Refrigerator Humidity [Detailed Guide]

Did you ever wonder if a refrigerator should have any humidity? In this article, we answer vital questions and guide you on refrigerator humidity.

Refrigerator Humidity

What Is the Average Humidity in a Refrigerator?

Sixty-five percent is the average humidity in a refrigerator set between 32 degrees and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. But a few factors affect the average humidity, making it a little difficult to calculate it correctly:

1. How Often You Open the Door

Opening the door of the refrigerator too often increases the humidity inside it. The reason is that warm air enters, and warm air tends to carry more moisture than cool air. But if your refrigerator is a newer model, it may channel the moisture out of the unit after it turns into condensate.

2. What You Store in the Refrigerator

Hot or warm food will contribute to the humidity level inside the refrigerator. As the food cools, the moisture content turns to vapor in the unit and raises the humidity.

3. The Set Temperature

The colder the refrigerator is, the less humidity it has. So, setting your unit to a colder point reduces the humidity level inside it.

Does Humidity Affect a Refrigerator?

Humidity affects a refrigerator. It can determine how well the refrigerator performs in hot or cool weather. A refrigerator typically dissipates heat, but if warm air finds its way into the refrigerator, the moisture in the air will condense and may form frost.

Also, if the humidity is high, the refrigerator tends to run too often to keep the internal temperature cold. This process may affect different parts of the unit, including the compressor, in the long run. Plus, constant running increases your energy consumption and your electricity bills.

How to Control Humidity in a Refrigerator

To control the humidity in a refrigerator, do one or more of the following:

1. Set the Temperature Right

It is crucial to set the temperature in the refrigerator between 35 degrees and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. For the freezer, keep it at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you set the temperature too high, you risk having spoiled food and high humidity. And if you set it too low, you consume more energy and increase your electricity bills.

2. Create Space Around It

The refrigerator should not stand flush against the surrounding surfaces. The condenser coils need adequate air circulation to dissipate heat. Otherwise, the heat gets trapped and increases the internal temperature. And when the temperature rises, the humidity increases.

Therefore, leave about two inches on either side of the refrigerator and at the back. You may not be able to determine the height difference between the top of the refrigerator and the ceiling. But you can help by not keeping items on top of the unit.

3. Clean the Condenser Coils

The refrigerator cannot optimally perform if the condenser coils are dirty. Clean the coils at least once every year. A condenser cleaning brush or a vacuum cleaner will do the job. 

You need to pay attention to the coils because an accumulation of dirt on them will reduce their capacity to release heat from the refrigerant. And if they fail to work, the refrigerator overheats, increasing the humidity.

4. Keep the Door Storage at a Minimum

It may be tempting to store all types of food in the door storage bins; don’t. It is easier and quicker for the temperature in the door to rise than that in the cabinet. And if you store too many things on the door, it will contribute to high humidity in the refrigerator due to the opening and closing of the door.

Storing a lot of items in the door also affects how well it closes. It may even affect the hinges and cause the door to sag. That way, you can no longer control the humidity unless you fix the hinges.

5. Check the Gasket

A leaky door gasket will give free entrance to warm air laden with moisture. The air builds humidity in the refrigerator. Therefore, check the door gasket to ensure it is in good working condition. If it appears to be leaky, replace it with the correct part. 

You can test the gasket by placing a dollar bill between the door and the frame. Close the door and try pulling the dollar bill out. If you can easily do it, replace the gasket.

6. Defrost the Refrigerator

If your refrigerator is the type without an automatic defrost system, you will have to defrost it manually and do it often. Otherwise, the refrigerator will have an accumulation of frost, which reduces cooling and encourages humidity.

7. Avoid Overstuffing It

Putting too many room-temperature items into the refrigerator at the same time reduces its cool air. The items may also block the air vents and cause the refrigerator to overwork itself. This encourages an increase in humidity. Stock the refrigerator little by little, and know when to stop. The refrigerator will work better if it is only halfway or three-quarter full.

8. Cover Cooked Food

Cooked food releases moisture into the refrigerator to contribute to humidity. This is especially true when the food is still hot or warm. Allow the food to cool to room temperature before storing it. And cover it properly to keep moisture from escaping into the refrigerator.

You can also use a desiccant dehumidifier in the unit. The dehumidifier absorbs moisture that builds due to high humidity. It is specially made for refrigerators and contains minerals that prevent the buildup of ethylene gas from veggies and fruits. It also keeps bad smells away.

The bottom line is that the refrigerator’s humidity increases when the internal temperature increases. Therefore, do all you can to keep the temperature cool.

How to Use Humidity Drawers in Fridge

If your crisper drawers don’t have any visible controls, it means they are drawers with high humidity. But if they have controls, you can take most humidity drawers from low to high and vice versa with just some clicks. If you want the drawers to have high humidity, the window should close. And if you want low humidity, the window should open.

Keep the drawers only two-thirds full to allow for proper air circulation and prevent freezing. You may think that would mean a lot of fruits, but it is beneficial in different ways.

If any vegetable or fruit has the tendency to rot quickly, it should go in the drawer with low humidity. With the window open, the ethylene gas such veggies and fruits produce is not trapped but escapes easily.

For vegetables that tend to wilt quickly, they go in the drawer with high humidity. In high humidity drawers, the moisture in the air is retained to keep them fresh because the window is closed.

For high humidity drawers, the following are some vegetables and fruits to put in them:

  • Unripe bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Okra
  • Cucumbers
  • Cauliflower
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Belgian endive
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Eggplant
  • Carrots
  • Brussel sprouts

Any vegetable or fruit that is sensitive to ethylene gas or moisture loss should go in the high humidity drawers.

For low humidity drawers, here are some vegetables and fruits that should go in  them:

  • Mangoes
  • Figs
  • Avocados
  • Pear
  • Apples
  • Cantaloupes
  • Ripe bananas
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi

Produce that produces ethylene gas and is not sensitive to loss of moisture should stay in the low humidity drawer.

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Excessive Refrigerator Humidity – Quick Fix

Several factors contribute to excessive humidity inside a refrigerator, as we explain below:

1. Frequent Door Opening

You may not know it, but those few minutes you hold the door open while you decide what you want lets moisture-laden warm air in and cold air out. When the warm air replaces the cold air, it reduces the coolness inside and builds humidity. 

To fix this problem, decide what you want before you open the refrigerator door. It helps to make a list so you can grab the items quickly. That way, you reduce the number of times you open the door in a day, and the length of time you hold it open.

2. Leaky Door Gasket

Use the dollar-bill trick to check the efficiency of the gasket. Open and close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill of your choice. Pull the money, and if you easily remove it, the gasket is no longer sealing tightly. Replace it.

Sometimes, the gasket may be loose. You can fix it by pushing the loose parts back into position using a flat-head screwdriver. And if the gasket is dirty, scrub it with warm soapy water and a cloth.

A leaky door gasket lets warm air into the refrigerator. The warm air causes a buildup of moisture in different areas of the interior. You will know for certain if the moisture appears mainly on the refrigerator door’s length or on the ceiling.

3. Obstructed Vents

Obstructing the flow of air between the freezer and refrigerator for single cooling system refrigerators leads to high humidity. The refrigerator stops cooling as it should, the internal temperature rises, and moisture forms inside the refrigerator.

Putting too many items into the unit at the same time blocks the vents and inhibits the flow of air. The same applies if you arrange the contents poorly. Keep the refrigerator and freezer only half full, and arrange the items to accommodate proper airflow.

4. Crisper Drawers

Ensure you allow vegetables and fruits time to drip-dry before you store them in the drawers. If you store them when they are sufficiently dry, they will cause moisture to build in the drawers, and contribute to the rot of other products in the drawers. You will know you have this problem if the drawers show signs of moisture.

Refrigerator Humidity Setting for Cheese

The setting will depend on the style of cheese. But most times, the setting should fall between eighty and ninety-eight percent humidity. That means the temperature setting should be between 45 degrees and 58 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 degrees and 14 degrees Celsius.

How to Correctly Store Food According to Humidity

If you are not sure where different food items go so they last longer, here are examples to follow:

Keep food items with a long shelf life on the door. The same applies to drinks and beverages; they don’t spoil easily. The door experiences the most temperature fluctuations due to constant opening. Avoid putting items that rot easily, such as eggs on the door, even though most refrigerator doors have a provision for eggs.

Store your fresh meat on the lower shelves, where they cannot drip on other items. The bottom part of the refrigerator is also one of the coldest spots, and meat needs the freezing air to stay fresh. It helps to wrap the meat in plastic until you are ready to use it. Wrapping it in this fashion also helps to prevent contamination from one meat to another.

Use the upper shelves to store cooked food and other items that are in tall containers. They may be hard to fit anywhere else. Place the boxes of milk as much to the back of the refrigerator as possible. The back is the coldest area inside a refrigerator. And since milk tends to go bad easily, it needs to remain as cold as possible.

On the middle shelf, place drinks, leftovers, and food that are ready to be eaten. Refrigerator middle shelves tend not to hold much because they don’t usually have enough space.

Recap

Refrigerator humidity works in two ways: it can make or mar the items you store in the refrigerator. Therefore, it is important to find out what humidity works for your specific refrigerator, and where to place different food items.

Not every vegetable goes in the same drawer; the same applies to fruits. Learn which fruit and vegetable emit a gas that can easily rot produce and use low humidity. That way, the gas escapes.

Above all, take steps to prevent the buildup of moisture in the refrigerator. Don’t open the door too often, replace leaky seals, store only room-temperature foods, and cover cooked food. Additionally, clean the condenser coils to avoid an overload of heat.

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