Most colleges require their resident students to defrost their mini fridges before traveling home for break. As my third collegiate Thanksgiving break approaches, so does my third attempt at trying to successfully defrost my mini fridge. Something that sounds like such a simple task somehow turns into a huge, daunting, messy production every semester. I'm here to give you some tips on how to defrost a mini fridge so you don't make the same mistakes I did.

My Past Mistakes

sweet, milk, tea
Smita Jain

Freshman year, the dorm I lived in allowed us to keep our mini fridge plugged in for Thanksgiving Break as long as all of the other electronics in the room were unplugged. While doing the final round to make sure everything was unplugged before leaving campus, my roommate turned off her power strip.

Said power strip was supposed to be powering to our mini fridge. When I got back to my dorm, a whole fridge's-worth of coffee creamer, cheese sticks, energy drinks, and remnants of midterms week snacks were spoiled. I'll try to save you the details, but our fridge reeked. It took a bottle of bleach-based cleaner, a roll of paper towels, and several sprays of Febreeze to get rid of the smell.

You'd think after such a traumatizing experience, I would learn a lesson, right?

...Nope. Fast-forward to Winter Break 2016-2017. No better way to be greeted back to your dorm than by a large puddle of water on the floor surrounding the mini fridge! Yup. I messed up. Again. Fingers crossed that junior year is my (and my mini fridge's) year. Here's how I'll be defrosting my mini fridge this semester, and how you should plan to defrost your mini fridge, too.

1. Plan Ahead

CJ Kang

When your RA tells you to defrost your mini fridge before leaving, they mean a few days before...not a few minutes before you're walking out the door to go home.

You'll want to defrost your mini fridge about 24-48 hours before you leave to avoid a mess when you return to your dorm room. Keep in mind that the bigger the fridge, the longer it'll take to fully defrost. The day before you plan to leave you need to throw out, donate, or eat any leftover food in your fridge and freezer. Make sure you take out everything, including ice trays. You don't want to leave anything inside because it'll grow mold or mildew as the freezer defrosts and sits out over break.

#SpoonTip: If you can't live without your coffee creamer for the next morning, grab some creamer capsules from your school's cafeteria. They don't need to be refrigerated!

2. Unplug the mini fridge

This step should be self-explanatory.

3. Lay a towel under it

CJ Kang

When you're defrosting your mini fridge, this is the most crucial part. Pick your least favorite towel and enlist the help of your roommate, friend, or mom. Have one person gently lift up the fridge, while the other slides a towel underneath. As the fridge defrosts, you'll want a towel on the ground to absorb any excess water. Make sure the towel covers the bottom of the fridge, as well as the floor around the fridge so you don't damage the floor either.

#SpoonTip: I'd recommend using a thick dish or bath towel. Paper towels aren't thick enough to do the trick here, especially if your mini fridge also has a freezer compartment.

4. Prop open the door

CJ Kang

Prop open the fridge and freezer doors. The air temperature from your dorm room will speed up the defrosting process, and it'll also help circulate air to avoid any weird smells. Leave the doors open overnight for optimal ventilation. 

5. Clean your mini fridge

Norah Cliff

In the morning, wipe up any excess moisture on the shelves. If the fridge is still defrosting, swap out the towel. Stop by the grocery store and grab a box of baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate (the only ingredient in baking soda) helps absorb any funky or offensive odors, so throwing a box in the fridge while you're stuffing your face with turkey couldn't hurt.

#SpoonTip: If you have any clean kitty litter or coffee grounds lying around, they can also be used as substitutes for baking soda.

Now that you know how to defrost a mini fridge, you should return to a clean and well-defrosted mini fridge. Plug it back in and let it re-chill for a few hours in before you fill it with all of your Thanksgiving leftovers and cans of La Croix.