Ever wondered why your fridge isn’t as cold inside as it should be? The real culprit might be lurking around the edges of your refrigerator door. I found this out after scolding my kids several times for not shutting the refrigerator properly. It turns out, the fridge door wouldn’t stay shut because the fridge door gasket was dirty.
You might not think about it often, but the rubbery strip around your fridge and freezer doors plays a crucial role in keeping your food fresh and your energy bills low. So today, I’m going to cover the care and cleaning of your refrigerator gasket so you can keep this unsung hero of your kitchen in top shape. Watch the video above or read on for the how-to.
The Role of Your Fridge Door Gasket
The gasket is the barrier that keeps the cold air in and the warm air out. When it’s in good condition, your fridge doesn’t have to work as hard, which means you’ll see lower energy bills. When the gasket is dirty or failing, it’s like running your air-conditioner to cool your home but keeping the windows wide open.
A well-sealed fridge keeps your groceries at the right temperature, making your fruits, veggies, and other perishables last longer. When that gasket’s in trouble, it won’t seal properly. So cold air escapes, warm air gets in, and your food turns bad and rots. Think of the gasket as the guardian of your food’s freshness.
A faulty gasket can lead to more significant issues down the line, like a fridge that’s constantly running or even breaking down. Maintaining your gasket can save you from the headache and expense of major repairs—assuming you can even get a service technician to show up.
Signs Your Fridge Gasket Needs Attention
Knowing what to look for can help you spot problems with your refrigerator gasket early on, before it sends your energy bills and food budget soaring. Here are some signs of a failing gasket you should watch out for:
- Temperature fluctuations: If your fridge isn’t staying cold, the gasket might be the culprit.
- Visible damage: Cracks or tears mean it’s time for a new gasket.
- Condensation: Water droplets around the door are a bad sign.
- Door issues: If the fridge door doesn’t shut well, feels loose or opens too easily, check the gasket.
- Spoiled food: Food going bad quickly is a warning sign.
- Frost build-up: Excessive frost in the freezer could mean warm air is getting in.
- Sticky residue: Food spills or grime can keep the refrigerator door gasket from sealing well.
Testing Your Refrigerator’s Seal
I demonstrate the test to check your fridge gasket in the video at the top of the page. If you suspect your gasket is failing, try the paper test to check it:
- Close a dollar bill or piece of paper in the door.
- If you can pull it out or slide it around easily, the gasket needs replacing.
- Repeat the test on the top, bottom, and both sides of the door.
Make a point of inspecting your gasket often. I like to do this every month when I empty and clean my fridge. Visible damage like cracks or tears are clear signs it’s time for a new gasket, but so are the other symptoms mentioned.
Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Refrigerator Door Gasket
Cleaning your fridge door gasket is a straight-forward process that can go a long way in extending the life of your fridge and keeping your food fresh. Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide to get you through it.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
Before you start, make sure you have the following items:
- Mild soap or dish detergent
- Warm water
- White vinegar OR household bleach
- Soft cloth or sponge
- Soft-bristle toothbrush
- Paper towels or dry cloth
Step 2: Prepare a Cleaning Solution
You can either use a mild soap and warm water mix, a vinegar solution, or a diluted bleach solution for this task. If you opt for vinegar, mix one part vinegar with two parts water. If you opt for bleach, make sure it’s well-diluted since too much bleach can corrode the gasket. To make a diluted bleach solution, use 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of water.
Step 3: Remove Food and Obstacles
Clear out any items near the fridge door gasket to give yourself room to work. This will make the cleaning process much easier. In my fridge, that means moving stuff off the top shelf in the door so I’m not constantly knocking into the ketchup bottle.
Step 4: Initial Wipe Down
Dip a soft cloth or sponge into your cleaning solution and gently wipe down the visible parts of the gasket. This will remove the easy-to-reach dirt and grime. Take care not to scrub too hard, so you don’t pull the gasket off.
Step 5: Get Into the Folds
For accordion-style gaskets, gently pry open the folds with your fingers and wipe between them with a soft-bristled, old toothbrush dipped in your cleaning solution. For other types of gaskets, you may need to carefully lift the flap to clean beneath it.
It always surprises me how much gunk gets into the nooks of our fridge gasket: crumbs, sticky residue, I’ve even found a chunk of cereal. If you’ve had a gasket problem for a while, you may find also mold growing here, so don’t skip cleaning this spot.
Step 6: Rinse
Once you’ve scrubbed all areas, use a clean cloth or sponge dipped in plain warm water to rinse off the cleaning solution. Leaving soapy residue in place can keep the gasket from sealing properly, while letting vinegar or bleach linger can damage the gasket material.
Step 7: Dry and Inspect
Use paper towels or a dry cloth to pat the gasket dry. It’s crucial to remove all moisture to prevent mold and mildew from forming. Once dry, check for remaining grime and repeat the paper test to make sure your refrigerator seals well when the door is shut.
Refrigerator Gasket Maintenance Tips
- Routine cleaning: Clean the gasket every 3-4 months
- Coat the gasket: To keep the rubber soft and pliable, apply a very thin layer of petroleum jelly, olive oil, or coconut oil on the gasket where it touches the fridge door.
- Avoid harsh cleaners: Steer clear of harsh detergents or cleaners as they can damage the gasket. No matter what TikTok says, don’t use bathroom cleaner on your gasket!
- Be gentle: Use soft brushes or cloths for cleaning to avoid causing any damage.
- Prevent mold and mildew: To prevent mold and mildew, always wipe the gasket with a fresh dry cloth after cleaning your refrigerator.
Maintaining your refrigerator door gasket is not just a chore; it’s an investment in food safety and energy efficiency. A well-sealed fridge keeps your food fresh, your energy bills low, and your kitchen running smoothly. Plus, it keeps you from scolding your kids over leaving the fridge open when the real problem is a fridge gasket you need to replace or clean.
Want to learn more about how to keep your refrigerator running like a champ? Check out my post about how to maintain refrigerator efficiency!