How To Deep Clean Your Refrigerator

Clean

Even if you wipe your refrigerator shelves regularly, it’s a good idea to Deep Clean your refrigerator, too. That’s not to say you have to wait until Spring to do it — I wind up giving mine this treatment at least twice a year and always find it functions and smells better afterward.

How to spring clean your refrigerator - Wipe the interior and wash the baskets

I don’t know why but my refrigerator often looks like a pack of hungry, wild animals rummaged through it. It’s like my family can’t get what they’re looking for without strewing crumbs everywhere or spilling something.

Those refrigerator organization ideas where everything is neatly stashed in labeled boxes, so the inside of the fridge looks like a library card file? I tried it but gave up a week later. Apparently, my family members lose the ability to read the instant they open the refrigerator. (So, I organize my refrigerator like this instead.)

But Spring Cleaning your refrigerator is about more than simply tossing old stuff and straightening what’s left. It’s about deodorizing and disinfecting, then taking steps to ensure your refrigerator runs well and uses less energy. Every time I give my refrigerator a good Spring Cleaning — even if I’m doing it in Autumn — I’m surprised at how much more efficiently it runs, and how that saves us money.

How To Spring Clean Your Refrigerator

You will need:

Saftey first

1. Always unplug your refrigerator before cleaning. If you need help to pull it away from the wall, get it. I’ve thrown my back out trying to be Ms. Independent doing this and was in agony for days.

2. Check expiration labels as you work and toss expired foods into the trash can. Stash everything else in coolers, keeping meat entirely separate from other items to prevent cross-contamination.

Inside

1. Remove the shelves and baskets from the fridge. Wash them in the sink of soapy water, and rinse well. Let them air dry on bath towels spread on your kitchen counters. While they dry, dip a microfiber cloth into the bucket of soapy water and wipe down the empty interior of your fridge from top to bottom, left to right. Rinse frequently. Repeat with the door.

2. Treat tough spills. Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the soapy water and sprinkle it with a small amount of baking soda. The soda acts as a gentle abrasive, allowing you to get the mess up. Rinse with warm soapy water followed by clean water. Wipe dry.

Outside

1. Clean the gasket and hinges. Dip the scrub brush into the bucket of warm, soapy water and clean the gasket seal. Gently open the seal with your fingers so you can get into the crevices. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth. Use the brush to scrub the hinges, too, then wipe them dry.

2. Close the fridge door and spray the exterior with all-purpose spray. Clean the top first, then wipe the rest of the surface from top to bottom. Be sure to get the underside of the handles, too.

3. Clean the coils. Depending on your model, the coils may be on the front at the bottom, or on the back. Using the vacuum’s dust attachment, suck away all of the dust bunnies that have built up there. Don’t be embarrassed if your coils look awful: with two cats and a dog, my fridge coils are terrifying even though I clean them at least twice a year.

4. Don’t forget the area around the refrigerator. Dust the wall and baseboard behind the fridge. Hand mop the floor beneath it with a cleaning cloth and warm, soapy water. Use baking soda to scrub any stubborn food spills.

Chill

1. Return the refrigerator to its proper location. Put the shelves and baskets back inside. Now is a good time to line your produce and meat drawers with paper towels to make future clean-up easier. (Note: fresh meats should always go on the bottom of the refrigerator!)

2. Plug the fridge back in and let it cool for an hour before putting food back into it. NOTE: Skipping this step may mean your food does not stay at a safe temperature! Once an hour has passed, return the contents of the fridge, wiping down each bottle or jar as you work. This is a good time to make a note of any condiments you’re running low on, too.

Once you Spring Clean your refrigerator, it’s easy to keep it nice unless your family is like mine. In that case, make a point of wiping the shelves and changing the paper towels in your produce and meat drawers before each grocery shopping trip. You can even do this as part of your weekly kitchen cleaning routine.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello,
    I found your website while browsing. You have an interesting writing style, and I found your blog “HOW TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR REFRIGERATOR” both informative and amusing! However, as a professional repair technician, I thought I’d make a few comments:

    1) Refigerator gasket: I prefer to use an old toothbrush. I also feel that 409 or Fantastic works better than soapy water to clean the grime. The gaskets are especially good at trapping mold & mildew. For those who are sensitive to either cleaners or mold/mildew, I recommend gloves and a painter’s respirator, with the canister(s), not a painter’s mask.

    2) Most modern refrigerators don’t have exposed coils; they are insulated & covered by a cardboard or plastic cover in the back. However, by carefully removing the bottom-front grille, and using a crevice vacuum attachment, you can access & clean some of the components, and maybe even the compressor.

    3) If your ‘fridge has an ice-maker, check for frost. If there’s a frost buildup, unplug the ‘fridge, and transfer the food to a cooler, while the frost & ice buildup melts. Most of the time, the ice-maker mechanism is separate from the freezer, so you can leave the freezer door/drawer shut. Use a hair-dryer to blow warm (not hot) air into the unit to facilitate melting. Clean everything with vinegar, and dry *completely* before plugging the unit back in.

    4) Most manufacturers recommend letting the ‘fridge cool down for 2-3 hours before returning food, and most say not to expect the ice-maker to produce ice for 24 hours.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you for sharing your tips!

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