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5 things CHOICE's fridge expert would never do

Our in-house expert Ashley Iredale explains why he always plays with the settings and isn't a fan of ice-makers in fridges.

illustration of fridge and checklist with crosses
Last updated: 28 September 2022

The only time you probably think about your fridge is when it's nearly empty, when it stops working, or when some of its contents start to take on a life of their own and you need to don a Hazmat suit to clear them out. 

The rest of the time you're likely to just expect it to do its thing without missing a beat. But there's more to owning a fridge than just keeping your beer cold and your collection of condiments contained. 

We asked our resident fridge nerd Ashley Iredale about his fridge no-gos: the things he doesn't do and never will. Here's what he had to say.

1. He never leaves the fridge on its default settings

"Don't assume that your fridge will be ready to go straight out of the box," says Ashley. 

"We test up to 50 fridges a year and we often find that the default settings just aren't suitable. If you just switch it on and leave it as is, you might find that your new fridge is either too warm or too cold. 

"Get hold of a fridge thermometer and check the temperature. It should be around 3°C for the fridge and -18°C for the freezer. These are the optimal temperatures for food storage and energy efficiency."

It's also a good idea to double-check the temperatures at the change of season. Some fridges might not keep up with the weather warming up or cooling down, so adjust the settings if needed. 

person getting ice cubes from fridge ice maker

Our fridge expert Ashley is icy on ice-makers in fridges.

2. He'd never buy a fridge with an ice-maker

An ice-dispenser on your fridge might seem like the perfect way to channel your inner Tom Cruise, but it may cramp your style during cocktail hour. 

"Ice-makers take up a surprisingly large amount of space inside the fridge," says Ashley. 

"While having ice at the press of a button sounds great, the volume of freezer space you're sacrificing could leave you cold. Plus, you'll probably need to plumb your fridge into the water supply in order to use it.

"Having ice on tap but no space to store your cocktail ingredients will quash your bartending dreams. Stick with old-fashioned ice cube trays for your next Old Fashioned."

3. He never stores bread in the fridge

If you live in the tropics, you've probably experienced the disappointment of finding your recently purchased loaf of bread furry with mould. But even in humid climates, sticking your loaf in the fridge isn't a good idea. 

"While refrigeration works miracles in extending the life of most perishable foods, the cold of your refrigerator causes the starch in bread to recrystallise much faster than at room temperature," Ashley says.

"This means that, while bread stored in the fridge won't go stale or mouldy in a hurry, it will rapidly become hard and unappetising."

Even in humid climates, sticking your loaf in the fridge isn't a good idea

Plastic bags also create humidity around your loaf, so you might find it goes stale or mouldy if it's bagged in plastic.

The best way to treat your bread is to keep it in a paper bag. If you live somewhere particularly humid, or you just don't think you'll get through a loaf in time, slice it and pop it in the freezer. 

If you've missed the boat and your loaf is past its prime, whizz the stale bread up in your food processor and use the crumbs for schnitzels, pangrattato or crumbing lamb cutlets. 

person checking the width of their doorway

Don't forget to measure your doorways before choosing a fridge – it needs to make it into your kitchen, after all.

4. He'd never recommend buying a fridge bigger than you need

Having too small a fridge can create all kinds of problems, but having too large a fridge poses problems too. 

While you might swoon over slick French-door fridges, they're often overkill for small households. If there's just two of you, you just don't need a huge 700L fridge – not only will you pay more upfront, you'll also be stuck with higher electricity bills, because having more volume to cool means it'll use more energy. 

For one or two people, a fridge that's between 250 and 380L is all you'll need. If you're a household of five or more, then that huge 440L fridge will be appropriate. If you're not sure what size fridge you need, we break it down in our expert fridge buying guide

If you think your family is likely to grow or shrink in the near future, then buy accordingly

CHOICE fridge expert Ashley Iredale

"We don't recommend buying too big a fridge for your needs, but since a decent fridge should last you up to 10 years, it's a good idea to plan for the future, too," says Ashley. "If you think your family is likely to grow or shrink in the near future, then buy accordingly." 

When in doubt, Ashley says go for the slightly bigger option. 

"Underutilised shelf space is less of a problem than not being able to cram all your food in – but don't buy big just because you like the look. Just remember that you'll have to cover the ongoing electricity costs and associated environmental impact."

choice fridge tester ashley iredale with ikea fridge

CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley Iredale is very serious about fridges.

5. He'd never buy a fridge that failed our tests

"A fridge is a long-term investment, so it's really important to get it right," he says. 

"Buy the wrong fridge and you could be saddled with excessive electricity bills, endless repairs or a fridge that just gives up the ghost before its time."

Ashley says because CHOICE has been testing fridges for more than half a century, we know exactly what makes for a good fridge: temperature stability and evenness, temperature range, responsiveness to outside temperatures, and most importantly, the ability to keep food fresh for longer.

Buy the wrong fridge and you could be saddled with excessive electricity bills, endless repairs or a fridge that just gives up the ghost before its time

CHOICE fridge expert Ashley Iredale

"We also calculate running costs to give you a good idea of how much the fridge will cost you over 10 years so you know whether it's a good deal or not. Because your fridge is always running, it makes up around 8% of your total energy bill, so it's important to pay close attention to this."

You can filter our reviews by brand name, price, size, type and running costs to find the perfect fridge for your kitchen. 

… and the rest

Ashley knows fridges inside and out, so when we asked him to list just five things he'd never do with his fridge, he struggled to limit it to just five! 

Here's what else he said:

  • Storing tomatoes in the fridge is a big no-no. They lose their flavour in the fridge, so they're best kept in a bowl on the benchtop, separate from other fruit and veg. 
  • When measuring for a new fridge, he never measures just the kitchen space – he recommends always measuring your doorways and halls to make sure you can actually get it into the house. There's no point buying a fancy French-door fridge if you have to leave it out on the porch!
  • He'd never buy a side-by-side fridge and freezer – our tests show that they tend to have poor temperature evenness, and the narrow space can be difficult to use.
  • He doesn't use his regular fridge for cellaring wine. The optimum temperature for long-term wine storage is between 12 and 18°C, and wine fridges are better at keeping the temperature consistent – which is vital for the quality of your wine. Just pop your whites in the fridge to chill them to serving temperature before you drink them. 
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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.