Seeing A Red Button In Your Fridge? Here’s What It Does

Seeing a red button in your fridge

Are you stuck trying to figure out what the red button on your fridge does? 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of people are wondering the same thing.

But the good news is that you’ve come to the right place for answers.

Traditional fridges have a red button that acts as a defrost switch. You’ll need to press it to get rid of ice or frost buildup and make sure your appliance is working correctly.

Keep reading to learn more about this button! 

What Does the Red Button in Your Fridge Do? 

Have you ever opened your fridge and noticed it has frost buildup?

Unfortunately, this is a common issue and can happen because warm air gets into the fridge and condenses in the form of frost.

How to defrost a refrigerator
Push the red button on your refrigerator to defrost it.

Most modern refrigerators have an Auto Defrost or Frost Free function that automatically heats the cooling element (evaporator coil) to melt any frost or ice. Then, the compressor’s heat evaporates the resulting water into the air.

However, not all fridges offer this convenient function. In some older models, you’ll need to manually defrost your fridge by pushing a button. 

So, if you’re seeing a red button in your fridge, it’s probably a defrost switch. If you press it, your appliance will start melting any ice or frost buildup. Then, the water will drip into a tray. 

The defrosting process usually takes a couple of hours, but the duration may vary depending on your fridge’s size, model number, and brand.

What Happens if You Don’t Press the Red Button in Your Fridge? 

Refrigerators, just like any other household appliance, require frequent maintenance to ensure their effectiveness.

Defrosting your refrigerator is a maintenance procedure that will prolong the life of your appliance.

If you don’t press the red button in your fridge regularly, frost buildup will take up a lot of space, which can impact airflow and keep your appliance from cooling properly.

Bear in mind that you should press the red button in your fridge whenever frost or ice buildup is 6 mm (1/4 inch) thick.

If this happens, your food may spoil and your refrigerator can smell bad due to the accumulation of bacteria. Try defrosting your fridge when necessary to prevent this issue from happening.

Best Practices for Defrosting Your Refrigerator

As you learned in the sections above, if you push the red button, your refrigerator will melt any frost or ice buildup.

If you have a big family and own a large refrigerator, the defrosting process can take several hours. Luckily, there are different things you can do to speed up the process.

These are the best practices for defrosting your refrigerator:

#1 Transfer Your Food

The temperature of your fridge will vary during the defrosting process.

And since it will take a couple of hours for the frost buildup to completely melt, I recommend transferring any high-perishable food, such as raw meats and dairy products, to a cooler.

You should also put in the cooler fruits or vegetables, since they can spoil quickly due to temperature changes.

high perishable food
Transfer high-perishable food to a cooler before defrosting your refrigerator

Don’t forget to take out any other items from your fridge to make the cleaning process much easier and faster.

#2 Don’t Use Sharp Objects

I know, the defrosting process may be slow and tedious.

However, you should never use knives, spatulas, forks, scissors, or any other sharp objects to punch through the ice and speed up the defrosting process.

Don't scratch your refrigerator
Scratching the layers of ice in your refrigerator with sharp objects can damage your appliance.

Doing this will only puncture the walls and damage your appliance. If you want to scrape some ice off, you’ll need to use a plastic spatula.

#3 Use Boiling Water

You can speed up the defrosting process by placing a bowl or saucepan filled with boiling water on the middle shelf of your refrigerator.

Fill a bowl with boiling water to speed up the defrosting process
Boiling water will speed up the defrosting process.

I know this may sound too simple, but believe me, the steam will help melt the ice or frost buildup.

Try replacing the water as needed.

#4 Clean Your Refrigerator

Once the ice has melted, you’ll need to clean your refrigerator. This is the easiest way to do it:

How to use vinegar to clean your fridge
Vinegar can easily break down grease and get rid of stubborn stains due to its acidity.
  1. Take out all the drawers, shelves, and any other removable compartments. Most fridges have a tab that you can push to remove these items. However, I recommend checking your manual for detailed instructions.
  2. Mix equal parts of warm water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Then, use this cleaning solution to clean the drawers, shelves, door, and freezer. Don’t forget to clean the door seal. You can use a soft brush, sponge, or rag.
  3. Rinse with water and use paper towels to dry every surface. This step is very important to avoid mold and a musty smell.

Don’t forget to clean the drip tray once the ice has melted.

Tip: Try deep cleaning your fridge at least once a month.

How to Prevent Frost Buildup?

Although defrosting your refrigerator is a maintenance procedure that you should do regularly, there are different ways in which you can prevent frost buildup.

These are:

#1 Keep the Door Closed

If you open your fridge many times during the day, warm air will get into your appliance and mix with cold air, creating humidity, which can turn into frost.

Try opening the door only when necessary and checking the door seals.

You see, if these are dirty, the door won’t close. You can easily clean the gaskets, you’ll just need to:

  1. Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water in a large bowl.
  2. Soak a soft sponge, brush, or cloth in the cleaning solution.
  3. Wipe down any dirt or grime. You can use a cotton swab to clean the edges.
  4. Dry the gasket with a paper towel to prevent mold.

Once you’ve done that, I recommend putting a thin layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) over the seals. This will protect them.

However, if you’ve completed the steps above, but your door is still not closing, you may need to replace the door seals or hinges.

#2 Check the Temperature

You can also avoid frost from building up by making sure your refrigerator is set to the correct temperature.

Your refrigerator should sit between 3 °C (37.4 °F) and 5 °C (41 °F).

To check if your appliance is set to the correct temperature, please place a glass of water on the middle shelf and leave it there for 8 to 12 hours. Then, place a thermostat in the glass of water and check the temperature.

If necessary, please adjust the temperature by using the digital display, gauge, or knob. Please check your manual for detailed instructions, as this process may vary depending on your fridge’s model number and brand.

#3 Don’t Store Warm Food

As you may already know, storing warm food containers in your fridge can raise the temperature of the appliance, which can lead to excess moisture.

This is why I always recommend letting your food cool down before storing it in the fridge.

Don't store warm food in your fridge
Let your food cool down for one hour before storing it in your fridge.

You can speed up this process by dividing large batches of food into smaller storage containers.


That about covers it! I hope that this article has helped you understand what the red button on your fridge does.

If you take anything away, please let it be that you’ll need to push the red button to defrost your refrigerator. Don’t forget that you’ll need to do this whenever the ice layer is 6 mm (1/4 inch) thick.

Remember to keep your fridge closed, don’t store warm food, clean the door seals, and check the temperature regularly to avoid frost buildup.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. If you found it helpful, please check out our related posts below.

Have a wonderful rest of the day!

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more