How Long Does It Take for a Fridge to Get Cold?

Your refrigerator is one of the most important appliances in the kitchen. You demand cold temperatures, so your food doesn’t spoil. Whether you buy a new or used fridge, there’s a set time to wait before it gets cold.

There’s no such thing as a “plug and play” refrigerator. No matter what, refrigerators will take some time to get cold throughout the inside. Don’t push it. Your food may go bad because of sitting at dangerous temperatures. So how long does it actually take for a fridge to get cold?

Steps to Get a Fridge Cold


Once you follow the steps to plug a fridge in, you’ll want it to reach the optimum temperature.

Consumer Reports recommends 37 degrees F as the ideal internal temperature for your refrigerator. This will keep all the food inside as fresh as can be.

The good news is that there are things that you can do to get the fridge cooled quickly.

  1. Ensure the fridge is a few inches away from the wall for proper ventilation.
  2. Place ice into the freezer.
  3. Don’t open the doors for at least two hours.
  4. Keep the temperature in the kitchen cool.

How long does it take for a fridge to get cold? While it varies by model, most will start to get cold within two to four hours. The optimum internal temperature should take no more than 24 hours.

Tips for Adding Food to the Fridge

While the temperature may be cold enough to store your food, you should make sure that the temperature will hold. You don’t want your food to spoil.

Place cold food inside of the fridge. If it’s too warm, it will raise the temperature.

Try to spread the coldest food throughout the fridge. If you don’t have enough items to fill the fridge, place something in every area. As more cold food goes in, it will help to maintain the cold temperature.

Wait at least 24 hours to put temperamental foods into the fridge. Foods that need time and temperature control require caution. Such foods include milk, eggs, meat, and poultry. Otherwise, they could spoil or cause food poisoning upon consumption.

When you have the time to wait, simply wait as long as possible before adding foods into the fridge. It will ensure everything is going to stay cold.

What if My Fridge Isn’t Cold After 12 Hours?

Most refrigerators should start getting cold within two to four hours. You should see progress after 12. Older refrigerators may need a full 24 hours.

There are a few tips that you can use to troubleshoot the problem:

  • Use an external thermometer to read the temperature
  • Check to see if the condenser is running
  • Look for clogged coils behind or under the refrigerator

If there is no sign of electricity going to the refrigerator, be sure it hasn’t tripped the breaker. Go to your electrical panel to see if the breaker flipped. Turn it off, turn it back on, and see if the refrigerator is getting electricity.

You may be impatiently waiting on your fridge to get to the desired temperature. While it may not fit your time schedule, it’s best to wait. Failure to get your refrigerator to a cool enough temperature can spoil your food. This causes you to lose money on grocery items.

When you wait 12 to 24 hours for your fridge to get cold, it ensures it is capable of maintaining the temperature. If you’ve waited 24 hours only to find warmth, you’ll want to schedule the help of a technician. Even with cold items and an ice pack, a warm fridge is not safe for any food products.