How to Store Food in a Walk-In Refrigerator

by Jeffrey Brian Airman

The environment inside a walk-in refrigerator can dry out fresh produce.

strawberries in sacks for refrigerating image by Maria Brzostowska from

Items you will need

  • Raised shelving
  • Refrigerator thermometers
  • Bleach
  • Water

Walk-in refrigerators are ideal for storing and quickly accessing a large quantity of food. Working walk-in coolers maintain temperatures below 40 degrees F. A properly sealed door insulates the contents of the walk-in to keep temperature fluctuations at a minimum. Items kept on the floor or leaned against the walls of a walk-in refrigerator may get wet from condensation. Foods can be organized to optimize the benefit from naturally occurring cold and warm zones inside the walk-in.

Step 1

Move shelving racks into the walk-in refrigerator. Set the lowest rack no lower than 6 inches off the ground. Pull the shelves 3 inches out from the walls of the walk-in.

Step 2

Place one refrigerator thermometer on a shelf near the cold air inlet vent. Place a second refrigerator thermometer on a shelf as far away from the other as possible and out of the path of airflow from the vent.

Step 3

Set the thermostat on the walk-in refrigerator to 38 degrees F. Close the door to the walk-in securely. Wait for two hours while the internal temperature lowers.

Step 4

Take readings from both of the refrigerator thermometers you placed inside the walk-in. Adjust the thermostat setting on the walk-in until both thermometers are reading between 34 and 38 degrees F.

Step 5

Place foods in sealed containers closest to the inlet cold air vent. Sealed foods are able to handle to colder and dryer conditions. Put open containers and fresh produce as far away from the inlet vent as possible.

Step 6

Clean the walls and floors of the walk-in refrigerator monthly to discourage bacterial growth. Use a mop and a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach and a gallon of water.


  • Remove and discard rotten and spoiled foods in the walk-in cooler right away. Replace worn door seals if the walk-in has difficulty maintaining cold temperatures. Walk-in coolers with evaporator fan controls allow the user to maximize efficiency by slowing the speed of the fan. Call a refrigeration specialist if the walk-in freezes foods no matter what temperature the thermostat is set to. Hang a heavy-sectioned plastic curtain in the entrance to a walk-in if the door is regularly left open during use.

Photo Credits

  • strawberries in sacks for refrigerating image by Maria Brzostowska from

About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.