9 items never to store on top of the refrigerator, according to professionals

Avoid making kitchen storage mistakes by ensuring you never house these items on top of your refrigerator

An elegant kitchen with marble splashback and fridge
(Image credit: Best Buy)

In a kitchen full to the brim with all kinds of items, it's tempting to make the most of all storage opportunities by keeping some items on top of your refrigerator. However, this isn't always a good idea since certain items can be damaged if they are stored here, or can be harmful to your refrigerator and pose a safety hazard.

For one, refrigerators are kitchen appliances that emit heat in order to keep their inside cold, which means that items that can be damaged by warmer temperatures will be impacted. This is one of the reasons why storing certain products on top of your refrigerator is a kitchen storage mistake.

So, when organizing your kitchen, be sure to never store these items on top of your refrigerator.

Items never to store on top of the refrigerator 

We've seen homeowners regularly store items such as bread, wine, and even electronics on top of their refrigerators, but due to the heat emitted, bread can become stale more quickly, wine can spoil, and electronics can be damaged. 

In addition to this, there are certain safety concerns that come with storing flammable and heavy items on top of refrigerators, so it's important to seriously take into account what can be stored on top of your refrigerator. 

Furthermore, fragile or easily breakable items, like glassware or delicate decorations, can easily fall and shatter due to the vibrations and regular movement of your refrigerator.

1. Food items

A modern kitchen with storage shelves and a fridge

(Image credit: The Home Depot)

Nathaly Vieira, founder of Inspire Clean advises, 'Do not store perishable foods on top of the refrigerator. The temperature on the refrigerator's exterior can fluctuate, potentially causing these items to spoil more quickly. 

'Storing bread, cakes, or pastries on top of the refrigerator may expose them to heat and moisture, which can lead to quicker staleness or mold growth.' Emma Parker, co-founder of The Trout Fish, kitchen organization and cooking site adds, 'Placing bread and pastries on top of the fridge may cause them to dry out faster due to the heat generated by the refrigerator's condenser coils. It's better to keep them in a breadbox or a cool, dry pantry.'

Furthermore, Emma Parker recommends, 'While it may be a convenient storage solution, the heat generated by the fridge can cause potatoes and onions to sprout or spoil more quickly.'

Nathaly Vieira also suggests: 'Avoid placing canned foods on top of the refrigerator. Temperature fluctuations can affect the quality of canned goods, potentially causing spoilage or affecting taste.'

Furthermore, it's not just food that should not be kept on top of your refrigerator, other cooking items should also not be stored there, 'Cooking oils, especially those in clear bottles, are sensitive to light and heat, so storing them on the warm surface of the refrigerator may cause the oil to deteriorate and become rancid more quickly,' says Nathaly Vieira. 'Placing spices on top of the refrigerator exposes them to heat and light, which can diminish their flavor and potency over time. Spices are best stored in a cool, dark place.'

Nathaly Vieira
Nathaly Vieira

Nathaly Vieira is a professional cleaner and founder of Inspire Clean, a cleaning firm that also shares cleaning tips and advice on its website. Based in the US, the company aims to reach people in the Niagara region, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Mississauga, Guelph, and Kitchener-Waterloo.

2. Plants

'The top of your refrigerator is not a good place to store plants,' recommends Ralph Abundo at Canberra Bond Cleaning. 'The heat from the refrigerator can damage the plants.' 

Storing kitchen plants on top of your refrigerator is also risky since if the potted plant falls it can cause a mess. Plus, you want to avoid debris from the plant falling into your refrigerator and contaminating your food.

Ralph Abundo
Ralph Abundo

Ralph Abundo is the Director of Canberra Bond Cleaning. They understand the importance of clean, working appliances. Their bond-back cleaning services include deep degreasing and sanitizing ovens to meet lease-end inspection standards.

3. Flammable Items

Close up of corner of kitchen with large double fridge in alcove, shelving and cabinetry surrounding, kitchen island with sink, brass tap

(Image credit: Humphrey Munson)

'Keep flammable materials, such as paper towels or napkins, away from the fridge's top, where they might be exposed to the heat of the appliance's motor,' recommends Stellar Jackson, an electrical engineer at Portable Power Guides. Storing flammable items on top of your refrigerator can increase the risk of fire.

Of course, if you have a shelf built on top of your refrigerator items that could be considered flammable can be safely stored above the refrigerator on the shelf.

4. Medications

'Medications should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from humidity and temperature fluctuations. Storing them on top of the refrigerator can compromise their effectiveness,' warns Janille Mangat, a cleaning specialist at VMAP

It's important when storing medication not to risk impacting its potency and shelf life, since this can be a costly error that may have repercussions on your health.

5. Heavy items


(Image credit: Future)

You should never place heavy or bulky items on top of the refrigerator. The weight and size of these items can strain the appliance and potentially damage it over time.

'The top of your refrigerator is not designed to support heavy items,' says Ralph Abundo at Canberra Bond Cleaning. 'Storing heavy items on top of your refrigerator can cause it to tip over, which can be dangerous.'

Daniel Herg, interior design expert and head of marketing at Decor and Decor adds, 'Large pans like a Dutch oven or appliances like a mixer can be detrimental if stored on top of your fridge. When you open and close the refrigerator doors, items on top can shift. Eventually, items can move up close to the front of the fridge and fall which could cause injury to anyone below it. Store these items on the bottom of your cupboards or pantries to ensure they don’t fall.'

Storing heavy items on a refrigerator can also just increase the risk of breaking items that are difficult to move. Rosie Elliott, owner of Kitchen Appliance Answer says, 'I learned that lesson quickly after the flour jar I stashed up there came crashing down, coating my whole kitchen in a puff of white dust. The mess took forever to clean up. Now I keep heavy items in lower cabinets only.'

You should also avoid storing items that can block ventilation and openings, as
this can affect the appliance's cooling efficiency, potentially leading to malfunctions. Bear this in mind when building shelves and cabinetry around your fridge.

6. Wine

Emma Parker says, 'The temperature on top of the refrigerator tends to fluctuate, which is not ideal for wine and liquor storage. To preserve the quality of your beverages, keep them in a dedicated wine rack or a cool, dark cabinet.'

Wine is temperature sensitive, plus the vibrations can affect wine's sediments, altering its taste and aging process, which is why storing it on top of a refrigerator is never a good idea.

There are plenty of creative and aesthetic ways to store wine, we've picked some of our favorites, below.

7. Anything that can melt


(Image credit: Future / Jan Baldwin)

Rosie Elliott says, 'Avoid anything that could spoil or melt. One hot summer, I stored
chocolates on top and came back to a gooey mess all over the fridge. Such a
sticky situation!'

The heat from the refrigerator's compressor and motor can also melt or damage candles and pose a safety risk. This can also cause plastic items such as food storage containers can warp or melt.

8. Electrical appliances

Emma Parker says, 'Electronics like radios or small appliances should not be stored on top of the fridge because the heat emitted from the refrigerator's coils can affect their performance and lifespan.'

Furthermore, Ralph Abundo warns, 'The top of your refrigerator can be a fire hazard. Storing flammable items on top of your refrigerator can increase the fire risk.'

You also don't want to risk any electrical appliances falling so they should certainly not be stored on top of your refrigerator.

9. According Feng Shui rules, don't store anything on top of your refrigerator

Glowing countertops in navy and white kitchen

(Image credit: Roundhouse. Photographed by Mary Wadsworth)

Storing items on top of your refrigerator is strictly against kitchen Feng Shui rules. 'Please don’t store anything at all on top of the refrigerator,' says our Feng Shui and Interiors Therapy expert Suzanne Roynon. 'That’s because anything stored above head height on top of a cupboard or refrigerator is symbolically pressing down on the people in the kitchen.

It’s going to potentially cause stress, irritation, and even physical symptoms like back and neck pain, so we’d always recommend keeping the tops of all cupboards and tall appliances completely clear.'

Suzanne Roynon
Suzanne Roynon

Suzanne is a feng shui consultant, interiors therapist and author of Welcome Home, How Stuff Makes or Breaks your Relationshipavailable at Amazon. She specializes in understanding the energetic impact of homes and certain possessions may have on all aspects of life, health and relationships, and the ways in which ‘stuff’ can actively prevent people and families from thriving and enjoying the lifestyle they deserve.

What can go on top of the refrigerator safely?

Rosie Elliot, owner of Kitchen Appliance Answer says, 'I reserve that space for things like extra serving trays, little used appliances, or infrequently needed items. Out of sight but handy when I need them! You just have to remember to dust regularly.'

'While the top of the refrigerator may seem like a convenient storage spot, it's important to be mindful of the items you place there to ensure they remain in good condition', recommends Emma Parker. 'For optimal storage and food safety, consider alternatives such as cabinets, pantries, or dedicated storage solutions for specific items.'

Remember, a clutter-free refrigerator top ensures a cleaner and more hygienic kitchen environment and removes any safety risks.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.