Your refrigerator presents a challenge when you’re doing a DIY move. It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s prone to scratching, and it’s got delicate internal mechanisms that can get damaged easily.

However, with these tips from our pros, you’ll be able to move your refrigerator like an expert. We’ll show you how to prep your fridge, how to protect it for the move, and how to get it from Point A to Point B safely and easily.

But, first, there’s a question you should ask yourself:

“Should I Move My Refrigerator?”

Some people get really attached to their appliances. If you just upgraded to a new Sub-Zero fridge, we understand why you’d want to take it with you.

However, if you’re packing a container to move to Hawaii, your move will ultimately be priced by weight. Refrigerators weigh a lot, so they’re expensive to move.

Before you commit to moving your refrigerator, ask:

  • Is my fridge an older model? (If so, you may want to leave it right where it is!)
  • Am I sure it will fit in my new kitchen? (Kitchens can be smaller in Hawaii.)
  • Am I positive it will fit into the house? (To be safe, you’ll want to measure every opening it needs go through.)

If you have any doubts, leave your fridge in your current home.

However, if you’re sure you want to move it, we’ll show you how to get it where it needs to go.

How to Prep Your Fridge for Your DIY Move

Find the Owner’s Manual

Start by finding the owner’s manual for your refrigerator. If you threw it out, you can likely find a PDF online. The manual will contain model-specific information for your fridge that will prove useful for your move, such as:

  • How to disconnect the water line for your automatic ice maker
  • How to remove all the internal parts of your fridge, like the shelves and trays
  • How to prep your refrigerator for storage
  • Any moving instructions specific to your refrigerator

Once you’ve read up on your fridge, it’s time to get to work.

Eliminate as Much Moisture as Possible

When you’re shipping appliances in a container, your biggest concern will be moisture. Moisture can lead to mold, so you need to dry out your fridge as much as possible before prepping it for the move.

(If you’re moving down the street, this isn’t quite as important. However, if your refrigerator is going to be in storage for any length of time, follow these guidelines.)

Here’s your moisture-eliminating plan:

One week before your move:

  • Unplug your refrigerator or freezer and defrost it.
  • If you have an automatic ice maker, disconnect the water line at the back of your fridge.
  • As soon as any ice has melted, give the whole thing a thorough cleaning.
  • Remove any internal parts like drawers, shelves, and racks, and set them aside.
  • Leave the doors open and let the appliance dry out completely.

A few days before your move:

  • Put a few boxes of baking soda in the fridge and freezer to absorb lingering moisture and odors, and shut the doors.

The night before your move:

  • Open your fridge back up and remove the baking soda.
  • Towel out any remaining moisture and clean any final spots that need a little extra attention.
  • At this point, your fridge should be completely dry and completely clean for your move.

Disassemble Any Removable Parts

We mentioned this above, but we just want to emphasize this point: Before you move your fridge, take out any parts you can, including shelves, racks, drawers, etc. Set them aside for cleaning and then pack them separately. Otherwise, they may shift during transport and break.

Now that you’ve done all your prep work, it’s time to start moving!

Move Your Refrigerator Right

Wrap It & Protect It

Start by moving your refrigerator out from the wall, then roll up the cord and secure it to the back of the refrigerator. Don’t use packing tape, since that can leave a sticky residue. Instead, use something like blue painter’s tape to get the cord safely out of the way.

To secure the doors and offer a first layer of protection, wrap your fridge in stretch wrap. If you’ve never used stretch wrap before, imagine a huge roll of plastic wrap—the same stuff you use to cover food in your fridge, only wider and longer. You’ll find rolls of this stuff at moving supply and hardware stores.

Then, wrap your fridge once more, this time in moving blankets, to protect the exterior from scratches or damage.

Get an Appliance Dolly

As we mentioned earlier, refrigerators are not only big, they’re also heavy. If you’re moving one yourself, you should get what’s called an appliance dolly. This specialized piece of equipment will help you safely get your refrigerator out of your home and into your container or truck.

What’s an Appliance Dolly?

Appliance dollies are similar to regular dollies, but they’re built to handle heavier weights. Additionally, they usually have built-in straps, which will help you secure your fridge to the dolly so it doesn’t accidentally slip off.

Renting an appliance dolly might seem like just one more moving expense. However, if you’re going to go to the trouble of moving your refrigerator, you might as well do it right.

When you’re loading your fridge onto the dolly, always slide it underneath the side of the fridge. Loading it from the front or the back can damage it. Additionally, this is a two-person job, so you’ll need one person to manage the dolly and one helper to assist.

To load your fridge, slide the dolly under one side. Secure it to the dolly with the straps. Then, have your helper go to the opposite side of the fridge and help you tilt the fridge slightly so the weight is resting on the dolly’s wheels. Have your helper accompany you as you navigate your appliance through doorways and around any obstacles.

Keep your fridge upright as much as possible during the move!

Although it will need to tip slightly when it’s on the dolly, try to minimize the angle of your fridge as much as you can. Additionally, when you put it in your container, make sure it stays upright. Storing your refrigerator on its side is generally not a good idea, and it can lead to permanent damage.

Avoid Any Jolts

As we mentioned earlier, your refrigerator has a lot of sensitive machinery. Big bumps can jar things loose, so do as much as you can to ease the refrigerator slowly over any bumps. The same goes for stairs. Take it slow and easy.

Secure It in Your Container

Once you’ve got the fridge wheeled up your ramp and into your container or truck, you’ll want to make sure it stays in place during the move. Use tie-down straps to secure your fridge to the rails or attachment points on the side of the container or trailer. (And, remember, keep your fridge upright!) Once it’s tied down, you should feel confident that your refrigerator won’t accidentally roll around or shift during transit.

At this point, you’re ready to pack the rest of your container for your move.

Setting Your Fridge Up in Your New Home

Finally, once your fridge has arrived at your new home, all that’s left is to get it inside and set up.

Reverse the Process, and Reconnect Everything

After removing any straps or tie-downs, take your appliance dolly, and do the same thing you did in your kitchen at your old home. Slide the dolly under the side of the fridge. Have your helper assist as you tilt it slightly so the weight rests on the wheels of the dolly.

Take it slow!

When you start wheeling your fridge down the ramp from your container, gravity is going to want to take over quickly. Ask a couple of friends to help you ease it down slowly so you don’t lose control of the dolly as it rolls down the ramp.

Lastly, make sure you have someone to help you navigate your fridge through each doorway and into your new kitchen.

Let It Sit First

Rather than connecting everything immediately, let your fridge sit in your new kitchen for a few hours before plugging it in. Check your owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer has recommendations for your specific model. At a minimum, let it sit for two hours.

Then, once you reconnect everything and plug in your fridge, it will still take 24-48 hours (or longer!) for your fridge to get cold enough. Give your fridge enough time to reach a stable temperature before you fill it with food.

Your Refrigerator Moved Safely and Easily

Refrigerators are one of the trickier items to move. However, when you know how to get it done and what to look out for, it can be a relatively easy process. Wrap it carefully, keep it upright, get an appliance dolly, and go slow, and you’ll avoid a majority of the challenges people experience during DIY moves.

Ready to Book Your Container for Your Hawaii Move?

If you’re doing a DIY move to Hawaii, we can get you the best rate available for your container. We specialize in affordable self-service moves, and, with three decades of experience, we’ll make sure your move gets done right. Just reach out for a free quote to get started.