If your temperature is off, your food is going to go bad (or worse: your insulin).
Your mini fridge doesn’t have the same dedicated circuit that a standard, full-sized refrigerator does, which makes it more difficult to maintain a consistent temperature.
Fortunately, many mini fridge manufacturers are aware of this, and build their mini fridges to withstand fluctuating temperatures.
We need consistency. We need a solid, short range of acceptable temperatures to ensure that food doesn’t go bad.
We’re going to discuss the optimal fridge temp, but also talk about why some beverages are chilled at higher temperatures and what it means.
- 1 What is the Optimal Temperature for Your Mini Fridge?
- 2 Different Temperature Settings: Beverages, Make Up, Insulin Storage, and More
- 3 How to Fix Poor Temperatures in Your Mini Fridge?
- 4 Humidity Needs to be Measured, Too
- 5 Buy a Thermometer
- 6 Designate One Use and Set the Temperature
What is the Optimal Temperature for Your Mini Fridge?
In any refrigerator, you want your temperatures to be between 32°F and 40°F.
This is considered the perfect zone in between freezing, and the bottom line of the food safety zone.
In food service, many machines are tested once every four hours for temperature control, to ensure that food doesn’t spoil or become a safety hazard. At 40°F, food is safe.
Above that, it begins to spoil beyond its intended expiration date set by the food’s manufacturer.
Anything over 40°F promotes bacterial growth at a rapid rate. Food will still grow bacteria when it’s in your refrigerator (have you ever seen carrots or potatoes get fuzzy in the vegetable drawer?), but at a very, very slow pace.
We aren’t looking for this magical temperature range because it keeps food 100% perfect, just safe to consume and enjoy without risking food poisoning.
Anything between 40°F and 135-140°F (the jury is still out on which) is considered to be in the food danger zone. The most harmful zone being between 70°F and 125°F, where bacteria grows faster than any other temperature.
If you’re testing the temperature of your fridge and it’s between these numbers, it means that the unit has died. Unless you compulsively check your fridge 10-12 times per day for its temperature, you’ll have to toss out your food.
That’s why it’s so important to get a fridge or mini fridge from a reliable brand.
Different Temperature Settings: Beverages, Make Up, Insulin Storage, and More
We know the food safety zone and danger zones, but food isn’t the only thing that people store in the refrigerator.
Many people purchase miniature, portable and personal refrigerators just for the sole purpose of storing makeup. Others store their expensive insulin – a life-saving drug for type II diabetics – in a temperature-controlled refrigerator to preserve it for its very short shelf life.
Refrigeration is a critical part of our lives. It doesn’t just keep the milk from spoiling, but it helps us maintain medications, personal grooming products, and store things at optimal temperature for our enjoyment, such as beverages or alcohol.
These are some of the optimal temperatures for different things that you might find in the refrigerator.
Insulin is perhaps the most important thing on this list to keep within a good temperature range.
You don’t want milk or orange juice spoiling, but an injectable medicine like insulin is literally a life or death scenario. As such, diabetics rely heavily on their refrigeration units for consistent temps.
Insulin should be stored between 35.6°F and 46.6°F according to the IDDT. While insulin can be stored at room temperature for up to twenty-eight days, it’s actually ill-advised to keep ready-to-use insulin pens in the refrigerator at all.
For that, you would need to see the recommendation and guidelines set by the insulin manufacturer.
Makeup is a tricky one. On the one hand, you’re combating temperature to prevent sensitive cosmetics, such as mascara and face cream, to stay intact and not melt or disform in any way.
You don’t want it to melt and reform, otherwise it’s going to fail to actually provide the cosmetic remedy that you want.
On the other hand, you’re also combating humidity, which is half of the reason you’re using a fridge for your makeup anyway (there are small, makeup-specific fridges you can buy, by the way).
Anywhere from 45°F to 60°F will be good for most cosmetics.
These only need to be chilled, so you can get away with about 45°F to 56°F and enjoy them.
Since soft drinks are normally stored at room temperature, and for good reason: their carbonation stays nice and bubbly.
Storing your soft drinks in a fridge that’s too cold can actually mess with carbonation and make your soft drinks less enjoyable. You want them chilled, not cold.
Pay attention to the labels on the juice container. If it’s orange juice (not an orange juice drink, which can usually be found at room temperature on the shelves, like Hi-C), then it needs to be refrigerated.
If it’s a juice from concentrate that doesn’t state that it needs to be refrigerated, then you’re good to go. Most of the time, you’ll find a beverage that just says “Refrigerate After Opening” on the label, which implies that it’s shelf stable until opened, when oxidation begins.
Juices should be enjoyed as close to ice-cold as you can get. Maintain the standard temperature range of 32°F up to 40°F, but try to keep it between 32°F and 36°F for optimal enjoyment.
Even shelf stable juice can still go bad in the fridge, and usually at the same rate that orange juice deteriorates.
How to Fix Poor Temperatures in Your Mini Fridge?
If you open the refrigerator door, you lose about one or two degrees of air temperature almost immediately.
The warmer air in the room is going to merge with the cold air, and going forward, you can lose about one degree of air temperature every 20-30 seconds.
Your fridge is going to detect the air temperature change, and kick the compressor on to get back to a good temperature.
Just about every mini fridge you find is going to come with a built-in thermostat, and just like the thermostat in your home, it detects when the desired temperature has been reached, and stops working for the time being.
This preserves energy. The best way to fix bad temps in your fridge is to first assess if the fridge is broken, or if it’s just heavily used.
Consider closing the fridge for four to six hours and reading an LED gauge on the outside of it, or placing a circular fridge thermometer inside, so you can monitor the temperature effectively. If you’re still running into issues, there could be one more thing to try.
If your temperatures are still not where you need them to be, or it’s taking what feels like an eon to actually chill the air, the compressor coils might be dusty. This doesn’t sound like a big issue, but it is.
If you notice your compressor is loud and sounds like it’s working overtime, it could be covered in dust. Because the compressor can’t cool off as quickly, due to the layer of dust, it has to work overtime just to achieve the same temperature in the refrigerator that you’re always trying to maintain.
Humidity Needs to be Measured, Too
If the gasket on your fridge door is malfunctioning due to tears, or just from years of continuous use, then your internal temperature is going to be messed up.
However, if your gasket is malfunctioning, it’s also going to allow additional humidity into your mini fridge, and that’s where more problems start.
This can cause ice crystals to form on the outside of vegetables (especially if you’re around the 32°F mark on average), and give bacteria the perfect conditions to grow.
This can affect fresh foods in your fridge, but also the entire interior: bacteria will grow on the sides, the bottom, and turn your mini fridge into a petri dish.
Humidity can also alter the temperature in your fridge, which is why it’s important to pay attention to it.
Buy a Thermometer
If you don’t already have a thermometer built into your fridge, whether it’s an LCD screen with a digital display or otherwise, then it’s time to buy a small, circular metal fridge thermometer.
Ensuring that you have a good temp on your mini fridge is critical to everyday use, from ensuring your food and drinks are safe, to mitigating bacterial growth.
This simple, inexpensive thermometer from Taylor does the trick without costing much at all.
Designate One Use and Set the Temperature
You know what the temperature should be for food storage, why some beverages are chilled at higher temperatures, and the importance of consistency in terms of food safety.
When you buy your next mini fridge, take a look at our guide to ensure you get a reliable unit from a trustworthy brand, and always be sure to get a mini fridge with a warranty in case the compressor fails without warning.