coils on the back of the fridge contain hot, high-pressure fluid that releases heat into the refrigerator’s surroundings.

This heat rises upward and warms your kitchen walls, anything on top of the refrigerator, and any objects near it.

Not only can that ambient heat destroy the things that you put on top of your refrigerator (often with you not even realizing it at first), but it can also do a number on the appliance itself.

Unless you like really dry, stale bread and pastries, warm cereal every morning, and plants that die the second that you put them up there—as well as potentially replacing your refrigerator every couple of years—you’re probably going to want to keep this space clear.

Certain Items Can Become Tip-Over Risks

Heavy items on top of your refrigerator, like small kitchen appliances you just can’t find another spot for, can create potential tip-over risks.

This is especially true if these heavy small appliances are put up near the front of the refrigerator for easy access.

You run the risk of throwing the balance of your refrigerator out of whack completely, and of having the whole thing come tumbling down on you the second that you open the doors. Or have those small appliances slide off and knock somebody on the head.

Obviously, that’s not the kind of situation you want to deal with the next time that you sneak into the kitchen for a midnight snack!

Stuff Slides Behind the Refrigerators All the Time

Most refrigerators are designed to have a bit of “buffer space” between the heat and cooling condensers on the back of the unit and the kitchen wall that they have been pushed up against.

This buffer zone is necessary for heat control, but what happens when things that you place on top of that refrigerator end up getting knocked down, slide behind the fridge and then get trapped back there forever?

Nothing good, that’s what.

Even worse is when smaller items get stuck between those heating and cooling condenser coils, trapped inside of that hardware, and then inevitably get melted and burned.

You end up with a fire hazard on your hands faster than you ever would have thought possible—all because that Halloween candy you forgot about got knocked in the back when someone went to replace a cereal box back up top.

You’ll Have to Take Things Down to Move Your Fridge 

At the end of the day, though, one of the biggest reasons to keep the top of your refrigerator free and clear is because of how annoying it is to have to take everything down every time you have to move the fridge.

If you (like most folks) like to keep your kitchen clean, the odds are pretty good you’re rolling that refrigerator out from its spot every now and again and making sure that it is sparkly clean, too.

Well, you can’t just roll that refrigerator around when you have all kinds of things stuck up top. That’s a tip-over risk, a falling risk, and generally a big annoyance.

Instead, you have to climb on a step stool, pull everything down and pile it on your countertop, move your fridge and clean it, and then slide the fridge back just to reverse the process and fill the space up top with all kinds of “junk” all over again.

Who wants to do that twice a month?


At the end of the day, if you really want to take advantage of the storage space available on top of a refrigerator and between your ceiling, it’s a good idea to install a permanent (or semipermanent) floating shelf.

You’ll be much happier with the results!