How to Clean a Refrigerator
Time Required: Under 2 hours
Few large kitchen appliances get such frequent use as refrigerators, so it’s crucial to keep them clean. A pristine fridge exterior can help brighten your whole kitchen, while a clean interior looks great, uses space more efficiently and can help you keep food fresher. This guide reviews the steps for how to clean a fridge inside and out.
Tip: Plan on cleaning a refrigerator at least every three months, and definitely before major holidays like Thanksgiving, to make room for the extra ingredients, dishes and eventual leftovers.
- If your fridge has removable shelves and you’re careful about keeping the door shut, leaving the fridge on while cleaning should make little difference. Nevetheless, keeping the fridge open for long periods of time can waste electricity, and it’s safer to have the fridge unplugged when dusting the coils and cleaning the drip pan.
- If you can’t easily move the fridge or access the plug, turn off the circuit breaker that serves the refrigerator.
- Learning how to clean a fridge starts with emptying the refrigerator completely of all items, including condiments, boxes of baking soda and more.
- Put perishables such as opened cartons of milk in a cooler and leave other items on the counter. Do not leave the food out for more than an hour.
- Inventory the food and throw out old leftovers and expired foods. This is a good time to get rid of items that no one in your house really likes and are just taking up space.
- Compost old produce and recycle containers when possible.
- Take out the trash with the old food right away.
- Take out all of the removable shelves and drawers. You can clean them more thoroughly when they’re outside the fridge, and this gives you better access to clean the refrigerator’s interior.
- Mix fragrance-free dish soap with warm water in a sink or basin. Wash the items with a dish sponge, as you would hand-wash dishes.
- Rinse to make sure no traces of dishwashing liquid remain.
- Make sure shelves and other removable items are completely dry (and the interior of the fridge has been cleaned) before putting them back in place.
Tip: Wait until shelves, drawers and other removable items are room temperature before cleaning them in water. A sudden change in temperature can cause some items to crack.
- You can use various kinds of multi-purpose cleaners on a refrigerator, but many people are more comfortable using products that are edible, like white vinegar or baking soda, which also absorbs odors.
- Wondering how to clean a fridge with baking soda? Fill a spray bottle with a cleaning solution of two tablespoons baking soda and a quart of hot water.
- Apply the fridge cleaning spray to all interior surfaces of the appliance, including the walls, non-removable shelves and the inside of the door. Wipe with a sponge or microfiber cloth.
- Scrub trouble spots with a toothbrush or small scrub brush dipped in hot water and then wipe with a dry cloth.
- Cover more stubborn stains in a paste of baking soda and water, allow it to sit for at least ten minutes, then wipe up.
- Regarding how to clean a refrigerator with vinegar, fill a spray bottle with a cleaning solution of one part white vinegar to three parts water. Apply using the same cleaning method as the baking soda solution.
Tip: Deep cleaning a fridge with bleach is only recommended in cases of strong odors or stains that cannot be removed by other means. The fridge will need to air out for multiple hours after cleaning with bleach.
- Wipe down the outside of the fridge with a cloth moistened with warm, soapy water or your cleaning solution of choice. Do not forget to clean the top of the fridge.
- Dry with a microfiber cloth or paper towels.
- If you have a stainless steel refrigerator, apply a stainless steel cleaner or another appropriate cleaner using a microfiber cloth.
- Carefully use a coil cleaning brush to dust the condenser coils.
- Empty, clean and dry the drip pan, then put it back in place.
- Vacuum around and under the fridge wherever accessible with a hose attachment. If you can roll your fridge away from the wall, sweep and vacuum the floor where the fridge normally sits.
Tip: The door handle may be the stickiest part of the fridge, so clean it with care.
Here's how to get smells out of a fridge:
- When trying to rid a refrigerator of an unpleasant odor, first clean it using the steps above.
- To deodorize, leave a box or jar of baking soda on a rimmed baking sheet inside the fridge with the door closed until the smell goes away.
- Other deodorizing items you can leave inside your refrigerator are a tray of fresh coffee grounds, a tray of activated charcoal or a pan of unscented cat litter.
- If these prove ineffective, after you deep clean the fridge, leave the fridge empty and the door open overnight.
- Wipe up spills and stains as soon as they happen since, the longer they sit, the harder they’ll be to remove.
- Make sure containers are clean going into the fridge. A jam jar or ketchup bottle with residue on the outside will make your fridge sticky.
- When thawing items such as frozen meat, place them on a rimmed plate or baking sheet to control spills or leakage.
- Soak cotton balls in vanilla extract and leave in the fridge a few hours to provide a pleasant aroma.
- Clean the refrigerator door seal with a toothbrush and a mixture of bleach and warm water. Wipe with a dry cloth.
- Try scrubbing tough stains with the mild abrasive of toothpaste.
- Place a crumpled piece of brown paper in the fruit and vegetable drawer to absorb odors over time.
- Don't overfill your refrigerator. Fridges cool more efficiently if air has room to circulate, and it'll be harder to see or clean up stains if it's overcrowded.
Plan on cleaning a refrigerator regularly. It's an easy task that keeps your space organized and ensures that you're not wasting space on items you don't need. Plus, a clean fridge makes your whole kitchen feel fresher.