12 Things You Should Never Store on Top of the Refrigerator

That dead space above your fridge seems like an excellent spot for storage, but keeping the wrong items in this area can have unintended, and sometimes hazardous, consequences.

By Kat Hodgins | Updated Oct 20, 2021 12:08 PM

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Many of us store items on top of the refrigerator because it’s a large space that’s both easy to see and convenient to access. Frankly, it seems a shame to waste such a handy spot, which is why you so often see boxes, books, small storage containers, and more piled on top of the fridge.

Yet using this space for storage carries some risks. Items sitting on top of the fridge can block the appliance’s ventilation, forcing it to work harder to keep its contents cool—and this can be dangerous. Try to minimize or eliminate clutter above the fridge, especially if you’re using the space to store any of the items on this list.

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Smaller Kitchen Appliances

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A standard fridge can support more than 40 pounds on top of it. In homes where space is limited, storing other kitchen appliances up there, like a toaster oven or microwave, seems like a terrific, space-saving solution. But these smaller appliances are both heavy and breakable, risking injury and damage if they happen to fall. Keeping them up there also makes it more likely that they’ll be plugged into the same outlet as the fridge, which can overload the circuit.

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Cereal Boxes

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Not everyone has the cupboard space to store boxes of cereal, but that doesn’t mean they should line the top of the fridge. Not only can cereal boxes block the appliance’s ventilation, but when they’re out in the open, they’re also much more accessible to pests. As well, mice often feed on grains, and those flimsy cereal boxes are extremely easy for a mouse to get into. To keep your cereal safe, invest in airtight cereal containers that mice can’t chew through, like this set from Chef’s Path.

Medications

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Medicine comes in many forms, including tablets, liquids, and inhalers. All medications should be stored according to the instructions on the label to ensure that the medicine continues to work properly. When medications are stored on top of the fridge, trapped heat can affect their potency, and certain temperatures can change the molecular form of their active ingredients or lead to decomposition of the medicine. Instead, keep medications in a cupboard away from a heat source.

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Breakable Kitchen Items

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Even if you don’t often use your ceramic serving trays or tea kettle, don’t relegate them to the top of the fridge. Whether they’re made of glass, porcelain, ceramic, or some other breakable material, keeping these rarely used pieces on top of the fridge is a massive hazard. Every time the fridge opens and closes, it can cause the items on top to shift. Over time, with enough movement and some help from gravity, these serving pieces can come crashing down, leading to damage, bodily injury, or both.

Paper in Its Many Forms

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Cookbooks, old magazines, stacks of recipe cards, paper towels, and other types of paper have no business on top of the fridge. Storing numerous paper items, especially heavier ones like books, limits the airflow the fridge needs to work efficiently. Less airflow makes the fridge draw more energy to keep your food cold and jacks up your electric bill. Additionally, loose, lightweight sheets of paper are prone to falling off the fridge and getting lost behind it.

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Houseplants

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While this isn’t true of all houseplants, many types will be unhappy with the living conditions on top of the fridge. They may not like the heat, they may not get enough light up there, or they may dry out. As well, plants sitting on top of the fridge are a hassle to water. They’re tough to reach and it’s hard to avoid splashing and spilling, which means you’ll probably end up moving the plant to the sink to water. Having to take this extra step means you’ll water these plants less frequently, and they’ll be (and look) less healthy as a result. Shelves or windowsills are better bets for kitchen plants.

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Kids’ Treats

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Above the fridge may seem like the perfect place to keep cookies, chips, and other snacks out of reach of eager little hands. However, kids will inevitably figure out where you’re hiding the good snacks and go to dangerous lengths to get what they want—for instance, standing on top of a box balanced on top of a step stool. Find a different place to hide the treats, and keep your little ones safer in the kitchen.

Wine or Liquor

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Keep liquids off the fridge, period. Wine and liquor usually come in unforgiving glass bottles, and when they break, the broken glass and liquid present dangers in the kitchen. Fluid from broken or leaking bottles can pool behind the fridge or spill into electrical components. Do yourself a favor and minimize the hazards by storing these bottles in a different location.

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Potatoes, Onions, and Other Produce

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Where you store your produce impacts how long it lasts. Potatoes need to be kept in a cool, dark place, which is not at all what you find above the refrigerator. And other foods, such as onions and garlic, need to be kept in a well-ventilated area, such as in an open basket on the countertop. Avoid spoilage and extend the life of your produce by storing your fresh foods properly.

Cleaning Products

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Keeping household cleaners up high and away from little ones is a safe practice in any home. The top of the fridge, however, is not suitable for storing cleaning chemicals. Corrosive products, such as oven cleaners or drain cleaners, present significant risks and need to be stored in areas that are well ventilated, dry, and inaccessible to children.

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Bread and Other Baked Goods

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Who doesn’t love the taste of fresh bread? Bread’s one downside is its short shelf life. To keep your bread fresher for longer, avoid storing it on top of the fridge. The warmth from the fridge’s ventilation system creates an ideal environment for mold to form on bagged bread. Instead, keep your bread somewhere cool and dry, like a countertop breadbox.

Small Items for Safekeeping

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We all want a safe place to store eyeglasses, spare keys, and other small knickknacks, and the top of the fridge provides an out-of-the-way, easy-to-remember spot for stashing things you’d rather not lose. But even up there, these items may still find a way to disappear or even fall behind the fridge. Stow small, important objects in larger storage containers.